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WD Purple vs. Red: Key Differences to Know Before You Buy

Replacing the hard disk drive in a RAID configuration

WD Purple vs. Red: Key Differences to Know Before You Buy

Key Points

  • The main difference between WD Purple and WD Red is their purpose: Purple is designed for video surveillance systems, while Red is designed for NAS systems.
  • WD Purple offers microSD cards, surveillance hard drives, and smart video system drives, while WD Red offers hard drives and SSDs for NAS systems.
  • Both WD Purple and WD Red drives are compatible with always-on systems, but some WD Red drives are not suitable for systems with idle time.
  • WD Purple drives are generally more expensive than WD Red drives, with the highest capacity Purple drives costing around $100 more than the highest capacity Red drives.
  • Choose WD Purple for surveillance systems and WD Red for home office or business NAS systems, considering the need for always-on support.

Whether you need an internal drive for NAS or surveillance systems, you can’t go wrong with a Western Digital (WD) product. Their internal drives are color-coded for easier identification, but it can all become confusing if you’re unfamiliar with their coding system.

This in-depth comparison between WD Purple and Red highlights each drive’s strengths, drawbacks, and purpose.

Let’s get into it!

WD Purple vs. Red: Side-by-Side Comparison

WD PurpleWD Red
Designed for…Video surveillance systemsNAS systems
TypesHDD, microSDHDD, SSD
Maximum Capacity22TB22TB
Maximum Cache Size256MB512MB
InterfaceSATA, SDA 6.0SATA, NVMe
24/7 Support?YesYes
SpeedUp to 7,200 RPMUp to 7,200 RPM
Transfer RateUp to 265 MB/sUp to 265 MB/s
Warranty3-year limited warranty3-year or 5-year limited warranty
PriceAround $10 to $600Around $50 to $500
Surveillance Storage
Western Digital 4TB WD Purple Surveillance Internal Hard Drive HDD
$96.99
  • Form factor: 3.5-inch HDD
  • Cache size: 256MB
  • Workload Rate (per year): 180TB
  • Features WD's AllFrame technology
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/17/2024 09:24 am GMT
Network Storage
Western Digital 4TB WD Red Plus NAS Internal Hard Drive HDD
  • Speed: 5400RPM
  • Form factor: 3.5 inches internal HDD
  • Cache size: 64MB
  • Supported workload rate (per year): 180TB
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

WD Purple vs. Red: What’s the Difference?

Western Digital is a popular computer drive manufacturer and data storage company headquartered in San Jose, California. The brand is best known for its color-coded data storage solutions catering to every need, from everyday light computing storage to heavy-duty enterprise applications. Each color is developed for a specific purpose, and things are no different when it comes to the WD Purple and the WD Red.

Let’s find out when to choose one color over the other and the various solutions in each category.

Purpose

The main difference between the WD Purple and the WD Red is the purpose of the storage drives in each color category.

Western Digital designs all of its Purple drives for the demands of video surveillance systems that operate 24/7. Solutions vary from microSD cards ideal for edge devices and security video cameras to hard drives suitable for video analytic servers and AI-enabled recorders.

Except for the microSD cards, all WD Purple storage solutions are compatible with the AllFrame 4K technology. This technology helps record video footage in high-definition and reduces frame loss. Moreover, some cards support systems with up to 16 bays.

The WD Red lineup includes several types of drives engineered specifically for Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems. These file-dedicated storage devices make data continuously available for people to collaborate easily over a network. More often than not, NAS systems are found in medium to large-sized businesses, but they are also useful for home offices.

Similar to the WD Purple, the WD Red drives can stand up to the demands of always-on environments and are suitable to use in multiple-bay systems with up to 24 bays.

Drive Types

The WD Purple and Red lineups include several types of storage drives. Let’s see how they compare to one another.

WD Purple

In Purple’s case, options are limited to microSD and two hard disks. The Purple microSD is designed specifically for mainstream security cameras, providing an effective combination of high performance, high capacity, and endurance.

Like all WD Purple solutions, the card can handle always-on surveillance systems. In compatible cameras, a card health function alerts you when it’s time to service it, preventing the loss of data.

The WD Purple Surveillance Hard Drive is specifically designed for network video recorder (NVR) environments. It has a workload rating of up to 180TB per year, and it can handle the demands of high-definition surveillance systems using multiple cameras and streams.

The WD Purple Pro is built for smart video systems. It is compatible with video analytic servers and AI and deep-learning systems. The drive supports up to 32 concurrent AI streams and up to 64 single-stream HD cameras.

WD Red Plus vs. Pro
Western Digital’s WD Red Plus and WD Red Pro hard drives offer reliable and high-performance solutions for NAS applications.

WD Red

The WD Red includes three types of hard drives and two semiconductor-based storage devices (SSDs).

Ideal for small home offices, the WD Red HDD supports a workload rate of up to 180TB per year and is compatible with NASware 3.0 technology. It supports NAS systems with up to eight bays and is available in capacities of up to 6TB. Its main downside is the incompatibility with always-on systems.

