Seagate IronWolf 16TB HDD– the Heart of our new NAS Testbed

Written by Martin Regtien on . Posted in Storage

Ironwolf 16 0 

Recently we tested and reviewed a pair of Seagate Skyhawk hard drives specifically created for Surveillance NAS units.

This time around – courtesy again from Seagate – we’re putting their latest IronWolf HDDs to the test: a couple of 16TB heavy duty general purpose drives to be the heart of our Synology DS420+ NAS.

We won’t bore you with too many specs but if you come away with a deeper appreciation of the technology that you trust your precious data to, I consider my job done.

So come along for the drive... :)

 

Seagate has been around the block a few times: 40 years ago they started production of hard drives.

I remember that well, which indicates my vintage. I worked for IBM at the time and was fascinated by the extreme precision needed to create a hard drive where the arm was flying so close to the platter - akin to flying a Boeing 747 a couple of inches off the ground...

Things have evolved a bit since then and we’ve gone from punch card storage to 40MB hard drives all the way up to 18TB disks and flash storage.

Reliability is a key issue for anything that contains your data. I’ve seen many a hard drive and SSD fail. It’s rare but not uncommon. That’s where NAS units shine as they can build in some redundancy with the multiple drives they house.

The IronWolf series (great name, by the way) claim to be “ahead of the pack” in that regard.

What follows is a bit of marketing speak - fancy words to stress the extreme reliability of these Seagate drives. We went into that with our previous Skyhawk review as well so here is a quick summary.

AgileArray delivers drive balancing by using dual-plane balance and rotational vibration (RV) sensors.

In simple words: if you have a bunch of disks spinning at high speed (thousands of RPM) in an enclosure it can cause destructive vibration. Hence a couple of RV sensors on every drive to minimise the effects of vibration. Clever.

And that’s just one thing of the AgileArray approach.

Other features include: RAID optimization for increased performance and advanced power management as well as Error Recovery Control.

This all results in better performance of the whole system and lower power consumption for the unit. And when these drives are in operation 24/7/365 that’s important.

Another main feature is the IronWolf Health Management system that allows you to monitor closely how healthy the drives are and to notice any deterioration over time so that we can enjoy the touted 1M hours MTBF which equates to well over a 100 years of use...

Well, that’s not gonna happen of course since by then DNA storage will be in full swing and we’ll carry all our own data on ourselves in our bodies which will be neuralinked to the big mainframes at NSA HQ... Just thinking aloud, of course!

In the meantime, the IHM has a pulse on temperature, shock, vibration, intermittent connections and signal integrity.

In case anything goes awry, the three-year limited warranty protection plan should be ample.

These IronWolf drives are optimised for use in NAS units that are typically found in small to medium businesses as well as home use.

Price between AUD750 and 850.

Seagate PRO

And What’s the Difference with the IronWolf 16TB PRO, You Ask?

We also tested the PRO version in our NAS which carries a higher pricetag (cheapest online about AUD788 as of OCT 2020).

Prices here in AU vary wildly: I have seen the standard IronWolf 8TB (EIGHT!) at only 70 bucks cheaper than the 16TB PRO. Go figure...

Why go PRO as both models run at 7200 RPM for increased performance?

Yes, the high-capacity standard IronWolf drives also run at 7200 RPM, but the IronWolf Pro offers increased workload resilience, warranty (5 years), data protection, and overall quality. Seagate warranties the mainstream IronWolf for 180TB of data writes per year, while the IronWolf Pro is rated for 300TB. The drive also supports up to 600,000 load/unload cycles, which is on-par with many enterprise HDDs.

The Pro models also include two years of free access to Seagate's Rescue Data Recovery Service, but you'll need to register the drives. If your drive fails, you simply send it to Seagate and they recover the data and send you a new drive. You have to pay extra for this service with the basic IronWolf HDDs but it is included with the Pro.

Another interesting note: the Pro drive lacks ventilation holes like other drives. These drives are filled with helium to reduce the drag on the platters and other components inside the case. They did not feel any lighter though, despite the helium... Both models are the same 670g in weight.

Conclusion:

A Seagate IronWolf pack will be a great match for your NAS.

Highly recommended!

Have a look at the Seagate site here.

The IronWolf series are not cheap but how much would it cost if you lost all your data?

For most people buying a slightly lower capacity drive than the latest and the greatest may be a more cost-efficient option. Professionals and business owners should aim to get the PRO version in the highest capacity they can justify.

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