|NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 NAS Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2012|
Page 8 of 15
NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 Setup & Usage
I requested a diskless model for testing, because I wanted to go through the process of starting from scratch, and I wanted to be consistent in my performance testing, by using the same drives for all NAS benchmarks. The ReadyNAS NV+ v2 doesn't really do much if there are no disks installed, so the first thing I did was to add a single disk, just to get the unit running. This is the Configure screen, which has sub screens for Overview, Settings, and Info. Dynamic Hover Text is used extensively throughout the interface, to good effect.
The image below shows the Disk Volume info available when the cursor is placed over the Volume button. Further below, the Volumes info-bar is open, and it shows additional information, like the fact that I have the disk set up with NETGEAR's X-RAID2. This is a setup option that gets decided by the user very early in the startup process, where the choice is between Flex-RAID and X-RAID2. I chose X-RAID2 because it makes it much easier to switch between RAID modes and it always presents a single volume. If you know you're going to use RAID 5 with 3 or 4 physical disks, or if you want to have two separate RAID 1 volumes on the same NAS, then Flex-RAID is perfectly useable.
The web-based setup and maintenance screens are easy to navigate and easy on the eyes. The first screen you encounter is the Dashboard; from there you navigate to the Configure, Documentation, Community, and How-To screens, by choosing the appropriate tab at the top. This version is Dashboard 126.96.36.199. There is some basic information displayed on this screen, as well. IP address, disk status, temperature, and fan speed are all shown in the Health box. The shares that have been configured are displayed as folders in the Shares box. Installed Add-Ons are listed in the Add-Ons box, and the Photos II Add-on is ready to be launched from its own box, on the right. I'm not going to delve into the ReadyNAS Photo II software in this article, but everything I see looks like a big step up, compared to typical photo-sharing software.
The System Info screen provides detailed information on the disks installed, including their SMART information. It's an easy way to see if one drive is getting hotter than the rest, for some reason. Whatever the reason, it's usually the first step in detecting bearing or motor failure. The rest of the screen is used for the detailed system log. This is where you go to see what's REALLY going on with the system. It's also a good place to look every now and then to make sure your automated backup jobs are running correctly. The log tells all...! There's a download button, if you want to keep copies in another location, or just want to share your logs with others on Facebook. You can also clear the log.
Let's look at the RAID expansion and Migration process a little. Since I started with a single drive and needed to perform benchmark testing on it, I then had to migrate to a full 4-disk RAID 5 configuration for the next round of tests. I did it in steps, adding one disk at a time, in order to see how long each expansion/migration step took. The first disk initialized very quickly - I was up and running in less than 5 minutes. Since I selected X-RAID2 during the initial configuration, all I had to do was physically add one more drive, and the ReadyNAS NV+ v2 took over from there. The second disk went through a "Resync" recovery process that took about three and a half hours (3:23). After that, I had essentially a RAID 1 setup, with two drives. After adding a third disk, the NAS went into a "Re-Striping" process to migrate the RAID volume from RAID 1 to RAID 5 with three disks. That process took over six hours (6:44) to complete. That's about normal, in my experience for an ARM-based device; it depends partly on the raw disk performance and partly on the NAS. Upgrading to a 4-disk array, still in RAID 5 mode, took over eight hours (8:23). Not that speedy, but it did it all while I was asleep, so I can't complain.
Lastly, the dashboard software provides for full-featured creation and management of shares on the NAS. Whether you're setting up your NAS for front-line storage, and you need separate shares for every user and some group shares, or you're setting up a multi-layer backup strategy, a flexible environment is a key success factor. Once again, NETGEAR has struck a good balance between the complex and the comprehensible. It's very easy to associate different users with the shares that they need access to. Read/Write access is configurable, as is the list of allowable protocols that can access the share. It's not 100% comprehensive, and my networking buddies in the Federal sector would feel constrained with only these options, but for a small business or home user it's as much as they can handle.
Ok, if you've been following along, there's not much more I can show you except how fast it is. So let's get down to some benchmarking, and compare it to a variety of other NAS products that we've looked at in the recent past.