What Is The Best Hard Drive For Video If Money Is No Object?

I'm trying to wrap my mind around the issue of high-write cycles and hard drives. I've read the IPVM articles "WD Purple and Seagate Surveillance Hard Drives" and "Favorite Hard Drives for Surveillance", but I'm still unclear of which hard drive is the best for video if money is no object?

More specifically, if performance and reliability were the only criteria, which hard drives would prevail? The video specific models or the enterprise class models? Do you have to choose between performance and reliability, or is one drive superior in both departments?

I found this chart on the Seagate web site that compares their three levels and it surprised me to see that the Enterprise max sustained data rate did not exceed the surveillance drives. So other than 2 more years of warranty & a better reliability rate, do the Enterprise class drives bring anything else to the table? Are surveillance drives actually better than Enterprise drives because they are specifically geared towards video, or is that just marketing mumbo-jumbo?

If I may bring price into the discussion for a moment, for ~$75 more (4TB models), why is a Seagate Constallation ES drive not faster than it's cheaper SV35 sibling, especially since the SV35 is only 5900 rpm?

Seagate Comparison Chart


I believe you're mixing a few things up. Enterprise disks are created for servers, which require a high reliability. It in no way, means they are also better on other fields. Hell, usually Enterprise disks are behind the regular disks when it comes to size.

Also, faster != better. For disks now-a-days you really need to take a good look at what you want to do with them. For example, I have a NAS I just fitted with new drives. I'm personally a fan of Western Digital, so I was looking at either the Purple or Red series. I'm using the NAS to store my video to it, so you could recon I should pick the Purple, because it's for video right ? Well not exactly. Since we use Milestone here, we have a live database and an archive. The NAS is the archive. Video is being stored there after x-hours. So if we look at behaviour, it's no different from a regular NAS storing regular data. So we went for the Red series. Red PRO in this case, due to the size of the NAS.

If you look at the difference between Purple and Red. Purple is basicly a Red but with different firmware where it's optimalised for data being constantly written towards it. Where as Red is different from the other drives (Black, Green, Blue etc.) in that it's good with handling higher tempertaturs and micro vibrations which you see in NAS systems.

So there's no real streight awnser, for selecting a drive you need to take a good look and where you will place it, and how you are going to use it. As for drive speeds, if I have the fastest drive in the world, and only use it to look at Video, then the maximum speed required to play that video is all the maximum speed I need for it. The rest is just waste.

Last tip, don't ever use Seagate.

Last tip, don't ever use Seagate.

Hi Rogier, firstly I thought your information about the enterprise vs video drives was very good and also appreciated your rundown of the different kinds of WD drives. The only statement I'd disagree with is your last line about Seagate.

Over the years, I've used hard drives from various manufacturers and I've experienced failures with all brand names. In contrast to your tip, I've had a great run with Seagate drives but not so much with WD drives. However when I've searched forums and reviews to see what other people say, I've found no clear evidence of one of these brands being consistantly better or worse than the other. From time to time, a particular model of drive from a manufacturer is found to have real problems. I can't think of any manufacturer who has been free of a lemon model and I think these epidsodes often shape our opinion, especially if we've been burnt by one of these lemons.

I think both Seagate and WD are good brands but from time to time they may have specific models that have issues.

I believe you're mixing a few things up. Enterprise disks are created for servers, which require a high reliability.

Thanks for your reply Rogier. Just a follow up question on your statement above:

It appears that both WD & Seagate are touting the Enterprise class drives as the utlimate choice for surveillance systems (see WD excerpt below), but yet heavily market the surveillance specific drives as 'the' choice for video. This is partly the cause of my confusion in figuring out the best performance/reliability data drives for my systems. Although budget is always as factor, for my purposes drive cost is not #1 since I deal with smaller systems (20-50 cameras). So, performance & reliabilty is the ultimate goal.

Some say go with Purple & some say enterprise, almost like the age-old pick-up duel between 'Ford guys' and 'Chevy guys'. My preliminary conclusion is that Purple drives must be slightly inferior in quality from the RE drives since they only have a 3 year warranty, but if their firmware is so much better for video, why doesn't WD or Seagate make an enterprise level surveillance specific model that is geared towards high-write cycles? Or, are enterprise drives already geared for high-write cycles since they are geared towards servers and the Purple drive concept is simply a marketing tool to make cheaper alternatives acceptable for video applications?

Perhaps I'm splitting hairs with this debate, or maybe you are correct that there is no real straight answer....it just seems like there should be a clear-cut answer if price is taken out of the equation.

WD Model Comparison

I'm no tech, but if money is no object then I choose solid state drives.

Hi Bob, while I see great benefits of SSDs for high bandwidth video, I don't see much point using them for video surveillance. Video surveillance hard drives are available in far higher capacities and much cheaper than SSDs and also have quite adequate speeds for multiple cameras. If SSDs had higher capacities and lower prices, then I would use them but until that happens, I don't see any advantage in using them for video surveillance other than as an operating system drive.

...much cheaper than SSDs and also have quite adequate speeds for multiple cameras. If SSDs had higher capacities and lower prices...

Now play fair Luke, money was no object... ;)

Which leaves

...hard drives are available in far higher capacities.

For single 3.5" drives, hdd go to 8 TB, 12 drives in 2U.*

For single 2.5" drives, ssd go to 4 TB, 24 drives in 2U.*

96TB=96TB in 2U. Hopefully you or one of the site's many storage experts can break this simplistic density tie... But, regardless the gap has been shrinking, more than I thought.

Curious, if money was no object and performance and reliability were utmost, what model mechanical hard drive would you choose?

*Both these drives are not optimal for writing, so we would select other smaller ones in practice.

Well, maybe I should of put a limit to my original "money is no object" declaration. ;o)

Yeah, 7K for 4T is probably too much to get past the IT datacenter guy. :)

Be sure to pay attention to the 'System Vibration Tolerance'....it is a real thing to be aware of.

It means that the drive is affected by the spinning of its neighbors...and will cause data failures which will show as slower performance or even corruption.

The spec above says to not have more than 16 in a chassis.

The reliability will manifest itself as 'how many times does a disk go bad'. Thus a better reliability will mean less RAID rebuilds due to a bad disk. During a rebuild, the system performance will suffer for the duration of the build, which will be hours/day depending on the size of the array.

Here is a link to a performance test of these types of drives:

Surveillance Drives