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In our tireless efforts to bring you the lowdown on all manner of network storage we’ve seen just about every kind of NAS appliance the consumer and small business market has to offer. Some have been good and some not so good but the latest ReadyNAS NV from Infrant Technologies looks like it ticks all the right boxes. The company specialises in entry-level NAS appliances and visited TrustedReviews around a year ago with the NexonNAS 1000 which offered an impressive range of features but at a price the wrong side of four figures. The ReadyNAS NV looks to remedy that as it also delivers a healthy 1TB of raw storage but at a substantially lower price.
A key feature is support for hardware managed RAID arrays. The appliance uses Infrant’s own IT3107 network storage processor which delivers four SATA interfaces plus support for hardware-based RAID-0, -1 and -5 arrays along with Infrant’s unique XRAID technology. You also get hot-spare and hot-swap capabilities and a Gigabit Ethernet network port as well. Infrant’s RAIDiator Linux kernel is implemented on a Flash memory chip on the controller board which means that, unlike the Buffalo TeraStation Pro, you can purchase a diskless version (£534.57 inc. VAT) and add drives as required.
Measuring a mere 200 x 132 x 222mm the ReadyNAS NV is most definitely one of the smallest appliances around. Design and build quality are particularly good with the internal chassis constructed from solid steel and enclosed in heavy duty metal panels. Another bonus is that the 256MB SO-DIMM module is accessible underneath the top panel and can be upgraded to 1GB. However, Infrant advised us that although this will allow the appliance to cache more data it won’t make any major improvements to performance.
Infrant’s XRAID technology is very interesting as it allows you to kick off with one drive and add more as required. Coined automatic volume expansion, the appliance simply adds the new drives to the XRAID array as they are plugged in. It also comes into its own if you want to upgrade capacity as this can be achieved without taking the system offline. This must carried out one drive at a time but you can pull a drive out and replace it with a larger one. Once the array has been automatically resynchronised you do the same again until all four have been swapped out. This sounded too good an opportunity to miss here in the lab so we tested this using a quartet of 500GB Hitachi Deskstar 7K500 SATA drives. Prepare for a long wait as the array rebuild and synchronisation process for each drive took nearly seven hours. Even so, by the following evening we had a new appliance with 2TB of raw capacity and no time was it necessary to take the unit offline.