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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network
Written by Bruce Normann   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 NAS Server
Closer Look: ReadyNAS NV v2
Insider Details: ReadyNAS NV v2
Technology Details: ReadyNAS NV v2
NETGEAR ReadyNAS Features
Hardware Specifications
Software Specifications
NAS Setup and Usage
NAS Testing Methodology
Basic-Disk Test Results
RAID 5 Test Results
Intel NASPT Test Results
Non-Traditional NAS Results
NAS Server Final Thoughts
ReadyNAS NV v2 Conclusion

Network Terminology

Benchmark Reviews primarily uses metric data measurement for testing storage products, for anyone who is interested in learning the relevant history of this sore spot in the industry, I've included a small explanation below:

The basic unit data measurement is called a bit (one single binary digit). Computers use these bits, which are composed of ones and zeros, to communicate their contents. All files are stored as binary files, and translated into working files by the Operating System. This two number system is called a "binary number system". In comparison, the decimal number system has ten unique digits consisting of zero through nine. Essentially it boils down to differences between binary and metric measurements, because testing is deeply impacted without carefully separating the two. For example, the difference between the transfer time of a one-Gigabyte (1000 Megabytes) file is going to be significantly better than a true binary Gigabyte (referred to as a Gibibyte) that contains 1024 Megabytes. The larger the file used for data transfer, the bigger the difference will be.

Have you ever wondered why your 500 GB hard drive only has about 488 GB once it has been formatted? Most Operating Systems utilize the binary number system to express file data size, however the prefixes for the multiples are based on the metric system. So even though a metric "Kilo" equals 1,000, a binary "Kilo" equals 1,024. Are you confused yet? Don't be surprised, because even the most tech savvy people often mistake the two. Plainly put, the Kilobyte is expressed as 1000 bytes, but it is really comprised of 1,024 bytes.

Most network engineers are not fully aware that the IEC changed the way we calculate and name data chunks when they published the new International Standards back in December 1998. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) removed the old metric prefixes for multiples in binary code with new prefixes for binary multiples made up of only the first two letters of the metric prefixes and adding the first two letters of the word "binary". For example, instead of Megabyte (MB) or Gigabyte (GB), the new terms would be Mebibyte (MiB) or Gibibyte (GiB). While this is the new official IEC International Standard, it has not been widely adopted yet because it is either still unknown by institutions or not commonly used.

NAS Testing Methodology

All the NAS devices we test cannot accommodate all the different disk configurations, so our current test protocol has been based on two of the most popular setups: a basic (single) disk and RAID-5 configurations. Most NAS products that can support RAID 5 go beyond the minimum number of drive bays, to a total of four, so that is the number of drives that I typically use to test with, even though I could get by with only three. During initial setup, the NAS was tested for the latest firmware by checking the Netgear website, and also with the built-in updater function in the ReadyNAS Dashboard software. The firmware installed on the NV+ v2 was v5.3.5 when I received it, which is the most current version. The same version was also included on a CD-ROM provided in the accessory kit.

Normally, I connect the NAS directly to an Intel Gigabit CT Desktop LAN controller in the test-bench system, with ten-foot CAT6 patch cables. This time, the NAS wasn't being recognized until I set a static IP address of 192.168.168.xxx on the host PC. The ReadyNAS absolutely has to be on the same subnet as the host, or it will not be seen. I did a couple quick throughput tests and saw no appreciable difference, so I went with a more realistic network arrangement and plugged the NV+ v2 into the local GbE switch that I normally connect all my test systems to. At the transfer speeds I was seeing, the single GbE connection wasn't holding the unit back, so I used that setup for all the testing.

With the networking taken care of, the next potential bottleneck that needed attention is the disk system on the host PC. In previous tests, I relied on the third generation OCZ Agility SSD, which is good for at least 500 MB/s, input or output, on the appropriate Intel Platform Controller Hub. While I was doing some testing with an 8-bay monster NAS and 10GbE connections, I decided it was time to bypass the SSD on the test rig and install a RAM Disk. There are at least a dozen products on the market that will create and manage a RAM Disk on Windows systems; I chose RAMDisk v3.5.1.130R22 from Dataram based on performance tests in several reviews (we read 'em, too....) and its reasonable cost structure. I needed to assign at least 10GB of space to the RAM Disk, in order to replicate the test protocol I've been using for all my NAS testing, so none of the freeware products looked suitable. One other trick was necessary, to get the RAM Disk to transfer files larger than 2GB, I had to use the "Convert" utility in Windows to make the RAM Disk into an NTFS volume. Then I was able to perform the file transfers with 10GB files, no problem. If you want to avoid this extra step, be sure to look for a RAM Disk product that directly supports the NTFS file system.

