The Definitive Guide to the ReadyNAS Pro
The ReadyNAS team, the same group that first introduced the ReadyNAS 600 in January 2005 — the world’s smallest RAID 5 network attached storage appliance at the time, X-RAID™ in August 2005 — the easiest expandable volume technology, and the ReadyNAS NV in February of 2006 — the ultimate shrinking of a 4-disk NAS, now introduces the next great thing — the small, beautiful, and monstrous 6-bay ReadyNAS Pro.
At first glance, the Pro can be mistaken for a sophisticated AV equipment, perhaps a compact subwoofer that you might put right next to your finest component stereo system. Swing open the signature ReadyNAS mesh door, and six hot-swappable drive bays greet you, waiting to be fed. There’s no mistaking this device is going to hold a ton of data. With today’s 1.5 TB disks, you’re talking 9 TB of raw capacity! Plug it in, and it roars to life, showing how serious it can get about cooling and how serious it can get about keeping your data safe. And just as you admire the beautiful blue OLED display behind the black tint, the Pro suddently becomes stealthly quiet. You wonder if the power had just went out, but you realize the Pro is still on, now with the OLED graphically showing exactly where your drives are and how much space are at your disposal.
The importance of protected storage
With everything now being stored digitally, a simple disk failure can be catastrophic, especially with the large capacity disks that are certainly the norm these days. And it really is not a matter of if but when you will have a massive data loss. Your whole family history captured on photos and videos will be lost at an instant. Your business will lose important documents and customer data and if you are lucky it will only cost your company with project delays, loss revenue and productivity. At the very worse, data loss can cost the company its livelihood. If the data is recoverable, it can be a time-consuming and expensive proposition. Ask yourself if your small or medium-size business can survive this sort of loss. Understandably, there’s a growing need for protected storage. If people don’t know what RAID (“Redundant Array of Independent Disks”) is today, they will find out soon enough. RAID is simply a way of pooling disks into one big virtual disk. If one of the disks in that pool fails, the data from the failed disk can be resurrected by the parity information kept on the surviving disks in the pool. In simple terms, this means that if one disk fails, access to your data is still intact. The cost of safe-guarding your data comes at a price of one disk capacity, regardless of whether your RAID volume consists of two drives or six drives. For example, a ReadyNAS with six 1 TB drives will have a protected capacity of 5 TB. With the price of disks being relatively cheap and data loss and recovery being so expensive, it’s really foolish not to use protected storage that RAID provides.
Pro comes with X-RAID2
The ReadyNAS Pro goes actually a step further than just RAID. It uses an ingenious technology developed by NETGEAR called X-RAID2™, a 2nd generation X-RAID technology that has been used in the existing award-winning line of ReadyNAS products. With X-RAID2, you can expand your data volume from one disk all the up to six disks while the ReadyNAS is online. In a work environment, that means you don’t have to tell your staff to stop working while you’re trying to accomodate more capacity.
And once you’ve filled out all six slots and you’re near capacity, you can continue to expand by replacing out the disks one-by-one with larger disks, again, without needing to migrate your data out and back again. X-RAID2 will automatically expand when as little as two of your disks have extra capacity. Your data volume can keep growing every time you add a larger disk after that. It’s as simple as that — you don’t need a degree in RAID technology to do this. For a video demo about X-RAID2, click on the image below.
Other NAS may tout that they have “online” RAID expansion just like X-RAID, but take a closer look and you’ll see it’s just not quite that simple. Not only are there complex RAID migration steps involved, but they don’t mention that if you encounter a power loss during the process, you can say goodbye to your data for good.
With X-RAID2, you can turn off the power as many times as you want during the expansion, and it’ll continue where it left off.
The Pro is F-A-S-T
Mind-blazingly fast, that is. When was the last time your network drive was faster than the disk on your PC or Mac? To properly measure the performance potential in our performance lab, we had to utilize a large ramdisk or a RAID 0 with 3 striped disks on our client boxes. The local disks were clearly not fast enough to push the Pro.
With the proper setup, we clock it at 100+ MB/sec in both directions (that’s megabytes per second), and that’s with the Pro running in a protected X-RAID2 setting. With that type of speed, you can be sure it can handle a boat load of users and not suffer performance degradation like other devices would.
And just for kicks, we attempted to stream HD content (1080P for good measure) to various PCs and Macs. Not that you would do this, but we got 14 streams running beautifully off one Pro.
Our tests show the Pro is at least two to four times faster than any other NAS in its class. Which means it’s a device you don’t have to throw out and replace in a couple years. Take a look at the Performance section for what you can expect in various network and RAID configurations.
