One of the things I always do when starting a new hobby is lookup as many opinions on gear needed and mull it over for a long time before pulling the trigger. Something I really liked about unRAID was its willingness to accept hard drives and SSDs from different manufactures, of different sizes and speeds. This means you can start with whatever hardware you might have lying around. Have an old 500 GB hard drive? Throw it in! You can always change! That being said, I did the exact opposite of this…

My initial plan was to have two hard drives, one data drive and one parity drive, and two solid state drives in a pool together. I chose this as it nets me the ability to lose one hard drive or solid state drive without losing any data.

While I ended up using Unraid, these drives should work with any NAS.

Hard Drives

I looked into the “best” hard drives and ended up discovering four different strategies, summarized here to save you time. Additionally, whenever we’re talking about hard drives, its a good idea to mention the company Back Blaze, as they are one of the biggest purchases of hard drives who release quarterly stats on each model and manufacturer, Read their states here.

Now we’ll walk through the least expensive to most expensive options:

1. Drives You Have On Hand

As mentioned before, unRAID is very tolerant with mixing and matching different drives. Therefore if you find yourself with any unused hardware, feel free to slap that into your system. Performing an initial preclear and leveraging the built in health checks that will help warn you of any mechanical issues.

2. Easy Store

These drives often go on sale and are exclusively offered by Best Buy. These hard drives come in various sizes:

Every sale ends up having different drives come out a the cheapest price per terabyte.

What’s important to note is that these are sold as external USB 3.0 hard drives. In order to gain access to the drive inside, one must “shuck” the plastic shell and get to the internal drive. Additionally, sometimes one must add a small piece of tap over the hard drive to stop a specific pin from receiving voltage. There are various youtube videos on how to approach this, but please be aware, that this will void your warranty.

3. Seagate Ironwolf

These are the drives I ended up going with as there was a good deal at the time. I’ve seen many people swear by these as well as others swearing off of. I found the price per terabyte to be good enough to give them a go.

4. Western Digital Red

These drives are Western Digital’s (WD) NAS line of drives. While they spin at 5400 RPM, you won’t notice a difference outside of maybe your initial preclear. These drives stand out as being the least likely to fail and have a three year warranty.

If warranty is your thing, you can shell out even more for their pro variety.