I know that NAS drives are specifically designed for the constant usage. meaning a system that is on 100% of the time. Is it possible to install these drives in a desktop computer that needs a more reliable storage system of drives.

What I would like to do is install 12x 8TB drives and raid most of them using an Intel controller card. So, is it OK to do this or should I use the Enterprise version of the drive?

  • 1
    – Sum1sAdmin
    May 25, 2016 at 8:38
  • UPDATE***** I installed a 6tb Seagate IronWolf hdd and it has been a champ. Would have done a 12tb, but those things are WAY outside my current budget. May 30, 2017 at 20:17

3 Answers 3


There's two things here for you to know - many systems have multiple disks installed and that's fine but any given disk has what's known as a 'Duty Cycle' - this is the amount of time it's designed to run in order to maintain it's specified reliability figures. Most/many top end disks have a 'Duty Cycle' of 100%, meaning they can be operated hard for their entire lifetime, some cheap ones have as little as 30% meaning they should only be driven hard for 8 hours or so per day, going past this will lower the reliability of those disks. So look at your usage pattern and ensure your disks match that ok.

The second one is far more serious - many people come to serverfault without knowing that RAID 5 is essentially dead as a usable technology and learn that the hard way. The issue is well documented but boils down to the size of modern large, cheap disks and their 'unrecoverable error rate' - meaning that if you build a R5 array of large (>1TB) disks then when a disk fails and you replace it you're almost certain to introduce an 'unrecoverable error' into your data as the data is rebuilt onto the new disk - it's just a math thing. As I say this is well known in the sysadmin community but disk manufacturers keep enabling it, which really shouldn't be in 2016. So by all mean make this NAS of yours but please only trust R1/10 and R6/60 - they're the only games in town these days.


You should look at the data sheets and technical specifications of the drives you want to compare. Each vendor gives detailed information about

  • specified power-on hours (continuuous operation, divide by 24 or 8 for days/workdays)
  • power on/off cycles (if your desktops are shut down frequently)
  • head parking cycles (if you switch between idle and load frequently)
  • warranty in years (on average, longer warranty indicates more confidence in the quality of the hardware)
  • vibration & maximum number of drives in a system (usually up to 6-8 for NAS drives, no limit for enterprise drives)
  • number of bytes read until an unrecoverable read error is encountered (on average, can be mitigated by using file systems like ZFS or btrfs)
  • acoustics/loudness (should not be underestimated on desktops)
  • power draw/heat (avoid very cold and very hot)

With those values you can then approximate if you should use the cheaper or more expensive ones. You should also into account costs for replacement of disks (procurement, shipping, installing/removing, disposing of old drives) and financial incentives (taxes, writing of over number of years, warranty on desktop systems).

If you just want the raw numbers, I suggest also taking a look at the Backblaze drive reliability statistics found on their blog.


It is usually SATA so yes it will work in any computer, a NAS is a computer as well.

Whether it makes sense or not is a different question. These drives usually are designed to be low-power which often means 5400 rpm. This means you get longer seek time over regular desktop drives. Throughput will largely depend on the controller and RAID level in this case. Also it is less versatile than a NAS this way.

The alternative would be to get a board with many SATA ports like Intel Avoton, and install FreeNAS. Then buy two cheap 10 GBit cards (~40 USD) to connect to your computer. This gives many advantages, the most important of which is ZFS.

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