Netgear is best known as a network hardware company but in recent years it’s been trying to add a string to its bow, crossing over into the storage market. Network access storage (NAS) is becoming increasingly useful to home users as well as businesses, a means to create a private data cloud. For small business use, Netgear is becoming a potential adversary to competitors Synology and QNAP. See also: Group test: what's the best NAS device?
Netgear has just updated its ReadyNAS line, which now includes the ReadyNAS 314 here. This model is from Netgear’s business line of products, a 4-bay NAS sporting some impressive stats. See all storage reviews.
The processor is a 2.1GHz Intel Atom dual-core, coupled with 2GB of memory. That’s a respectable amount of processing power and memory for a 4-bay NAS unit.
The number and specification of the unit’s connections are also impressive. There are three USB ports, two of which are USB 3.0, as well as an eSATA port and two gigbit ethernet ports. There is even an HDMI port for video out. So judged solely from the spec sheet Netgear has come out swinging, offering decent power and an exemplary port set.
Netgear has also been working hard on the software front and now includes its new OS6 software with this line of hardware. A nice addition in all OS6-equipped units are is Paragon drivers for NTFS and HFS+. This allows Mac and Windows PCs to read and write to each other’s formatted drives, and at hugely improved speeds.
Plugging in an HFS+ volume into the unit was a pleasure. The system does not require any command-line terminal work or hacks – we plugged in an HFS+ drive to the NAS and it was automatically detected, mapped to a shared drive and was available to be mounted on any network attached Windows PC in a matter of seconds.
The new OS6 software includes some big improvements in cloud functionality. To make things as simple as possible Netgear has software called ReadyNAS Remote that can be downloaded for Windows, OS X, iOS and Android.
This app connects to the NAS unit from any internet connection and populates the PC's network places with the shared areas on the NAS. An especially nice touch is that on a Mac both SMB and AFP connections are listed automatically as separate network nodes, so you can choose between them.
One thing to watch out for on Windows is that these drives are automatically populated via the NAS remote IP address, even when on the LAN, which is slower than using the local IP address.
Initial speed tests were slow when mounting the populated shared folders until we manually entered the local IP address for the NAS, which then yielded much more LAN appropriate speeds. The cloud services extend from remote mounting of drives using AFP and SMB to real killer features such as remote Time Machine backup.
To test the ReadyNAS 314 we used CrystalDiskMark in Windows and the results were surprising. The average sequential read speed of the drive was 53 MB/s, much lower than would be expected for a drive with these specifications.
However the sequential write speed was 83 MB/s which is very high when compared against competing units that tend to reach around 50-60 MB/s write speed. Attention may have been paid to the higher IO demands of the business user as the random 4k write rate was 17 MB/s (queue depth 32) while the 4k write rate was 32 MB/s (queue depth 32).
These again are decent numbers and shows Netgear’s Xraid2 (and plenty of CPU power and RAM) can deliver good transfer rates for small-file random access.