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WD Red Plus vs. Pro: Which NAS Hard Drive Should You Choose?

Key Takeaways

  • WD Red Plus drives are designed for entry-level NAS systems used in SMBs and homes
  • WD Red Pro drives are built for intensive workloads in enterprise NAS environments
  • Pro models have higher capacities, speeds, better warranty and efficiency
  • Plus drives operate quietly but Pro noise is rarely an issue
  • We recommend Red Pro drives for most NAS configurations

When building or upgrading a NAS (network-attached storage) device, choosing the right hard drive is crucial for performance and reliability. Western Digital‘s Red series is specifically designed for NAS systems with features to handle RAID environments well.

Within the WD Red family, the Plus and Pro models cater to NAS setups with different demands. In this guide, we’ll compare WD Red Plus versus Pro drives across key criteria to help you decide which is better suited for your needs.

WD Red Plus vs Pro Comparison

Specification WD Red Plus WD Red Pro
Best For Entry-level NAS Intensive NAS workloads
Capacity 1TB – 14TB 2TB – 22TB
Disk Speed 5400 RPM 7200 RPM
Warranty 3 years 5 years

The WD Red lineup first launched over a decade ago to provide reliable and performant drives for constantly-running NAS enclosures. But as NAS technology and user expectations evolved, Western Digital had to design drives tailored to light and heavy workloads.

Thus Red Plus drives were made for affordable home and small business NAS systems, while Red Pro drives were engineered for more demanding enterprise use cases.

Although the Plus vs Pro decision depends on your specific needs, Pro models are better suited for most NAS deployments. We‘ll analyze why in this guide.

WD Red Plus Drives: Solid NAS Storage

WD Red Plus drives are designed for basic SMB and home NAS setups. Offering good performance and reliability, they balance workload capability and cost.

With support for up to 8 drive bays and 180 TB/year workloads, Plus models can easily handle backups, file sharing, media streaming, and similar tasks in compact tower NAS devices. The balanced profile focuses on energy efficiency for lower electricity bills.

Red Plus drives are available from 1TB up to 14TB, giving you flexibility to match storage demands. The larger 8TB and up units use conventional magnetic recording (CMR) rather than shingled recording, making them better suited for RAID.

For home users and starter businesses, WD Red Plus drives deliver capable NAS hard drives on a budget.

Well-Rounded for Light Workloads

  • Capacity from 1TB to 14TB
  • Speed of 5400 RPM
  • Handles up to 8 drive bays
  • 180 TB/year workload rate
  • Efficient for low power consumption
  • 3 year limited warranty

With a workload rate almost double that of standard drives, Red Plus models sufficiently handle backups, file transfers, media serving, etc in SMB NAS devices. They are energy efficient and cost effective.

WD Red Pro Drives: Built for Intensive Use

Designed for racks holding up to 24 bays, WD Red Pro drives are engineered for demanding small business and enterprise NAS environments.

With speeds up to 7200 RPM, Red Pro drives sustain over 300 TB of data transfers per year. The extreme workload tolerance makes them ideal for intensive applications, virtualization, and multi-user access in large datasets.

And with five years of warranty compared to three years on the Plus drives, you can expect a long and reliable service life from Red Pro models.

For growing businesses and data centers, WD Red Pro drives deliver excellent ROI through high endurance, premium support, and capacities scaling up to 22TB.

Purpose-Built Performance

  • Capacity from 2TB to 22TB
  • Speed of 7200 RPM
  • Handles up to 24 drive bays
  • 300 TB/year workload rate
  • Superior efficiency via HelioSeal
  • 5 year limited warranty

By combining high speeds, extra workload tolerance, larger caches, and advanced technologies like HelioSeal, Red Pro drives effortlessly handle demanding NAS environments.

Red Pro Drives Beat Red Plus on Key Metrics

Now that we‘ve compared the background and intended uses of the WD Red Plus and Pro HDD models, let‘s analyze the key differences that make the Pro drives superior for most NAS deployments.