NETGEAR_ReadyNAS_NV_v2_Dataram_RAMDisk.png

For basic throughput evaluation, the NAS product received one test transfer followed by at least three timed transfers. Each test file was sent to the Western Digital Caviar Black 750GB (WD7502AAEX) hard drives installed in the NAS for a timed NAS write test, and that same file was sent back to the RAM Disk in the test system to perform a NAS read test. Each test was repeated several times, the high and low values were discarded and the average of the remaining results was recorded and charted.

The Read and Write transfer tests were conducted on each NAS appliance using the 1 GB file and then a 10 GB file. Normally, a second set of tests are conducted with Jumbo Frame enabled, i.e. the MTU value for the Ethernet controllers is increased from 1500 to 9000. Many of the NAS products tested to date in the Windows 7 environment have supported the Jumbo Frame configuration, but the ReadyNAS NV+ v2 uses the 1500 MTU setting by default and there are no user-accessible controls to change that. With only a single GbE connection available on the NV+ v2, I was not able to test using the IEEE 802.3ad mode. This is commonly called Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP), where the two cards use dynamic link aggregation. None of these network settings are going to be commonly addressed by the average consumer, which is where NETGEAR is targeting this device. They certainly have tons of experience selling networking gear to this market, and I think they chose wisely when deciding to keep the network configuration as simple as possible.

I also ran the Intel NAS Performance Toolkit (NASPT) version 1.7.1, which was originally designed to run on a Windows XP client. People smarter than me have figured out how to run it under Windows 7, including the 64-bit version that is used more often than the 32-bit version these days. NASPT brings an important perspective to our test protocol, as it is designed to measure the performance of a NAS system as viewed from the end user's perspective. Benchmarks like ATTO use Direct I/O Access to accurately measure disk performance with minimal influence from the OS and the host platform. This provides important, objective data that can be used to measure raw, physical performance. While it's critical to measure the base performance, it's also important to quantify what you can expect using real-world applications, and that's exactly what NASPT does. One of the disadvantages of NASPT is that it is influenced by the amount of memory installed on the client, and it was designed for systems that had 2-4 GB of RAM. Consequently, two of the tests give unrealistic results, because they are measuring the speed of the buffer on the client, instead of the actual NAS performance. For that reason, we will ignore the results for "HD Video Record" and "File Copy to NAS".

NETGEAR ReadyNAS_NASPT_1RUN_01.png

Benchmark Reviews was also able to measures NAS performance using some tests that are traditionally used for internal drives. The ATTO Disk Benchmark program is free, and offers a comprehensive set of test variables to work with. In terms of disk performance, it measures interface transfer rates at various intervals for a user-specified length and then reports read and write speeds for these spot-tests. CrystalDiskMark 3.0 is a file transfer and operational bandwidth benchmark tool from Crystal Dew World that offers performance transfer speed results using sequential, 512KB random, and 4KB random samples. Benchmark Reviews uses CrystalDiskMark to illustrate operational IOPS performance with multiple threads, which allows us to determine operational bandwidth under heavy load.

NETGEAR ReadyNAS_ATTO_R5_01.png

We are continuing our NAS testing with the exclusive use of Windows 7 as the testing platform for the host system. The performance differences between Win7 and XP are huge, as we documented in our QNAP TS-259 Pro review. The adoption rate for Win 7 has been very high, and Benchmark Reviews has been using Win 7 in all of our other testing for some time now. It was definitely time to make the jump for NAS products.

NAS Comparison Products

Support Equipment

  • (4) Western Digital Caviar Black WD7502AAEX 750GB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5"
  • Intel EXPI9301 CT Gigabit Ethernet NIC, x1 PCIe 1.1, 1x CAT5
  • Trendnet 8-port GbE Switch TEG-S80g
  • Dataram RAMDisk v3.5.1.130R22
  • Intel NAS Performance Toolkit (NASPT) version 1.7.1
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.47
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0
  • 10-Foot Category-6 Solid Copper Shielded Twisted Pair Patch Cable
  • 1 metric Gigabyte Test File (1 GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes)
  • 10 metric Gigabyte Test File (10 GB = 10,000,000,000 bytes)

Test System



 

Comments 

 
# CFOWade Eilrich 2012-08-07 09:32
Not having the drive trays labeled is a major annoyance as are the restrictive controller specifications, not being able to upgrade or expand the NIC capabilities, and not having a hot-spare available for fail-over.

