Netgear ReadyNAS RN212 Network Attached Storage Review

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Netgear ReadyNAS Setup and Software

Before we dive into this section, we want to let you know that it’s not really possible to provide a screenshot for every subsection of this NAS' software, as there are dozens of them. As such we’ll focus on the most important ones, but suffice to say this product is not lacking in the administration options department.

The setup routine went off without a hitch, and an easy-to-use wizard guides you through the entire process so it takes real effort to mess things up. Once you connect the NAS to your router or switch you simply go to www.readycloud.netgear.com and the wizard appears.

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We won’t bore you with the details but in sequence it detects the NAS, asks you to name it, set an admin password and time zone, and also to establish an email alert system so the NAS can send you alerts. The only problem we had with this part of the setup was since we use Gmail it would not play nice at default settings. To get it to work we had to enter our Gmail settings and set it to “allow access by less secure apps,” which didn’t install confidence. Here’s the email we got from Google when the NAS was trying to send mail using our account.

Once everything was setup and the NAS was “online” we took a peek at the main administration window (ignore the volume degraded warning – we removed one of the drives and it had to re-sync everything). It shows all the basic information you need at a glance including the amount of data available on the system, status of the drives, whether the built-in Antivirus is enabled, firmware version, and what applications are running (you must install these separately). All the main categories of administration are listed at the top of the page along with sub-menus below them. So under the main header of System you can check Overview, Volumes, performance, etc. Here’s the System Overview window.

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The Volumes window shows the RAID status of the drives, drive status, and gives you formatting options. Be patient if the volume gets degraded, because as you can see when we took this screenshot the array was rebuilt 19%, which took over 24 hours, so as always have backup of everything in other locations in case you need to take one of the arrays offline.

rn212 volumes
If you click the “X-RAID” button on the side it gives you the option to switch to Flex Raid. Doing so does not delete the data but allows you to reformat the volumes or change the RAID type to RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, or 10 (depending on the number of disks you have).

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Since this is just a two-bay device our only options were for RAID 0 or RAID 1. 

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The performance tab shows you the status of the drives, current fan speed, and temperature of the CPU.

rn212 performance
The Settings window is where a lot of important, uh, settings reside, allowing you to enable services such as FTP and iTunes, check for firmware updates, and configure alerts, as well as save your current configuration. Below the main settings (not visible in the screenshot) is a Support option with no explanation of how to use it other than a checkbox labeled “secure diagnostic mode” and a box for “port” and “comment.”

Here’s an example of the lack of documentation that is pervasive in the UI, and leads us to believe Netgear has designed the software strictly for savvy users and admins, as it provides no information about many of the more advanced settings. There’s a tab labeled iSCSI and when you click on it you get the following window.

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We suppose if you know what this is you don’t need any documentation, but for the average consumer who wants to get the most out of the unit they spent good money on, it’s confusing and frustrating to see an entire tab that is seemingly off-limits as a lot of people wouldn’t know what to do in this window. There are many more windows like this full of checkboxes and features that a lot of users won’t know what to do with. Of course, there's always Google or Bing, but it would be nice to see at least some descriptions and pertinent info listed.

Moving on, the network tab shows the status of the dual LAN ports. If you were using the Link Aggregation feature, you can enable it in this window by clicking the “gear” icon above the NIC and creating a new bond.

rn212 network
Adding new shares and users is a simple three-step process. You should first create the user, which requires an email address and password so they can log into the share. You then create the shared folder and can choose to enable Bit Rot protection and a snapshot schedule (Hourly, Daily, or Weekly), and then you select with protocols will be enabled.

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With the share created you then enter the settings of the share to configure network access and individual user access. It’s a bit complicated if you’re a mom-and-pop type but is pretty straightforward. 

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Like most NAS deices, there is a plethora of apps that are available. The options are a bit overwhelming but that’s certainly a good thing. The majority of these apps are for the “admin” type and let you convert the NAS into everything from a support ticket system to a surveillance camera station, and much, much more.

rn212 apps

Finally, what would a RAID 1 system be without a backup solution? The Netgear RN212 makes it pretty easy by throwing in a bit of software that runs from the Windows Taskbar. It lets you sync the contents of your Documents, Music, Pictures, and Movies folder with one click to a corresponding folder on the NAS. It’s super simple and unlike other aspects of the software we believe anyone could use it. You can also install apps that let you backup the RN212 to another Netgear NAS.

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