Future NAS Favourite – Western Digital Red Hard Disks

Since I reviewed my Synology DS1812+ NAS and suggested that the best disks to pair with this great hardware were the Seagate Barracuda 3TB, specifically the 1TB per platter ST3000DM001 model a lot has changed.

Since then, since the two firmware releases by Seagate (that seem to have resolved nothing, browse the forums here), since I had a disk die on me, since all that; Western Digital have released the holy grail of disks for home NAS users, the Western Digital Red line of NAS hard disks.

Some history first.  When one of my Seagate 3TB disks failed, completely at random, I immediately purchased another online so I could get my array back up and running ASAP without waiting for my warranty replacement (only 4 months into my 24 months, new Seagate disks are only 12 months).  It’s happened before but when I tested the brand new disk the next day it was DOA (Dead On Arrival) it wasn’t recognised by the Synology or by my desktop machine, instead making an awful metallic noise.

I then thought what other disks might be available as I had been browsing the Seagate forums and getting rather worried.  I considered Hitachi but then saw that Western Digital had a new line of disks specifically designed for NAS units but without the huge cost of the Enterprise RAID disks, they even do a 3TB version, perfect!

Western Digital Red

Size: 3TB

Speed: >5400 and < 7200 RPM

MTBF: 1,000,000 hours

Power usage On: 4.4w

Power usage Idle: 4.1w

Power-On-Hours: 8760

Warranty: 3 Years premium support

Seagate Barracuda

Size: 3TB

Speed: 7200 RPM

MTBF: 750,000 hours*

Power usage On: 8.0w

Power usage Idle: 5.4w

Power-On-Hours: 2400

Warranty: 12 months


* 3rd Party infomration, I can’t find a value for MTBF on Seagates website.

I have supported Seagate disks for a while; they have truly been great for me. However, with the firmware issues and the general vibe from the Seagate forums mixed with my own general drop in confidence with Seagate ( 3 years warranty is now 12 months).

I waned something better and Western Digital appear to be doing everything right.

The Red line of disks appears to be an evolution of the best of the Green line, low power, flexible spindle rotation speed, great 3 year warranty and a dedicated support line for Red customers makes you believe this is a company that wants to work for its customers.

As you can see, the single WD30EFRX 3TB Red in my Synology is fairing much better in terms of temperatures than its hottest ST3000DM001 cousin (20c ambient)

Synology DS1812+ Mixed Disk Temperature

The WD Red has only been operational for 19 days in these SMART readings but instantly the readings look a lot healthier than that of the Seagate disk that has been running for about 105 days , worryingly more that it is rated for! (Currently 2543 Power-On-Hours vs the 2400 Seagate specification)

Seagate SMART

Seagate Barracuda SMART Staus

Western Digital SMART

Western Digital SMART Status

There are plenty of reviews for the Western Digital Red line of hard disks, most if not all sing their praises. It’s a ever growing market place for disk manufactures as home users storage grows.

For me if any more of my Seagate disks fail I’ll be applying for my warranty replacements but I won’t be using them, I’ll be purchasing some more Western Digital Red 3TB disks for proper peace of mind.


28 thoughts on “Future NAS Favourite – Western Digital Red Hard Disks

  1. From what I’ve read about the WD Red drives, they are designed for 1 to 5 drive setups. Will they work alright with the 8 drive (to a maximum of 18 drives with the DX510’s) DS1812+? I didn’t think they were recommended for over six drive NAS’s? Any thoughts? Or is the 1 to 5 drive just the market they’re going after with these Red’s, and hoping you’ll go with their Enterprise drives in the larger setups?
    Also, when using RAID 5, do all the drives have to be the exact same? Or can you use different size drives? Or is that only with the proprietary Synology Hybrid setup?
    Thanks for any info or thoughts.

    1. Hi Lance,

      It makes sense that Western Digital are only targeting the home / small business NAS setups with the Red hard disks as they need to protect their enterprise markets. Also there is a lot more reliability testing to be done on disks in a 8+ array (think of the possible failure rate!) I’m sure that if you built a 8 disk array with WD Red it will work, its just they would rather you do it with their Enterprise level disks.

