Which ReadyNAS Model is right for a home user?

With the recently increased range of ReadyNAS devices, it can be a little confusing at first to work out which ReadyNAS model is right for you. The good news is that with this increased range of ReadyNAS devices there’s a suitable ReadyNAS for everyone. This article aims to provide a brief summary of the options available to help you choose the right model for your needs.

Currently the Duo, NV+, Ultra Series (Ultra 2/4/6), Ultra Plus Series (Ultra 2/4/6 Plus), Pro Series (Pro 2/4/6), NVX Pioneer, NVX, Pro Pioneer, Pro Business Edition, 1500, 2100, 3200, 3100 and 4200 are sold by NetGear.

In this article we will consider the home products (Duo, NV+, Ultra Series, Ultra Plus Series, NVX Pioneer and Pro Pioneer). Though targeted at home users these can be used by the business user. However one should note that the home models are priced to suit the budgets of home users. As a result these carry a 3 year warranty (vs 5 years on the business units) and lack business features found on the business units.

For a discussion of the business models, please see Which ReadyNAS Model is right for a business user?

Entry level

The ReadyNAS Duo and the ReadyNAS NV+ are entry level ReadyNAS. These are perfect for the user on a tight budget with limited performance needs. Utilising Infrant Sparc processors these models as opposed to the much faster Intel x86 processors in the other ReadyNAS models currently sold, the Duo and NV+ are the least future proof of all ReadyNAS currently on the market.

For this reason, unless your budget does not permit, I’d avoid the ReadyNAS Duo and ReadyNAS NV+.

Advanced Home User

The NVX Pioneer, Ultra Series (Ultra 2/4/6), Ultra Plus Series (Ultra 2/4/6) and Pro Pioneer are targeted at the Advanced Home User. These provide impressive performance gains over the Duo and NV+ and a greater range of features, with nice media streaming options as documented in The Definitive Guide to the ReadyNAS Ultra Series.

The NVX Pioneer uses a 32-bit processor and is the least future proof of these options. As time goes on 3rd party development will eventually focus on 64-bit processors and drop support for 32-bit. For some time most new PCs have been 64-bit and all ReadyNAS for the Advanced Home User apart from the NVX Pioneer are 64-bit.

The Advanced home models largely share the same feature set and 3 year warranty, with the CPU being the main difference (see CPU Specs of the ReadyNAS). Those using the ReadyNAS for tasks that require optimum performance should choose the Ultra Plus models (or the Pro Pioneer which uses the same CPU as the Ultra 6 Plus).

Whilst the Pioneer models don’t have iSCSI or the media streaming addons of the Ultra/Ultra Plus pre-installed these can be installed later via addons.

Choosing the number of drive bays

The Ultra/Ultra Plus Series are available as 2-bay, 4-bay and 6-bay units. All are great choices, but for different needs.

2-bay units are great for those with limited storage needs, who don’t anticipate filling 2TB of storage any time soon. Small and compact these are also suitable for those with limited space. Unlike the 4-bay and 6-bay models, the 2-bay models have a USB 3.0 port on the front, which is great for fast backups to USB 3.0 devices such as the waterproof and fireproof ioSafe Solo Pro. If you store important data primarily on your ReadyNAS, you should back it up regularly (see Preventing Catastrophic Data Loss). A good backup strategy involves on-site and off-site backups and the ioSafe is a great choice for on-site backups. With the ever present danger of fires and flooding, having a backup device capable of surviving such disasters is invaluable.

4-bay units provide a good balance in-between the 2-bay and the 6-bay units. Unlike the 2-bay units, the 4-bay and 6-bay units have a display on the front, which can be invaluable for knowing what the device is doing on the rare occasion there’s a problem. Using the default X-RAID2 on the 2-bay units, there is a 50% overhead to redundancy (i.e. with 2x2TB disks you get 2TB of space before overheads etc.). Using the default X-RAID2 on the 4-bay units there is a 25% overhead to redundancy which means you can have 3 times as much capacity on the 4-bay units compared with the 2-bay units. For those whom 2TB of space would be limiting in the near future, the 4-bay unit is a great option well worth considering.

6-bay units are my personal favourite. These provide the greatest capacity of the home ReadyNAS models and also have a useful feature called dual-redundancy. This option allows you to configure your ReadyNAS to have protection against two disk failures, rather than one. With large amounts of important data this does provide great peace of mind especially considering that the disks are the most likely hardware to fail in your ReadyNAS unit. The 6-bay units are larger which allows for a larger better fan than on the 4-bay units and better airflow. The 6-bay units are less noisy than the 4-bay units, which makes them a great choice if a noise levels are a concern.

Diskless, semi-populated or fully-populated?

ReadyNAS models come in diskless, semi-populated and fully-populated versions. If you can source your own disks from the Hardware Compatibility List you may find that purchasing your own disks is cheaper. You may also have a disk brand that you prefer to use or wish to use enterprise disks (these are designed for 24/7 use in RAID arrays) for additional peace of mind.

The semi-populated and fully-populated versions of home ReadyNAS models use consumer-grade disks from the Hardware Compatibility List. The disks chosen may vary depending on availability. With the disks pre-installed you can get up and running very fast and have the added convenience of purchasing a single item.

Conclusion

Please take the time to look at the detailed Comparison Chart of ReadyNAS models.

Some home users may be interested in some of the business models (e.g. NVX, Pro Series, Pro Business Edition). Whilst these are targeted at business users, some home users find the additional features and 5-year warranty attractive. Whilst the business models don’t have the Ultra media streaming addons pre-installed they can be installed later on. The Business units have all the features of the home models plus more. When it comes time to making a purchasing decision, ultimately the price can be a deciding factor as to what unit you purchase. If you can get a business unit for not much more than a similar home unit it is a very attractive option.

I hope this article has helped you choose the right ReadyNAS model for use in your home. However, if you need additional help choosing your ReadyNAS please post on the ReadyNAS forums. There is plenty of great advice tailored to your needs to be had there.

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