Which ReadyNAS Model is right for a business 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.

Previously in Which ReadyNAS Model is right for a home user? the home models were discussed.

In this article it’s time to consider the business products: NVX (not Pioneer), Pro Business Edition (not Pioneer), Pro Series (Pro 2/4/6), 1500, 2100, 3200, 3100 and 4200. Though targeted at business users the desktop business models can be used by the home user. For the very advanced home users who need business features or home users who simply want the extra peace of mind of a 5 year warranty these are great choices.

Business Features

You can see these in the detailed Comparison Chart

The most obvious one would be Active Directory. This allows you to integrate the ReadyNAS into your Windows Domain and work with the same users and groups on your Windows Domain. This is an essential feature for many business users, particularly those with large numbers of users. You can configure permissions for shares following this guide: Setting up Active Directory folder permissions on the ReadyNAS

Some of the other key ones to highlight would be NIC Teaming (this allows you to use multiple ethernet NICs in your ReadyNAS to obtain faster performance than over a single gigabit connection, failover if a NIC or ethernet cable etc. fails or both), Rsync over SSH, VLAN support and the snapshot feature.

The Snapshot feature allows you to backup your data frozen at a point in time. Backups can take a long time to complete (particularly if doing a full backup of TBs of data or backups over the internet) so it’s important to choose the snapshot space suitable for your backup needs. Whilst backups should be run when minimal writes are made to your ReadyNAS this is not always possible.

The snapshot feature is used (on the source ReadyNAS) by the excellent new backup software ReadyNAS Replicate. This utilises the same software VPN as ReadyNAS Remote and allows you to backup your data securely over the internet from one ReadyNAS to another ReadyNAS without the need for a complex hardware VPN setup. Replicate also allows you to keep multiple versions of your files (this is not to be confused with the ReadyNAS snapshot feature), so if you accidentally delete a file/folder or have some other mishap you can retrieve it from your backup. which there is a free trial available.

Rackmount ReadyNAS use ECC RAM (not sure about the 1500). Why you might want this higher quality memory is well described in The Definitive Guide to the ReadyNAS 4200. The 4200 has the most RAM of all the ReadyNAS models so ECC RAM is very important for it. It should be noted that memory upgrades are not supported so if you need ECC memory choose a model that has it. The memory included with the ReadyNAS business models is plenty.

Like all ReadyNAS, business ReadyNAS run heavily customised Debian Linux optimised for the ReadyNAS hardware. This is a highly reliable, slim and efficient Operating System that makes effective use of the resources available. Some ReadyNAS users have been known to run their ReadyNAS units for years without ever needing to reboot.

Desktop Business ReadyNAS

NVX and Pro Business Edition

The NVX (not Pioneer) is a business ReadyNAS. You should be aware that it does have a 32-bit processor, but it’s a good choice for those looking for a 4-bay ReadyNAS suitable for their business with a limited budget.

The Pro Business Edition (not Pioneer) was the first ReadyNAS to have an Intel processor and hence used the Intel (x86) platform. It’s a 6-bay ReadyNAS, uses a 64-bit CPU and it’s fast. With NIC teaming using LACP you can achieve speeds considerably faster than you would over a single gigabit connection. It’s another excellent choice.

Pro Series (Pro 2/4/6)

The Pro Series is the latest addition to the desktop business ReadyNAS range. You can see a listing of the CPUs used in these and the previously mentioned ReadyNAS models here: CPU Specs of the ReadyNAS

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.

Rackmount Business ReadyNAS

At the Office

The rackmount options for the office are the 1500 and the 2100.

The entry-level, the rackmount, 1500 is an exception when it comes to business products in that it carries a 3 year warranty. It does retain the business feature set.

Those looking for the peace of mind of a 5-year warranty should look at the 2100.

One should also note that v1 of the 2100 (no longer in production) has the same 32-bit CPU as the NVX. 2100v2 has a 64-bit CPU.

The 1500 and 2100 are less noisy than the other rackmount models and are the only ones you should consider putting in the rack in your office. If you need more space than a single unit can offer, you can buy multiple units. Several units will fit in a single rack.

Like the desktop models, the 1500 and 2100 have a single power supply, but the 1500 and 2100 do feature the X-Change module option, a great feature which is discussed in The Definitive Guide to the ReadyNAS 2100

For the server room or the data center

The 3200, 3100 and 4200 are for the server room, the data center, the basement or anywhere where noise isn’t of a concern. The fans run on full to provide maximum airflow. These are designed for maximum performance. You can consider the 3100 and 3200 as similar to the Pro Series performance wise and the 4200 far ahead in a league of its own.

Dual-redundant hot-swappable power supplies are only found on these models. The 3200 has the option for an additional two gigabit NICs to be added via an optional PCI-express card. The 4200 has the option for a similar card but with 10-gigabit NICs of two types as discussed in The Definitive Guide to the ReadyNAS 4200

The 3200 and 4200 are the only rackmounts to support dual-redundancy (unlike all other ReadyNAS models this is the default, provided you start with four or more disks installed). With 12 disks, protection against dual-disk failures is a vital feature.

What form factor is right for you? Desktop or Rackmount?

The choice to use a Desktop or a Rackmount model is an important one.

For the small office without a server rack, the choice to use a desktop model may be pretty obvious, but for larger businesses the choice may not be so easy.

Rackmount models may take up less space for the business which has spare room in a server rack.

On the other hand using desktop models can be handy for users (or small groups within a business) who wish to have a ReadyNAS on their desk. They may need the to work with a large amount of data, but have the ability to easily share it with fellow users whilst at the same time to be able to easily manage the unit from their desk (e.g. to add disks, troubleshoot problems with the ReadyNAS as much as possible from their desk in the event the need arises).

You may wish to use multiple ReadyNAS and get the best of both the desktop and rackmount lines for your business. The choice is up to you.

Conclusion

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

Some business users may be interested in the home models, but please do be aware that they are able to be attractively priced for the home user do the lack of business features and the 3 year warranty.

Still finding it difficult to choose the right ReadyNAS model for you? Think you might need multiple units and some advice tailored to your situation? If so, please join the ReadyNAS forums.

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