Hard disk drives have had to become specialized products designed for specific needs. The manufacturers use both hardware and software to tune the drives’ parameters for specific workloads.  For instance, a drive designed for recording surveillance video wouldnt need very good random read write access, as the data stream will just (usually) be one continuous datastream. On the other end of the spectrum, products designed for databases will read and write random data with variable frequency. There are almost as many special applications as there are colors in a basic set of Crayons. Maybe that’s why Western Digital chose colors to help differentiate its specialty products.


Western Digital’s Red series was the first true specialty HDD for the consumer market. Before the Red series, Western Digital offered the high-performance Black, the general-purpose Blue, and the budget Green disk drives. None however, were designed specifically for long term data storage, or proper NAS drives with specialized tools to be more efficient yet have a larger volume.  Seeing this market gap, Western Digital released their Red line to fill it, and in turn paved the way for NAS drive storage technology.


Western Digital released the Red series in mid-2012 in 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB capacities. The early drives were based on Caviar Green models but included a new feature called NASware. The early products have changed slightly over the years, so the original 1TB Red is different than the models shipping today. NASware is now in its third generation and supports up to eight drives in a single system instead of five. Western Digital recommends the Red Pro series for systems with more than eight disk drives.


The 8TB and 10TB Reds differ from the rest of the series.  You might not expect much of a difference between the two highest-capacity Red products, but the 10TB and 8TB models are very physically different. The 10TB has twice the amount of DRAM (256MB) and increased sequential performance of 210 MB/s. That’s much higher than the 8TB’s 178 MB/s. Western Digital doesn’t publish performance for the four-corner specifications (random and sequential read/write) like we see with solid-state drives. The company only lists a single sequential rating and no random performance specifications.  Which is great for those using their NAS storage for recording video, but doesn’t tell much if you planned on using your NAS for regular data storage


Hard drives benefit from trickle-down technology. The new Western Digital Red 10TB and 8TB drives use Helium in a sealed chamber to reduce friction on the platters. HGST developed the technology for very expensive enterprise-focused drives just a few years ago. Western Digital gained a turnkey on Helium-filled product when it purchased HGST. The technology has now come to the consumer space relatively unchanged, but at roughly a fifth of the cost.