Um.. yeah. They were reliable. The WD drives like the raptors lasted 5 years. The only trouble was my green drives, otherwise I've always had good luck with drives. I have never RMA a Seagate 7200.14 still. Not 1. It's been over 2 years and I have a lot of them. Reading the forum and the reliability studies you'd think the 7200.14 is certain to explode a violent death. lol.
My Norco has hot swap trays, they each have 4 screws... 2 each side. I snug them nice with a proper sized screw driver. My server sits right next to me on a shelf in the basement. It has like zero vibration if I put my hand on it. Ok.. it has a little. But nothing crazy considering it's got 20 hard drives and 8 fans spinning inside. I've never restored a drive in my NORCO or had a drive in my NORCO fail yet either. Is that odd ? (knock on wood).
Like I said I am generally lucky. I'm also somewhat tolerant of failures. Had my WD drives not been so slow I'd still be singing their praise I bet. But they were so slow I hate them, especially since they all failed on me. I could have tolerated either or but not both.
You think I could just mount them in a cage and lay the cage on top of the server (drives exposed open air no fan) Actually the cages can do a 120mm fan in front, but in open air do I need it ? No one touches it, kids too small still. It would not fall or anything. Wife is scared of it. I could just use some JB weld, or duct tape or PL premium or whatever to secure the cage to the top of the NORCO I guess just in case. I could chisel it off and rack mount it still when my theater is done.