Pioneer and Business Editions
Quite simply, the Pro was meant to be a business-only product. That is until the ReadyNAS user community told us otherwise. The feedback was overwhelming — the advanced home users really really wanted the Pro. Well, we listened intently, as we normally do, and we’re now offering the ReadyNAS Pro in two flavors — the Business Edition and the Pioneer Edition.
The Business Edition comes preloaded and properly burned-in with drives in popular configurations for the business sector, with features such as Active Directory, snapshot, iSCSI² and others that we deem important for the business environment.
The Pioneer Edition comes only in diskless form, allowing the advanced home enthusiasts and SOHO customers to load their own drives as desired. And best of all, we’ve kept the price affordable for those who prefer to do their own installation.
Pro Business Edition at work
The ReadyNAS Pro Business Edition is all business, and it comes with 2 security levels suitable for environments with and without Active Directory service. Joining into an existing Active Directory environment is a snap, and within a few clicks, all existing users and groups from the directory can start using the ReadyNAS.
In addition, the Pro Business Edition comes with snapshot support. Consider a snapshot as an instant point-in-time image of your data, sort of like a photo you take with a camera. Regardless of the number of files or the volume usage on the ReadyNAS, a snapshot only takes a couple of seconds, and you can continue using the ReadyNAS without interruption. If you inadvertantly change or delete files after you’ve taken a snapshot, you can always revert to the version saved in that snapshot. Just drag & drop files back from the snapshot share. This can be useful if your files were infected with a virus and you needed to revert back to a good copy.
A snapshot can also be scheduled to coincide with your backups. Typical backups can take hours, so a backup of a snapshot insures that you’re making copies of files that won’t be changing during the backup process.
On the subject of backup, the ReadyNAS comes with a built-in backup manager supporting a variety of file protocols, including CIFS, NFS, HTTP, FTP, and RSYNC. And because the backup manager runs right on the ReadyNAS, you don’t need to load a separate backup software on your client systems.
With iSCSI² support, the Pro can act as an iSCSI target while still working as a NAS. This allows your Exchange or Oracle database to use a portion of your data volume for iSCSI, yet maintain the rest of the volume for file sharing. And in environments where Windows ACLs are required, iSCSI gives you that extra level of compatibility.
And the Pro Business Edition allows the dual gigabit Ethernet interfaces to be bonded for optimal performance in multi-user environments and provide failover support in case of network failure.
As you can see, the ReadyNAS is well-suited in business environments. In fact, you can take a look at several case studies on how the ReadyNAS has succeeded in businesses here.
Pro Pioneer Edition in the home
With the number of computers in an average household approaching four or more, the need to consolidate storage and backup into one device, like the ReadyNAS Pro, is a definite appeal, especially if that device can provide versatility beyond just file sharing and data protection.
In the home, ReadyNAS systems are without a doubt the choice of the AV community. Not only does the Pro provides ample protected storage for all the digital media content, it can be used to stream to all popular media streaming devices, often referred to as DMAs (“Digital Media Adapters”) without the need to have you PC or Mac powered on. The trend definitely is to use low power-consuming devices like the ReadyNAS (more on this later) in place of general-purpose power-hungry desktop systems for streaming.
This means devices like PS3, XBOX 360, Logitech Squeezebox, SONOS Digital Music System, and NETGEAR’s own EVA 8000 Digital Entertainer HD can all play media files straight from the Pro. Stream all you want — the Pro is designed to handle even the most demanding streaming applications with ease.
And instead of cluttering the house with a printer for each computer, you can use the built-in print sharing capability of the Pro to share your printer(s) on your network. There’s no need to purchase a ton of expensive ink cartridges when you can now consolidate your printing to one or two printers. Just connect your printer to any of the three USB ports on the Pro, and you’re set to go.
The ReadyNAS Pro feature set is driven by the common RAIDiator firmware that is used across all ReadyNAS products. RAIDiator provides a myriad of features not found in other network storage devices. Let’s go through some of the prominent ones.
There’s really no need to understand RAID on a ReadyNAS. The Pro comes pre-configured with X-RAID2, NETGEAR’s exclusive automatic expandable RAID technology. With X-RAID2, complex RAID management is a thing of the past!
For instance, let’s say you started out with one disk and you treat the ReadyNAS as secondary storage for backups. If one day, you want to make the ReadyNAS a primary storage, it’s prudent to make the storage protected. To do this, you simply secure a 2nd disk with 4 screws to the disk tray and hot-add the disk while the system is still running (you can do this while the system is powered off if you want). Your data on the first disk will automatically mirror to the 2nd disk in the background while the ReadyNAS is still available for access on your network.
