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Server Harddrives for NAS-ish Use?

OK, I know there are reasons why NAS drives are more money than desktop drives like higher tolerance of vibration, less patience before reporting errors by design and so on. Now I’d suspect server drives to be kind of the same but just with “double the whatever”. But I don’t know for sure.

Since I am planning to run a few huge capacity drives, I thought I ask if I’m missing something. The idea is to get rid of a bunch of smaller drives and the machine running those and instead having just 3 16TB Exos drives in my mac pro and run those in raidz1.

Main difference with enterprise drives usually boils down to:

Speed - tend to be 7200rpm these days whereas consumer is 5400

Cache… Moar

Warranty is longer and includes free data recovery


If you have fewer than 6 drives stick with high end consumer or prosumer (pro) drives.

I’ve seen this start to pop up.
Have you heard of anyone using the services?
Or might it be like free insurance- you get what you pay for, and they wriggle off the hook?

Short answer no but none of my clients are dumb enough to put mission critical data on a single drive.

I doubt our security team would let me send a client disk back to a “vendor certified” recovery service we don’t have a direct contact or address for.

Like you say it is a marketing play.

On the wider point regarding enterprise Vs consumer drives at home, I run both and frankly my enterprise drives (hand me downs from client test rigs) are not materially “better” in day to day use. If I want performance i buy SSDs, bulk storage needs to be commodity now otherwise the price point is too high.

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That is the funny thing though, I’ve looked at a few etailers and the Exos drives are in fact cheaper than the Ironwolf pro and even the non pro NAS drives from Seagate.

Sounds like you could get a great deal.

For what production year though. Enterprise drives can sit in a reseller for years before clients buy them in volume. Supply side economics is always fun to play with.

Well, not very old either way. 16TB drives just don’t exist for that long.
Oh and they are all 7200rpm, so there is most likely no difference in noise either. … Right?

Neither Toshiba or WD have anything in 16TB afaik and I would want to go for the biggest drives possible.

EDIT: Actually Toshiba has 16TB drives but those are pretty expensive per TB. Like the Exos is around 450,- Euros and the Toshiba is 100,- more. And both have 5 years of warranty.

Ha ha… ha, Seagate…

Very funny, Seagate…

Keep it simple and stupid. Downsize to two 16TB (or less) in a raid1 / simple mirror.

Raid5 or raidz1 with modern drive sizes is borderline moronic. Either get enough drives to make raidz2 viable, or less - and avoid the issue entirely. A slow resilver/rebuild that fails won’t eat your data on a simple mirror, it might - on a fancy 3 drive setup.

If you do continue with your plan to do raidz1… remember that you really want/need those nice pricey drives with higher URE rates for that sort of usage. Low end NAS drives or shucked consumer drives don’t have the same rated URE, and it… kinda matters with those drive sizes in parity-based raid or raid-like solutions.

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16TB sadly isn’t enough space and two raid1 vdevs would be another 450,- Euro. I got three Seagate Exos sever drives (the 1G without encryption) brand new and will use these in raidz1 (raid5) for now. If one drive stops, I’ll make a new array and just copy my stuff over. That should be less stressful for the drives.

My main problem right now is the spacing of those screw holes. I can’t run these drives inside my mac pro, so I am looking at alternatives. Currently I am thinking about a 4 bay USB3 enclosure but I would want one that 1 to 1 passes the drives straight through.

Usb anything is… probably not great?

You got thunderbolt if it has to be external, it’d be pricey to go that way but odds are much lower of finding a bad thunderbolt drive chassis than for usb.

Do you need to use all the screws? Can’t just leave harddrives lying loose like you can with ssds, but even as few as two screws in use is still mostly fine. (For a handful or less drives in the same machine.)


Also be careful about the whole “oh lets copy to another location” instead of resilvering being less stressful. The worry isn’t the stress from the copying itself, its the uncertainty and the bother that happens if/when your raid-whatever decides to throw one of the remaining needed drives out of the array leaving you with a non-functioning array.

It shouldn’t be a problem. You have backups, if all else fails - right?

Nope, 2009 mac pro. The classic cheese grater. Closest I can get is Firewire 800 but 100MBps max is less than ideal.

The ones that fit are the closest ones to the backplane and the drives go into the machine upside down. Basically I would put the SATA connectors on my mac pro at risk. So unfortunately that is out of the question.

Yes, this will be a media NAS for stuff I own on discs.

Oh yeah in that case I’d probably go as far as considering an actual NAS before anything USB.

Even ~125MB/s is fine for bulk storage.

I guess you could look for something that gives you eSATA, and eSATA enclosures. But 3 of those + controller (or bracket?) probably adds up to as much as an actual entry-level NAS.

For my NAS systems (Iomega’s) I use their recommended NAS class SATA drives (e.g. STX 500GB ST3500412AS and 1TB ST1000DM003 drives ) that have the Iomega firmware version loaded.

I may end up paying a bit more vs. for a lower cost basic SATA drive that has lower reliability and other specs, however from what I have experienced they are well worth it. Otoh, go cheap and cheerful basic SATA drives and make sure you not only have a good RAID setup (and implementation), also make sure your backup is up to date and tested.

I had the same idea and I am currently looking at options from Synology for the most part. I had Synology in the past and got rid of an 8 bay NAS because of the Intel atom problem. I do like their software stuff though.

I’ve seen that QNAP is actually offering ZFS for some of their NAS devices now but I can’t find good information about what models can use it and what it costs and so on… Also I have no experience with their products myself.

Other option would be to go freeNAS and I do have a couple things here that would almost fit something like that. (E3 1220L v3, 32GB ECC, mATX board with IPMI) But that box would be a lot bigger again and I would like to have a shoebox, something smaller that I can fit … anywhere, pretty much.

I thought that name died with ZIP drives?! :rofl:
The drives you listed are Seagate. I’m not messing with HDD firmware, especially not on 16TB server drives. Might be a fun experiment for some crap drive at some point though.

I think I’m going back to the idea of a 4 bay USB enclosure. The main thing is that I don’t like the reliability of those NAS boxes. They just rarely seem to live very long.

Also even the cheapest 4 bay is like 400,- bucks and … you’re not getting 400,- Euros worth of hardware for that. In comparison a UASP capable 4 bay USB3 box is like 100,- Euro, maybe 150?

And if that one dies, I can throw the drives into anything and connect them back up with my machine, no weird filesystem or anything. Just plain ZFS.

USB enclosures can be bad. The last four drive one I used blocked access to SMART data. It had a fan but it was apparently pretty useless. I replaced a drive in it and wondered how it was so hot in my hand. Later after I moved the drives to a regular PC case I found they’d all been running as hot as 70° C.

I am starting to think that whatever you use, as long as it isn’t a proper server or DIY build, it’s gonna be shit. Regardless of price.

I’ll try it but I’m gonna look at temps. Thanks.