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Review: Infrant ReadyNAS NV

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March 3, 2006 3:11:12 PM

Infrant has combined the capabilities of the ReadyNAS 600 and X6 into a smaller, attractively styled chassis. Are you ready for a Terabyte capacity RAID 5 NAS?
March 4, 2006 3:57:03 AM

Great review Tim.

I was drooling by the end of it. I'm impressed by the GigE transfer rates. It seems Infrant's NSP approach is really providing some return... at least on the performance side.

Now, what I'd really like to see is a single disc, non-raid version that's also expandable via USB/FW... basically an enthusiast class device that doesn't skimp on speed, just some of the higher-end options.

Tim, since GigE throughputs seem to be closely linked to processor performance, how much of a concern is it that your testing rigs (e.g. benchmark setups) may need to be highly regimented or and/or identical in order for your readers to be able to directly compare performances among this new class of NAS devices?
March 4, 2006 1:22:23 PM

You might want to take a look at the Iomega StorCenter
http://www.tomsnetworking.com/2006/02/20/review_storcenter250/

and
Buffalo Gigabit LinkStation
http://www.tomsnetworking.com/2005/06/27/review_hdhg250lan/

Both support gigabit Ethernet, are non-raid and can be expanded by adding USB drives.

Quote:
Tim, since GigE throughputs seem to be closely linked to processor performance, how much of a concern is it that your testing rigs (e.g. benchmark setups) may need to be highly regimented or and/or identical in order for your readers to be able to directly compare performances among this new class of NAS devices?


All NAS testing done with iozone is highly dependent on the system running iozone. That's why the 128MByte performance comparison charts show only systems tested on the same computer. Right now, there are two systems used, Jim Buzbee's and mine.
Related resources
March 6, 2006 12:09:07 AM

hey tim,

great review, i notice you mention quite emphatically that the NV is still too noisy for the living room- but are you aware that you have to reflash the OS to recalibrate the fan when migrating from an X6 to the NV?

this was an issue that i ran into myself, which is not well documented but i discovered it when it appeared that my NV fan was running a littlle too enthusiastically. i was disapointed in the noise, and after poking around, discovered a few posts on the infrant general discussion board. i believe you have to hold the reset button on while powering up, but IMMEDIATELY release is once the four drive leds flash together once. if you hold it too long, you'll end up re-formating all of your drives, which you don't want obviously.

once the OS is reflashed, you should notice the fan RPM's decrease substantially, and the unit becomes much, much more quiet than the previous X generation.

hope that helps-
March 6, 2006 4:58:45 PM

Hi Tim,
great review, it covered all the points I am interested to know about the product.
I am keeping an eye on the products from infrant for quite some time now. I am looking for a nas to become my main server which can integrate slimserver and has raid5. Speed is not paramount, but noise and spin-down / standby are.
From the products out there I do not know of any that do these two - slimserver and raid5 with spin-down, do you?

Currently I have a DIY linux system, that boots from CF and mounts a software raid5 volume. Even when this is mounted read-only, with noatime and nodiratime switches, something is causing that the drives spin up few minutes after spun-down.
Note-to-self: Maybe I should ask this in one of the other forumz...

Anyway, on Infrant's forums there is talk about making this feature available, but nothing happens for several firmware cycles now.

Again, thanks for the review and please keep reviewing all kind of storage products.
March 6, 2006 5:20:38 PM

The slimserver requirement is probably the tougher one than spindown/sleep. But I don't know of any solutions that do both and are RAID 5.

Infrant has been telling me also that they're working on some sort of spindown option, but, as you say, so far it hasn't made it into the OS.

Thanks for the question and glad you enjoy the reviews.
March 6, 2006 5:52:13 PM

Fantastic to find a review of these drives. It seemed as though the offerings from the larger manufacturers had some pretty big disadvantages, whether it was not working with a Mac, not having gigabit ethernet (and as I read, sometimes updating the last-write-date when the file is read).

The Infrant sounds like a great alternative. You mentioned in the review that it had no sleep mode or spin-down. Do any of the GB NAS devices have this other then Buffalo ? The Iomega device you mentioned below apparently doesn't either. I'm sure this device will sit idle most of the time for me. I plan on using it as media storage and backup and just plug it into a switch in my basement.
March 6, 2006 6:05:10 PM

Nope, haven't seen idle spin-down on anything except the Buffalo so far. We're still keeping our eyes out for this, since many home users have similar occasional use patterns.
March 7, 2006 10:29:39 AM

Nice review, mine has been running for about a week now, and I love it! One minor detail, your reveiw states:


/*
Figure 6 shows that the Backup screen now has a section that lets you assign up to three backup jobs that are executed when the front panel Backup button is pressed. Note that these jobs must use a drive attached to the front panel backup USB port as the destination share.
*/

Actually, any backup job can be assigned to the button, and any job can have source and/or destination be any of a number of places, including on the NAS, on the net, or on a USB drive. They don't currently allow backups to an FTP site, butthey are apparently working on it.
March 7, 2006 10:34:41 AM

Quote:

Now, what I'd really like to see is a single disc, non-raid version that's also expandable via USB/FW... basically an enthusiast class device that doesn't skimp on speed, just some of the higher-end options.


