There is no denying that any storage device can be used with a diskless NAS module – as long as it has a compatible form factor (3.5 and/or 2.5 inches) and a compatible interface (SATA, eSATA, SAS). But then I have this question: what is the purpose of making such a thing as network-attached storage (NAS) in the first place? Might as well use a regular external drive of large capacity or a simple version of DAS.
A Network drive becomes necessary when we need:
- Remote access to some files
- Data sharing; a locally connected DAS becomes available for public use with the help of “Share” service by Windows
- Access at any time – without delays
- Frequent access to large amounts of information (for example, when one disk contains more than 12 TB of data)
- Operation of hard drives as a part of the DM (one disk can be used as well)
To receive quality results, data storage devices designed specifically for this purpose are required. That is why in the last decade the manufacturers have been actively developing and improving drives for building NAS arrays. They inherited many properties from their counterparts – server drives used in data centers. Actually, NAS drives have turned into a half-way house between server-based and personal storage solutions in terms of the price, speed and reliability. However, each consumer chooses the characteristics that he prefers for his own use.
If you want to obtain information about a particular device, you can find the best models of hard drives for NAS for example, here. This information should be useful for those readers who always want to learn more on properties of technical equipment. So, what characteristics should NAS drives possess? We will touch upon several parameters that are interrelated.
NAS Hard Drive Requirements
Firstly, it is reliability and work around the clock, which implies the device’s high wear resistance. In order for a NAS drive to be continuously ready for transferring the requested data. The spindle drive, compared to a conventional drive, has a longer “timeout” for “parking” and stopping the spindle when the device is not in use, i.e. it almost does not stop, while the reading heads of the drive do not “get parked”. This, by the way, increases reliability, because the most frequent problems occur during a start/shutdown. The heads may accidentally “unpark/park”. The spindle may get jammed and the service information may not record properly when the drive stops operating.
High Average Mean Time Between Failures
NAS-drives have a high average mean time between failures (MTBF) – 1 to 3 million hours (depending on the class of the device), which is higher than that of the “normal” ones by one third and more. The workload of the devices ranges between 180 and 550 TB per year. It is 3-10 times more than that of the drives for desktop PCs. The drive’s reliability properties determine the warranty terms and conditions by manufacturers – from 3 to 5 years
Resistance to Vibration
Secondly, it is resistance to vibration, which occurs when using HDD in a disk array. Balancing a drive between two planes can reduce vibration, but in a multi-drive environment the vibration may increase. Therefore, in NAS modules with four or more drives, it is recommended to use HDD that have sensors of rotational vibration. Reducing vibration decreases potential tear and wear of NAS drives.
Protection against Failures
Thirdly, it is protection against failures implemented by certain technological solutions: not only solutions such as lack of frequent parking of heads and stops of the motor during stand-by but also a timeout in the process of correcting errors. NAS drives have a special firmware; its key feature is a modified reaction to emerging reading and recording errors. If it is necessary to recover information from an unstable or a failing section. Within eight seconds the drive notifies the RAID controller that it needs help in recovering the lost fragment. Afterward, reassignment of a failing section takes place, even if S.M.A.R.T indicators remain normal.
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“Ordinary” drives often bluntly continue their attempts to read information. Which is perceived by a RAID array as a complete disk failure — it is being “kicked out” of the RAID system.
Increased Energy Efficiency
Fourthly, it is an increased energy efficiency due to which the heating temperature is almost twice lower compared to that of the “ordinary” hard drives. It lets you install drives in a relatively small and tight frame structure of the network storage without being afraid of possible overheating.
Manufacturers of network drives design their devices for use with NAS drives, and not some random HDD. Special models are always tested for compatibility with network storages. It means their installation and use will be very efficient and trouble-free.