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Can you put SSDs in a NAS?

Most NAS drives will accept SSDs as well as mechanical hard drives - we look at whether it's a good idea

It is entirely possible to populate NAS drives with SSDs, as they accept 2.5in drives, but the question is, should you?

Although solid-state storage may offer top performance, this isn’t necessarily in the context of adding them to NAS drives. SSD drives don’t tend to generally offer a huge advantage, especially when you consider the gigabit Ethernet connections that are able to reach transfer speeds of up to 110MB/sec. Faster options like 10GbE hardware, however, require serious investment.

Despite this, it doesn’ mean that adding SSDs will ultimately be completely useless. We tested out the Qnap TS-453B hich has four 2.5in SATA SSDs and we found a small boost in 4K read speeds. This was a rise from 10.4MB/sec to 11.4MB/sec.

As anyone who has been near a four-bay NAS appliance will be able to testify, the collective noise produced by four mechanical hard disks can be deafening. On the other hand, SSDs don’t contain any moving parts so run silently, with the only sound you can expect from your NAS being its internal fan.

SSDs have the additional benefit of usually using less power compared to mechanical disks. From the tests we carried out on the four-bay Qnap TS-453B, which was full of four 1TB Seagate Barracuda 3.4in hard disks, it used up 32w from the mains while not in use. It took 38w from the mains when it was streaming videos. After changing this to four SSDs, the number fell to 14w when idle and 16w while streaming.

There was a major drawback to SSDs in the past which was their price when you compared them to HDDs. For £40 you can purchase a 1TB mechanical disk, which means you can set up a 3TB RAID 5 array for around £160. However, SSDs have now started to narrow this divide. Up until a few years ago, a 1TB SSD would have cost around £250, whereas now prices have started to decrease so that you can get your hands on one for around £100.

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