Netgear readynasA few months ago I started shopping around for a NAS that I knew would be reliable, but at the same time I wanted it to be affordable since it was just going to be used at home. The reason I wanted it was because I needed a central unit in my house that all my computers could use to back up to and for general file storage.

I eventually settled on the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ because it seemed to have an excellent community surrounding it, and overall the product received pretty good reviews. I was able to pick the unit up for under $300 at my local Fry’s Electronics store, but keep in mind that doesn’t include any hard drives. They have some other high-end ReadyNAS models, but this particular one seemed to have everything I needed based on the specs.

The ReadyNAS uses, by default, a RAID configuration they call X-RAID. The way it works is similar to RAID 5, and so that’s what I decided to go with. Since this has four bays I also snagged four 1TB hard drives that I could use with it. In the X-RAID configuration that means about 3TB out of the 4TB is available for storage, and the remaining 1TB is used for redundancy. If one drive fails I can throw in a replacement and it will rebuild itself. If two drives fail at the same time I am, well, screwed.

I have both Mac and Windows machines on my network, and so I really needed a NAS that would work well with both operating systems. This ReadyNAS supports CIFS (Common Internet File System), NFS (Network File System), AFP (Apple Filing Protocol), FTP (File Transfer Protocol), HTTP/S (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), and Rsync. Having all of these options available pretty much guarantees that you’ll have a way to access your files no matter what kind of machine you’re using. The unit also has built-in support for Apple’s Time Machine, but it’s important to note that only 2TB of your NAS can be used for Time Machine.

The other thing that was nothing short of impressive was that Apple caught a lot of NAS manufacturers off guard by requiring a newer version of AFP be used with Mac OS X Lion, and most of them were never updated to support the newer AFP. You could always start using CIFS for your connections, but TimeMachine only works with AFP. The good news is that Netgear rolled out a fix the same day that Lion was released while some other people I know are still waiting to hear whether their manufacturer will be releasing a fix.

The web-based configuration tool for the ReadyNAS NV+ makes it easy to configure the unit, but it can be a little sluggish (after all it only has 256MB of memory). From here you can do things like configure the built-in BitTorrent client, set up an iTunes server, manage backups that get initiated by the NAS, manage users, set an on/off power schedule, and more. Oh, and did I mention that there are add-ons available to add more functionality to the unit? My favorite is the one that enables SSH access to the NAS, which all geeks will love.

In all I was pretty surprised at what a great product this turned out to be. I haven’t owned something by Netgear in years after the terrible luck I had with their routers, but this device seems to be pretty rock solid. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Infrant, who started the ReadyNAS line, were just acquired back in 2007 by Netgear?

Jump on over to the ReadyNAS forum if you’re on the edge about whether you need a NAS or whether the ReadyNAS is right for you. It was there that I found the answers to a lot of my pre-purchase questions.