The NETGEAR ReadyNAS PRO launched last year Quarter 4 2008. It was met with vigorous enthusiasm as finally there was an option aside from the ReadyNAS NV+, a 4 bay product that was holding up the Netgear ReadyNAS flag since its buyout of Infrant Technologies in June 2007, the original designers and manufacturers of the ReadyNAS product range. That was then, but now Netgear proudly displays a handful of NAS devices that appeal to all users in all sectors of the market. The ReadyNAS acquisition did NETGEAR proud, as NETGEAR’s foray into the storage arena prior to that had been somewhat dismal. Since its launch the ReadyNAS PRO has become the mainstay in Netgear’s strategy towards capturing broader business and enterprise users. The ReadyNAS PRO was an instant success, since its concept announcement at CES in January 2008, loyal ReadyNAS users waited and waited then finally when it hit the streets, the units began to fly off the shelves, hot off the press. This then was the beginning of the ReadyNAS PRO.
The Netgear PRO is available in four configurations, the RNDP6350 with 3x500GB enterprise grade drives, the RNDP6310, has 3x1000GB enterprise grade drives, the RNDP6610 with 6x1000GB enterprise drives and is exactly the same as the RNDP6310 except it has three more drives to fully populate. The last one in the PRO portfolio is a recent addition, RNDP6620 has a full of 6x2000GB enterprise grade drives.
Figure 1: ReadyNAS PRO Physical Dimensions
The ReadyNAS PRO does have a few surprises up its sleeve. It is designed on an entirely new platform and is not longer backward compatible with the ReadyNAS NV+. This may come as a bit of a blow for many previous ReadyNAS users, as simply migrating drives to a new unit without reformatting is no longer an option for retaining data, you have to start from scratch. The ReadyNAS PRO no longer adopts the same processor family as the ReadyNAS NV and NV+, these units were specifically Network Storage Processors (NSP) based that had RAID and other functionalities built onto a single chip. This is one of the main reasons why Infrant Technologies were so successful with their NAS product range which started with the ReadyNAS 600 and then ReadyNAS X6 adopting the same processor but the 600 had the conventional RAID options of RAID 0, 1 and 5, whilst the X6 adopted the newly designed X-RAID initiative. The processor was then moved up a level for introducing the ReadyNAS NV an innovative and excellent NAS for the SMB and home users. Combining both flexible and expandable hardware RAID, there was not a unit in sight to compete with the product, enjoying uninterrupted success for nearly two years. Then came the Netgear acquisition of Infrant in May 2007, and acquired the ReadyNAS product range lock stock and barrel. The rest of course is history.
The ReadyNAS PRO is now based on an Intel core (no longer uses a specific NSP). The ReadyNAS PRO is housed with an Intel Dual-Core 1.8GHz processor with 1GB DDR2 RAM in a single slot of two and is capable of user upgrade to 4GB in total as specified by Netgear. You will need to remove the single 1GB and install 2 x 2GB (4GB) RAM to use the total memory possible as specified. Netgear do warn users this may not be supported as currently there are no 2GB DDR2 modules listed as approved in their Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). We did ask if this would invalidate the warranty, the response was rather non committal. We then scanned the ReadyNAS forum and found Netgear personnel warning users against any user upgrades with products not listed on the HCL, these they continue to point out may lead to voiding warranty, refusal of support, and most importantly may lead to corruption of data which in turn may compromise the reliability of the product resulting in possible loss of data. We observed the upgrade issue being fiercely debated on the forum, with some users countering the argument by pointing out Netgear’s inability to test new products in a timely manner to list on the HCL, to assist with user upgrades. One of the ReadyNAS PRO user clearly pointing out at the lack of any 2GB memory modules being listed as well as being baffled why the 2TB drives only got listed when Netgear had to launch the ReadyNAS 3200 which needed the 2TB drive for integration purposes.
We are a little perplexed, what with an Intel platform and a motherboard that is built around a standard design, it is a little worrying that the firmware is not able to accept standard Intel based compatible upgrades, it may not be a PC but it’s as close as one can get!. If Netgear have specified a product is capable of being upgraded to a total of 4GB, an immediate entry into the HCL section of memory should be a list of products that are compatible to allow users to upgrade without compromise. This is an important issue Netgear should not be overlooking, and a policy they need to adopt without undue haste.
