Netgear ReadyNAS 104 Review
The Netgear ReadyNAS 104 is a 4 bay NAS drive from Netgear. It goes without saying that this NAS can take up to four hard drives. These can be either 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives which means you can use SSDs if you decide to. In my case I set this up with four Western Digital 2TB Red drives.
Out of the box the NAS I ordered came without drives. You can purchase the drive with drives pre-installed but I already had 2 drives in my old 2 bay NAS that I wanted to move into this new one. The door on the front opens up and it is the usual clip release drive chassis that you have to remove in order to install the HDDs into, as you can see in the first image on the right. The hard drive slots in and there are 4 screws on the chassis to secure the drive in place, as seen in the second image on the right.
Once all the drives are secure insert them into the NAS drive. Attach the network cable to your router or switch and plug the other end into the NAS. Plug the mains in and press the power button on the front of the NAS.
Netgear RAIDar makes the initial setup process very smooth. You simply install the tool and when you run it it will find the NAS on the network. From there you can launch into the setup wizard. Netgear’s X-RAID feature is definitely worth using as it will dynamically select the best RAID type based on the number of drives. For instance if you use 2 drives in X-RAID it will set up in a simulated RAID1. If you then add a third drive it will change that to a RAID5 array. This means that if you can only afford 2 disks initially and you set them up in X-RAID you do not need to worry about migrating data if you decide to add a third, or fourth, disk to increase capacity.
There are two network cards on the ReadyNAS 104. This allows you to either set up for management through one and iSCSI through the other or you can team them for increased bandwidth. This does require a network switch with a supported teaming mode. Click here for instructions on setting this up.
With regards to sharing protocols the Netgear ReadyNAS 104 has all the options you would expect. Out of the box, you can use it for standard shared folders over SMB by simply setting up the shares. You have the option to use iSCSI if you are connecting it to a device where it needs to be recognised as a direct attached storage device. There are also options for AFP if you are an Apple user or NFS for Linux based systems. If you have DLNA devices on your network you can enable the ReadyDLNA feature to allow those devices to discover content on the ReadyNAS. Finally, there is also a built in FTP server which is great if, like me, you have devices which can only send data through FTP.
You can secure access to shares in one of two ways. There is a built in authentication system in which you can add users and groups and assign permissions accordingly. Alternatively, if you are using this in a business environment you can integrate Active Directory authentication and secure the folder access through there instead.
The ReadyNAS 104 also has an integrated cloud access system. This does require that you sign up with Netgear ReadyCloud. There is also ReadyNAS Replicate which allows you to replicate data between two ReadyNAS devices. Finally there is a built in VPN server for those people who want to access the ReadyNAS 104 using a VPN connection. All of these do require a decent amount of technical knowledge in order to set them up. However, there is a great deal of documentation that can help with this.
There are a selection of apps available directly through the web interface on the ReadyNAS 104. However, I have not had a chance nor reason to try any of these so I can’t say much about them.
Performance & Reliability
I use my NAS both for media streaming, CCTV storage and for test lab virtual machine storage so there is an almost constant barrage of traffic. Over 6 months in since setting it up I have not had any issues with performance and not a single crash to date.
The data transfer speeds can vary depending on the load on your network. However, over an extended period of tests using a 512MB packet length I found that the average write speed came back at around 330Mbps and the read speed was about 530Mbps. This decreased slightly when increasing the packet length to 1GB and improved substantially when only transferring a 50MB file. You can see the results of one of the tests below.
For the price, the Netgear ReadyNAS 104 is a great device for home use. It could also be used in a small office environment for shared data or backups. Having only 512MB RAM is a small let-down as it does mean the the NAS cannot handle multiple streams of large packets so I would not recommend this for use in an environment where there are more than 15 people who need simultaneous access. Be sure to get suitable, and supported, HDDs or SSDs as these will have a huge impact on the performance.