By Ian Edwards,
on 27 Nov 2012
Views : 6226
Published in : Blog, Consumer
The Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ V2 is one of a family of NAS (Networked attached storage) products from Netgear. NAS units are designed to add disc storage to a network in place of, or in addition to, a traditional file server. Units of this type are however becoming more and more capable and rival the traditional file server in functionality.
Like most units of this type the Netgear ReadyNAS is Linux based. If you are not familiar with Linux that shouldn't be a concern as the operating system is hidden (too well hidden as it turns out) from the user behind a graphically intensive but quite pretty java based user interface.
The primary purpose of this type of unit is storage, and the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+
V2 under review comes with space for four hard drives of up to 3 Terabyte
capacity each. The drives can be configured in a variety of raid formats
to offer varying levels of resilience and performance. The unit is
designed so that drives can be hot swopped, and when using ReadyNAS's
raid-x if you need to add more space plug in another drive and the file
system will expand to accomodate it. Similarly if a drive fails it can
be replaced without interruption.
The unit under review is aimed at the consumer and has a simplified browser based interface for management.
A utility called RAIDar is initially installed on a windows pc which
will find the ReadyNAS on your network and allow you to start the
First impression is that the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ V2 is a
well made unit, solidly built, and the drive carriers are well
constructed and easy to remove. The unit will take 3TByte drives. Fairly
easy to setup in a basic configuration, although knowledge of
networking, RAID types etc is needed to get the best out of the unit.
Depending on how you want to use it there are some serious issues with the ReadyNAS.
not depend on it as your main file store. If the unit fails it is just
possible to configure a standard Linux machine to read the drives but
you need the appropriate skills and this unit is aimed at consumers. While the ReadyNAS uses the standard Linux ext3 file system it's difficult for
the average user to take the discs out of a ReadyNAS and plug
them into anything other than another ReadyNAS due to the non standard 16k block size
used. Furthermore if the boot partition on the drives becomes corrupted
(which from the forums is quite common) the unit is crippled and you
are at the mercy of Netgear support which I found willing but
The Management interface has been prettied up for the
consumer market but personally I didn't like it. It looks snazzy but is
slow and isn't actually very intuitive.
Backup jobs can be configured using the backup utility via the browser interface. This allows backing up of the unit itself onto an attached USB drive, another ReadyNAS or a network drive
There is a one button
backup facility that can be configured to backup the unit to a USB
drive. That seems to work well but there is no obvious way of doing a
restore! In fact restores are achieved by configuring the backup manager but reversing the direction of copy.
To backup a remote desktop or server a backup job can be configured that will copy from a file share which can either be on a Windows server or a desktop.
I found this part of the system reasonably configurable and intuitive. There is a test connection button which allows you to check that the ReadyNAS can connect to the source path you have spedcified.
Jobs can be scheduled or run on demand. By default backups are incremental (backing up changes since last backup) but a full backup can be set to run periodically. The backup process does not have an option to remove files deleted on the source, although you can specify that a full backup deletes everything on the target first which is pretty dangerous really.
Backups are essentially a file copy, so your data can be accessed directly from the ReadyNAS without having to do a restore first.
Unfortunately though the ReadyNAS does not cope with open files, so won't be
able to backup documents, .pst files or database files if they are open,
which makes the utility next to useless as the stuff that's most
important to backup is usually the stuff you have been most recently
working on. To get round this you would need to use some client backup software on the device being backed up.
The version of firmware tested includes rsync functionality. Rsync is an open source differential file synchronisation utility, differential meaning it backs up just the differences within files rather than the whole file if that file has changed. This makes rsync potential a very fast and efficient method of backing up. At the time of writing I haven't tested this on the ReadyNAS, so that might be the subject for another blog post.
Active Directory Integration
A potentially useful feature of the ReadyNAS is it's active directory integration. This allows the unit to be installed in a Windows domain, user accounts are then synchronised betweeen A.D. and the ReadyNAS. There is however a huge gotcha to this.
A possible scenario is that the ReadyNAS is used to backup a Windows file server, that's fine but if your file server is your only domain controller and it fails you won't be able to access your backups on the ReadyNAS. Why? Because the ReadyNAS is using Active Directory for authentication, but your directory server is down therefore you can't authenticate to the ReadyNAS and you can't access your files. If you are using the ReadyNAS as a backup to a single Windows server don't use Active Directory integration!
Genie is out of the bottle
Finally Netgear have some problems to solve with the
registration process and access to add-ons. Registering the unit should
give you access to the Genie add-on market, so you register and use the
same credentials to configure your ReadyNAS to access the Genie market.
However I found I had to register again for the Genie market using a
different email address. Personally though I am not going to be
installing add-ons due to the risk that installation causes problems
with the boot partition.
The ReadyNAS is well built and if the software issues are sorted out has
great potential, and is usable in certain applications (as a backup
target for a server for example), but if you buy it as standalone
storage unit to put all your family photos on you run the risk of losing
everything if one day the unit won't boot up.
The ReadyNAS NV+ V2 ihas potential as a backup device to a Windows server, or as a backup target for a number of desktops, if you avoid using active directory authentication and can work around the open files limitation..
As a standalone data store the raid-x configuration will protect you against single hard disc failure but there appears to be a significant risk that a harware failure of the unit, or software corruption of the boot partition, can lose you access to your data even though the disks are intact.