Now if you’re close to reaching the capacity on your ReadyNAS, just add a 3rd disk, and your volume expands on the fly, giving twice the original capacity, and maintaining protection from a disk failure. And again, if you add a 4th disk, your ReadyNAS will triple in capacity, and so on until the 6th disk.
That’s not all with X-RAID2. If you find that you’re close to capacity on the six disks, just replace two of the disks one by one, allowing it to sync along the way, and just reboot the ReadyNAS to expand the data volume. You can continue to replace each of the lesser capacity disk and reboot to gain more capacity after that.
The ReadyNAS can stream music, video, and photos to just about any popular network-capable media streaming device without the need to turn on your PC or Mac. Just drag & drop your media files to the ReadyNAS and play them on your streaming device, whether it’s a Playstation 3, XBOX 360, NETGEAR’s own EVA 8000, or pretty much any DLNA-compliant device.
Small wireless music streamers have also become popular in the home, and the ReadyNAS can be central to serving music files to these devices. The Logitech Squeezebox, SONOS Digital Music System, and the Roku SoundBridge are just some of the players supported by the ReadyNAS, right out of the box.
As more and more of these thin devices start showing up, there’s no question that the ReadyNAS makes a perfect solution for your streaming network. There’s simply no other device out there that is more flexible for media streaming, period.
Music Sharing with Apple iTunes Server
With the built-in Apple iTunes 7.0 server, the ReadyNAS can be used as a large shared jukebox. With the iTunes service enabled, iPods, iPhones, and PCs or Macs running iTunes can access the shared music library stored on the ReadyNAS.
Unique Add-ons expands the ReadyNAS further
The ReadyNAS family has a unique add-on capability that can expand on the current feature set. ReadyNAS Photos and the BitTorrent are just two examples of add-ons currently available. Add-ons from NETGEAR, NETGEAR partners, and the ReadyNAS Community are sure to keep your ReadyNAS on the cutting edge.
Network Recycle Bin
Windows users accustomed to the Recycle Bin on their PC will love the Recycle Bin on the ReadyNAS. If you’ve ever inadvertantly deleted a file, you know the feeling of anxiety as you frantically search for a backup somewhere. With the Recycle Bin option on the ReadyNAS, you can relax, because your deleted file will be found in the Recycle Bin of your ReadyNAS share.
If you’re looking to centralize your backups, the ReadyNAS has a web-based Backup Manager built right into Frontview. From there, you have the option of scheduling backups to or from the ReadyNAS shares. You can opt to backup from a remote site over CIFS, NFS, FTP, HTTP, or RSYNC protocols, or similarly backup the ReadyNAS share to a remote site. You can even perform backups between the ReadyNAS and an attached USB disk drive or to another ReadyNAS.
Programmable Backup Button
If you think we’re obsessed about backups, you might be right. Another option for backups is through the use of the backup button on the front of the ReadyNAS. By default, pressing the button will backup your backup share on the ReadyNAS to the attached USB storage device connected to the USB port right below the button.
If you prefer, you can assign any or all of the Backup Manager backup jobs to the Backup Button. If you press the button, all jobs assigned to the button will run sequentially.
Alerts let you know what’s going on
Your data is important and you need to be aware of any anomaly on the ReadyNAS. Rest assure that the email alert system will let you know what’s going on. You will be notified when a disk fails, when a disk overheats, when a disk encounters warning signs of failure, when a fan fails, when a user or group reaches a disk quota limit, and when your volume is near capacity. It’ll even alert you in case the attached UPS is on battery. You can rest assured that ReadyNAS systems are well-prepared for non-ideal conditions just as it’s able to function optimally in ideal conditions.
Easy disk replacement eases the stress of a disk failure
Disk failure is inevitable, so when that time comes, you certainly don’t want to have to fumble your way through trying to disassembling your device. With the Pro, simply press on the latch to release the disk tray, remove 4 screws that attaches the disk to the tray, replace with a new disk, and insert the disk back into the chassis, all while the unit is powered on. There’s no need to power off the chassis, and there’s no need to worry about downtime. Once the new disk is in place, the disk is resync’d in the background to provide full protection from another disk failure.
Integrated with smart UPS monitoring
Ever wonder what happens when the power goes out for a little too long and the UPS battery is drained? The ReadyNAS constantly monitors the UPS battery level and sends alerts whenever there’s a power interruption. And when the battery runs low, the ReadyNAS shuts down gracefully, avoiding any file corruption caused by unwritten cached data. Just use a UPS from the ReadyNAS compatibility list, connect the USB monitoring cable to the ReadyNAS, and everything else is taken care of automatically.
