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Technology Today - June 2015 - Netgear's ReadyNAS202
By Robert Sanborn

One of the things that has greatly contributed to my peace of mind while using my computer is having a network backup of all my files and information.  Quite a few years ago, I found while wandering Comdex (the major computer show prior to the International CES); a small Korean company with a neat little box called the Yellow Machine. Basically, it was a home networking and backup device for the home and small office that allowed you to install four hard drives in a RAID format that ensured that if one of the drives failed, the others would continue to keep your data and files safe. Unfortunately, the Yellow Machine did not survive long and from there I would keep looking for systems and devices to keep things backed up and ended up with systems from big companies like Intel, Seagate, EMS, and Iomega. The problem was that none of these companies really focused on networks and while they would have some pretty neat hardware, the software that they used to back things up was often quite lacking to the point that I would use one of the boxes with a third party back up package like Acronis or the backup from Ease US.

When Netgear, www.netgear.com came out with a line of ReadyNAS products, I needed to give one a try and it was perfect timing. The current box I use from Iomega (which doesn’t exist any longer) had a bad habit of having the same drive crash quite often and I suspect it is a hardware problem with the box and not the drives since it always seem to be the same drive slot that fails. Even more so when I take the drive out and test it in another machine, it comes up clean even using the Seagate SeaTools.

The unit I got is the 2-bay RN202 with a maximum capacity of 12 Terabytes. It has a tremendous amount of storage flexibility with 3 USB 3.0 ports and an external SATA port as well. To boost performance and throughput, you also have two gigabit LAN Ethernet ports. My particular unit came with two preinstalled Western Digital 1 TB Green drives.

Netgear

When you open the box, you will find a small box containing the power cords you will need to plug into the 12 volt/5 amp AC Adapter and it includes the cables for the US, UK, and Europe. Also included is a single cat5e patch cable and a packet of screws in case you are using 2 ½ inch or SSD Drives. If it comes preinstalled with drives, then you are ready to go, if you get a bare system or need to replace a drive in the future, you need to go to the Netgear website for the instructions as it is not that intuitive as to how to remove the drive from the internal carrier.

When it is all connected and powered on, you simply go to the “Readycloud” URL in the getting started guide, select the ReadyNAS option, Discover the unit and you are presented with a manage screen for your device. First thing it did was to see that there was a firmware update and so I installed that and it rebooted the device. Once logged in with the standard Netgear user name/password, it proceeded to rebuild the volume to prepare it for use.

Once that is done, I am hit with the what do I do now question. The Netgear Ready NAS has its own operating system (probably Linux) and while it is clean and easy to navigate, doesn’t really give you much of a hint on what to do next.
As to backing up your Windows 7 computer, you are expected to use the back up tool that comes with the version of Windows you are using. But I have never been that satisfied with the built in backup software that came with Windows which led me to Acronis and Ease US backups to begin with.

One option then would be to create a new “Backup” folder on the ReadyNAS device and then use what ever software you like to back up your data files to it. There are already five other shared folders set up automatically for you for Music, Pictures, Documents, and Videos as well as a Home Folders but that one is not visible to your computer.  In my case, I simply fired up the backup software I was using, Todo Ease US Backup, pointed it to the new shared backup folder I created and told it to back things up. If this is as far as you want out of your back up device, then you are good to go.
What I really like about this unit is the flexibility.  With two drive bays, you can install up to 12TB up to give you 6TB of working backup space. With the three USB 3.0 ports, you can also add external drives to boost that space. The box comes with a three year warranty and of course, you should use drives that also have a high warranty as well. It is easy to configure and set up and you can be up and running in a short time.

What makes this unit stand out is the possibilities going forward. You can easily create a cloud inside your home with the ReadyNAS 202 to let you access your data from anywhere. I mentioned that it comes standard with several shares for Documents, Videos, Pictures, and Music already set up so that any computer connected to your network has immediate access to those shared folders. The next step is to set it up so that you have access to those folders from the internet. With the cloud based access to the account that you set up when you install the unit, you have instant access to those folders. I would liked to have had that feature on my last trip overseas knowing I can store my documents and pictures on my own cloud device. The ReadyNAS Remote feature allows you to have secure access to your unit over a secure VPN (Virtual Private Network) pipeline. There is also a ReadyNAS Replicate feature to back up your unit to another whether it is next to it or located somewhere else.

Like most any Network Attached Storage (NAS) system, you have the ability to add specific accounts, shares, and setup a variety of iSCSI and networking tasks for your box. Much of it will not make sense to a home or very small office user but the capability is there if you need it. The same with the Apps that are available to turn your box into everything from a bit torrent download machine to a photo server to a TV server to a WordPress host among a wide range of other Apps that I don’t have a clue as to what they do.

You can find it online for around $350 with no discs installed. I like it. It is clean, solid, well built and with a ton of features if you need them and I like the reliability of Netgear devices.

 

More from CES later.

Robert Sanborn

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