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Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ wins Editors Choice Award - PC Magazine

PC Magazine - Editors Choice Award

This product has several outstanding points. Hefty storage capacity that's easily expandable is one—you're not locked in to the drives that came with the device. Speed is another - the NV+ is fast. Real fast. It can actually make all this newfangled media-serving stuff work, and that's truly impressive.

The easy storage expansion comes courtesy of the patented X-RAID technology. Unlike normal RAID technology, X-RAID doesn't require new drives to have exactly the same capacity as the units they replace. That lets you scale the NAS upward incrementally. Most buyers will probably start with the basic version of the NV, which is built around four 250GB disks. But the machine can support today's 750GB drives and will be able to handle higher-capacity storage devices as they become available. This means that you can insert a single larger drive without having to rebuild the NAS, something you can't do with a standard RAID device.

The fast transfer rates of the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ will, generally, count for more in the home than the office, since home users are more likely to want media-streaming capabilities. Typical NAS boxes run under 10 MBps for most data transfers—fast enough for data work, but too slow to prevent artifacts in movies. With my typical small network setup, which consist of a DSL modem, a gigabit switch, and a variety of PCs running Windows XP and Vista, Linux, and Mac OS X, I clocked the NV at up to 30 MBps for both general data transfers and media streaming. That's plenty fast enough for smooth streaming video.

For disk writes, transfers slowed to just under 20 MBps and can slow further if you're using small frame sizes or features like full journaling (which few home users would run). In any case, home users should have no performance worries with the ReadyNAS. The unit can stream multimedia for the SlimBox media server series or act as an iTunes server, sending music to connected iPods—you can enable either capability by checking the appropriate box for it during setup. The OS supports other media adapters via UPnP.

Netgear also did a lot of homework to make the NV a good fit for SMBs. Setup, for example, can integrate the device into an environment with just one PC, a small workgroup, or a home setup where the PCs see each other but there's no central server. The NAS can also integrate directly under an Active Directory (AD) domain, which is how most small business networks run. The Iomega StorCenter 200d, for example, works this way with Windows networks, since it's running Windows Storage Server as its OS.

The NV is slightly harder to install, though not much, and has the advantage that its features work with more than Windows clients. You'll probably have a few more hiccups importing large lists of users and groups from AD with the ReadyNAS, but if you've even got one client machine that's not Windows, it's well worth the effort.

Additionally, the NV takes good care of IT administrators. Setting up user accounts is easy, and once you've installed the RAIDiator software on the client, you can map the NAS as a single share or to whatever shares that user has access. If there's a problem with a drive, or someone changes a NAS configuration setting, the NV will e-mail alerts to IT personnel. Storage-savvy IT administrators will also like getting much greater flexibility in performance tuning than with most competing boxes. Admins can play with cache sizes, frame sizes, data journaling, and more until the way the NV runs perfectly suits the needs of the business.

Overall, I thought this product was elegant and well thought out - not, for the most part, because of the admittedly impressive transfer speeds or huge storage capacity, but for little things: RAIDiator's support for five languages, for example. Or, when you first plug the NV in, the feature that checks to see if your network has a DHCP controller and adjusts the configuration accordingly to avoid conflicts.

For tasks like image backups, the ReadyNAS NV requires you to install a third-party product, such as Symantec's Ghost (which worked just fine in the labs). Window Home Server takes care of that for you. But, in general, the NV can do everything WHS can and more. In addition, the NV supports clients running an OS other than Windows. Initially, a WHS appliance will likely be cheaper than a 1TB NV, but that's probably for a 500GB machine. For home users the NV is an attractive purchase. For small-business use, I've yet to see a better all-around NAS box—period. Unless you're absolutely a Windows-only house, the ReadyNAS NV is byte for byte a better value, and wins our Editors' Choice.

 

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