Toshiba follows WD in colour-coding its hard drives, but with different colours

Toshiba has colour-coded its hard drives to help buyers pick the right kind of drive for their storage needs. Western Digital has been doing this for years, but perhaps an industry-wide standard would help everyone

Toshiba hard drive colour codes

The days of "one drive fits all" are long gone, and Toshiba has just introduced two new hard drives for the surveillance and video markets. To help you tell them apart, the drives for surveillance applications are coded green while the ones for video recording and streaming are coded blue.

And yes, they are slightly different drives. The new S300 Surveillance hard drive is designed to run 24/7 with up to 64 security cameras. Toshiba says "it is designed for high speed, capacity and reliability to ensure the mission-critical surveillance footage can continually be recorded."

The V300 Video Streaming hard drive is designed to "stream, record, edit and play video on digital video recorders (DVR), network-video recorders (NVR), set-top boxes and TV" sets. Toshiba says it spins slower and uses 25 percent less energy than a P300 Desktop PC drive, so it also generates less heat. It also has a bigger (64MB) buffer and uses "Silent Seek Technology to minimise noise and heat during operation".

Toshiba has also colour-coded the rest of its drives. It is using gold for NAS drives, silver for high-performance and gaming PCs, red for consumer and professional PCs and laptops, and dark blue for enterprise systems (the MG series for capacity and AL drives for performance).

Western Digital (WD) has been using colour coding for a long time and uses this to name drives. As you may well know, WD Blue drives are all-rounders, WD Black offers high performance 7200rpm drives, WD Red drives are for NAS servers (read-oriented), WD Purple drives are for surveillance applications (write-oriented), and WD Gold models are "enterprise-class hard drives". The slower 5400rpm WD Green hard drives became Blue drives in 2015, and have model numbers that end with a Z. Today's WD Green drives are SSDs.

Seagate drive colour associations

Names like VelociRaptor have vanished from the WD range, but you can still get them from the other hard drive giant, Seagate. However, these also have associated colours, as you can see from an illustration screen-capped from Seagate's website. The Barracuda range of general PC hard drives is green, the Ironwolf NAS drives are red, and the Skyhawk surveillance drives are blue. Sadly, the Barracuda Pro range of higher-performance 7200rpm drives don't get their own colour: they're still green.

Does this help anybody? Not really. If Toshiba had picked red instead of gold for its NAS drives, then at least this class would all sport the same colour code. But it didn't.

If every hard drive supplier used the same colour codes for different applications, that might help buyers. Using different colours seems more likely to confuse things.