Setup and Usage Impressions

The Netgear ReadyNAS 312 is bundled with a 60W (12V @ 5A) adapter. Despite having two GbE links, only one network cable is supplied. The power cord is customized to the country of sale. Our evaluation started with a diskless system. After connection to the network, the unit could be discovered by RAIDar (offline discovery tool that has been around since the first generation ReadyNAS units). In addition, Netgear has also incorporated cloud discovery using the ReadyCLOUD service. Discovery worked well, and, as the steps indicated, starting off with fresh disks would have been straightforward too. Unfortunately, I put in a single disk with existing partitions (fresh from another NAS unit) and ended up with more problems than I bargained for. I still can't understand why NAS vendors (Netgear is not alone in this) refuse to format the disk after providing sufficient warning to the user. In any case, even with pre-formatted disks, it is possible to fully re-initialize the NAS unit by following some key press sequence after a factory reset (outlined in the supplied setup guide).

Netgear has completely reworked the UI for ReadyNAS OS. While it is not a very fancy desktop-like environment or mobile app-like interface, it already appears ready for use on touch-oriented operating systems. The interface is minimal, yet functional. One doesn't get fancy 'multitasking' features in the interface, but, for a business NAS, this is hardly an issue. The gallery below presents some screenshots from the ReadyNAS OS 6.0 UI.

One of the interesting aspects about the ReadyNAS OS 6.0 is the integrated snapshot facility. You can read Netgear's marketing whitepaper here (PDF). While btrfs has a COW (Copy-on-Write) snapshot mechanism, Netgear opts for a pointer-based one. This allows minimal performance impact. Snapshots can also be setup at frequent intervals due to low performance impact. The clincher, in our opinion, is for Windows clients. Files on a CIFS share mounted in Windows can use the snapshot copies as previous versions directly. The usage of this feature is outlined in the YouTube video here.

The ReadyNAS 312 is a 2-bay unit. Users can opt for automatic X-RAID protection or manually set the RAID level to 0 or 1. We benchmarked the unit with the RAID level manually set to 1 (same as X-RAID 2). Both network ports were bonded with dynamic link aggregation. We used two Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives as the test disks. Our testbed configuration is outlined below.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid (1TB HDD + 100GB NAND)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evoluion 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Introduction Single Client Performance - CIFS and iSCSI on Windows
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  • anactoraaron - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    The only thing that I would add is that Netgear is really taking their ReadyNAS product line seriously with their support. I reviewed on of these units as well (mine came with 2x 1TB Toshiba drives included) and I had some very strange issues with the software (6.0.8). Without going into the details (ejecting external usb drives was one), I notified Netgear about the issue they had a firmware fix the next Monday (firmware was originally 6.0.8 - and was updated to 6.1.1). To me, that was a huge plus. Knowing that your support ticket,etc would be investigated and getting such a fast patch issued shows their commitment to this product line. Reply
  • jaydee - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    Ganesh,

    I'm wondering how likely is it, if you were to buy/use this in a home, to actually use the OS that comes with the system, rather than WHS 2011, or a Linux-based server OS (CentOS, etc)? Can you go a bit further with the software aspect of it?
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    I would just use the OS that comes with it. There's other features of the OS (like Power Timer) that allow you to set a schedule for when the NAS is on - and it also has WOL functionality. Inside the OS is support for SMB, AFP, NFS, FTP, iTunes, ReadyDLNA, etc. Also in the OS is a free antivirus.

    There's also a one touch backup button that can be configured to whatever you want to backup (like just certain shared folders) or you can schedule automatic backups. There's nothing too special about the OS, but there's really nothing missing from it either.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    I agree with anactoraaron. This is an off-the-shelf NAS. If the software features don't fit, you are better off with a WHS server or custom Linux DIY build. Also, as far as I can see, the only complaint that can be put forward 'core-feature-wise' is the lack of LVM support -- i.e, say, you get the 4-bay variant and want to store some data with single disk resiliency and some with dual disk resiliency -- it is not possible with ReadyNAS OS 6.x. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    BTRFS includes "lvm" just as zfs does. In fact, that's one of its criticisms.
    Since btrfs supports redundancy using the chunks model (default 256MB), rather than at the disk level, you can have multiple redundancy options within a single disk (not a great idea for multiple reasons, but should be doable). Of course, you can span this over multiple disks to get the desired effect.
    Something like:
    mkfs.btrfs -m raid 1 -d /dev/sda -d raid 1 /dev/sdb /dev/sdc
    I should think.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    I did mention btrfs's LVM support in the article, but the problem is that Netgear's firmware doesn't implement it. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    In the article you said it was supposed to be using the code that was employed in Oracle's deployments? Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    Yes, but not all features are exposed to the end-users. I guess the really adventurous users could try out certain things over SSH, but without official support, it is going to be pretty dangerous. Reply
  • jaydee - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    The feature I had in mind was proxy server for web caching, content filter, security (something like Squid). I realize this is kinda getting away from a "NAS", but with the specs listed, I don't see why it couldn't. Reply
  • bsd228 - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    While Oracle may now include it, Redhat is still on the fence about it with the upcoming RHEL7, and still is working out stability before endorsing it for performance reasons. If you want a better filesystem, you can get an HP Microserver and pair it with zfs. I'll let others take this netgear experiment. Reply

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