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Best SSD for NAS: Upgrade your server storage

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It’s no secret that mechanical hard drives (HDD) are best suited for storing lots of data. Compared to solid-state drives (SSD), HDDs have higher capacities and lower prices, offering far better value. But they’re slow, louder, and have running motors that act as a source of vibration and a potential point of failure. The same goes for NAS, which is where my roundup of SSDs comes into play.

What is the best SSD for NAS?

Choosing a solid-state drive for your PC is an easy process. Simply pick one supported by your computer, has the capacity you require, has decent enough data transfer speeds, and doesn’t cost too much. When it comes to your NAS, things become a little more interesting to choosing the best NAS drive.

Mechanical hard drives have motors that spin metal platters. These are what are used to store all your data using arms that go across each plate. This causes vibrations, and noise and has a risk of failure. SSDs address these issues by using flash memory to store data.

A desktop-classic SSD can technically be used inside a NAS enclosure, but they’re not designed for continuous operation with lots of data being written. This is where SSDs specifically designed for NAS come into play. Western Digital Red SA500 and Seagate IronWolf 125 are two fantastic SSD families for NAS.

Synology makes its own HDDs and SSDs, the latter being in the form of the Synology SAT5200. These are yet more expensive but are guaranteed to work with branded NAS and have some premium features. But if you’re not going to write too much data to the SSD, you can use something like Western Digital Blue SSDs.

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My recommendations for the best NAS SSD

Western Digital Red SA500

Best NAS SSD

Western Digital Red SA500
Western Digital Red SA500. (Source: WD)

I’m a huge fan of Western Digital’s Red SA500 series of SSDs. They’re excellent for NAS use thanks to advanced features and excellent data transfer speeds. If you’re looking to upgrade from HDDs, this is a good place to start.

Capacity500 GB – 4 TB
Speed560 MB/s
Workload~2,500 TBW
Warranty5 years
  • Data transfer speed up to 560MB/s
  • Good 5-year warranty
  • Brilliant sustained performance
  • Good endurance
  • Pricey
  • Limited capacities

The Western Digital Red SA500 series of SSDs may be designed for caching use rather than actually storing data, but you can use these drives for either scenario. The 560MB/s data transfer speed makes them exceptional compared to mechanical drives.

These drives are strong too. The 500GB is capable of writing 350TB total and this increases with each incremental model, hitting 2,500TB with the 4TB Western Digital Red SA500. The price per GB isn’t ridiculous too, starting at $0.15.

It’s the reliability of SSDs where these drives make the most sense. If you’re not a fan of mechanical drives, don’t have too much data to store, or just want something a little faster, solid-state drives are excellent upgrades.

SSDSpeedWorkload
(TBW)
WarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red SA500 500GB560MB/s3505 years$80$0.15
Western Digital Red SA500 1TB560MB/s6005 years$125$0.13
Western Digital Red SA500 2TB560MB/s1,3005 years$244$0.12
Western Digital Red SA500 4TB560MB/s2,5005 years$530$0.13

Seagate IronWolf 125

Runner-up best NAS SSD

Seagate IronWolf 125
Seagate IronWolf 125. (Source: Seagate)

The Seagate IronWolf 125 family of drives has superb endurance ratings, even for the entry 250GB SSD. If you want to write lots of data each year to flash storage inside an enclosure, I’d recommend choosing these SSDs.

Capacity250 GB – 4 TB
Speed~560 MB/s
Workload~5,600 TBW
Warranty5 years
  • Excellent endurance
  • Brilliant sustained performance
  • Data transfer speed up to 560MB/s
  • Good 5-year warranty
  • Pricey
  • Limited capacities

Seagate IronWolf 125 has a leg up on Western Digital in the workload and endurance ratings. Even its base model with 250GB of capacity is able to write about 300TB of data before you encounter degradation. This goes up to a whopping 5,600TB for the 4TB flagship model.

Speeds are also in line with transfers able to top out at 560MB/s on all drives aside from the 250GB SSD, which is limited to a still more than acceptable 540MB/s. Each SSD from Seagate is backed by a 5-year warranty to provide peace of mind.

Mechanical drives are excellent for NAS, including Seagate’s own IronWolf range of HDDs, but the IronWolf 125 series is fantastic in taking your NAS to the next level in performance.