Our advice to readers, call Netgear and get concise clarity on user upgrades before buying, this also applies for buying from resellers who install their own drives and upgrades, again from the forum it seems Netgear frowns upon these resellers and does not condone this practice.
Ready, Set Go
The ReadyNAS PRO comes well packed and has the normal accessories we all see with any of the products, power cable, Ethernet cable, CD, starter guide and a set of screws in case you wanted to upgrade. The unit we received was a brown box and already had drives installed, in this instance three 500GB old enterprise grade drives, Seagate ST3500630NS which are the older generation enterprise drives (ES) and not the latest ES.2. Not that really makes a huge difference, it shouldn’t! The model number was RNDP6350-100NAS. The device was packed well, and once removed from the plastic wrapping, we were ready to go. Aesthetically speaking the ReadyNAS PRO is pleasing, in particular reference to the door that covers the drive bays, it shuts firmly utilising a magnet based mechanism to lock. The drive trays housing the disks are a marked improvement to the original design found in the ReadyNAS NV and NV+ that were fraught with problems and used to get stuck if not used for a period of time. The PRO trays are a slide switch and open affair and should not be prone to issues. The addition of the new OLED panel is welcomed as the clarity and content are much improved and provides the needed updates to enable monitoring with ease.
Installation is a matter of connecting the ReadyNAS PRO behind a router and powering it up. The ReadyNAS PRO takes around 4 minutes to boot and has DCHP enabled as default, so it should show up on your network with relative ease. Access to the management panel (Frontview) is a matter of obtaining the IP address from the OLED display panel and enabling it using a browser to log on. Alternatively, the CD provided has the copy of RAIDar, which is normally utilised to locate the NAS on the network, install this on your required PC or MAC and invoking it will allow all the ReadyNAS devices to be displayed, select the one you want and away you go. The default username is “admin” and password is “netgear1” as standard. Our device was provided with X-RAID2 installed and with 3x500GB drive we were left with 896GB for user capacity. X-RAID2 allows the addition of extra drives to expand current capacity on the fly without loss of data on current volume. In order to achieve a safe and sensible extension of capacity we would advice insertion of one disk at a time and wait for expansion to complete before inserting others if required. X-RAID2 does have a one disadvantage for those that require multiple volumes, only a single volume is possible with this RAID method. X-RAID2 now supports the equivalent of RAID 6, which is to initiate a two drive redundancy allowing for 2 drives to fail before the data as at risk. The recent spate of hard drive failures with all manufacturers has made this feature a popular choice amongst users, under normal circumstances it may have seemed a little over the top.
The best selection for RAID setting for the ReadyNAS PRO seems to clearly point towards X-RAID2 if you don’t require multiple volumes, as being proprietary to Netgear, and they will most probably be more aggressive when it comes to development and updates to support their own invention first!
Note: The ReadyNAS PRO supports Expandable and Flexible RAID methodologies. The Expandable is X-RAID2 and can be explained here. Flexible RAID consists of RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 6 explained here . Hot Spare is supported as are all iSCSI options.
Connectivity with extended Backup
ReadyNAS PRO continues to uphold the NV feature of one-touch back at the front of the unit via USB outputting to USB HDD’s, it also has a total of 3xUSB 2.0 connectors allowing it to also function as a Print server, flash devices with camera auto-copy as well as UPS with monitoring supporting auto-shutdown. The PRO allows the dual Ethernet ports to be bonded for optimal performance and provide failover support in cases of a network failure. Whilst the PRO can function as a NAS it will also co-exist as an iSCSI target as well.
