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Internal Details

Removing the left side cover reveals the view shown in Figure 3. The Intel 1.8GHz E2160 Dual-Core CPU is under the top headsink / cooler. Note the large heatsink for the North and Southbridge devices. 1 GB of DDR2-667 RAM occupies one of the two DIMM slots.

ReadyNAS Pro main board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: ReadyNAS Pro main board

NETGEAR lets you upgrade to a total of 4 GB with no warranty hassles. The small board to the left holds the USB and Ethernet connectors.

Power consumption measured 63 W with three drives and 78 W with five drives. When the programmable idle drive spin-down kicked in, I measured only 46 W. Like other ReadyNASes, the Pro can be programmed to shut down and turn back on, on a daily schedule. When powered off via this feature, power consumption was only 6 W. As I noted earlier, the Pro runs quietly. You definitely know that it is on, but it is one of the quietest large NASes I have tested.

If you want SSH root access, all you need to do is download the EnableRootSSH add-on. But, be aware that NETGEAR warns that it "may deny support" if you enable root access.

One of the ReadyNAS' strengths is an SDK that can be used to develop your own add-ons. There are already a few third-party add-ons (which are not supported by NETGEAR) including PHP, MySQL, WordPress, Drupal, PHPMYAdmin and others.

One important "feature" of the Pro is its use of standard ext3 as its drive format. Other ReadyNASes running RAIDiator 4.X and using the Infrant storage processors use ext3 with a 16 KB block size, which is unreadable on any x86 or x64 system. This means that their drives can't be read on most Linux systems running on PC hardware. But with the switch to the Intel Pentium Dual-Core platform, NETGEAR has had to switch back to a standard 4 KB block size, which means that the Pro's drives are readable on any system supporting ext3.

Features

Like some of its competition, NETGEAR has taken the approach of using the same user interface and common feature set across the ReadyNAS product line. So if you have used the NV, NV+ or other ReadyNASes, you know the extensive feature set that the RAIDiator OS provides.

Doug Reid did a good job of detailing RAIDiator's current features in his ReadyNAS Duo review. So I'll primarily focus on what's unique to the Pro. There is also a slideshow of many of the key admin screens.

I borrowed Doug's Menu Options table from the Duo review and updated it with the Pro's additional sub-menus. There is really not that much difference in the overall structure; the Pro's additional features are buried in the sub-menus.

Menu Item Menu Options
Network Interfaces Global Settings WINS DHCP

Security

Admin Passwd Security Mode User & Groups Accounts  
Services Standard File Protocols Streaming Services Discovery Services Installed Add Ons

Volume

Volume Settings USB Storage

Shares

Share Listing Add Shares

Backup

Backup Jobs Add a New Backup job

Printers

Printer Queue Service

System

Clock Alerts Performance Language Update Config Backup Power Shutdown

Status

Health Logs
Table 1: Admin menu summary

The short summary is that the Pro supports just about any file protocol you'd want (SMB/CIFS, NFS, AFP, HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, FTPS) as well as streaming services (UPnP AV, iTunes, Logitech SqueezeCenter) to handle just about any networked media player. It supports joining Windows Domains or Active Directories or handles User and Group management complete with quotas and NFS UIDs.

Backup is one of the key strengths of the ReadyNAS line. Scheduled backups can be done to/from the ReadyNAS and networked clients, attached USB drives or remote HTTP, FTP, NFS and rsync servers. Backups can be scheduled daily and at 4,6,8,12 or 24 hour intervals. Protected shares are handled, too. The main backup weaknesses are that backed-up files can't be encrypted, nor are secure connections supported for remote backups.

My biggest problem with RAIDiator (which says something for its feature set) is evident if you browse the slideshow. For some reason, the ReadyNAS web interface uses a fixed-width scrollable window on many of its admin screens that is implemented as an iframe.

This means that it can't even be opened in another browser window or tab. I find this very annoying, since it makes for a lot of scolling and doesn't take advantage of today's larger display screens. Figure 4 shows the Network Interfaces screen, which is a typical example.

Network Interfaces screen
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Figure 4: Network Interfaces screen

Storage Modes

Like its quad-drive predecessor, the NV+ [reviewed], the Pro supports both standard RAID (0, 1, 5 and 6) and NETGEAR's proprietary auto-expandable X-RAID technology. Actually, the Pro supports X-RAID2, which according to this ReadyNAS Forum thread (scroll down to the last post), has one key improvement.

Both X-RAID and X-RAID2 support "horizontal" (by adding additional drives to empty bays) and "vertical" (by replacing smaller capacity drives with larger capacity drives) volume expansion. But while X-RAID requires that all drives be replaced when doing a "vertical" expansion, X-RAID2 expands the volume as soon as two larger-capacity drives are added.

Both X-RAID and X-RAID2 have a one drive overhead. So the "1.5" TB RNDP6350 I had for review, yielded 908 GB of usable space. (Each 500 GB drive had 461 GB of allocated space.) That's not to say the X-RAID2 expansion is fast. When I added two 500 GB drives to the three that came factory installed, it took around 19 hours to completely sync the expanded array (which was available throughout the sync). Also note that, same as RAID 5, X-RAID/2 can withstand only a single drive failure.

The Pro comes configured in X-RAID2, but can be switched to standard RAID mode. The requires a procedure that is similar to a factory defaults reset and requires the RAIDar utility (Windows, Mac OS X and Linux versions available) to change the mode. Figure 5 shows the standard RAID configuration screen.

RAID volume configuration
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Figure 5: RAID volume configuration

X-RAID2 supports only a single volume. But you can create up to four separate volumes in standard RAID mode.

I didn't bother running a drive fail test on the Pro, since Doug had already done that in the Duo review. Suffice it to say that the process goes smoothly and if you have email alerts enabled, you will be kept informed throughout the process.

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