WD Red Pro vs HGST UltraStar DC

Should you use HGST UltraStar DC or WD Red Pro Drives in your NAS?

When choosing the right NAS server, one of the most important decisions you will make is the kind of hard drive media that you want to install. Different NAS server devices from Synology to QNAP will have different CPU and Memory options, however, the hard disks that you choose to install inside will have a massive impact on both the performance speeds of your NAS, as well as your long-term stability and support. More and more users are turning towards enterprise-class and more ruggedly designed NAS drives in order to ensure their data is both fast and stable and of all the companies out there supplying drives, Western Digital (WD) are one of the best in providing high-quality drives. Despite enterprise drives such as HGST UltraStar DC and WD Red Pro being designed with much larger RAID arrays in mind, even 2-Bay NAS buyers are starting to install these high-end drives in their devices, thanks to a myriad of hardware and support advantages. With the announcement that WD GOLD is going to be end-of-life (replaced by the HGST UltraStar DC), we thought it prudent to discuss whether you should buy HGST UltraStar DC drives whilst they are available or are the WD Red Pro series drives the better choice?


Why Choose HGST UltraStar DC and WD Red Pro over regular Hard Drives in your NAS?

Back when hard drives were first being produced, petty much all hard disks were identical in design. The technology was not hugely developed and the priority over all things was capacity. However, later on, this gave way to a more balanced opinion of leveraging capacity versus stability and that was when we started seeing more tailored drives being produced such as the WD Green that was designed for low energy situations or the WD Black that was designed for much more rugged, heavy use. It stands to reason that when you have data being created in almost all industries and environments around the world, that different hard drives for different needs would have to be produced, i.e. there are many, many kinds of spoons – but you wouldn’t use a ladle to stir your tea!

This rule is made especially important with NAS servers. NAS devices can be in operation for weeks and/or months at a time, have very sporadic read and write actions and generally involve RAID (redundant array of independent disks) which means a higher degree of stability whilst multiple disks are accessed at the same time is essential. Regular NAS hard drives such as WD Red and Seagate Ironwolf as excellent for this, but even they have a few shortfalls if you are a business user, intend to access your data much more regularly or want a much more comprehensive solution. Below are the difference between NAS hard drives and WD Red Pro and HGST UltraStar DC.

WD Red Pro

& HGST UltraStar DC

WD Red
Ideal number of NAS Bays Up to 16 bay NAS 1-8 bay NAS Upto 8 HDD, WD Red will be Stable
Capacity available 2TB – 14TB 1GB – 10TB Smaller Capacities are available in WD Red
Price Around £33-35

per Terabyte

Around £25-28

per Terabyte

WD Red is lower in price
Cache Up to 128 MB 16 MB and 64 MB More Cache in PRO, combined with higher RPM means much higher Read and Write


5400-7200RPM PRO is faster, while WD Red is a fixed point that is lower
Acoustics (dBA)Idle

Seek (average)

2936 2528 PRO Class drives are noisier
Warranty 5-year 3-year Longer coverage for replacement and/or repair with a PRO class drive

Advantages of WD Red Pro and HGST UltraStar DC

  • Longer Warranty
  • Higher Read and Write speeds (around 200MB/s, whilst regular WD Red is around 90-100MB/s)
  • Better for larger RAID arrays of 8 or more drives

Advantages of WD Red

  • Quieter whilst in use
  • Lower Price per Terabyte
  • Smaller Capacities are available

WD Red Pro versus HGST UltraStar DC – Which is Best?

