Whether you use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) system for surveillance, managing a media server, or creative professional use, keeping an eye on your internal drives is a necessary maintenance task to ensure your NAS is performing at its best. Some NAS systems make this easy by allowing you to monitor the health of your compatible drives actively and, if you’re like me, you check this often. World Backup Day is the perfect time to review the state of your storage devices and your NAS systems―which have been the go-to storage solution for creative and professional users alike, due to their powerful performance features and expandability.
In our test system, the QNAP TS-464, I currently run four drives in a dual RAID 1 configuration. The disk mirroring of RAID 1 gives me peace of mind and I can easily swap a drive if one goes down, or substitute one drive at a time, to increase overall storage capacity. I run this particular RAID configuration because the four drives we currently use have varying storage capacities. Unfortunately, two of those drives are nearing their capacities and it’s time for an upgrade. I also wanted to use this opportunity to change our configuration to RAID 5, due to its added redundancy and parity benefits. This is part of the fun of using a NAS system: customization is welcome.
Choosing the Correct Drives
Remember when buying 10GB of storage required a small business loan? I do. On a bright note, the price of hard drives has really come down over the years. While much larger-capacity drives, like the dual 10TB ones I’ll be adding to our system aren’t what I’d call “inexpensive,” the value proposition and dollar-per-GB ratio have been working in favor of consumers at a steady pace. Simply put, larger-capacity hard drives are more obtainable than ever. Regardless, you don’t want to select any ol’ hard drive to incorporate into your system. NAS systems are demanding, and it’s important to choose a drive that can keep pace.
The drives I selected for our upgrade were the Seagate 10TB IronWolf Pro model. These drives were designed with NAS use in mind, and they have a Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) rate of 1.2 million hours. Reliability is key in the storage world and, with these drives, I can spend less time monitoring the health of our drives and more time archiving. These Seagate drives are also compatible with QNAP’s QTS operating system, so if I need to update the drives’ performance, that information is just a few clicks away. I’m also a creature of habit, and Seagate is one of the brands I’ve trusted over the years to store our most important data safely.
Making the Swap
QNAP’s interface makes swapping drives and changing RAID arrays very straightforward. It walked me through replacing each drive, one at a time, changing the RAID configuration, and increasing the overall storage capacity. Just be patient, because the act of rebuilding a drive can take several hours per disk―in my case, it took more than two days when you factor in the time it took to back up our existing data before making the RAID switch. When swapping drives, even for simple tasks like upgrading capacity, I always recommend that you first back up your storage to either an external hard drive or a third-party cloud solution. Cloud solutions are becoming increasingly popular since they allow users to have offsite backup for added security against data loss. It’s also worth noting that you can mix hard-drive manufacturers if needed. The internal drives we already had in place are manufactured by another hard drive brand I often use, and adding these new Seagate drives to the system wasn’t an issue. Our RAID performance wasn’t affected because all drives are 10TB each and run at the same number of RPMs.
Change is Good
Seagate and QNAP work well together, but there are lots of great NAS and internal hard drive combinations on the market today. If you decide to upgrade your NAS system’s storage for added capacity or due to dreaded drive failure, doing so isn’t as daunting as you might suspect; especially if you already have a solid RAID configuration in place.
Have you upgraded your NAS storage drives or are you considering doing so? Did you encounter any issues? Perhaps you’re thinking of switching your RAID array and need new drives in the process? We’d love to hear from you, below, in the Comments section.