      Personally I wont be running anything more than a 4 disk RAID5 or possibly 6 disk RAID6. I’m hoping to bring a second array online using just the 3TB WD Red drives later in the year. That will give me a full DS1812+ enclosure with five WD Red and three Seagate Barracuda.

      Disks and RAID levels, yes RAID5 and RAID6 really need to use the same size disk throughout the array. SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) allows different sizes, they have an online configurator here http://www.synology.com/support/RAID_calculator.php

  2. I was strongly considering going with REDs when I got my next Synology, the DS2413+. Offering better overall reliability and that very valuable 3 year warranty.

    I do have a couple of questions, while I’m here.

    How do you track the warranty periods of your disks? So how do you know that you’ve had disk X running for so many years and therefore it’s under it’s warranty. I was considering writing the purchase date on the drive.

    Also do you know if you can convert a SHR to an SHR-2?

    1. Hi Neil,

      Warranty is tracked the same way as any other hard disk, enter your specific disk serial numbers on the Western Digital site. The support section for the Red disks is supposidly excellent, so perhaps best to check with them. Personally I’ve stuck a small label on my disks with the purchase date and array position on.

      From the Synology WIKI it looks like it is not possible to convert from a one disk SHR to a two disk SHR volume http://forum.synology.com/wiki/index.php/What_is_Synology_Hybrid_RAID%3F

      Note that converting from 1-disk redundant SHR to 2-disk redundant SHR is not available.

  3. “Note that converting from 1-disk redundant SHR to 2-disk redundant SHR is not available.”

    Bah on the conversion… I suppose if I thought about it a bit more I would have realised that it would be a really tough to resequence the data.

    So it looks SHR-2. Just need to think about 4 * 2 or 4* 3TB. Probably best if I keep the cost of this little project away from the wife.

    1. Hi Neil,

      Yes, important to get your setup well thought out before committing data to it. SHR-2 if I understand it correctly just an alternative to RAID 6 with odd sized disks you know your RAID levels. However because I wanted larger arrays and can risk just one disk redundancy I went for a 4 disk RAID 5 array (3 data and 1 parity disk) This means in my Synology DS1812+ I can have 2x 4 disk RAID 5 arrays.

      If was going for a 8 disk array I would have gone RAID 6 with the 3TB disks again, but as you said, costs and wives can make it tricky!


  4. Hello Niall,

    I’ve recently purchased an 1812+. Per your previous response, you mention that you can build 2 Raid5 arrays. Is it then possible to have a 4 disk Raid 5 and the remaining slots as SHR?


    1. Hi Joe,

      Yes, if you have 8 disk in your DS1812+ you can create one 4 disk RAID 5 array and then create a second 4 disk (or even two 2 disk SHR arrays) SHR array.

      Actually, SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) is the default choice for new arrays.


  5. Niall,

    At the moment I am waiting for the DS2413+ to be released. Now in my head I’ve picked the WD Red 2TB’s as my happy point, 5 of them, running SHR-2, which leaves me 7 slots empty for the future. Going with bigger and bigger drives as time moves on.

    Now for the last couple of years I’ve used Samsung Spinpoints 2TBs, and they’ve been fine in my DS411+, though I did have one failure earlier on. So since that point, I’ve had a spare sitting in a bubble wrap, for a day which may never happen. Well when disks were £50 – 60, I felt that was an affordable cost.

    Anyway, since I’m about to move to a more serious storage solution (for me), with ultimately a higher number of disks (and risk of failure), I had decided that WB Red 2TB, was the best solution (Cost wise), between a green solution and high end enterprise disks. Now I think it’s mentioned in the WD Red literature they are suitable for up to 5/8 disk NASes.

    Your thoughts?