As the chart above shows, Pro class drives such as the WD Red Pro and the HGST UltraStar DC have most of their advantages in stability, long-term coverage and speed. This isn’t a huge surprise and with capacities getting bigger (HGST UltraStar DC and WD Red Pro in 12TB) the option of a small yet powerful 2-Bay NAS and two PRO class drives is very appealing (for small business), as the price will only be around £10 extra per terabyte of hard drive. But should you buy HGST UltraStar DC (designed for data centers) or WD Red Pro (designed for NAS)

The simple truth is that these two drives are just too similar for their construction and quality to separate them. What little difference (the MTBF seems better on the HGST UltraStar DC, the max operational time is the tiniest bit higher on the WD Red Pro as they use less power) can be overlooked as the test environment and intended usage situation of both is different. At a pinch I would recommend the HGST UltraStar DC, as they are identical in price and the support and warranty service overall will be quicker for an RMA on a HGST UltraStar DC drive, as these are considered enterprise – sadly even WD would have to admit they a business user will always prioritize over a home user. But apart from that, your choice can always come down to traditional factors such as price and capacity. It is certainly worth highlighting that the newest and biggest capacities always arrived in the HGST UltraStar DC range first. If you are considering the WD Gold drive, then you will have to buy FAST whilst they are still available. Alternatively, you can look into the official replacement, the HGST UltraStar DC Series of drives.

WD Gold is End of Life – Alternative HGST UltraStar DC Drive List HERE


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      36 thoughts on “WD Red Pro vs HGST UltraStar DC

      1. I have one clarification question for my next build and/or a possible take away. Based on your video… it is safe to assume i should not put a regular 5400rpm hard 3.5 drive into a NAS but in theory can do the opposite. Seems I CAN put a 3.5 mm 7200 10gig NAS drive in a computer for deep onboard file storage? Over the next year, I plan to stagger build a PC then NAS, and was hoping to the use larger capacity 3.5 drives in my PC first and then migrate those cold storage drives to the upcoming NAS down the road (buy once/cry once) will I run into any issues with this plan? will I have to offload data before building the NAS file system repositories on those 3.5s or can it adapt? Am I missing anything else unforeseeable? (I haz small lizard brainz)

      2. So… what’s the deal with the (phony ? ????) book cabinet? At first I noticed some books that look very similar, but when you observe this more closely, obviously with a WD purple built for surveillance, you will notice that the book pattern, so the books in sequence repeat themselves on every shelf. Unless ofcourse, something is wrong with the Raid stripes on my wd purple nas! ????

      3. I have my NAS set up to spin down HDDs after 30 min of no access and the only drives to have failed in the time have all been Seagate with Hichai and WD drives still going 10 years later, the replacements were Toshibas so we will see if they can keep up with their 20gb ancestor from 20+ years ago.

      4. The different SKU might not entirely be a scam, but the difference in pricing most certainly is. What makes the WD Purple 40% more expensive to manufactured compared to their Ultrastar Datacenter Drives in the same capacity?!?

      5. I know this is a really old video but I want to put in my $0.02 so I might help some people…
        Having worked in many data centers for a hand full of storage companies I can say a large portion of the hard drives they use are bog standard “consumer* 7200 rpm SATA HDDs, not some special type “designed” for NAS, RAID, or data center use. There is essentially no difference between drives labeled for “NAS”, “Desktop”, “Data Center”, etc.
        It doesn’t matter if you use a drive in RAID or on its own either, the drives have no idea they are in RAID so the idea that one drive can better deal with another drive in the array failing is complete nonsense. This video just reiterates what hard drive makers want you to believe so you’ll spend more on hard drives.
        For anyone trying to figure out what line of drive you should get for your NAS just get the “desktop drive” in the capacity you want.

      6. Why is there no mention of Error Recovery Control (ERC) / Time Limited Error Recovery (TLER) as another significant difference between standard desktop use drives and NAS drives? You want ERC in a drive intended for raid so it doesnt hang when an intermittent problem occurs and break your raid by dropping the drive while it re attempts to access the block before it gives up and marks it as a bad block. And not Ideal in a single drive use as you want the drive to actually try to access the data because you have no redundancy. In a single drive use that data isn’t stored anywhere else so its not beneficial to just drop it at the first sign of a read delay.

      7. Just found this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AMFz3riawI – they teardowned the Seagate Baracuda Gaming Dock.

        its said on the Seagate´s official product page that:

        “””…Massive Storage Space – Archive projects, store older games and media files, plus enjoy plenty of space for tomorrow’s hot titles with 4 TB of expansive hard drive capacity….”””

        And now take a gueas what HDD is inside??? – What Seagate put there as a HDD for a large amount of data???