Definite advantages to file system journaling
The ReadyNAS journals each write request to the data volume, meaning it constantly keeps track whenever writes occur. What does this do? In case of an unplanned power outage, the ReadyNAS is able to bypass the bulk of the file system checking and quickly bring the volume back online in a matter of seconds. Without journaling, it can take hours to go through the file system check. With journaling, you can prevent long downtime for your staff.
Shutdown on disk failure
The ReadyNAS is designed to keep running in the event of a disk failure. However, you do have an option to automatically shutdown the box in case a failure is detected. This is just another peace-of-mind option to prevent the ReadyNAS from encountering another disk failure until the failed disk can be replaced.
Quotas on disk usage
The ReadyNAS supports disk quotas on a per-user or per-group basis. Even with terabytes of storage, certain users or groups of users may abuse the usage norm. The quota system allows you to specify how much space each user or group is allowed to use on the ReadyNAS, and the guilty party and the ReadyNAS admin will be duly notified of any violation.
Convenient online updates
The ReadyNAS comes integrated with an easy online update feature. There’s no need to download a firmware image from a website and manually upload it to the device. Just go to the Remote Update page in FrontView, click to check if there’s an available update, and click again to confirm. That’s it!
Add to that the option to automatically download any new updates, and all you need to do is reboot the ReadyNAS at your convenience to get the latest new features and bug fixes.
ReadyNAS speaks eight languages
That’s 7 more than what most of us speak! All you need to do is set your browser to one of the supported languages (English, Japanese, French, German, Chinese/Mandarin, Korean, Russian, or Portuguese), and the FrontView web-based management system will display in that language.
Mac users love the ReadyNAS
Unlike other NAS that support Macs through a Windows SMB/CIFS protocol, the ReadyNAS supports the protocol that works best with Macs — AFP. With AFP, non-standard characters in filenames work perfectly, and resource information that would cause problems over SMB is not an issue.
You never know who might be sniffing network packets, even behind the firewall. Rest assured that all logins to the ReadyNAS are encrypted whenever possible, including the login to the FrontView Setup Wizard and Advanced Control management system.
With so much data on the ReadyNAS, it’s certainly desirable to access that data remotely. The ReadyNAS allows this via FTP and HTTP, and the more secure and SSL encrypted form via FTPS and HTTPS, with appropriate port forwarding on your router. Simply use your favorite FTP/S client to connect to the ReadyNAS FTP server, or use your browser to access the built-in Web File Manager via HTTP/S. In addition, the ReadyNAS supports WebDAV, allowing drag & drop file explorer support over LAN or WAN. A simple tutorial on how to do this can be found here. And with Wake-On-LAN support, you can wake and boot up your ReadyNAS Pro remotely from a power-off state.
Low power consumption
It’s nice to see a lot of companies start thinking about making their products green. It’s now the in thing to do. Well, the ReadyNAS product line has always been green even before there was a push by regulations and consumer demand. For instance, in an idle state, the Pro with one disk consumes 47W and with six disks consumes 74W of power. It’ll take a few more watts when there is disk activity. In disk spin-down mode, the Pro consumes only 41-45W, depending on the number of disks in the system. Furthermore, if you use the automatic power-on timer, you’ll save even more. For instance, if you plan on accessing the ReadyNAS only during an 8-hour window each day, your average usage of the box can be much lower. All without compromising performance.
And if you will be on the road, you can simply shut off the ReadyNAS Pro. When you need to access it, you can use the Wake-On-LAN feature to wake it up. Now, that sure beats running a PC, a monitor, keyboard and mouse at around 100W or more 24/7.
And on the subject of performance, the ReadyNAS team is passionate about squeezing the last megabyte per second out of every ReadyNAS. Let’s take a look at how the Pro stacks up.
There are two tests that we use to measure performance on the Windows platform:
IOMeter using 1024 KB sequential block reads and writes on a 3 GB test file, and Drag & Drop of a 3 GB file over CIFS, Windows default network protocol.
The tests are run on Vista Home Edition with Service Pack 1 (SP1). [Note: SP1 is highly recommended as it fixes major performance problems with remote share access.] On the Mac, IOMeter is not available, so we use:
Drag & Drop test of a 3 GB file over AFP. Mac users tend to prefer accessing the ReadyNAS over AFP as it provides better support for non-standard characters in filenames and the ability to maintain Mac-specific resource information.
We will show the results in two performance settings — the default (conservative) mode, and the optimal performance mode. Optimal mode consists of making the following changes in FrontView:
1. Select Disable journaling option in the System/Performance page.
2. Select Enable Jumbo Frames option in the Network/Ethernet page.
You’ll need to reboot the ReadyNAS after making the changes. These changes will provide the fastest performance possible on the ReadyNAS.