You can put a single drive in the ReadyNAS NV, and you can automatically create shares for connected USB drives, if that helps. You can even configure it for JBOD mode when you first fire it up, then additional drives will add capacity directly. [OMHO, the automatic RAID expansion is one of the best features of the device, but then my data's important to me...]
March 16, 2006 3:14:56 PM

I have one question

I have been looking at these NAS for some time now and I would like to know how many users can you have connected at one time?

I work for a small engineering firm with about 15 people and I don't want to set up a full windows server. I would use just XP Pro but it has that 10 person limit. Have been using a win 98 box for the past 5-6 years as the file server and we all know about the problems with that, used server NT 4.0 before that.

This looks so simple and it appers to do every thing we need it to do. Just need to find out the # of connections limit if there is one.

Buy the way the fileserver is used for just CAD files.

Thanks for your input.

Jay
March 16, 2006 4:18:17 PM

In general, NAS products are based on open source OSes and don't have user limits.

The ReadyNAS line has no hard limit on number of simultaneous users.
March 19, 2006 1:08:17 PM

Very nice reviews, Tim.

Do you have any opinion on the Thecus 4100 versus the Infrant box?

Thanks in advance.
March 19, 2006 6:37:22 PM

Thanks for the review. I'm not sure you mentioned which protocol you used to access the box either that or I missed it. I'm guessing CIFS. I'm trying to access the box using NFS and have gotten lower numbers than expected. Infrant says that NFS is throttled. Have you any experience with this or have a workaround. I need NFS access to the box. I also need to have more access to which version of NFS is used (V.2). Is there any way of accessing this box other than the web interface?

Thanks,
March 21, 2006 12:34:24 PM

Quote:
I'm not sure you mentioned which protocol you used to access the box either that or I missed it. I'm guessing CIFS.

The NV was mounted via WinXP SP2's "map network drive" for the iozone tests.
March 25, 2006 7:12:11 AM

General theoretical question:

Why is it that NAS devices, even on GigE, can't get past 15 MBytes/sec ?

Direct SATA attached drives can go 50 or even 70 MB/sec (eg via cardbus SATA on a laptop), so why can't a NAS/gigE device get up there ?
March 27, 2006 2:38:39 AM

Great review - but can this thing act as an iTunes server a la mt-daapd or somesuch?
Very annoying that iTunes wants to copy files locally or am I missing something?
thanks!
Mark
March 27, 2006 1:10:21 PM

All the ReadyNAS models have a built-in UPnP AV media server. You can also download an add-on for a SlimServer Squeezebox.
April 16, 2006 5:00:03 PM

What I want to know about the noise level for this unit is how does it compare with the X6. The performance differences between the two do not look large enough for me to be concerened with, but I really do not want anything that is louder than it needs to be.
April 19, 2006 12:54:29 PM

I think the NV is a bit quieter than the X6/600. But, for me, the NV is still noisy enough for me to move it into another room.
June 12, 2006 1:18:27 PM

Tim,

Many thanks - an excellent review.

I was wondering if you have any plans to conduct a head to head review between the Infrant ReadyNAS NV and the soon to be released (I hope - if you can get more details that would be great!) Theacus RouStor N5200 (the next generation from the N4100).

http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20060531PR202.html

http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=5087

http://www.thecus.com/products_index.php (watch the flashbar showing products - the N5200 is there, but no other detail on the site!)

From the looks of the forum, there are a number of people who are keen to obtain Mult-terrabyte Raid NAS but are at a loss for the best bang per buck per performance... I for one would be *very* interested to know how these two compare before shelling out the $$!

Also, any idea of the Infrant ReadyNAS NV are planning to support larger HDD sizes (The new Seagate 750GB for example??)

Any idea on roadmap (if at all ) for support for 802.11g / n? I like the idea of also having wireless accessible for device backup.


Any thoughts / assistance greatly appreciated,

Cheers,

M.
PS - thanks again for the great reviews! :-)
June 28, 2006 1:49:21 PM

The Thecus N5200 has just been released....

