Netgear's acquisition last year of Infrant Technologies was an inspired move as it got it hands on some of the best desktop NAS appliances on the market and also gave the company's storage product range a much needed boost. However, although the ReadyNAS NV+ is a big favourite of ours it can be OTT for home users and the latest ReadyNAS Duo look set to remedy this.
On review we have the RND2150 which comes with a single 500GB SATA drive in a hot swap carrier and room for a second alongside. The idea here is you buy the unit with one drive and when the time is right add a second to provide redundancy. The operation is a cinch as to fit the new drive to the carrier, you simply slot it in and leave Netgear's X-RAID technology to create a mirrored array behind the scenes while you carry on using the appliance.
The Duo adheres to the same design principles as its larger brethren so you get a similarly sturdy metal chassis and door. A single Gigabit Ethernet port sits at the rear and is accompanied by a pair of USB 2.0 ports for adding external storage devices or networking USB printers. A small cooling fan is located at the rear and we found this to be very unobtrusive on our desktop. You also get the extra USB port at the front which ties in with the backup button alongside.
Installation is handled nicely by the bundled RAIDar utility which spots the unit on the network and offers quick access to the web interface. The Duo may be the smallest ReadyNAS appliance but it's big on features as you get nearly everything that comes with the larger appliances. The web interface offers a quick start wizard that takes you through setting up shares and workgroup membership. NT domain and AD authentication aren't supported but they're unlikely to be used in the home anyway.
Client support doesn't get any better as Windows, Unix, Linux and Mac systems can use the appliance and it offers FTP services on selected shares. Setting up shares is a simple task as you provide a name, decide on the default access of read only or read/write and restrict access further to selected hosts if required. Share access can also be controlled with the appliance's user and group lists and you can apply quotas to these as well.
Backup options are plentiful with the bundled NTI Shadow utility looking after workstation backup. It allows backup jobs to be created that monitor selected sources and secures files as they are modified or newly created effectively mirroring them. Alternatively, jobs can be scheduled to run at specific intervals ranging from minutes to days of the week.