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Evolved for the better 10/18/2013
This review is from: NETGEAR ReadyNAS 516 (RN51600-100NAS) Diskless System Network Storage
I’ve now had several months living with the Netgear 516. And, while my original review of June 1, 2013 (Work in progress . . . at best) was my assessment at the time, I have come around to a more tempered and positive view.
The principle impetus for my new view is the evolution of the OS. (At this writing v6.1.3)
The OS now communicates better with disk status info. Quirks, and dead ends in the UI have been ironed out. And, the connection to the Netgear ReadyCLOUD has been made easier.
All of the original strong points called out in my orig review still stand. Add to that the incredible ability to take “snapshots” of one’s data. I did not fully understand this feature first time around, but this feature alone makes this box a standout. One has the ability to ‘freeze’ or snapshot a data folder on any, user determined, time interval, automatically. This essentially is an automated backup of ongoing data shares. (NB: This is not a real backup, in the sense of a secure copy of data different from the main storage system.) These snapshots give you a time machine to go back to any previous version of one’s data. This is true for folders or individual files. Additionally, one can also schedule actual backups to a separate device, for true backup. This makes the 516 (and others in the family with OS6) a very valuable player in the home office or small business. I have six 3TB drives in mine, and have come to rely on my 516 for data and multimedia storage.
One point that is much better is first start up with new (to the box) disks. The really BIG key is to use disks that have no data on them. If the box senses data on the disks, the mounting of the RAID may fail. The idea is to protect one’s data from inadvertently being wiped. But I consider this false caution. If one is putting disks in a box to mount a new RAID... well you get the idea.
In my original review I raised the question of Netgear’s commitment to the potential of the 516. I see commitment in the evolution of the OS, not so much with hardware. No official memory upgrade (there is an empty slot that could get populated), and no 10 gig add on NIC.
Of course the hardware issues I wrote about in the orig review remain, I have reluctantly grown accustomed to them (dim display, no power light, etc.) I hope there will be a version two of this box, that incorporates lessons learned.
Having said all the good stuff about snapshots, the bad part is the documentation. It is very thin, and takes a lot of experimentation to get it all set up. There are so-called white papers on the Netgear site, but they really should be called executive summaries, rather than “white papers.” A better approach is to use the product support page and access the KB files. If you read several different KB articles, you can come to a good understanding of the better features of the OS. But, why such a scattered approach?
The UI while much improved from the first version, still has some hidden click points that one has to stumble on, to get hands on all the features.
The app store is thin but growing slowly.
There is no single sign on (SSO). The ReadyCLOUD is one set of credentials, and the app store is yet another.
And, lastly, the RAIDar utility has still not been upgraded to full integration to OS6. Time for a rewrite on this util.
I think, in spite of some weak points, the box now earns 5 stars.
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