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The Background: I have a D-Link DNS-323 (2-bay network attached storage device) that's currently got a couple of smallish drives in it, set up as standalone storage. I am looking to buy a pair of 1.5 TB drives (Seagate Barracudas, if that matters) to replace the two in there now, and set it up as a RAID 1 striped system so I have some redundancy.

The NAS is used primarily as networked storage, storing mostly media files. It also contains a shared iTunes library that several clients connect to independently (meaning iTunes uses the iTunes Library file on the NAS as its library file) and very occasionally serves as a uPnP iTunes server. It also runs a bittorrent client occasionally.

My Question: For the usage described above, how much difference will the gap between 5900 and 7200 RPM spindle speeds make?

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You mean "5400 and 7200", I think. – harrymc Jul 13 '10 at 16:11
@harrymc There is one hard drive I have seen that advertises 5900 rpm. It is one of the "green" label power saving oriented drives. I can't remember the model though. – Troggy Jul 13 '10 at 17:51
Indeed, it is a 5900 RPM: – cori Jul 13 '10 at 18:37
Thanks for the answers, everyone. In the time since I posted the $10 each drive savings I was looking at for the slower ones evaporated, but even if they were still available at that price, the point @TomWij makes is well-taken: I don't stream video or anything like that over the network now, but in 2 years? Quite possibly I will, and worth the extra $20 to future-proof myself a little.... – cori Jul 13 '10 at 18:40
<sigh> It seems that the marketers can always count on people not bothering with arithmetic. If you run the numbers and look at the typical throughput you'll get from your DNS-323 you'll see that spindle speed won't matter, particularly with newer drives with the higher bit density platters. What matters and what you should be focusing on is how reliable the drives will be. In particular, see if D-Link has a drive "approved list" for your NAS. Also, test the RAID rebuild at least once just to ensure understand how to recover if needed. And to prove it works when it won't matter! – irrational John Jul 21 '10 at 12:58
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Music is buffered, for a normal amount of clients at home the spindle speed will not matter and the only thing you could notice is the first song to start with a small delay but it isn't an issue you will notice.

For a very large amount of clients you can reach the point where the spindle speed can't handle the amount of clients and then you better have a higher spindle speed, but that doesn't seem to be the case here unless you're planning to share music for a whole apartment which would be probably be illegal...

But the rule of thumb to use is to think about the near future when you buy something:
Do you plan to do something else with it in the next few years? ;-)

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5400 should be enough for music, but not for video, and especially high-definition.

To be sure of being able to watch video of whatever quality, you definitely need 7200 RPM.

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For this NAS purpose, I don't think it will matter much... Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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Spindle speed affects how fast a drive can deliver randomized I/O. For music files, you'd have to have a lot of clients to really start running into issues. For video files, which are a lot larger and require faster streaming rates, you'll start running into issues much faster. Perhaps even two simultaneous video streams will be enough to cause it to hit its limits. Or if the storage is heavily fragmented and also pretty full, even one video stream might hit problems. High def video is even larger, and it's pretty likely that those 5.4K RPM drives won't be able to keep up.

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