Plex is a fantastic platform for streaming all your media from a central location to connected devices. Instead of paying out for Spotify and potentially losing access to certain tracks if the service no longer offers them, you can use all your locally-stored media from CDs or downloaded from stores like iTunes and Amazon to build a catalog of content. There’s also the bonus of being able to stream photos and movies, as well as music.
After purchasing a Network Attached Storage (NAS) unit or setting up a small PC yourself, you will need some hard drives to store everything on. Just like we do with general NAS usage, it’s strongly recommended you upgrade from desktop-class hard drives to specific NAS versions. Here are a few excellent examples you should consider.
How to pick the right NAS for Plex
Western Digital Red
Western Digital Red is a family of hard drives specifically marketed for NAS deployment. There’s a three-year limited warranty included and the drives themselves are rated for continuous operation. Western Digital is also renown for its top quality storage solutions, and you’ll be sure to get years worth of use out of these drives. The Red series isn’t the fastest on the market and competitor options can have a slight edge, though in Plex terms this isn’t a big issue.
The series offers capacities of 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB and 8TB. If you’re not going to be storing much at all, it’s possible to pick up the 1TB drive for just $62.99. That’s more money than you’d pay for a desktop-class drive, but you’re paying for enhanced reliability and additional features — each drive comes with the company’s NASware 3.0. A drawback is an omission of mounting brackets or screws.
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To take on Western Digital and its Red series of drives, Seagate has IronWolf. The lineup is similar to Red hard drives in numerous ways, including technology with AgileArray, which helps improve performance and reliability over traditional desktop drives. And if you need to install more than eight of them in a single NAS unit, IronWolf Pro drives are available but cost a little more.
Similarly to the Red series, IronWolf drives come in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, 7TB, 8TB and 10TB versions and sport a three-year warranty. The most affordable choice is the 1TB drive, which will cost you $59.99. Your Plex will last for a long time with a million hours mean time between failure (MTBF).
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HGST Deskstar NAS
HGST isn’t technically a third option, but rather a sub-choice under Western Digital, since the company is owned by the storage giant. Still, its hard drives are well worth considering because similar performance, reliability, and customer support are included. HGST NAS drives come rocking protection measures and advanced features to extend MTBF and avoid errors or data loss. More expensive than WD and Seagate drives, HGST offers faster transfer speeds.
As well as the higher asking price — $129 for 4TB — there is a slight drawback to these drives, namely noise. They’re quite loud during operation. That’s not normally an issue for NAS deployment, since these units are usually placed in locations where silence isn’t required, but it’s something worth considering.
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Store all the things
Dedicated NAS drives are a middle ground between desktop and enterprise drives. They’re durable enough for shared storage deployment and usually come optimized for NAS use. Increased performance and better power efficiency can also be found in NAS drives compared to their desktop counterparts. Lastly, we have drives specifically designed for surveillance systems. These aren’t recommended for a NAS simply because they offer lower random access performance but are a secondary option.
You will want to aim for a 7,200RPM drive with 64MB of cache. The drives we rounded up will perform similarly between brands, but you’ll want to pay attention to reviews, as well as features and specifications, to pick a drive that will handle everything you throw at it.
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