|NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 NAS Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2012|
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Closer Look: ReadyNAS NV+ v2 NAS Server
The bottom line with any high performance storage solution is that the number of drive spindles in play is more important than almost any other factor, assuming that everything else is based on reasonably modern technology. When you combine the higher level of performance with the greater flexibility for online RAID capacity expansion & online RAID level migration, the additional cost of the extra drive bays looks like a bargain instead of conspicuous consumption. This is the reason more and more people are opting for NAS systems with at least four bays, even though they may not need all that capacity now. What initially looks like overkill in a NAS system might just be the very thing that saves the day, some years down the road.
The ReadyNAS NV+ v2 is a small, unassuming unit, which should blend in no matter where you put it. There are diskless, 2TB, and 4TB units available, all in the same 4-bay tower format. The size and weight are a little smaller than the competition: 205mm (H) x 134mm (W) x 223mm (D), and 10.35 pounds without drives installed. Each HDD you install will add about 1-1/2 pounds, depending on your choice of drive. Many users will be looking at 2TB and 3TB drives for a unit like this, and they're heavier than most. There is a substantial handle mounted on the rear of the unit, which is very handy for picking the whole thing up once it's fully loaded.
We've all got data that we can't live without, the question is, how long do you want to be without it? Very few people are going to want to live without their important information for any length of time, and a RAID configuration that includes some redundancy is undoubtedly called for. With multiple SATA drives installed, you can have: RAID 0 (Disk Striping), RAID 1 (Disk Mirroring), RAID 5 (Block-level striping with distributed parity), and JBOD (Linear Disk Volume). The main choice is going to be RAID 5 because it offers the highest capacity with built-in redundancy. RAID 6 offers some additional redundancy, allowing for continued operation even with two simultaneous drive failures, but this option is not available for the ReadyNAS NV+ v2 at this time. This option is very popular for larger NAS units, because if one individual drive fails in a RAID 5 implementation, the array instantly starts operating as a RAID 0 configuration, which has NO redundancy. It stays in that vulnerable state until the array is rebuilt, which is a slow process that generally taxes the system to the max, and can take hours to complete.
Pulling the mesh front door of the enclosure open lets you see each of the four drive trays, with their locking handles. The small slider at the bottom of each handle locks the release lever that it sits inside. Trust me when I say that you do not want to start accidentally pulling drives out. If one drive is unexpectedly removed, the system is vulnerable to data loss. If two drives are removed, you can pretty much guarantee data loss, unless you can shut the system down before that happens. My advice is to use the locks and think twice before unlocking the release lever. The drive bays are marked 1,2,3,4 on the front bezel, but the drive trays are not marked, so there's another spot for human error to creep in. Key locks are not included to secure the trays in place, which may or may not be an issue for you (think of mechanically inclined, inquisitive children before you answer...). The LCD panel is providing useful information in the image below, and you can also see the backlit Power button, with its blue LED lighting up the universal on/off logo.
With the unit safely off, it's OK to remove one or more drives and they all slide out the front like this. Each steel-framed tray holds one individual drive in the NV+ v2, and the tray is a common part between the Duo and the NV+ models in the ReadyNAS product line. The trays are not labeled with the chassis slot number. They are all physically identical and you can mix and match them all you want, until you build a drive array and then you had better remember which one goes where. I recommend making your own labels as soon as you start installing drives into the unit; if you mix them up the NAS won't recognize the array, and worst case you could end up destroying data as you try to figure out which drive is which.
Around the back of the ReadyNAS NV+ v2, you can see all of the hardwired I/O points. Starting in the center is a stack of two USB 3.0 connectors in their customary blue plastic livery, sitting on top of a single 1000BASE-T Ethernet jack. Just to the right of that is the four pole power connector, which gets DC current from the brick style power supply. Just to the left of the USB ports is a small hole on the back panel that guards the reset button from accidental actuation. In the middle is the cooling fan, which keeps both the drives and the electronics cool. Moving further down, there is a small cable routing clip (which I would use for the power cable...) and a Kensington lock hole. Also, I mentioned it earlier, but the handle mounted just above the fan opening is a real handy addition that helps when you have to move the unit around. It's surprisingly heavy once you load it up with HDDs.
There are ventilation holes on every side of the ReadyNAS NV+ v2 chassis. The primary entry point for cool air is through the front of the drive trays; it passes over the HDDs and is then exhausted out the rear of the unit. The additional holes in the metal side and top panels help to balance the flow, especially if you let dust build up on the mesh front panel. I've yet to use a NAS that had effective filtering, but I guess the mesh on the front door does help catch some dust, and it's easy enough to wipe it clean if it builds up there. In order to keep things cool when needed and quiet the rest of the time, the fan speed is heavily modulated. I haven't paid much attention to fan noise in the smaller NAS models I've reviewed, as it was never really noticeable during my daily use. The ReadyNAS NV+ v2 had a more aggressive speed and noise profile though, and the fan noise was definitely conspicuous, even when running at idle speed.
The bottom of the NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 is a simple affair with four composite feet, a more utilitarian-looking set of ventilation holes, and a product label with Model, Serial and MAC ID numbers. The same information is provided on the rear label, along with all the product safety and environmental regulatory certifications. My guess is that the two labels are applied at different stages of the manufacturing process, and that the bottom label goes on first, in China where most of the product is produced. BTW, my labels don't match exactly, because it is a review sample that started out as a 2TB model and then got converted to a diskless version for testing purposes.
Now that we've had a thorough tour of the exterior, let's do a complete tear-down and see what the insides look like. The next section covers Insider Details.