Tue, 01 Feb 2011 ReadyNAS Ultra 4 review
A versatile do-it-yourself network storage system
- Manufacturer: Netgear
- Pros: Lets you install and upgrade drives as required; easy to set up and use; automatic RAID configuration
- Cons: Expensive; multimedia features of limited use to Mac users
- Min specs: 4-Bay Storage with RAID 0, 1, 5 data protection; 1.66GHz Intel Atom single-core processor; 1GB DDR2 SODIMM; 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports; 3x USB 2.0 ports; 134x205x223mm; 4.70kg; Power Consumption: 48W (with 4x 2TB); 120W server-rated AC power supply; Input: 100-240V AC, 50/60 Hz; Software-controlled 92 mm chassis cooling fan; High temperature email alert with auto-shutdown
- Price: £396.9 inc VAT
- Star rating:
Netgear’s Stora is a good option for home users who are buying a NAS drive for the first time, but for more experienced users the company also offers its ReadyNAS Ultra range.
There are several models in the range but we tested the ReadyNAS Ultra 4, a RAID unit equipped with four separate drive bays. You can buy the Ultra 4 as an empty chassis for about £450, and then install your own choice of drives as required. Alternatively, you can buy it for about £700 with two 2TB drives already installed and the remaining two drive bays left free for future upgrades.
Installing drives is a simple process, as the drive bays pop open with a press of a button. Netgear’s XRAID2 feature also allows you to hot swap drives at any time, automatically configuring the RAID options depending on the number of drives installed. Other hardware features include two Gigabit Ethernet ports and no less than three USB ports for connecting additional storage units, or devices such as a digital camera.
Setup is straightforward, with a Setup Wizard for newcomers or manual configuration for more experienced users. Some of the additional features built into the ReadyNAS may not mean much to Mac users, such as its ability to work with TiVo digital video recorders, and its support for DLNA networking (Apple ignores DLNA the same way it ignores Flash video and Blu-ray). However, it can also act as an iTunes server, allowing you to use it as a central storage device for your iTunes music library on your home network. It also works with Time Machine, so you can back up your Mac across the network too.