The backup features are extensive and clearly take the ReadyNAS PRO to a different level. The PRO maintains secure backup using a technology called CDP (continuous data protection).Data protection requires a layered methodology to ensure protection of data is secure and certain in cases of disaster occurring and a restore and/or continuity is assured. It is somewhat a fallacy to adopt RAID alone as sufficient protector of data it is only an aid for providing protection and not a finite resolve. It’s in this context that ReadyNAS PRO backup features excel. Volume Snapshots for point-in-time backups can be scheduled and these can be backed up to multiple locations either USB external devices and/or remotely using Rsync over SSH to a remote server or other supported ReadyNAS device over the internet. Alternatively, just sign up for their ReadyNAS Vault service and backup as much as you want by paying a monthly/yearly fee. The ReadyNAS also supports WebDAV, quite useful as it allows drag & drop file explorer over LAN and WAN.
Figure 2: Setting up Backup options
The ReadyNAS PRO also acts as a destination for the MAC OS X Time Machine feature. Access to the ReadyNAS PRO can also be activated via ReadyNAS Remote, simply select the feature and with the correct IP address, username and password access to the device is established. The supplied NTI backup software handles scheduled workstation backups, as well as setting it to monitor specific data sources and secure new and modified files in real time. Completing the backup features is also CDP (continuous data protection) backup software for Windows and Macintosh clients.
Calling Netgear is a matter of using their support telephone number provided on their website. We were unable to ascertain if support was indeed provided by email, to the best of our knowledge this is not an option. Our call was eventually responded by a support person that was local and not one that was outsourced when we last called on the NVX review. We were informed ReadyNAS product range does not command a special team to assist with NAS issues, but all the support personnel are well trained. Overall the support quality was above average. Currently the product has one of the best community forums within the NAS sector; gifted to Netgear as part of the Infrant heredity.
In the case of the ReadyNAS PRO we tested using both RAID 5 and X-RAID2 with one drive parity. The resultant figures are the best selected from the comparative RAID methodologies. X-RAID2 was deemed as the best performing RAID set.
ReadyNAS PRO RNDP6350 with 3 x 500GB Enterprise drives
Firmware Revision: 4.2.8v 3.1.2 Build1014
RAID LEVEL TESTED: RAID 5 and X-RAID2 (one drive parity)
NETGEAR FSM726 10/100Mbps + 1000Mbps ProSafe Managed Switch
We use a Real-World testing utility as well as a realistic Drag & Drop procedure as depicted in everyday normal operations.
Our tests are carried out with a combination of reads and writes, we do not separate the two, and both are combined to produce an overall result that depicts the actual performance of the device tested.
This category is one of the most demanding from a file size perspective as the smallest size file is 2GB and the largest being 12GB.
A combination of demanding Video, Audio and Images files are combined to make this the most challenging category of them all.
The Office category is mainly for business users who may compare the typically used business applications, consisting of a spreadsheets, databases, Word, PowerPoint, Visio, and email management. We have also combined Photoshop based images that are used to cut and paste within a document to make up a 30 page mailer as well as Visio templates used for presentation within a PowerPoint file that exceeds a 15GB file size.
Our Third category is a combination of files from the previous two categories to initiate copying, backing up, deleting all content and then restoring from a backup made within the RAID array.
|ReadyNAS PRO Read/Write Comparative Performance|
|Copy, Backup and Restore||80.30|
Figure 3: ReadyNAS PRO Read/Write Results
Figure 4: Overall Read/Write Test Performance
The ReadyNAS PRO is a well designed and solid 6-bay NAS that will appease business users and is aptly capable for functioning as a multimedia device in any home. The performance ratio is splendid being slightly below the QNAP TS-809PRO but still hits a high note when it comes to transferring data remotely and using iSCSI. The PRO is designed well and has extended features that clearly depicts the longevity of the product range and the excellent feedback from a ReadyNAS community that is simply besotted with the product, and understandably so. The 5 year product warranty is backed by a 90-day telephone support, which upon expiry there is a one-time payment of $519.00. This allows users to get extended support for 3-years, along with advance replacement product in cases of failure. The value for money ratio falls firmly in negative territory as a result of the pricing structure which is deemed high. A slight re-alignment would most certainly take the ReadyNAS PRO to the top of its category. The street price for a ReadyNAS PRO RNDP6350 from authorized resellers varied from $1499.00 to $1699.00.