1. Extra Capacity

While Red Plus drives top out at 14TB, Red Pro models go all the way up to 22TB. The expanded capacity allows you to grow your storage infrastructure without adding more NAS boxes.

Support for up to 24 bays also enables building extremely large and fast NAS racks. With up to 528TB in a single 42U rack, Red Pro enables some serious storage density.

The extra capacity headroom over Red Plus drives ensures your NAS has space to scale up for years without migrations.

2. Faster Speeds

With 7200 RPM spindle speeds compared to 5400 RPM on the Plus, Red Pro drives offer snappier performance in heavy workloads. Quicker response times and transfer rates make them much better suited than Plus for virtualization, gaming servers, CCTV recording, and other demanding applications.

Red Pro also uses a larger 256MB cache versus Red Plus’ 128MB cache to enable faster multi-user access. On top of caching, the Pro series supports higher sustained transfer rates to push the limits of SATA connectivity.

3. Improved Reliability

By filling drives with helium and hermetically sealing them rather than using standard air, Red Pro models reduce turbulence and vibration even at high RPMs. This makes them more reliable over long durations.

And with 2.5 million hours MTBF and 5 year warranty, Red Pro drives are built to last. The enterprise-class construction gives you unparalleled peace of mind.

4. Enhanced Efficiency

Despite having faster disks and components, Red Pro drives are actually more power efficient than Red Plus thanks to Western Digital’s HelioSeal system used in the Pro lineup.

Helium allows the platters to spin faster without added friction while using less energy. her efficiency combined with larger caches and smarter caching algorithms gives Red Pro drives the edge.

5. Marginally Louder

The one area where Red Plus beats Red Pro is noise level. Thanks to the slower 5400 RPM disks, Plus drives operate very quietly. This can be useful if installing a NAS in living areas.

However, Red Pro models are not extremely loud. The noise may be apparent in close proximity but makes little difference mounted in a rack a few feet away. Give the much higher performance, enterprises shouldn‘t let minor noise deter them from the WD Red Pro drives.

Recommendation: Choose Red Pro for NAS Systems

Given the Red Pro advantages in capacity, speed, reliability and efficiency, they are clearly the superior choice for most NAS usages, whether at home or work. The benefits easily justify the moderate price premium over Red Plus drives.

However, if building a simple NAS for backups on a tight budget, the Red Plus drives get the job done reliably. Their lower cost and energy draw make them ideal entry-level options.

But as soon as you plan to run intensive apps, use more than 8 drives, or care about future expansion – WD Red Pro is definitely the way to go.

Shop Top Rated WD Red NAS Hard Drives

Top Rated
Western Digital 18TB WD Red Pro NAS Internal Hard Drive

$469 on Amazon

The 18TB Red Pro model delivers an ideal blend of high capacity and blazing 7200 RPM speeds for intensive NAS workloads. It handles 300TB of transfers per year and features a 256MB cache.

View on Amazon

Best Value
Western Digital 4TB WD Red Plus NAS Internal Hard Drive

$94 on Amazon

With a great balance of affordability, storage, and performance, the 4TB Red Plus drive efficiently handles light NAS workloads. It supports 180TB of annual transfers at 5400 RPM.

View on Amazon

I hope this detailed comparison between WD‘s Red Plus and Red Pro NAS hard drive lines assists you in choosing the best upgrade for your NAS system. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Red Plus and Red Pro drives in the same NAS?

Technically yes, but for optimal performance it’s better to use the same model drives. Mixing models may result in the NAS throttling to the lower Plus specifications.

Is shucking external drives a cheaper way to get WD Red drives?

Sometimes external USB enclosure drives contain actual Red models inside, which can be "shucked" from the enclosure to use internally. However reliability varies when doing this.

How many bays should my NAS have for Red Pro drives?

A good rule of thumb is to allot half your anticipated total storage for future growth. So for fully leveraging 18TB Red Pros, start with at least 9 to 12 bays.