Editors Choice

Netgear ReadyNAS RN426 Review

Business that want network storage with a sharp focus on data protection will find Netgear’s ReadyNAS appliances are an excellent choice. Key features of its ReadyOS operating system are unlimited snapshots, copy on write protection and a heap of backup features with the latest v6.7 delivering even more private and public cloud options.

On review is Netgear’s RN426 6-bay desktop appliance which sports Intel’s latest ‘Denverton’ Atom C3000 CPU. A quick peek at the appliance’s log files shows it to be a freshly minted 2.1GHz quad-core Atom C3538 which is so new, it isn’t even listed on Intel’s CPU product web site.

The C3538 supports fast DDR4 memory and the RN426 comes kitted out with 4GB. This 64-bit SoC (system on chip) offers integral AES-NI 256-bit hardware encryption and its miniscule 15W TDP means power consumption will be low.

The port count looks good as the RN426 offers quad Gigabit, dual USB 3 and a single eSATA port. The latter can be used to add external storage devices or expand capacity using Netgear’s 5-bay EDA500 desktop chassis.

Build and quality

The RN426 exhibits the classy build quality we’ve come to expect from Netgear with a solid steel chassis and equally sturdy metal cover. The chunky door provides a handy status display and the buttons below can be used to scroll through a menu and fire off quick backup copies from a storage device inserted in the front USB 3 port.

The Atom C3538 supports up to 64GB of UDIMM DDR4 but unless you’re prepared to dismantle the entire appliance, the RN426 isn’t upgradeable as the motherboard is on the inside of the chassis. Curiously, when we removed the lid, we found an empty mSATA slot on the outside but Netgear’s ReadyOS doesn’t currently support SSD caching so for now, this is unusable.

Chassis and drive cooling are handled by a large 12cms diameter fan and we found the RN426 to be exceedingly quiet. We measured noise levels with the SPLnFTT iOS app and with our iPad one meter away, we recorded a whisper-quiet 38.4dB.

For testing, we loaded up four 8TB Seagate NAS HDD drives and had to screw them into the metal carriers. Netgear’s plastic quick-install slides are designed for hard disks with three mounting screw holes on each side – our Seagate 8TB drives only have two so we couldn’t use them.

Easy installation and snapshots

The ReadyNAS RN426 can be easily managed locally and remotely via the ReadyCloud portal

Netgear’s ReadyCloud portal discovered our appliance, set it up and made it remotely accessible. It defaults to creating a single X-RAID2 volume from all available drives allowing more to be easily added whenever you want to expand capacity. If you want multiple volumes, you’ll need to deselect this and reconfigure the drives as Flex-RAID arrays.

The ReadyCloud portal can see all appliances registered to your account regardless of their location. Users declared to ReadyCloud can securely view, add or delete files and folders from the portal and also copy files to the appliance directly from their desktop just by dragging them into the portal.

Creating NAS shares and iSCSI LUNs is just as easy and ticking the ‘bit-rot protection’ option enables the BTRFS copy-on-write feature. Snapshots are enabled by checking the continuous protection box and choosing whether to run them automatically at hourly, daily or weekly intervals.

We found it simple to recover data in seconds by viewing available share snapshots, selecting one and clicking the Rollback button. Snapshots can also be made visible as new network shares for swift drag and drop restore operations of individual files and folders.

Good performer

The Atom CPU delivered the goods in our performance tests with a share mapped to a Lenovo x3550 M5 Windows rack server returning fast Iometer sequential reads and writes of 113MB/sec and 110MB/sec.

Real world speeds were in the money too, with a 25GB drag and drop file copy averaging read and write rates of 112MB/sec and 109MB/sec. Our general backup test was handled well with a 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files secured at an average of 85MB/sec putting the RN426 on a par with similar appliances from Qnap and Synology.

To test maximum performance, we mapped separate shares to four Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts over dedicated Gigabit connections. With Iometer running on all four hosts, we recorded cumulative sequential read and write speeds of 452MB/sec and 366MB/sec showing the Atom CPU has plenty of gas in the tank for heavy-duty workloads.

Cloudy futures

ReadyOS 6.7 adds some more cloud features to the ReadyNAS appliances

Netgear has improved its cloud offerings as along with support for Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive and Egnyte file syncing, ReadyOS 6.7 has extra options for Amazon S3 and Google Drive. For a totally private cloud, we invited users to our ReadyCloud account and once they had loaded the app on their Windows 10 desktops, they enabled selected local folders for automatic syncing with the appliance.

Disaster recovery features are great as the ReadyDR remote replication and recovery service uses snapshots to take point-in-time copies of selected NAS shares and secure them to local ReadyDR shares or those on remote ReadyNAS appliances. Data can be easily restored from ReadyDR shares by viewing their snapshots from Windows Explorer or the ReadyCloud portal.

Install the ReadyCloud app on your desktops for private cloud file syncing services

There’s more as you can secure data to Netgear’s Vault cloud service and use the free Replicate portal to link appliances together for system and folder replication. The built-in backup app is also very flexible as you can define sources and targets which can be any local NAS share or folder on another network system and run backups at scheduled intervals.

Conclusion

The RN426 may not be as app-rich as similar appliances from Qnap and Synology but it makes up for this with an excellent range of user-friendly snapshot, backup, replication and general data protection features. Cloud support sees plenty of improvements, the new Atom C3538 CPU delivers great performance and this appliance is good value as well.

8.6 Total Score

The RN426 may not be as app-rich as similar appliances from Qnap and Synology but it makes up for this with an excellent range of user-friendly snapshot, backup, replication and general data protection features. Cloud support sees plenty of improvements, the new Atom C3538 CPU delivers great performance and this appliance is good value as well.

Performance
8.5
Features
7
Build Quality
9.5
Usability
9
Value
9
PROS
  • Atom C3538 CPU
  • Top data protection features
  • Unlimited snapshots
  • Good value
  • Fast NAS performance
CONS
  • Memory can’t be upgraded
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2 Comments
  1. Reply
    JoelT January 29, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    A NAS with great support – review was informative thanks

    • Reply
      SRadmin February 19, 2018 at 10:32 am

      Thanks

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