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Purchased from ebuyer with free 500gb disk - £149
The Netgear ReadyNas Duo is branded as a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, however it is much more than this....
In the box are a cat 5 RJ45 network cable, power supply, NAS box and media. The manufacturer description advises the readynas duo is simple to set up straight out the box and is ideal for home users.... I disagree.
The box has a small processor and 256mb ram, on the front is an on/off button, backup button, 2 disk lights, an activity light and a USB connection for cameras and similar devices. On the back is the power socket, Ethernet socket and 2 USB connections, one for an external hard drive and the other for a printer. The duo runs a cut down version of Linux, but this wouldn't affect the basic user.
Out the box, I plugged it all in and added one disk. The readynas started up making a fair amount of noise and then took 15 minutes to configure itself and prepare the disk. Without any request for clarification, the duo had configured to raid 1 mirroring on one drive.... Very odd considering it would have no benefit. I wanted to configure the drive to raid 0 stripping to provide no redundancy in the event of disk failure, but maximum disk space.
The readynas has a superb support site www.readynas.com which details most the issues users have come across and the resolution. Immediately I found support for configuring raid 0 even though it took quite a bit of time.
The software provided walks you through an initial set up wizard which asks a variety of questions some even the most technical person would struggle to understand.
After I had created 5 shares, set up the bitorrent client, itunes and squeezebox server, the readynas settled to a low hum with the fan running at 1600rpm. The disks run at an average temperature of 36 degrees even when heavily active.
The features for this box are very impressive, there are far too many to list, but here's some I've found very useful:
Incremental backups for multiple devices
Time machine option for mac users
Schedule start-up and shutdown of device
iphone application available to monitor basic activity
secure shell access
The bad points are the difficult initial installation process which isn't as clear as it could be... The limited information provided with the device only covers the typical installation.
Only providing a cat 5 cable seems very short sighted when providing gigabit ethernet. Cat 5e cable is a very similar price and would provide the user with the capability of faster transfer speeds.
If you're after a network hard drive, this is perfect and offer so much more if you need to expand at a later date. There is the initial issue of configuration, but once over this hurdle it works superbly.