The two-bay ReadyNAS 212 ($329, diskless) and four-bay ReadyNAS 214 ($499, diskless) are each powered by a quad-core 1.4-GHz ARM Cortex processor and 2GB of RAM – more like mini data centers than regular hard drives. If you are not yet familiar with what a NAS is, they are essentially hard drives with file servers that you drop into a local network, allowing you to back up computers and remotely access the files stored on them. Installing hard drives is pretty much plug and play, even while the units are running, and they can be set up for RAID mirroring or other redundancy levels. The ReadyNAS 212 supports up to 12TB, while the ReadyNAS 214 supports up to 24TB.
While the specs suggest enterprise-level service, Netgear is aiming these devices toward consumer power users, like photographers, video editors, and what the company calls “media enthusiasts,” or folks who consume a lot of media content – similar to Western Digital’s MyCloud Expert series. They have a theoretical read speed of up to 200 Mbps and a write speed of up to 160 Mbps. But users can double those speeds by using the Link Aggregation mode. In this setup, the drives’ second Gigabit Ethernet port is connected to a second Gigabit Ethernet port in Netgear’s new Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Smart WiFi Router, Netgear’s ProSafe Gigabit Smart Switch, or 802.3ad device. Called “port trunking,” the solution deals with the bottleneck in speed due to more devices requiring access to a wireless network inside our homes.
For remote users, the ReadyNAS drives are the only ones that create a secure and private VPN tunnel, according to Netgear; the only time you access a remote server is for authentication purposes, but afterward the connection is strictly between you and the drive. Using the ReadyCloud Web client or the ReadyCloud apps for iOS or Android, users can back up files to the drives or access data stored on them, including streaming video. Netgear says these are the only NAS drives on the market that do real-time 1080p streaming and transcoding to 480p for remote devices.
The drives also include built-in anti-virus scanning, without any hit to throughput when scanning is taking place; three USB 3.0 and one eSATA ports for connecting additional drives and devices; support for Apple Time Machine backup; DLNA, iTunes, and Plex media serving; pro-level BTRFS file system; easy single file sharing via link; and disk spin-down to save power when it’s not in use.
We’re taking more photos than ever before, and with cameras in smartphones getting better each year – and now with abilities to shoot 4K video – expect the numbers to climb. All those photos (and videos) need a place to live, and hard drive makers like Netgear, Western Digital, Seagate, and others are latching onto this opportunity with “personal cloud” servers.
NETGEAR ReadyNAS 212 Available from Amazon
NETGEAR ReadyNAS 214 Available from Amazon
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