I've found that using an older computer, one of several Linux distros, a cheap Promise raid array card, and a couple of 1G NICs bridged in my favorite mode yield a much improved performance over the ReadyNAS at a similar price.
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# Viva la Difference....Bruce 2012-08-07 10:01
The DIY option is definitely a valid one, but not everyone wants to go down that road. As I said in the review: I have enough parts lying around to do it, but the fact is, I haven't. I honestly believe there's value in the dedicated NAS form factor, primarily because I really just want to treat it as an appliance.....etc.

Everyone has their own priorities. At one point I owned both a Honda Civic and an older Porsche 911. Did I enjoy the high maintenance costs for the 911? NO. Did I enjoy the unmistakeable driving experience? YES!!! The exact opposite goes for the Honda....it was an appliance. I was lucky to have the best of both worlds, at the same time.

BTW, the NAS in daily use on my home network is a Marvell-based unit, and the performance is more than adequate in that context.
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# Choix c'est bonWade Eilrich 2012-08-07 12:06
My first DIY NAS used the Linux FreeNAS OS and a software RAID 5, but I the performance, even using SATA 1TB drives (and 4GB of RAM) was not what I expected. A dedicated solution, such as one that uses the Marvell controller you mentioned, is much superior and has the added advantage of being a simple-to-use appliance. Marvell and Tuxera announced, earlier this year, a strategic alliance and Netgear was quick to implement solutions using their technology in the ReadyNAS line. A high-availability NAS is a permanent part of my network, both at home and work. Coupled with a reasonable backup strategy, downtime is minimal.
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# Looks like a decent unitMergatroid 2012-08-07 16:23
I am amazed at the transfer rates on this unit. I mighty pick on up in the future. Currently I am using a ReadyNAS Duo and it's a little slow. I'm under the impression that this is from the speed of the CPU they used.

I went with a ReadyNAS because I didn't want another computer with it's associated keyboard/mouse/monitor and all the cables. I wanted a nice little box sitting in the corner of one desk. I also got a great FTP site without having to dig around for FTP software and set it up (configuring the ReadyNAS is pretty easy, even for a noob like me). So I can access my NAS from anywhere, and it's a great media server for my PS3 and our WiFi tablets. A PC as a NAS may out perform it, but it's nowhere near as convenient.
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# Duo's good......Bruce 2012-08-07 16:38
What drive setup are you using on your ReadyNAS Duo? I totally agree with you about ease of setup and ease of use for these Netgear products. Their extensive home networking experience really shows.
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# RAID 1Mergatroid 2012-08-07 19:07
It's using 2 x 2TB Seagate "Green" drives in Raid 1. Overall I'm pretty happy with it. I also have a WD "MyBook" (or whatever it's called) single drive NAS. I've had it for a few years now and so far it's been reliable, but it's dead slow. Funny enough, both manufacturers go out of their way to advertise "Gigabit" connections, but the WD is fast as lightening if it ever gets close to 10MB/s, while I'm lucky if I'm reading a long file from the ReadyNAS and I get 43MB/s. It only writes at about 18MB/s, but I hear that may partially be due to the RAID 1.
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# RE: RAID 1mdgm 2012-08-17 18:38
Mergatroid your speeds are to be expected with the Duo (v1 - Sparc).

The Duo/NV+ v2 are very, very different. They use a Marvell ARM processor and due to the different CPU architecture have different firmware as well. The ARM CPU is much faster than the Infrant Sparc CPU in your Duo.
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# Partly RAID 1, and.....Bruce 2012-08-07 19:54
Partly the 5400 RPM drives that are in there. I've done all my NAS testing with 7200 RPM drives, which may not match up with everyone's idea of a suitable long-term storage device. Problem is, I don't have anything slower in the house. I have 7200; 10,000; and 15,000 RPM units here, not a single 5400 RPM drive. Even the 2.5" HDDs that I own are 7200 RPM (not counting the Velociraptors...)
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# RE: Partly RAID 1, and.....Olin Coles 2012-08-07 20:02
I consider 7200 RPM to represent the current standard rotational speed for hard disk drive storage, so your components match the most common user profile.
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# RE: NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 NAS ServerSkarp 2012-10-11 07:24
Hi

Sorry for a couple of noobish questions.I read the review but admittedly don't understand much of it. I have 2x 3TB drives I wish to use in a box like this for RAID 1 Mirroring. Will the full 3 tb be accessible to a 32bit XP machine? Will I be able to connect with usb 2.0 or will I get better throughput with the Intel(R) PRO/1000 MTW Network Connection.