Now I have to wait until the reviews come out... :-(
July 14, 2006 1:30:55 PM

Chris reports:
Quote:
Hi - wanted you to know that your review was very solid, and in fact was one of the reasons I went with the ReadyNAS. I have a new one, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be happy with it, but it does have one problems that's been acknowledged in their forums: a system time lag during RAID synchronization.

This is a pretty serious lag, too; there are varying reports, but I am seeing nearly 30 seconds "lost" time per 1 minute of "real" time. That is, 30 minutes after I set the clock, the time is 15 minutes behind the actual time.

During an initial setup, this might be a quibble, but for a production RAID server to lose that kind of time during a RAID re-synch (which I have had to do several times on actual production servers after a hot-swap following an HD failure) is a real problem. We are looking at file timestamps potentially off by hours.

I don't know if you saw this on your firmware, but I have seen it reported on the v3 firmware on their forums, and I am seeing it on my "production" firmware (listed as "RAIDiator v2.00c1-p9 [1.00a014]").
July 14, 2006 1:33:30 PM

Quote:
Chris reports:
Hi - wanted you to know that your review was very solid, and in fact was one of the reasons I went with the ReadyNAS. I have a new one, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be happy with it, but it does have one problems that's been acknowledged in their forums: a system time lag during RAID synchronization.

This has been confirmed by Infrant as a bug. It will be addressed in an upcoming firmware update. No schedule has been set for the fix, however.
July 20, 2006 1:49:03 PM

Victor said:
Quote:
Thank you for a great review of by far the best NAS device on the market. However, I must strongly disagree (or perhaps clarify) with your point regarding the noise of the drive. I recently purchased the NV and have two Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 500GB SATA 7200RPM Hard Drives w/16MB Buffer installed. My NV is located in my BEDROOM, and right out of the box, I was impressed with the extremely low fan noise. I've had the drive for a couple of months and have never noticed it's presence due to fan noise, nor has my girlfriend, who complains about the noise of my Dell notebook all the time. Of course, while in use there is HDD noise, but that is solely attributed to HDD. I may have gotten lucky and received a superb enclosure, or it may be that Infrant have addressed the noise issue post your review. If the latter is the case, Infrant did an outstanding job once again.

I am a strong proponent of the living room media server transition, so anything to help the cause moves this evolution forward. NV doesn't match with any hifi component due to its form factor, so out of direct view, it can certainly be in a living room due to extremely low noise, at least the one I have now.

As stated in the review, the combination of enclosure fan and noise from four hard drives is very noticeable and at least to my ear, very annoying.

As a reference, the drone from my DirectTV Tivo with two drives is also noticeable when the TV is off, but is masked with the TV on.
July 24, 2006 6:21:28 PM

The ReadyNAS NV has both the 'normal' RAID + the proprietary X-RAID options.

I'm wondering if there's any difference in the overhead between normal RAID 5 and X-RAID. With 4 disks overhead should be about 25%, but I read X-RAID takes about 37%. That's a lot of extra drive space...

Any thoughts on this?

:?
September 19, 2006 5:10:08 AM

Hi,

My new ReadyNAS NV auto configured to RAID-X. I have 4 x 400G drives in it and under RAID-X leaves 1T of usable space.

Has anyone tested between RAID-5 and RAID-X? I am wondering if I would get better write performance if I switched to RAID-5.

Also...Journaling...is this necessary when you have RAID?

Finally...FAN Noise... This is network attached storage...why would you want it where you can hear it? I put my in the wiring closet (the Garage) so I wouldn't have to hear it. I couldn't possibly hear it over the fans in the Linksys GigE switch!

Thanks...cinni

PS. Thanks for the review. Definately influenced my purchasing decision. I was ready to buy the Buffalo Station when I found this review.
September 19, 2006 8:41:24 AM

Quote:
Finally...FAN Noise... This is network attached storage...why would you want it where you can hear it? I put my in the wiring closet (the Garage) so I wouldn't have to hear it. I couldn't possibly hear it over the fans in the Linksys GigE switch!


To answer that one, some of us don't have garage's or wired apartments/flats ;) 

In any case, I'm more concerned over a lack of WOL or true "standby" state as I don't want this on all the time. As it is, when I travel I can be gone for weeks but can VPN to home and WOL my systems to get something I may need. Would have been nice to see that functionality in the NV.

Not sure if it helps, but in regards to RAID5/X and the increase space used in RAID-X, I found this on Infrant's forums:
Infrant Presales Forum Post
September 29, 2006 11:57:56 AM

Quote:
Am I missing something or are the performance numbers for the Infant ReadyNAS NV over 1Gbps Ethernet missing from the consolidated NAS charts?

Sorry, but the data I have was taken in RAID 5 mode and the charts show non-raid data. I no longer have access to the product to rerun the tests.

I will change the chart description to clarify this.
!