The moving parts in a hard drive can create a lot of vibration and noise, and when you pack a bunch of hard drives together into an enclosure, that ruckus multiplies. Here’s how to keep it at bay.
The noise from vibrations isn’t just annoying to listen to, but the actual vibration can be unhealthy for hard drives. It can cause the read/write head inside of the drive to bounce around, resulting in errors. And it could eventually kill the drive prematurely.
If your NAS box is creating a lot of vibration and noise, here are some ways to get rid of it, or at least tone it down the best you can.
Use Felt Tape on the Drive Trays
The drive tray is that bracket that you attach directly to the hard drives so that you can then slide them easily in and out of their slots in your NAS. One big cause of vibration in your NAS is when the drives are not completely snug inside of their slots.
You can test this my lightly pressing down on the front of the slots while the NAS is up and running. If the vibration and noise goes away when you’re pressing on a tray slot, there’s a good chance that the tray is culprit.
To remedy this, you can stick some felt tape in various places on the trays. As you can see in the image above, I placed some felt along the edges of the tray on both sides. I also placed some felt on the inside where the drive contacts the tray, just for good measure. However, it’s ultimately up to you where you want to place the felt, and it might take some trial and error to get it vibration-free.
Get Some Vibration-Dampening Pads
Even if you got rid of most of the vibration using the felt tape, there still might be some vibration left. And depending on where your NAS is placed, your furniture and floors could be amplifying that vibration.
For example, if you have your NAS placed on a hardwood desk, and that desk is on a hardwood floor, any subtle vibration coming from the NAS might be getting amplified by all the hardwood or any empty spaces in the furniture. That sound can even permeate to different rooms. If you live in an old house with hardwood floors, you likely know what I’m talking about.
The extra sound is annoying enough, but that extra vibration in the furniture could even make your NAS itself vibrate even more. To fix this, you can get some vibration-dampening pads to place under the feet of your NAS. These soak up a good bit of the vibration coming from your NAS, so that less of it reaches your furniture. And the less vibration, the lower the noise levels.
Go with Slower Spindle Speeds
Most NAS hard drives range from 5,400 RPM to 7,2000 RPM. The slower the spindle speed, the quieter the drive tends to be, and the less heat they produce. When you’re shopping for new hard drives for your NAS, it might be a good idea to trade a bit of speed for a quieter, cooler drive.
Spindle speed is one of the main specifications you’ll see when looking at a hard drive’s spec sheet, and it’s usually listed in the title of the product on retail sites.
But to give you a quick overview of what you’ll come across, here’s the speed at which most of the popular NAS hard drive models spin:
- WD Red: 5,400 RPM
- WD Red Pro: 7,200 RPM
- Seagate IronWolf (1TB, 2TB, 4TB): 5,900 RPM
- Seagate IronWolf (6TB+): 7,200 RPM
- Seagate IronWolf Pro: 7,200 RPM
- Toshiba N300: 7,200 RPM
- HGST DeskStar NAS: 7,200 RPM
Again, slower spindle speeds give you less vibration, noise, and heat, but it could also result in slower read/write performance. In a NAS environment, the heat and noise are usually more important, so keep that in mind as you’re window shopping.
It Could Be a Faulty Drive
The worst-case scenario for vibration and noise coming from your NAS is that there’s a faulty drive. It’s probably not the news you want to hear, but it’s one that you should take seriously and check up on.
The best way to test a hard drive for excessive vibration and noise is to completely isolate it so that there are no other factors that could contribute vibration and noise. This require you to remove the drive completely from your NAS, including removing the drive from the tray. From there, you can plug it into a desktop computer that has some spare connections you can use, or you can use a hard drive dock, like this one.
Spin up the drive and listen to it carefully. If it sounds louder or is vibrating more than it should, it could be a faulty drive, especially if it’s louder and vibrates more than your other NAS hard drives. You can also perform a SMART test on the drive, but keep in mind that a passed SMART test doesn’t necessarily mean a completely healthy drive.
Thankfully, most NAS hard drives come with generous warranties (usually three years or more), so you should be able to return it and get a new one without much of a problem.