It's a old machine but I really don't wanna replace if for a year or so as I have an i5 laptop for heavy processing and a superior desktop is unaffordable. I'm thinking 150 spent on a NAS will still have practical value in 3 years time whereas a used PC will look no better than this one. Thanks for any help.
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# Less expensive unitMergatroid 2012-10-11 16:06
In your situation I would suggest a ReadyNAS Duo like I have. You can access the entire thing from Windows XP because the NAS has it's own little computer taking care of all the formatting issues.

NAS is Network Attached Storage, so you will be connecting it through your network, not USB. This will allow you to access it from both your laptop and your desktop assuming you have either a router or a hub on your network to plug it into. If the unit you select has a USB port, it's most likely for plugging in a printer or a USB hard drive for more added storage.

There are many great NAS solutions you could chose. You can't go wrong with Netgear products, but I've heard some decent things about some of the newer d-link NASs like the ShareCenter. All of them can be a bit of a chore to figure out. They all use local webpages to configure them through your network. Personally I would recommend staying away from the Western Digital (WD) "MyBooks". I have one here and it's dead slow, and you can't replace the drive in it.

I'm also using a Netgear ReadyNAS Duo, which you can get for under $200 and it works great. Note you will have to purchase hard drives to install in it as it's just an enclosure.
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# Good advice from MergatroidBruce 2012-10-11 19:31
If you already have a pair of 3TB drives, the ReadyNAS Duo will work for you. The thing you ARE giving up is future expansion, to larger RAID volumes and higher level RAID configurations like RAID 5. It all depends on if you are comfortable that 3TB of storage space will hold you for the next several years, and if you want to spend the addditional $$ to get a 4-bay NAS to allow for possible expansion. These are questions only YOU can answer. I think you hit the nail on the head (sorry for the American eexpression...), by separating out the value of storage v. the value of your PC. Storage is something you will always need (unless you go into the cloud), and it's worthwhile investing in a solid solution that will serve you for a good period of time. How long that time is, is a personal question, as I said above.
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# RE: NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 NAS Serverskarp 2012-10-12 11:06
thanks for the advice Mergatroid and Bruce. 3TB is the minimum storage I require and I'll be looking to add additional drives asap. The extra cost of 4 vs 2 bays is only 50% more. The cost of per TB storage will halve also with only one extra drive.
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# Then the 4 bay enclosure is for you.Mergatroid 2012-10-12 17:09
Then by all means the 4 bay solution is a good fit for you. I'm not super experienced at NASs, having only owned two of them, but I do like how easy it was to set up the ReadyNAS, and I love the FTP software it came with so you can set up your own FTP site for access over the Internet. Very handy. It's also effortless to get it to work as a media server for PS3, XBox, Tablets and phones using WiFi and LAN. It was just a matter of checking one little box and it just worked. I love streaming movies from my ReadyNAS to my Galaxy Tab 10.1 over WiFi.

You may want to poke around here a little more too as they have reviewed other NAS-like products that are pretty cool and allow you to RAID over the network. Some of them will work on both LAN and USB, which is pretty sweet. I haven't tried them myself, but they got decent reviews.
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# RE: NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ v2 NAS ServerSkarp 2012-10-12 17:49
Thanks. I've had a look around but tbh I'm pretty skint and this seems the cheapest option with long term practical value - it's less than 150 quid in the UK and I had thought all NAS stuff was out of reach. I only get looking at this cos a 80 quid Oreco dual drive bay thingy didn't cut the mustard. Netgear seem to support it well and there's a 3 year warranty. I need reliability and capacity more than speed so this seems to fit the bill.
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# Do I have to reboot my ReadyNas NV+ v2 to get RAID 1Kelly 2012-10-25 05:51
Hi All