SSDSpeedWorkload
(TBW)
WarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate IronWolf 125 250GB540MB/s3005 years$65$0.24
Seagate IronWolf 125 500GB560MB/s7005 years$90$0.18
Seagate IronWolf 125 1TB560MB/s1,4005 years$170$0.16
Seagate IronWolf 125 2TB560MB/s2,8005 years$359$0.15
Seagate IronWolf 125 4TB560MB/s5,6005 years$655$0.16

Synology SAT5210

Best SSD for Synology NAS

Synology SAT5210
Synology SAT5210. (Source: Synology)

If you want Synology-branded NAS drives for your Synology NAS, there’s only one route to take and that’s to purchase them from the company. The SAT5210 range of 2.5-inch SSDs is excellent.

Capacity480 GB – 3.8 TB
Speed530 MB/s
Workload1.3 DWPD
Warranty5 years
  • Guaranteed support with Synology NAS
  • Excellent sustained performance
  • Good 5-year warranty
  • No noise and lower power draw
  • Expensive
  • Limited capacities

Did you know you could kit out your Synology NAS enclosure with branded drives? Synology is making HDDs and SSDs and the Synology SAT5210 is a solid choice for NAS owners. So long as you don’t require capacities beyond 4TB, you’ll be sorted with a few of these puppies installed.

Speed-wise, these SATA SSDs will manage 530MB/s and are able to perform 1.3 drive writes per day (DWPD), which essentially means each drive can write its capacity each day. The warranty is a generous five years and should provide peace of mind to those who fear the finite write total of SSDs.

But what’s the difference between the Synology SAT5210 and some standard desktop-class SSD? It has a high-quality controller for enhanced reliability and performance, as well as some NAS-focused features like power-loss protection. Just be prepared to pay considerably more for these luxuries.

DriveSpeedWorkloadWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Synology SAT5210 480GB530MB/s1.3 DWPD5 years$204$0.37
Synology SAT5210 960GB530MB/s1.3 DWPD5 years$344$0.33
Synology SAT5210 1.9TB530MB/s1.3 DWPD5 years$600$0.31
Synology SAT5210 3.8TB530MB/s1.3 DWPD5 years$1,094$0.32

Western Digital Blue

Best budget NAS SSD

Western Digital Blue
Western Digital Blue. (Source: WD)

Western Digital’s Blue SSDs are designed for PCs but you can use them inside a NAS. They’re not designed for server use and as such don’t come with high workload ratings, but you can get away with using these SSDs if you don’t plan on writing a lot of data.

Capacity250 GB – 4 TB
Speed~560 MB/s
Workload~600 TBW
Warranty5 years
  • Better value
  • Excellent sustained performance
  • Good 5-year warranty
  • No noise and lower power draw
  • Not designed for NAS
  • Limited capacities
  • Weaker endurance

I never normally recommend using drives designed for PCs in a NAS, but the Western Digital Blue range of SSDs is pretty good. An SSD will only be able to write so much data so regardless of which you choose you’re on borrowed time.

If all you care about is price and value, look no further than the Western Digital Blue. The base model only has a total workload limit of 100TB, meaning you’re going to encounter issues with storage when you’re approaching (or succeeding) this number.

SSDs designed for NAS use have far higher endurance ratings, but they also cost considerably more. Still, This Blue range of SSDs has a warranty for five years, can hit speeds of up to 560MB/s, and isn’t too bad when you look at the $ per GB.

SSDSpeedWorkload
(TBW)
WarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Blue 250GB550MB/s1005 years$55$0.22
Western Digital Blue 500GB560MB/s2005 years$68$0.14
Western Digital Blue 1TB560MB/s4005 years$90$0.12
Western Digital Blue 2TB560MB/s5005 years$200$0.10
Western Digital Blue 4TB560MB/s6005 years$400$0.11

Western Digital Red SN700

Best SSD for NAS caching

Western Digital Red SN700
Western Digital Red SN700. (Source: WD)

Looking to improve the performance of your NAS and the already installed HDDs? Using an M.2 SSD for caching can do just that. So long as your NAS enclosure has a free M.2 slot, you’re good to go with the Western Digital Red SN700.