    1. Hi, I agree that the Samsung Spinpoint disks in 2TB form are excellent disks, especially given their super low price point in the past. I know there have been stock supply issues with the recent supply of Western Digital Reds but if you are waiting for the DS2413+ then you should be ok. (a very nice piece of kit by the way!)

      As both disks now cost about the same (Reds are about £10 cheaper, dispite not being in stock) I’d have to take the Reds over the Spinpoint disks. The WD Reds are better optimised and offer a better warranty, 2 years better!

      Long term there isn’t too much info on the Reds life expectancy yet, but the raw specifications of the disk look better than most. The reason Western Digital say for use in 5-8 disk arrays and no more is to protect their market for the Enterprise RE4 disks for use in Business set ups with 8+ disks.

      I would be happy keeping your spare 2TB Spinpoint as a emergency spare, they are still great disks and the Synology will not complain if you mix manufactures disks of the same size. Running a SHR-2 allows you to loose 2 disks, but its no answer for a full backup of stuff you absolutely can’t replace.


  6. Sorry to disappoint, but I will keep my spare 2TB in it’s bubble wrap 🙂 It just gives me a warm feeling knowing it’s there.

    On the back up front, I currently backup my DS411+ to a DS106. I have considered an offsite S3 backup, but my video and photo’s are mixed in together and it’s the video that’s the killer, plus I haven’t received my 10Mbs upstream upgrade yet.

    Once the DS2413+ is released I will backup from that to the DS411+, which will be the best I can do. Raid 6 backing up to a Raid 5. If I lose anything after that, then it wasn’t meant to be.

    Good news, DS2413+ has been announced, so off to get the order placed …. because I’m worth it 🙂

    1. No Problem Neil, My failed 3TB Seagate warranty replacement is in the loft for the same reason.

      I’m in a similar situation with HD video, and currently managing with backups to a basic Netgear ReadyNAS.

      I hope its a pleasant experience with the DS2413+


  7. Okay, just thought I would pop back and post a couple of comments on the DS2413+.

    1. It’s quiet when combined with the WD Reds 2TB, beats the DS411+ and DS106+. However it’s in another room atm and so when I walk in that is my impression. I appreciate that this is very subjective.

    2. Temperature wise the disks are at 28/29 C. Should really look, when I am copying a couple of hundred GB of data and see what it’s reaching.

    3. Speed wise on LAN copying a 10GB file, with 1 LAN Port , running on Cat 6, to a 24 port ProCurve, about 100 – 105MBs.

    1. Excellent, sounds like those WD Reds are working well with the DS2413+

      Thanks for letting people know.


  8. I did a quick copy of 700GB+ to the DS2413+ and temperatures we 30 Degrees C for the 2 disks at the top of the disk stations, disk 1 and 2, with 3 (29), 4 (28), 5 (28).

    This was after 500GB. Speed was a steady71MBs from my PC (From A Samsung 2TB Spinpoint).

  9. Hi Niall,
    I found out your website through google, looking for a comparative test between seagate and WD disks for a home NAS solution. I read that you own a Synology 1812+ appliance, and I’d like to have you personal recommendation for a small NAS solution for my home.

    After receiving several recommendation and positive review from friends about one of the smallest Synology units (DS 212j) I’m thinnking about purchasing the 4 disks DS 413j (I don’t know what the j suffix means) with 4 WD 3TB units (the “red” ones) which are priced around 150 each.

    I’m not thinking about sofisticated RAID arrays, the aim of this system is to store HD movies (feeding a Dune HD mediaplayer), raw and jpg photos, music, and backup files from the 3 laptops (Mac/Pc) in my home.
    Currently I’m using simple external 2TB USB disks (like the good iomega) but I’m scared about loosing everything at the first disk crash.
    What do you think about the above mentioned solution? It is a 1000 USD budgeted NAS system (360 the DS413j, plus the disks).

    I appreciated a lot the crystal clear style of your reviews and technical opinions, your blog has been starrer within my favourite bookmarks now. Congratulations.

    Marco, from Italy

    1. Hi Marco,

      Thanks for the kind words, I’m pleased you found my blog useful and readable.

