Netgear ReadyNAS 2120 review

£809
Price when reviewed

Netgear’s ReadyNAS family of NAS appliances received a major refresh recently, with its ReadyNAS OS 6 software introducing plenty of welcome new features. We were impressed with the ReadyNAS 314 four-bay desktop box, and here we take a closer look at the only small-business rack-mount model in Netgear’s range.

The ReadyNAS 2120 uses the same low-profile chassis as the elderly 2100, but features a number of hardware changes: the number of cooling fans has been halved, which makes it much quieter; the drive carriers are tool-less; and the motherboard and power supply unit are no longer on a removable board.

Processing power receives a modest boost, too, with a dual-core 1.2GHz Marvell Armada XP teaming up with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. There are still dual-Gigabit ports, and Netgear has added pairs of USB 3 and eSATA ports.

Netgear ReadyNAS 2120

Disappointingly, the eSATA ports don’t support Netgear’s EDA500 five-bay units, so external expansion isn’t an option. This is only available with the ReadyNAS 300 and 500 desktop models.

First-time setup is slick. Simply point your browser at Netgear’s ReadyCloud web portal and it will discover the appliance and set it up for you. ReadyCloud-registered users can view, add or delete files and folders. Files can also be remotely copied directly to the appliance by dragging them into the portal’s Browse page.

The ReadyCloud portal has a quick link to the new Dashboard management interface, which is far superior to the old RAIDiator GUI. It’s much faster, too – it loads in a second or two and is noticeably more responsive.

The switch from the EXT4 file system to BTRFS brings support for unlimited block-level snapshots. When creating shares or iSCSI LUNs, you can select hourly, daily or weekly snapshots. All snapshots can be viewed from the Dashboard; to recover a file, folder or LUN, select a snapshot and choose the rollback option.

Netgear’s ReadyDrop offers similar features to Dropbox (which is also supported), but doesn’t store your data in the cloud. When data is placed into your local ReadyDrop folder, it’s automatically synced to the appliance. Likewise, anything dropped into the appliance’s folder will be synced to all linked ReadyDrop local folders.

Netgear ReadyNAS 2120

Performance crushes the 2120’s aspirations, however. Using a Dell PowerEdge R515 server loaded with Windows Server 2012, it was well below par, with drag-and-drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip returning read and write speeds of only 95MB/sec and 65MB/sec respectively.

FTP speeds were similarly underwhelming. The FileZilla utility recorded download and upload speeds of 92MB/sec and 60MB/sec respectively.
General backup operations are painfully slow, too – it averaged only 33MB/sec when copying our 22.4GB mix of 10,500 small files.

The 2120 offers real-time antivirus scanning as standard, but we’d advise against enabling it if you’re using it for backup purposes. With antivirus scanning enabled, our 22.4GB test sample copied to the appliance at a dreadfully slow 8.3MB/sec.

Despite the impressive range of new features in ReadyNAS OS 6, the 2120 fails to impress in several key areas. Performance is poor, it lacks support for external expansion and – compared to the superior ReadyNAS 314 – it’s simply far too expensive.

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