Picking your hard drives
Beyond picking out a NAS, you will also need to fill up the device. That means you will most likely be shopping for hard drives. The TS-453Be does support 2.5-inch drives as well including SSDs but even at the highest capacities, you would be giving up a lot of space potential to run all four drives with them. That is where the add-on M.2 card can come in handy if you need the ultra high speed. But for most people, including me, the most important thing here is reliability. So there are two big things to keep in mind if that is your goal. For starters, you need to take a look at the drive compatibility listing on Qnaps website. In the past, there have been some drives with some NAS that just didn’t go well together and it causes weird issues with the RAID failing and data loss. If you are looking at a NAS I’m guessing the main reason is to prevent data loss so you don’t want any of that trouble.
The other thing to keep in mind is that you are best going with drives that are designed for NAS use. It might seem crazy because from the outside a hard drive is a hard drive right? But really drives are designed for their usage. For example, WD offers fast and normal drives for PC usage depending on how you are going to use them. But diving deeper than that, hard drives start to have interesting things going on when you have a lot of them combined. One drive will vibrate everything around it, even with rubber mounts. So putting four together, they start to affect each other. It shows the most in overall reliability.
That is why I like to go with a NAS focused drive when building a NAS. Both Seagate and WD have them. In this case, I reached out to WD and they sent over four drives to test in the TS-453Be. They sent their 6TB Red drives, this is their NAS focused lineup. Specifically, they sent the WD60EFRX drives. They run at 5400 RPM and have a 64MB cache. 5400 RPM might sound like a bad thing, but it helps with the vibrations and these drives are still designed to be quick for their RPM. You can get drives up to 10TB and down to 750GB and they have a few duplicate sizes like at 1TB and 8TB that have different cache sizes.
To deal with the vibration the red drives have what they call 3D Active Balance Plus, a dual plane balance control to help keep the vibration down and to help outside vibration from affecting the drives. The Red drives are also designed for 24/7 operation where a desktop drive isn’t actually designed and tested with that in mind. I know I keep my PC on all of the time, but the normal expectation is that it turns off or goes to sleep sometimes.
The other big thing with NAS specific drives is just how the drive handles errors. This is where a lot of the weird compatibility issues pop up because a raid controller expects the drive to handle errors in a specific way. If a hard drive takes longer than expected it will drop the drive from the raid all together to prevent the rest of the RAID to be compromised. As you can imagine if this happens when the drive isn’t bad, it can be a huge headache. WD has their NASWARE firmware for this and they are currently on their 3.0 version. This optimizes power usage for NAS use to keep temperatures down, has better error recovery, and also handles power loss a little better as well.