I am a complete novice but when my partner's machine crashed and as my Maxtor drive (160g) is now full I needed some reliable storage. I looked into things and went for the Netgear particularly because I wanted the Media streaming and storage capability of a NAS with a mirrored back up. I got a 4 bay for expansion downstream but for years I expect 2T of data will be loads for us. I got 2 x 2T WD Red's and have synchronised them but now it seems I can't change the RAID option now. I never caught where to do it in set up but do I now need to do a factory reboot which wipes the disks and reformats them to be able to get a RAID 1 set up? I think this is also called FLEX? Also the write speed seems incredibly slow. I think my router (BT Home Hub 3) may be the problem I have BT infinity and would have thought this meant stuff would fly over the network - but maybe not? Will that mean I can't stream from the NAS to the rest of my devices. Since the NAS install there does seem to be having a significant impact on the speed of all the devices in the house.All advice greatly appreciately thx Kelly
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# HmmmmmBruce 2012-10-27 19:46
What drive configuration do you have now? I recommend setting up the unit with X-RAID2 at the beginnning. If you specified FLEX at the initial setup, you may have to wipe the entire contents of the disks in order to create the RAID 1 volume. You HAVE TO chhoese either X-RAID2 or FLEX during setup, you can't use both, or switch without going through a ground-up setup process again.

With the X-RAID2 software that Netgear created, you can go from a single disk or JBOD directly to a RAID volume without reformatting the disks. Even if you started with FLEX, though, you can use the FLEX Software to set up RAID 0,1, or 5. The only problem is you can't migrate between them with that re-format step. That's why I recommend the X-RAID2, especially if you are starting out with two drives and plan to expand later. Take a look here: #readynas.com/?p=656

As for the speed issues, it could be your router, I guess. I'm thinking that "BT" means British Telecom. I'm in the states, so I don't know much about their products, services, or hardware. I have never experienced any negative effects on the network as a whole by installing any NAS device on the network. In fact,I've had three NAS units from three different vendors running on the same network, all at once, and didn't have any issues. So, I'm having a hard time understanding how the NAS would slow down other devices (computers) on the network.

Map one of the folders on the NAS as a network drive (Right click on the folder in Windows explorer...) and then run the ATTO drive benchmark on it. Compare that to the one I did in this review.
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# Should be....Bruce 2012-10-27 19:48
...can't migrate between them WITHOUT that re-format step.
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# getting data onboardSkarp 2012-10-28 19:29
Ok. I've ordered the ReadyNas NV+ v2. I have 2 3tb drives to go in it. Both have the same data on them. If I put one it I assume I lose the data on it yes? If so then I need a way to transfer the data from my second drive to the NAS prior to adding the second drive to the NAS? Now as mentioned I have no PC capable of running the 3TB drive internally so I'm thinking I'll need a 3TB drive enclosure to connect directly to the NAS via USB for the transfer. If I can't connect directly I think my laptop can manage the transfer. I am right about this stuff? Thanks for your continued assistance :)
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# One More Drive....Bruce 2012-10-29 10:37
Every drive you put in will have its data erased, the first, the second, the third, etc. Check the online HW and SW manuals for a possible exception, but I don't think there is one.

BTW, What do you mean when you say "Both drives have the same data on them."? Were they in a RIAD1 setup? Are they two separate backups of your data? Is one your primary storage, and the other the backup for the primary drive? How did they get the same data on them, and how much data (..GB..) is on them?

You will need to get one more 3TB drive that doesn't need to have its data retained. Put that in first, format it, and copy one of your exisiting 3TB drives over to it via that USB drive enclosure. Then put that drive in, and create a linear volume or a RAID0 volume. Then copy the data from your second drive over. Then install that drive and use the X-RAID2 software to migrate the volume over to RAID5.
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# thanks BruceSkarp 2012-10-29 11:04
thanks for info. One drive was cloned from the other - each has about 2TB of data on them. I was fairly sure I'd lose whatever data that was on a drive I put into the NAS I just wasn't sure if the NAS would read from an external drive to transfer the data to the NAS. Once done the external can go into the NAS. Looks like I just need an enclosure right now and I wait for the price of drives to come down before adding a third.
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# Backup Should WorkBruce 2012-10-29 19:14
There is a backup function in the ReadyNAS software. Once you get one of the drives installed, you can suse the backup function to pull the data from the second drive onto the NAS. Just be REALLY REALLY sure that the data came over completely before you install the second drive.
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# Upgrade from NV+ to NV+ V2Dinky 2013-02-18 01:13
I have ordered an NV+ V2 having had an earlier NV+ for a number of years.

I've backed up all the data from the NV+ but I'm curious as to whether I can just replace all the disks from the NV+ & put these into the NV 2 plus without ill effects. It will be an interesting exercise as I think the worst that can happen is that everything gets reinitialized. It really depends how much information is carried in the firmware of the old NV+

I will let you all know what happens when I do the disk swap. This is an important exercise because of the scenario of your existing NAS unit needing to be replaced due to hardware failure.
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