Question Toshiba S300 (surveillance drive) for storage

Feb 2, 2020
So I am planning to start a new PC build soon with a 1TB nvme and a large HDD for storage of games I play less often and other data.

I searched on Amazon for 4TB~6TB drives in the $140~$150 (USD) range with 7200 RPM, and 256MB Cache and I found the WD Red Pro (4TB) and Toshiba S300 (6TB).

I searched online for review on both drives and the WD one has really bad reviews on Amazon while the Toshiba got much better reviews. Also the Toshiba seems to achieve 200+ MB/s while the WD could only do ~150 MB/s.

I was then advised by a friend that surveillance drives are not good for desktop use as they have a special firmware that makes them prioritize writing data fast than writing it correctly (bad error correction) which makes it not safe for desktop use.

I decided to search online for these claims and it seems like this is the usual stigma from most of the community but then I noticed two responses from WD staff (one in 2014 and another in 2019) saying the firmware in WD Purple (another surveillance drive) will only use the special firmware features (lower correction rate) if the ATA commands are used (which are typically used by surveillance devices) and the drive will perform like any other drive if used in desktops because they won’t be using these specific streaming ATA commands (which means it won’t be using the special firmware features).

It seems like the drives failing stigma in the community came from WD just making bad drives initially for their Purple series but that is no longer case.

Anyways, I am after the Toshiba S300 and I can’t tell (by searching online) if the same thing (What WD staff said) applies to them too. Is this like a standard or is it something special by WD?



Dec 8, 2019
it's fine to use for storage, period - all surveillance drives will priority write thoughput over read. that doesn't mean you'll lose any data - just that reads are less responsive under load
Surveillance devices (eg DVRs) will use the ATA Streaming Command set for AV data. This is to avoid pausing and stuttering when encountering bad sectors. The drive simply drops the bad frames.

These same devices use regular ATA Read/Write commands for reading and writing the file system information. This is because the integrity of the file system cannot be compromised, even at the expense of lags due to error recovery.

The abovementioned Streaming Command set is incorporated in the ATA standard, which means that all HDD manufacturers should be compliant.

Note that drives with 256MB of cache memory are usually (?) SMR models. However, I don't know if this rule-of-thumb also applies to AV models.
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256MB cache abound in HGST Helium and WD Red / EMAZ drives so the assumption they're SMR is patently bogus
I don't trust WD's literature, especially not after their IntelliPower obfuscation.

A new twist to IntelliPower?

WD's He10 datasheet talks about PMR, but that's all. Both CMR and SMR drives use PMR technology, so it is unclear whether the He10 models use CMR+PMR or SMR+PMR. HE10.pdf

This 10TB HGST drive (with 256MB cache) is an SMR model: