Today we're going to talk about the best hard drives for Chia (XCH) plotting and farming. So, the ultimate goal is to have plots on a hard drive, as much as you can to farm. Because of that, you're going to need a lot of HDD storage and your goal is to get as much capacity as possible.
The plotting aspect is to get the fastest drives as possible (SSD) with the appropriate amount of storage. Those are just temporary drives that create plots and move them to storage. The end result will ultimately end up on a hard drive with a higher capacity. More details on the mining rig specs for plotting - here.
As for the storage drive, high-capacity hard drives (like 16TB drives) are going to be better in the long run because it's less maintenance and less power used and ultimately just gives you more capacity per computer per hard drive slot. It just ends up being a more scalable solution. Even if it costs a little bit more per terabyte it's a better idea. For example, a Seagate Exos 16TB is a good idea unless you can find a higher capacity, like 18TB drives or 20TB or whatever else comes out in the future. 16TB is an all-around wise choice for today.
We need to get a hard drive full of plots and then connect it up to a computer to farm.
This is not a computationally expensive process. You just have to be able to connect it to the computer in some way. So there are various ways to do this. If you have a desktop computer, well, then you can probably just open it up, attach it to the motherboard and attach it to the power supply. The complete hardware list can be found here.
So you have two simple options here.
The first option. Get an external Hard Drive & Storage
So here's an example of an external hard drive that you can just plug into your computer and that'll work just fine. There's no special way to connect these drives to the computer. You don't have to do anything special, just connect it. So if you're on a laptop or an all-in-one computer where you can't access the insides and add drives to it, then this might be a good solution.
Now, if you have a hard drive and you need to connect it to a computer, but you don't have the external hard drive enclosure, well, you can get one of these. And this is just going to plug into your computer via USB plug into some outlet, and then you just slide the hard drive in. So it's basically going to work like an external hard drive thing, but it'll allow you to easily remove that hard drive and take it to a different destination. You know, if you have a dedicated farmer and you're just using some computers for plotting to these hard drives, well, in that situation, something like this might be useful. So 16-18TB HDDs and a USB 3.2 5-Bay 3.5 might be a good idea.
With 18TB, you can get like 72 terabytes of storage and that's a pretty good option. This also comes in a five-bay variation and you can find other ones that support eight bays, for example.
I just have the case that stores a lot of hard drives and that's how I manage all my hard drives. And you might need two setups - one set up for the plotter, which puts plots on hard drives, and then a setup for a dedicated farmer, which may have access to a lot of hard drives. Plotter rig setup can be found here.
For those of you who want to do 40 drives or more, you're probably going to with something different like server HDD shelves with much bigger storage. That's not a "home solution" and I guess you should know what you're doing if you're looking for such capacities.
Second Option. Network-attached storage (NAS)
If you're somewhere in the middle, you know, maybe four drives aren't quite enough, but you don't really have 45 of them. Then you can consider a NAS or network-attached storage, something like a Synology. This is the 12 Bay example. It's a little on the pricey side, but it's a really good piece of hardware. And a lot of people love these things, especially if you end up not doing Chia farming in the future. You will have a really good network storage system that you can use for a home server or whatever it might be.
These come in all variations, this is 12 Bay. You may also want to consider the 8 Bay or the 6 Bay. Synology could be an ideal solution in some cases. If you have a plotter that has no capabilities for hard drive space and is pretty limited on USB ports this could be a good solution.
Option Three. Solid State Drives.
This is what allows you to plot quickly and a certain number in parallel based on the storage capacity of the drives. So the example I'm going to start with Sabrent 2TB Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 we're currently using (check price here).
This is not an enterprise drive but it's fairly affordable, pretty available, and has a decent life expectancy for total writes. So overall, it's not a bad solution. You just might get faster writing with enterprise drives like Intel DC P4610 but the price is not worth it for home plotting unless you scale to really bigger numbers.
Things you might need:
One of the benefits of that is it's designed for constant reading rights and it has a much longer life expectancy. So if you plan on doing petabytes or just a ton of storage, then you might want to consider an enterprise drive. But overall, the SSDs are pretty cheap compared to the destination drives.
And then finally, there's going to be a little bit of some changes to that chia build overall. Chia has recently updated, which allows more plots in parallel for the same storage and the same ram. Don't overthink it. Just get started.