If you need an affordable hard drive for a 24/7 environment, the WD Red Plus could be your best choice. This drive is designed for small businesses, but it also suits busy home offices. The main difference between this drive and the standard WD Red is its 24/7 support. You can also choose from more storage capacities and benefit from a higher transfer speed.

The WD Red Pro is perfect for rapidly growing businesses. Like the Plus version, it supports 24/7 systems, but it has a workload rate of up to 300TB per year and is compatible with NAS systems with up to 24 bays.

In addition to these hard drives, the WD Red lineup includes two SSDs. One is developed for SATA interfaces that require improved responsiveness and reduced latency for demanding applications. The other has an NVMe interface and provides exceptional I/O performance.

Capacity

Western Digital offers the Purple and Red drives in capacities of up to 22TB. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune for the highest capacity.

If you need an affordable solution for your surveillance system, the WD Purple microSD could be your best option. These cards vary in capacity from 32GB to 1TB, with the lowest capacity option costing around $10. The standard Purple HDD is ideal for larger systems as capacities vary from 1TB to 8TB. The WD Purple Pro HDD also comes in various capacities, between 8TB and 22TB.

Designed for a different purpose, the WD Red doesn’t come in capacities lower than 250GB. In fact, 250GB is the lowest capacity found in the WD Red SN700 NVMe SSD. This drive’s maximum capacity is 4TB.

The WD Red SA500 NAS SATA SSD also has a maximum capacity of 4TB, but the lowest option is 500GB. As far as the WD Red HDDs are concerned, their capacities vary from 1TB in the Plus version to 22GB in the Pro variant.

Support

Another difference between the WD Purple and the WD Red is each solution’s support for 24/7 systems. Since all WD Purple drives are designed for surveillance cameras, they all support always-on systems. This is true for both HDDs and microSDs.

Most of the WD Red products also support always-on systems. However, the standard WD Red HDD doesn’t have this capacity and is best suited for systems that have some idle time.

Price

Cost-wise, some of the WD Purple products are cheaper than the WD Red, but overall, the Purple lineup is more expensive. Comparing the highest capacity drives in both lineups, you can expect to pay around $100 more for the Purple.

In the Purple lineup, prices start around $10 for the 32GB microSD card and can go as high as $600 for the 22TB WD Purple Pro. With a minimum capacity of 250GB, the WD Red HDD has a starting price of around $50. The largest capacity option, the 22TB WD Red Pro HDD, costs around $500.

WD Purple vs. Red: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • The WD Purple lineup comprises a series of hard drives and microSDs developed for single to multi-camera video surveillance systems.
  • The WD Red lineup comprises a series of HDD and SDD drives developed for NAS systems. This lineup includes solutions for offices and businesses of all sizes.
  • Each lineup includes drives of various capacities, from as low as 32GB (WD Purple) to as much as 2TB (WD Purple and WD Red).
  • The WD Purple drives are typically more expensive than the WD Red. Prices vary from around $10 to $600, depending on the product.
  • Western Digital offers a 3-year limited warranty for all its WD Purple products, but enterprise solutions in the Red lineup benefit from a 5-year limited warranty.
Surveillance Storage
Western Digital 4TB WD Purple Surveillance Internal Hard Drive HDD
$96.99
  • Form factor: 3.5-inch HDD
  • Cache size: 256MB
  • Workload Rate (per year): 180TB
  • Features WD's AllFrame technology
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/17/2024 09:24 am GMT
Network Storage
Western Digital 4TB WD Red Plus NAS Internal Hard Drive HDD
  • Speed: 5400RPM
  • Form factor: 3.5 inches internal HDD
  • Cache size: 64MB
  • Supported workload rate (per year): 180TB
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

WD Purple vs. Red: Which One Should You Buy?

Choosing between WD Purple and WD Red comes down to a simple question: what do you need the drive for? If you need storage for a surveillance system, one of the WD Purple products is the right one for you. Options vary from 32GB microSD cards ideal for single-camera setups to 22TB HDD drives designed for smart surveillance systems.

If you need a drive for your home office or business NAS system, you should choose one of the WD Red options. All products are compatible with multiple-bay units (from eight to 24), but only selected options support always-on systems. That’s something to consider, as an HDD for a system that gets some idle time could save you some money.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the use of a WD Purple drive?

The WD Purple drives are designed for 24/7 video surveillance recording. Options include microSD cards and HDDs with various storage capacities.

Is it OK to use a WD Purple drive on a desktop PC?

If you have a WD Purple drive lying around, you should be able to use it on a desktop PC with no issues at all. However, it might not provide the performance expected from a hard disk developed specifically for computer storage.

Can the WD Purple be used in NAS systems?

Western Digital has optimized its WD Purple drive for recording video. While you could use it in a NAS system, you might not get the expected performance. However, if your NAS system is dedicated to recording video from your IP cam, then a WD Purple drive would work just fine.

What is the difference between the WD Red and Red Plus?

The WD Red Plus HDDs have different storage capacities than the WD Red. They also have a slightly higher transfer speed and support always-on NAS systems. The WD Red HDDs are more suitable for systems that get some idle time.

Which WD color is best for gaming?

Neither Purple nor Red. The best WD color for gaming is Blue, as this series is designed for a variety of computing applications, including gaming, HD media playback, and creative software.

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