6 – Seagate ST31000340AS 1TB hard disks, 32 MB cache RAIDiator 4.2.1
Intel Quad Core 2.66 GHz 2 GB Memory
Windows Vista, Service Pack 1
Intel Pro/1000 PT, PCI Express GigE, Jumbo frame 9014 bytes
Apple Power Mac G5, 667 MHz 1 GB Memory
OS X 10.5.2
Onboard GigE, Jumbo frame 9000 bytes
Switch: NETGEAR GS724TP
Router: NETGEAR WNR854T
IOMeter Results – X-RAID2
IOMeter Results – RAID 6
AFP Results – X-RAID2 and RAID 6
Microsoft Windows Vista, XP Home or Pro (SP1 or SP2), 2000 (SP4), Macintosh OS-X, Linux
Router and Broadband connection required for remote access features
Web Browsers Supported
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0+
Netscape Navigator 7.0+
Mozilla Firefox 1.03+
Intel Multi-Core Processor
1 GB DDR2-667 SDRAM DIMM, expandable to 4GB with additional slot
Six (6) Serial ATA II channels
NETGEAR Auto-Expandable X-RAID2
Hot swappable and lockable trays
Two (2) 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports
Three (3) USB 2.0 ports
Embedded 128 MB Flash Memory for OS
Supports Windows, Mac, Linux/UNIX clients
DHCP server¹ and print server
Setup Wizard and easy browser-based interface
NETGEAR Auto-Expandable X-RAID2
Flex-RAID mode for RAID levels 0, 1, 5, and 6
Hot swap support
Hot spare support
iSCSI target option²
Journaled file system
User and group quotas
Network File Services
CIFS/SMB for Microsoft Windows
AFP 3.1 for Macintosh OS 9 and OS X
NFS v2/v3 for Linux and UNIX
HTTP and HTTPS
FTP and FTPS
DLNA Compatible UPnP AV
SONOS Digital Music Center
Network DVD player compatible
Windows MCE compatible
Sony Playstation 3
Microsoft XBOX 360
Selectable User or Domain/Active Directory modes¹
Encrypted network logins
Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
DHCP or static IP
Load-balancing & Failover¹
Email alerts and event logs
Optional SSH shell access
Integrated Backup Manager
Programmable backup button
Backup to/from CIFS/NFS/FTP/HTTP/RSYNC
Backup to/from USB disks
Bundled NTI Shadow for ReadyNAS backup software (with CDP and Versioning support)
USB Device Support
USB HDD and flash drives
UPS monitoring and auto shutdown
Management UI: English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Korean
File Name: Unicode
300W server-rated AC power supply
Input: 100-240 VAC, 50/60Hz
83W typical with 6 x 500 GB disks
74W idle, 44W with disk spin-down
120 mm chassis cooling fan
90 mm CPU cooling fan
Fan failure alert
High temperature email alert with auto-shutdown option
0 to 40 C (32 to 104 F)
20% to 80% Humidity (non-condensing)
FCC, UL, CE, C-tick, MIC, VCCI, RoHS compliance
Kensington Lock security hole
Dimension (H x W x D): 250 x 170 x 285 mm (10.0 x 6.7 x 11.2 in)
Weight: 7.5 kg (16.5 lb), without hard disks
Optional Spare Parts
Lockable SATA disk tray
120 mm chassis fan
AC power supply
Six (6) hard disk trays
Quick installation guide
ReadyNAS Installation CD
- ReadyNAS RAIDar Discovery Utility
- NTI Shadow for ReadyNAS
- RNDP6350, 3 x 500 GB HDD
- RNDP6310, 3 x 1 TB HDD
- RNDP6610, 6 x 1 TB HDD
- RNDP6620, 6 x 2 TB HDD
- RNDP600E, Diskless
Warranty and Support
The ReadyNAS Pro Business Edition is covered by a class-leading 5-year warranty against defects in material and workmanship. The ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer Edition is covered by a similar 3-year warranty. 24/7 phone support is available via 888-NETGEAR and International Numbers. Online support is available on the ReadyNAS Community forum at www.readynas.com/forum and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) can be found at www.readynas.com/forum/faq.php. Please visit www.readynas.com for links to these sites along with insightful articles and how-to’s for the ReadyNAS.
¹ Feature standard on the ReadyNAS Pro Business Edition and not available on the Pioneer Edition.
² With RAIDiator 4.2.13, an add-on to enable the iSCSI option for free is available for the Pioneer Edition.