Netgear ReadyNAS 2100 review

£1126
Price when reviewed

Netgear has been so busy updating its ReadyNAS desktop appliances that its elderly 1100 rack mount model has been looking decidedly unloved. The new 2100 remedies this oversight and does so with a much-improved hardware package and a lot more backup features.

It uses the same 12in-deep rack and modular design, where the motherboard and power supply are in a separate unit that mates with the hard disk backplane for easy removal. Processing power and memory get a big boost, and the pair of Gigabit ports support load-balanced and redundant link teams.

The four hot-swap drives have an improved drive carrier-release mechanism; the older push-button ones had a habit of jamming. Build quality is generally good, but noise levels from the six rear cooling fans are intrusive.

The new ReadyNAS Remote service allows the appliance to be accessed over the internet via a secure, encrypted tunnel. You install a small utility on each system and declare a username to the service: after login, the user can access permitted shares as if they were local.

Next up is Netgear’s optional Vault online backup service. After enabling the embedded service on the appliance, you log in to the Vault portal, set up an account and create backup jobs. Opt for automatic encryption key generation or use your own, decide how much bandwidth to hand over to backup tasks and fine-tune them with include and exclude lists. Jobs can be scheduled to run daily, weekly or monthly, while the continuous option backs up files as they appear in the target folders. If disaster hits, log on to the Vault from anywhere and restore files to a new location.

For Windows and Mac backup, you now get a three-user copy of Memeo’s Backup Premium. It loads a background task to keep an eye on selected drives and folders, and after you’ve run your first full backup it will secure files as they’re modified or newly created.

IP SAN support is also new, as the 2100 can present iSCSI targets to the network. Accessed from the Volumes menu, target creation is simple: just choose a size in gigabytes for your virtual volume and decide whether to secure access with CHAP authentication.

The 2100 is much faster than the 1100, and for performance testing we used a Broadberry 1U rack server equipped with dual 2.8GHz Xeon X5560 processors, 12GB of DDR3 memory and running Windows Server 2003 R2.

Copying a large video clip over Gigabit Ethernet gave us average read and write speeds of 48MB/sec and 34MB/sec.

FTP speeds were even better with FileZilla returning read and write speeds of 92MB/sec and 62MB/sec. However, IP SAN performance over Gigabit was below expectations, with Iometer reporting raw read speeds of 78MB/sec.

The 2100 offers big improvements over its predecessor, not just for performance but in features as well. Its backup facilities are second to none, but if you want peace and quiet then we recommend the ReadyNAS NVX, which is almost silent.

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