        ????????????Iron wolf pro NAS with a slot for SSD. ????????????

      8. ❓ Can I use Irowolf pro in my desktop just for data? I mean I have system on ssd and I need a disk for thousands of photos/videos (stored on desktop not on NAS – to be able to work with them)? I dont want baracuda (8TB) because they are just 5400 and I want 7200 for sure. Baracuda pro sells no shop any more 🙁 Even firecuda are not sold. So which disk for data on my desktop❓

      9. A NAS HD will ALWAYS be good for desktop purposes. If not overkill then still always better than a NON Nas HD.
        Yes we all know SSD is THE fast boot option but most users need storage space as well.
        Lesser programmes we are happy to run at a slower pace also fit the bill for a second, slower storage option for various budgets, like a HD as a D:/ or whatever the owner chooses.
        Gone are the days D:/ was reserved for a CD/DVD/Even Blue Ray player.
        The point is, do you do enough on your PC that you need a HD as robust as a NAS HD?. If you are like me and live on your PC the answer is YES!
        First I will be getting a 10TB Nas drive to compress and hopefully save all the data on my 2 x 10TB hd’s that are both external and not full, so with Winrar/zip I may get there lol. I feel the need to back up as they have both had issues even with the less demanding USB 3.0 connection. Too many USB connections also slows down boot up BAD!
        Already backed up basic needs to a separate HD but…….
        The 2 x 10Tb externals overheat in their external cases because I am using them as I would a not very busy NAS.
        Constantly losing connection while processing several hundred video files in sequence these days, so waking to a morning PC that did SFA overnight, whereas a NAS system would have sorted it by NEVER being disconnected due to USB issues 🙁
        Time to stretch the budget!
        Thank for the affirmation that NAS drives ARE ACTUALLY BETTER! Cheers 🙂

      10. Hi thanks for the great content. I am currently thinking of moving from local hdds to nas. What if I use a NAS HDD for desktop first to copy some data from local storage then put the HDD to a NAS system? Does it work?

      11. What would you recommend for a PC running RAID 1 but used as a Blue Iris server? I know solid state is the best but not affordable in 2TB. I was looking at a Seagate BarraCuda 7200 256MB ST2000DM008. Only running 5 cameras but the drives I’m running now are 5400 and cuts off much of the video.

      12. I guess that there won’t be a problem running a NAS Drive in my regular Desktop PC(for dumping my old Data)?
        It’s not failing because of “Under-Utilisation” or something?

      13. This guy talks too much and is not correct. I Have 4 nas setups that I’ve had running for 6 + years 24/7. The WD Reds are marked NAS and they are only 5400 RPM. They are SLOW but run cooler and are cheaper to make.
        Most nas drives are 5400-5900 rpm they run coolers but are not ENTERPRISE server drives.

        I have a 5TB raid 1 Hitachi 7200 RPM drives that way out perform official nas drives. They have been up 6+ years 24/7. My first drives to go bad were the WD Reds not the 7200 RPM drives.

        I think its mostly marketing you can put any HD pair in a NAS and they will run fine. I have not found WD Reds to last any longer than any other HD and less than say Dell Enterprise SAS drives.

        The vibration stuff is hogwash too, ive not found a issue with non nas drives. I have put NAS drives in a Dell server to test and they were dog slow vs the 7200 RPM enterprise drives and way slower than the 10,000 and 15,000 RPM sas drives. Again My SAS drives are all raid (LSI controller) and are on 24/7 for years. My home PC is on 24/7 I never turn it off and my 4TB 3TB 7200 rpm and SSD are all fine. 3 years 24/7. I leave all my PCs on never turn them off. Its harder on the components to turn ON/OFF/ON/OFF all those heating and cooling cycles does more harm than leaving it on.

        I think a good compromise is the Iron Wolf 5900 NAS drives they perform around 180MB/sec which is decent.

      14. Plz tell me how to buy a same model hard disk… Just all wd blue internal hard drive are same or not…
        How to buy a same model hard disk for my laptop…just wauching a Serial number or model number.