Capacity250 GB – 4 TB
Speed~3,430MB/s
Workload~1 DWPD
Warranty5 years
  • Great performance
  • PCIe 4.0 SSD
  • Great for NAS caching
  • Good 5-year warranty
  • Pricey

An M.2 SSD installed inside a compatible NAS enclosure (basically one with M.2 slots) isn’t usually used for storage but improves the performance when accessing data stored on mechanical drives. You could think of them as an index page, allowing software to quickly access data.

NAS with M.2 slots allows for the use of the best M.2 NVMe SSDs for NAS caching. The Western Digital Red SN700 range of M.2 NVMe drives are excellent for this purpose. They’re PCIe 4.0 too, allowing speeds of up to 3,430MB/s, which is ridiculously fast. If you want to give your hard drives a little boost, this is a great way to go.

They’re rated for up to 1 drive writes per day (DWPD), which is pretty good for a cache drive, and a warranty covers use for five years.

DriveSpeedEnduranceWarrantyPrice$ per GB
Western Digital Red SN700 250GB3,100MB/s1 DWPD5 years$91$0.36
Western Digital Red SN700 500GB3,430MB/s1 DWPD5 years$80$0.16
Western Digital Red SN700 1TB3,430MB/s1 DWPD5 years$145$0.15
Western Digital Red SN700 2TB3,400MB/s0.7 DWPD5 years$250$0.13
Western Digital Red SN700 4TB3,400MB/s0.7 DWPD5 years$694$0.17

Seagate IronWolf Pro 125

Best endurance NAS SSD

Seagate IronWolf Pro 125
Seagate IronWolf Pro 125. (Source: Seagate)

If you’re writing some serious data to your NAS on a regular basis, you’ll need an SSD that can handle it. The Seagate IronWolf Pro range of flash drives is designed with heavy workloads in mind.

Capacity240 GB – 3.84 TB
Speed545 MB/s
Workload~7,000 TBW
Warranty5 years
  • Superb endurance
  • Brilliant sustained performance
  • Data transfer speed up to 545MB/s
  • Good 5-year warranty
  • Pricey
  • Limited capacities

Seagate launched its IronWolf Pro 125 series of drives for those who have a high workload configured for their NAS enclosure. And I’m talking serious amounts of data. The highest capacity drive has a maximum terabytes written rating of 7,000. This means you can write the drive’s capacity over again 1,822 times before encountering any degradation.

Similar features on the IronWolf 125 can be found here too, including power loss data protection, health management, and data recovery. To enjoy this impressive endurance, you will take a small hit to performance, but if you’re working with huge files, these drives will be more than a match for your requirements.

SSDSpeedWorkload
(TBW)
WarrantyPrice$ per GB
Seagate IronWolf Pro 125 240GB545MB/s4355 years$98$0.41
Seagate IronWolf Pro 125 480GB545MB/s8755 years$110$0.23
Seagate IronWolf Pro 125 960GB545MB/s1,7505 years$280$0.29
Seagate IronWolf Pro 125 1.92TB545MB/s3,5005 years$350$0.18
Seagate IronWolf Pro 125 3.84TB545MB/s7,0005 years$495$0.13

FAQ

Do you need an SSD for NAS?

There’s a very good chance you don’t actually require SSDs for NAS use. Mechanical drives are quick enough to keep up with the 1Gb connection that most NAS enclosures (and home networks) have and as such aren’t considered a bottleneck.

Should you be moving up to a 2.5Gb NAS and network, this is when it can make more sense to use an SSD. Another case for flash storage is better endurance thanks to the lack of any moving parts and it should lower power usage slightly.

SSDs aren’t all great, however. I make note of workload and endurance ratings from manufacturers as these are incredibly important metrics. The amount of data that can be written to SSDs is a finite amount and as such, you’ll need to pick carefully when using them for heavy workloads.

Can you use a desktop storage drive inside NAS?

It is possible to use just about any hard drive or solid-state drive, so long as they’re compatible with the NAS enclosure you’re planning to use. The issue arises when attempting to push these storage drives hard or run them continuously. They’re not designed for such usage.

This is where NAS-specific drives come into play. I only recommend such drives in NAS Master buyer guides such as this. They have enhanced protections again vibrations and can run 24/7 without problems.

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