Netgear ReadyNAS Duo v2 review
Netgear's ReadyNAS is a plain-looking but extremely well-built metal box. It isn’t immediately apparent that the grille at the front swings open, but once it's pulled away you'll find a pair of hot-swap style drive caddies. Pop a button at the bottom of each and they'll release, ready to be pulled out. Installing 3.5in hard disks in the trays is incredibly simple, with each disk connecting to its tray with four screws.
At the rear of the NAS, alongside its Gigabit Ethernet port, are two USB3 ports. There's also a USB2 port at the front, below the NAS's power and backup buttons. The latter lets you connect and, at the press of a button, back up data stored on your NAS to an external USB disk.
With the hard disks installed, we used Netgear's RAIDar utility to locate The ReadyNAS Duo v2 on our network so that we could configure it and format the disks. For this to work correctly, your hard disks have to be completely blank, so remember to delete any existing volumes if you're re-using old drives. Once the disks are formatted (the default option is Netgear's expandable X-RAID2 array structure, but you can also configure the drives as RAID 0 or RAID 1), you can access the NAS's administration page using a web browser and map it to a drive letter using Windows Explorer.
The first time you visit the admin page you'll be guided through a basic setup process that prompts you to set your time zone, add the email address of a contact to whom error and alert messages will be sent, name the device and change its default admin password.
The ReadyNAS Duo v2’s web interface provides you with a comprehensive toolkit with which you can administer and reconfigure your NAS. The Shares tab lets you individually set the properties of folders on your NAS; properties such as DLNA (UPnP) media streaming and user access. A tab lets you browse the directories on your NAS and any attached USB storage media, and even provides an interface for opening music and image files.
The ReadyNAS also has detailed backup and power management options. You can schedule it to sleep at different times on different days of the week, for example, while the backup screen lets you set it up as a Time Machine backup device for Apple hardware and back up contents to a USB drive. You can also download a range of both official and community-created add-ons, which let you use the NAS device as a cloud storage server, online photo album, Squeezebox server, video streamer, BitTorrent client and more. These provide extra functions, but their quality varies from excellent to dire, so choose your add-ons carefully. Sadly, we weren't too impressed by the drab looks and slightly clunky feel of the ReadyNAS interface.
Unfortunately, the ReadyNAS Duo v2 didn’t perform too well in our speed tests. We tested it using RAID 0, RAID 1 and Netgear’s default X-RAID 2 volume configurations. In all modes, it was slower than most NAS enclosures, but the default option provides the best balance of redundant security and speed, providing an average large file transfer speed of 35.8MB/s and a small file transfer speed of 9.8MB/s. That’s admittedly good enough for smooth media streaming, but this budget NAS is up against strong competition.
At £115, the ReadyNAS is cheaper than many two-disk enclosures, but it’s more expensive than the D-Link ShareCenter Shadow DNS-325, our current Budget Buy winner, although the ReadyNAS proved to be faster when transferring large files.
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