      If you are looking to upgrade to a multi disk unit from Synology the only real question is how many disks you need to attain the storage capacity you need. With Synology NAS units the software is the same across all versions so you’ll still get all the great features regardless of which unit you buy.

      The DS413 is a good 4 bay unit and paired along side 4x Western Digital Red 3TB disks will allow a Synology Hybrid Raid (SHR) setup similar to RAID 5 that will protect you against disk failure and give you about 9 TB of disk space. It also supports USB 3.0 external disks which nice to have for the future and should be fast enough to store and stream full HD content to your media player. I’ve no idea what “j” stands for either, I’ll investigate!

      If you wanted a more powerful unit the DS412+ has a dual core processor which means it can handle more at once but when I checked online its about $650 USD so probably too much.

      Synology have a product compare feature here if you would like to look yourself http://www.synology.com/products/compare_spec.php



  10. Thanks Niall for your opinion.
    I just purchased the DS413j for $350 (amazon black friday deal!), with 4 WD Red 3TB disks ($158 each). The whole system for less than $1000, I think it worth the money.
    I’ve been trying the Synology OS (online demo at http://www.synology.com/products/dsm_livedemo.php?lang=enu) and is plenty of features. Probably the DSM is the best competitive advantage of Synology vs its competitors.

  11. The reason that WD recommend a maximum number of drives could be resonance. If you put several drives of the same type in a cage the vibration of the drives will amplify. Therefore, one must be careful stacking drives in the same frame.
    I once had two WD3200AAKS in raid 0 and I had to put them far apart, else the computer case (cheap brand) started vibrating quite severe, resulting in seek errors and decrease of performance.

    Sorry for my crappy english, it’s not my native language.

  12. I’m planning on buying the 2413+, and filling it up with 12 4 TB WD Red drives. Would that be an issue? Do I have to go with SE drives, or can I stick with Red?

  13. Thanks for the response. Some sites stated that the Reds were good for a NAS with 1 – 5 drives only. But I’ll be using the Synology for individual business use – as I do a lot of HD video work, and would like to keep my raw footage files even after a project is complete. And with RAID, I’ll be basically down to “only” 24 TB and not 48 TB.

    But I won’t be using the Synology in an large company setting with hundreds of people accessing it daily or anything like that, so I believe the Reds should be fine too.

    1. No problem.

      I have read that about the WD Reds too, the cynical part of me thinks that is a marketing ploy to get people to stump up for the RE edition disks.

      You still have warranty at the end of the day and the Synology can monitor the hard disk SMART values on a scheduled basis for you so you’ll know if anything bad is on the horizon.


  14. Hey Niall,

    I’ve got an 1812+, which is 1.5 years old. I’ve now had four drives crash, out of 8, and two in the last month. I had a 5 disk SHR with 1 disk-redundancy, and having a WD RED and a Seagate both crash the same week (my e-mail password changed, so I wasn’t notified and didn’t notice the beeping!) lost my volume. The good news is that although recovery failed, I could still copy my key data off, and verification seems to be showing that the key data (my photos and videos) are intact.

    The frustrating part is that I had two (2) hot standbys in my disk array, just because I couldn’t convert my SHR to two-disk redundancy, and sometimes my disks were out of stock before they could be replaced, so I bought extra in advance of failures. And neither of them could be used to repair the volume, unlike my past 1-disk failures. I’m guessing that both disks failed close enough that the repair was incomplete during failure. (I could go dig through the logs, I suppose, to confirm that).

    Now that you’ve had the 1812+ and presumably the 2413+ for a while now, have you had many drives fail?

    Any ideas on how to reduce failure rates? Everything I read says that my drives’ temperatures are fine, well within the mfr specs.

    I note in the thread above that drives are supposed to last 2400 hours powered on? How fast do you set them to hibernate? How often do you set them to run SMART-tests? I had mine set at the default, and to do a fast and full SMART Test once a week, on different days. Perhaps I’m testing too often…


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