• Price: ~190
• Manufacturer: Netgear
• Website: goo.gl/3Nino9
• Required spec: Windows XP+, Mac OS X, Linux, modem web browser.
Netgear’s ReadyNAS Ultra 4 is a bit of beast of a NAS unit. With four internal hot-swappable, 3.5″ drive bays – each capable of holding a 2TB hard drive – it can handle a very impressive 8TB of storage. It also offers a pair of Ethernet ports and three USB 2 ports.
Powering this monstrosity is a 1.66GHz dual core Atom CPU with 1GB of DDR2 SODIMM, which does an admirable job of shifting the data to and from the unit as well as managing the expanse of storage available. It primarily comes as a diskless unit, but there are options available where you can purchase a couple of drives preinstalled, although you’ll have to search around for these deals.
The build quality of the drive is reasonably sturdy, with the front door swinging open to reveal the drive bays within. However, as with some of the NAS units we’ve used before in the past, the drive bay door itself feels a little flimsy. When the unit’s fully loaded with four hard drives the weight of the unit behind the door makes it feel even more fragile. But as long as you don’t try and move the unit by the door there’s little to complain about. To that end, there’s a large aluminium carrying handle that sticks out of the back of the unit, much in the same way as a rack mounted server. This tells of the unit’s more professional target market, while making it quite difficult for the home user to push it flush with a wall, for example. However, the large 90mm fan, which vents out of the rear would prevent you from doing this anyway. That being said, it does a grand job of keeping the internals cool, but is probably a little too noisy for a living room setting if we’re honest.
Two of the three USB ports are located around the rear of the unit too. They can be used to hook up external disks, printers and so on, all of which can be accessed and configured accordingly through the Netgear NAS software. The USB on the front of the unit can be used as a one-touch feature for backing up from the NAS to an external source or vice versa. Additionally, on the front is a handy LCD panel indicating the IP address of the unit, as well as the status of the hard drives.
The ReadyNAS Ultra has an abundance of features that regularly appear in NAS units: DNLA, UPnP, iTunes server, BitTorrent client, SqueezeBox and Skifta are supported, and there’s the ability to access the unit remotely via the ReadyNAS Remote software. Also, you have a choice of RAID configurations to set up, using RAID 0, 1 or 5, as well as the proprietary Netgear XRAID2, which uses the last disk in the array for redundancy in case of failure.
The ReadyNAS Ultra 4 is a fine NAS unit, but it’s not one you’d want in your living room. Its could potentially serve thousands of hours of video and millions of images across the STB of storage,
but its workplace origins become more apparent the more you use it. It’s great for the workplace or home office, but it’s just too large, expensive and noisy for general use.