My LaCie Ethernet Big Disk gave up the ghost last Monday after just one year of service. This device functioned as a basic NAS (Network Attached Storage) unit on our network and accommodated, amongst other things, all of our Ogg Vorbis and MP3 music files.
All of this stuff was backed up, of course, so we didn’t lose any data, but we did lose an integral part of our network. For example, our Sonos system was now able to play only Internet radio stations. More significantly, we had lost one of our back-up devices.
it was therefore important to find a replacement device as soon as possible. I could have just rushed out and bought another disc of the same model or a drive from a rival make, but I wanted to improve on the LaCie and get something a little more professional.
It would be nice, for example, but not essential, to have a box that supported NFS in addition to CIFS. It would also be nice to have redundancy in the disc configuration. After all, any single-disc system, such as the LaCie, is an accident waiting to happen. It would be nice to be able to lose a disc without losing any data.
For several months, I’ve had a browser tab open, pointing to the Infrant ReadyNAS NV+. The tab has literally remained open for the last few months, to remind me to look more deeply into the product when I have a moment. I still hadn’t got around to it, but this week’s events forced me to make it a priority.
I know several people with a ReadyNAS unit and all of them are very enthusiastic about the product. As I read about it, it quickly became apparent that the ReadyNAS device would be the way to go. The death of the LaCie was the perfect excuse for the outlay of cash.
Infrant was bought by Netgear at the start of May and their products now carry the Netgear badge. I wanted the largest ReadyNAS available at the time, so it wasn’t long before I decided on and ordered the ReadyNAS NV+ RND4410. I ordered it last Monday and it arrived Friday afternoon.
It’s a small unit, but quite heavy, because it houses 4 SATA discs, totalling some 4 Tb of disc space. 4 discs is the maximum that can be accommodated in the ReadyNAS. It’s not quite as capacious as it sounds, though, because when configured with Netgear’s patented X-RAID volume management and further gnawed on by file-system overhead, the usable disc space drops quite drastically to 2.6 Tb. If you then enable snapshots, you’ll reduce the user-writeable data area yet further.
It comes at quite a price compared with basic consumer NAS products, but the ReadyNAS is a beautiful piece of kit. It’s easy to configure, but offers powerful, advanced options for file-sharing and protecting data. It supports all the common file-system protocols, such as NFS, CIFS and AFP, and even has a built-in rsync server. Very cool.
I spent yesterday evening tweaking the configuration. Today, it was time to start copying our data onto it. So far, I’ve copied over 72 Gb of music, back-ups of caliban.org and home directories.
Since the ReadyNAS serves up NFS, my server in the cellar has been retired as the home directory server and replaced by the new boy. The disc in that server has seen a lot of activity over the years; it was our file-server back in Mountain View, so it’s seen its fair share of seeks, reads and writes. It had started to give errors via SMART monitoring, so decommissioning it really didn’t come a moment too soon.
I do love it when a product comes along that is simply great at what it’s supposed to do. Whether it’s Postfix, Ruby, MythTV, Rockbox, Sonos, FRITZ!Box or now the ReadyNAS NV+, they’re all excellent at what they’re supposed to do.
Of course, I could still have done without the death of a disc and the ensuing demands on my time, not to mention the unforeseen expense, but we do now at least have a system that will grow with us into the future and that offers the peace of mind of knowing that, if a disc fails, it’s no big deal. We can simply hot-swap a new drive into the unit and the RAID array will rebuild itself.
I think the time has come to buy a few gigabit Ethernet switches for use by certain machines in the house. Then we’ll really be able to tap into the full power of the ReadyNAS.