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Most manufacturers of NAS appliances (like Synology etc) have compatibility lists that sum up which hard drives are compatible with their models. How important is it to follow these? Are all SATA drives created equal, but are some drives more equal than others?

Are there drives that consume power out of spec? Or generate more heat than the enclosure can dissipate? What are the considerations?

I'm asking this from the Home and Small Business, entry-level device, perspective. My experience with building computers is that if the form factor fits the enclosure and the connector fits, it always Just Works™.

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Some drives are not intended to be used in RAID.
The reasons can vary. Sometimes drives are just not built to run 24/7 and will die prematurely in a hot RAID box. Another concern is whether the hard drive firmware has a bug or incompatibility with certain SATA or RAID controllers.

The manufacturer's compatibility list is confirming that the RAID controller in the NAS and the drive firmware do not have any incompatibility. There are always going to be drives that were never considered though, and could be completely fine in that NAS.

One of the more important features that a hard drive can optionally support for RAID is TLER or CCTL. When a drive doesn't have this it may lead to false-positive critical errors showing up in the NAS when a drive takes just a little too long to respond. (So the NAS thinks it's dead.)

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    Point is that even on the compatibility lists both parties mention that the other can change their firmware without notice. :) – Chris Wesseling Apr 9 at 18:30

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