Selecting The Right Type Of Hard Drive For Your Needs

Types of Hard Drives |


When selecting the right type of hard drive for your needs, beyond speed, capacity, reliability, and any manufacturer preference, you should consider how you will use the drive itself.  For example:  Do you need a drive that will be installed in a desktop computer where the drive will be “on” most of the day, with intermittent “sleep” or “hibernating” cycles?  How about a drive that will be installed in a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device used to backup data for a small home office, or a drive as part of a server raid array of drives that are on 24/7/365 and serving hundreds of users?

Until recently, I had no idea that there are actually “types” of hard drives.  I simply thought hard drives varied by manufacturer and improvements in technology.  When selecting the right type of hard drive for my needs, I considered my history with the manufacturer, drive size (capacity) and speed.  A few weeks ago, I retired my trusty Ubuntu Server powered HP computer, and purchased a diskless Synology NAS.  I then started researching hard drives for my NAS and found out that hard drives were way more specialized than I realized.  Understanding more about these different “types” hard drives helped me correctly select the drive I needed.  My choice of hard drive for my NAS, based first on the type of drive I needed for its purpose, was an Enterprise grade hard drive.  I would have never even considered this “type” of a drive before my recent research because I simply did not know this “type” of drive even existed.

The following is an article from the Synology Knowledge DatabaseSynology manufactures NAS devices ranging from single drive devices for the home and small office to multi-drive devices for enterprise environments.  This article provides the best definition I found for “types” of hard drives and their uses.  When selecting the right type of hard drive for your needs, knowing about these “types” of hard drives, and their differences will help you make a better-informed decision on your purchase.


For additional research on selecting the right type of hard drive, this Synology article can be viewed it in its entirety by clicking HERE.

With myriad hard drive classes and models available, selecting the right hard drive for a Synology NAS might feel like a daunting task. This article will explain some of the major differences between various hard drive classes available on the market, as well as what considerations are needed when selecting the right hard drive for Synology NAS.

Currently, there are four major hard drive classes on the market, each designed for specific applications, workloads, MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures), and POH (Power-On-Hours). Basically, all hard drive classes can be used with Synology NAS, but we recommend choosing the right drive class to fit your needs:

Desktop drives:

Desktop drives are designed for desktop or notebook computers where usually a single drive is installed. Most desktop drives are more affordable but seldom come with vibration protection, making them more vulnerable in multi-drive RAID environments where vibration from other drives and the system chassis can affect both drive health and system performance. When installed in NAS systems, desktop drives are suitable for situations where data is not often accessed, such as serving a small group of users who occasionally save or access documents on the drive, or as a backup storage destination which only requires a few hours of activity each day.

Enterprise drives:

Enterprise drives are often manufactured using more advanced technology or superior components to provide better performance, POH, MTBF, vibration protection, and error correction. When installed in NAS systems, enterprise drives are suitable for environments that require high data availability and consistent throughput even when moving large amounts of data. This means enterprise drives are more appropriate for businesses with numerous employees accessing files simultaneously, database servers, or virtual storage systems.

NAS drives:

For users who find desktop drives not durable enough, and enterprise drives too expensive to afford, NAS drives provide an alternative that is optimized for NAS usage. They often feature better durability, balanced performance, and power consumption when compared to desktop drives.


Some NAS drives lack vibration sensors and may not be suitable for multi-bay and rack systems. Please check with manufacturers for details regarding hard drive specifications before purchasing.


Surveillance drives:

To accommodate the 24/7 demands of long video recordings, surveillance drives are optimized for sequential write operations but offer lower random access performance.


Some surveillance drives lack vibration sensors and may not be suitable for multi-bay and rack systems. Please check with manufacturers for details regarding hard drive specifications before purchasing.

If the workload exceeds the maximum capability of surveillance drives, we recommend using enterprise drives.


Term Explanation

  • Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF): MTBF is a statistic used by manufacturers to state the reliability of hard drives. Often the higher the MTBF, the lower chance of failure. Note that there is no manufacturer of any hard drive that can absolutely guarantee zero failures.
  • Power-On-Hours (POH): POH is the length of time, in hours, that electrical power is applied to a device. For hard drives, two categories are usually used:

8/5: eight hours a day, 5 days per week.

24/7: 24 hours a day, for every single day in the year.

  • Workload: user’s data transfer rate (terabytes per annum) with the drives.

By prometheus

Husband. Father. Grandfather. World class Geek.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.