Netgear ReadyNAS RN202
Netgear's latest network-attached storage, or NAS, does not skimp on hardware - it has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, three USB 3.0 ports and an eSata port.
Powering the NAS is a fast dual-core processor with 2GB of memory. Even the chassis feels solid as it is made of steel, not plastic.
This is high-end hardware for a two-bay NAS. It is also pricey at $639 without hard drives.
Installing the hard drives is easy with the quick guide. No screws are required, but the handling of the trays that secure the drives is not as intuitive as in other NAS models.
PROCESSOR: 1.4GHz dual-core
PORTS: 3 x USB 3.0, eSATA, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
HARD DISK CONFIGURATION: Raid 0, Raid 1, JBOD
MAXIMUM DISK CAPACITY: 12TB
FEATURES: 1 2 3 4 5
DESIGN: 1 2 3 4 5
PERFORMANCE: 1 2 3 4 5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 1 2 3 4 5
OVERALL: 1 2 3 4 5
To test the NAS, I used two 6TB WD Red hard drives - 6TB is the maximum capacity the NAS supports for each drive. On a PC linked to the same Wi-Fi network as the NAS, open a browser, point it to http://readycloud.netgear.com and it will detect the NAS and set it up.
Do not be alarmed if the NAS states that it requires more than 10 hours to set up. You can use it almost immediately, but Netgear warns that performance, such as file-transfer speed, may be affected. In fact, transferring 20GB of data took longer (15 minutes compared with 12 minutes) during the process.
By default, Netgear uses its own X-Raid format, which lets you add more hard drives without having to reformat them. Regardless of the number of hard drives installed, they will show up as a single, aggregated drive. Or you can select the usual Raid 0 or Raid 1 configuration.
Competitors such as QNAP and Synology offer NAS interfaces that look like a Windows or Linux desktop, with icons, short cuts and even a clock. But not Netgear.
Its interface looks like something you would find with a router. But it is clean, modern and snappy. For instance, you can just drag and drop to upload your files.
The Snapshot feature saves the state of the NAS at that time. If you accidentally erase a file, it can be recovered using this feature.
Netgear offers integration with cloud storage provider Dropbox, so you can sync folders on the NAS with your Dropbox account. An alternative is Netgear's subscription-based cloud service, Netgear ReadyNAS Vault.
Like its competitors, the Netgear supports third-party apps. They can be downloaded for free via the NAS interface - I counted 69 apps. My picks for home users: Plex media server and ReadyNAS Photos II.
Netgear's ReadyCloud app lets you access the contents of your NAS via the Internet. It works on mobile devices (iOS and Android) and Windows computers. But the app lacks features. I could upload photos from my Android smartphone, but not other file types. I could download files from the NAS, but could not delete the ones on the NAS.
The app did manage to stream 720p videos to my phone.
- Far too expensive for a two-bay model, but it performs well and is easy to use.