A beginners guide to setting up a Synology NAS | Part 2 | RAID and choosing hard drives

While a NAS is a device that has been specifically designed to allow the computers on a network to centrally share files and data. Most NAS devices are able to provide more functionality than just being a file server. So the type of storage that you fit to your NAS needs to be suitable for what you intent to use your NAS for.

While you can technically use any make or model of hard drive that you like. It is recommended that you purchase drives which are rated for use in a NAS.  So when purchasing hard drives we think you should consider using the following brands:

Suggested Hard Drive Models:

Note: At the time of posting a Synology NAT5300 Hard Drive seems to be just a rebadged Toshiba N300 with custom Synology firmware. 

For transparency, we currently are using Seagate Iron Wolf NAS drives in our NAS. However in the past we did use WD Red drives. The main reason we moved away from WD Red drives, is because Western Digital started to use SMR over CMR in some of their cheaper models of drives.

Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) can be a good choice if you are just storing data as it will be slightly more energy efficient than Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR) drives. However as you probably do not intend to use your NAS as an archive storage device. It is best to use CMR, as it is able to read and write large amounts of data. For example this would include activities such as video and audio streaming or image processing.

Solid State Drives

It is also worth noting that while you can fit Solid State Drives (SSD) to your NAS. If your NAS is only going to be used as a file and media server, you might find that there is little to no performance benefit to fitting SSD’s. As your NAS will be connected to your home network. The speed that your home network is able to transfer data, will create a bottleneck that will reduce the performance in fitting SSD’s. 

So while SSD’s consume less power and will be less noisy, SSD’s tend to be more expensive, have lower maximum capacities and have only a finite life expectancy. As far as we can work out, fitting SSD’s to a NAS is  best reserved for services like databases and creating Virtual Machines. So if you are a home user, new to working with NAS devices we recommend that initially you stick with HDD’s and not SSD’s


In this video we also try and explain what Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) and Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) is, and how it will effect the storage capacity of your NAS. However, we strongly recommend that as a home user you use Synology Hybrid RAID over RAID. The reason for this is that SHR is quicker and easier to understand and deploy than traditional RAID. However, please note that not all models of Synology NAS fully support SHR. For more information click here

Note: RAID and SHR are not a substitute for a backup. So you need to start thinking about how you are going to backup your data, as this will be an additional cost on top of the expenses you will incur from buying your NAS and your hard drives.

Reference materials:

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