NAS aficionados will know that we think quite highly of Netgear's ReadyNAS appliances as they offer an excellent combination of features, design and value. Traditionally, Netgear's focus has been split between home and business users but its latest ReadyNAS Pro has the latter firmly set in its gaze.
Not only is this Netgear's first six-drive appliance but its classy hardware specification delivers a performance that no other desktop NAS appliance comes remotely close to. The latest firmware upgrade also delivers IP SAN support allowing the appliance to present iSCSI virtual volumes.
You have a 1.8GHz Intel Dual Core E2160 processor in the driving seat and this is supported by 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 memory. The side panel is easily removed and it's possible to upgrade memory to a maximum of 4GB. Fault tolerant network connections are supported as the pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports can be joined together for load balanced or redundant link teams.
Three USB ports are provided and support external storage devices and printers. The front port teams up with the backup button alongside and this has a dual function. If you've defined backup jobs on the appliance and assigned them to the button then pressing it will run these in sequence. If not, then it will copy the contents of a predefined folder on the appliance to the attached device.
The ReadyNAS Pro supports all the usual RAID suspects but also adds RAID-6 dual redundant arrays to the equation. With six drive bays up for grabs this becomes more of a reality than with the current crop of four-bay appliances although we would recommend Netgear's X-RAID2 instead.
X-RAID2 doesn't require so much storage as RAID-6 and it has the added benefit of allowing the array to be expanded on the fly into new drives as they are fitted. Furthermore, you can upgrade hard disks simply by pulling them out one at a time at a time and replacing them with larger models where the array will be rebuilt in the background. Once you've replaced the last one the array will increase in size as determined by the new drive capacities.
The bundled RAIDar utility makes installation a cinch as it spots the unit on the network and provides easy access to the web interface. The latter is very well designed and intuitive and offers a quick start wizard that takes you through setting up shares and choosing a security mode, which includes AD authentication.