My initial use case for the NETGEAR 312 was for simple home usage, I wanted a NAS to store my documents, photo libraries and some other media.
But given my profession I could also see a use case where I could leverage the iSCSI / NFS protocols to present storage to my virtual environment for both a production storage layer but also leverage as target backup storage.
Throughout my review I will be touching on the SMB protocol for my documents & media and I will also be touching on the NFS and iSCSI for use in a VMware environment.
Setup & Usage Impressions
Today I received my new ReadyNAS 312, I have installed two 1TB drives, these are configured in a RAID 1 group (mirrored copy) this gives me the protection if one of those drives were to fail I would still have access to my data. If protection wasn’t a required feature then you are able to change to various different Raid Levels for performance I would expect on this model you would look to use RAID 0 for more information here are a list of available options –http://kb.netgear.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/22808/related/1
Out of the box I added the two drives connected the power supply and supplied Ethernet cable and powered on the system, out of the box my router gave the ReadyNAS an IP address and also given the UPNP configuration was configured I was able to see the device from my Windows desktop.
I obtained the DHCP address given to the ReadyNAS and used my browser to connect to the system, I was first prompted with a username and password of which this was username: admin and password: password, I think this is pretty standard with all NETGEAR products and in my opinion I really like that it means out of the box it’s easy to get something up and running without running around trying to find the default credentials.
From entering the above details I was then put into the initial configuration, there are 6 pages to this configuration step, this involves setting language, date and time, hostname, notifications and changing that default password. From there you are shown a system overview page that consists of the device details around serial number and status, it also gives a nice usage diagram so you can see the usage stats.
At the top of the screen there are a number of tab links to different configurations.
System – This tab gives you the overview of the system as well as diving into the volumes created, system performance, settings, logs and power options.
Shares – Out of the box there are a number of default shares available, obviously you can create new shares here also, but a great feature that I really like here is the time line feature, here you can see when data has been written to specific shared folders. All NFS and SMB shares can be created here.
iSCSI – Even though the device is a “ReadyNAS” we also still get the iSCSI block based SAN feature and the iSCSI is where we can create a new LUN to present to our hosts for SAN connectivity.
Accounts – as the tab name implies this is where you can easily create new user accounts for the device. You are also able to leverage an Active Directory domain here as well for authentication. Which is great if using within a small business, I also have my lab demo domain that I will be looking to use as an authentication method.
Network – On the 312 there are two 1Gbps connections available, these can be bonded to avoid any failures or to increase the throughput, there are a number of teaming modes available here, and once again is very simple to configure. Bare in mind though that the management interface you are connected on is also using one of these connections.
Apps – There is a marketplace type function here where there are a number of different applications you can install on top of the ReadyNAS platform, these range from FTP functions to Media Servers, one media server I was glad to see what the “Plex Media Server” having used this application in the past it is a great way of streaming content from your NAS down to a smart TV or other computers on the same LAN.
Cloud – The cloud tab is really great for such product, being able to replicate content to another ReadyNAS is almost an Enterprise feature in itself. ReadyCLOUD something I have not heard of before but looks interesting and provides the ability of being able to access your ReadyNAS from anywhere in the world. Something I will be sure to take a look at.
Backup – The Backup tab offers the ability to either make a local backup but also to set-up a replication job to backup onto a different system (this doesn’t need to be another ReadyNAS) another option within this tab another thing that caught my eye was the ability to be able to backup to Dropbox, the ReadyNAS can act as another device to sync your Dropbox files with.
Single Client Performance – CIFS on Windows
I ran some simple file copy operations on my standard Windows laptop running Windows 8.1 with a 1GB/s connection and a file copy to the ReadyNAS was hitting on average 96 MB/s and copying from the ReadyNAS CIFS share I was seeing 55 MB/s, obviously this could be dependant on my network although I know very little was happening other than this but I would expect this performance most of the time.
I saw a very similar number when it came to both NFS and iSCSI, virtual machines in VMware seemed to be running without any issues at all, moving machines back and fourth between another storage datastore and this one caused no lag or performance issues on the virtual machine.
Miscellaneous aspects and final words
All in all it’s a great Home NAS, not everyone looking for a home NAS is going to have the same requirements as myself and will just want the ability to store files maybe backups and leverage this data to move into a cloud based storage option such as Dropbox, the ReadyNAS has this and more, the ability to then stream media around your home is another great benefit without very much configuration or difficulty is a huge plus in my opinion.