- Very easy to use
- Solid design
- Well-designed management software
- Good extensibility
- Fan too noisy for most home offices
NAS (Network Attached Storage) systems have become a lot more friendly and straightforward over the years, but there's been a continuing issue with producing storage boxes at the right price for their target market, especially for small businesses. Netgear's latest effort looks like a step in the right direction.
Buffalo has seemed to own the field for some time, with products like the four-drive Terastation; D-Link also has solid two-disk products for the low end. Netgear made a false start, signing a pact with a company called Zetera to deliver the SC101, a two-disk system that was not a big hit with users (to put it mildly).
Second time around, NetGear bought a highly regarded specialist, Infrant, which gives it a range of storage boxes going up to the six-bay ReadyNAS Pro, which is currently available with up to 6TB, and down to the two-bay ReadyNAS Duo, taking in the rack-mountable ReadyNAS 1100.
We looked at the ReadyNAS NV+, a four-disk hot-swappable NAS system available in various configurations. We think 1TB is the most popular size for such a unit at the moment, and looked at a system fitted with four 250GB drives. It's available at ebuyer.com for £612.92 (inc.VAT), but the price is a moving target and, as drive prices come down, other configurations may be better value; at the time of writing, Amazon has one with two 500GB drives for around £588 (inc. VAT).
First impressions are very good. The ReadyNAS NV+ is a solid aluminium box that inspires confidence. It has a solid carrying handle, a Kensington lock and a ventilated door that closes neatly with a magnetic catch, opening to reveal four vertical drive trays. The box measures 13.5cm by19.5cm by 22.5cm.
The drive trays can be slid in and out, and latched in place (if they are latched, they can be released with a push pin). Each tray holds a SATA disk. Elsewhere, there's a Gigabit Ethernet port and two USB 2.0 ports on the back, and a USB port on the front.
Starting up the ReadyNAS NV+ is easy: simply press the power switch and LEDs start flashing, a yellow LCD screen lights up behind a mirror panel at the bottom, and a fan starts up.
The LCD screen is good: it only shows up when the box is changing its status (during startup, it shows how much progress has been made in verifying itself). Otherwise, the panel just looks blank. The fan, however, is not so good: it's effective, but too loud for a home-office setting.
Next stop is the CD. Unlike some previous NetGear storage products, this has all the operating system support it should have. The CD loads the device's RAIDar software, for PC, Linux or Mac systems — on our XP machine, it installed right away.
RAIDar is plain and unfussy. A setup screen announced that 676GB was available from the 1TB in the box. A status bar gave the date, and showed green status indicators for all the disks and the fan — and a grey blob showed that our system lacked a UPS. If you have one, you link up to it via a USB port, so the device can manage graceful shutdowns.
ReadyNAS NV+ supports RAID levels 0, 1 or 5, as well as Infrant's proprietary X-RAID, which allows you to expand by hot-swapping drives for bigger ones. Changing the device between RAID types is possible with a factory reset.
Ours came up in X-RAID mode, and we launched the FrontView management program and paged through setup screens that fixed the time zone, DHCP and file system, and allowed us to set up local streaming servers. Shares can be set up on the ReadyNAS NV+, and shared USB storage devices or printers can be plugged into the back ports. USB hubs can be plugged in to cater for multiple USB devices, and the device uses standard Windows printer sharing. It also asked for an email address to send any alerts to. It supports common file-sharing protocols, including FTP.
The front USB port is for backing up to a USB drive. RAIDar lets you set up backup schedules that can be copied over the internet, or onto a USB drive — just plug it in and and press the Backup button. It also understands tasks you're likely to want to perform regularly. Plug in a USB stick, and it can copy off all the data into a predetermined volume — the media share, for example.
We didn't measure performance directly, but reading and writing was comparable to a locally attached drive, and large files were handled easily.
This time around, NetGear has got it right, with a NAS box that works in a sensible way and has the right options already built in. ReadyNAS NV+ does its job neatly and unobtrusively, and is well worth considering by small businesses or workgroups.
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||13.2 x 20 x 22.2 cm|
|Hot-swap and redundant components||4 Hot Swappable HDD|
|Number of drive bays||4|
|RAID levels||0, 1, 5, 01|
|Processor||IT3107 Network Storage|
|Interface||Serial ATA, USB|
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