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Network Attached Storage temper tantrums – RN104

Network Attached Storage, we install a ReadyNAS104 for a client


Sometimes manufacturers try to make things so simple, they confuse Network Attached Storage systempeople like me who’ve seen the happy medium of descriptive and useful settings.

Before Network Attached Storage drives/enclosures came to the market we had FileServers what handle backup tasks. I remember the ones I built, still going after 4 years. I’m beginning to think I should build more.

Most Network Attached Storage devices on the market are powered by Linux, with a simplified interface what constantly changes to meet new users needs.. This is the issue.

We recently installed a ReadyNAS 104 solution for a client, looks like, easy to set up hardware wise.. To get it to do its job however is a different story!

Complicated networking?

Instead of browsing to a specific folder on the network in its setup share interface, you have to type it (despite the browse button next to it).. now Linux is particular over its uppercase/lowercase’s in names, yet the front end doesn’t! And it’s not documented with any information on-screen or in book. A little ‘Please type the exact source network path’ would help instead of ‘Path’.

You are allowed to test a connection to the pathed folder on the network.. It returns a ‘Yes I can see that!’, doesn’t confirm if it can reach or copy items from it. The errors are fairly basic and non helpful, such as ‘cannot mount source on system’ which I guess means wrong file system selected (despite Network File System covering NTFS/SMB based shares to SAMBA style SMB) or Cannot find source.

after spending 20 minutes each time for the Network Attached Storage to index the source then report a fail (Source not mountable on system.. Well shouldn’t it check that first?) I’m beginning to think a timed .bat file would be better with Xcopy. After testing it eventually played fair (and after discovering Windows Timestamped is preferred over SMB/NFS) and backups were done, which brings me to the next sore point..

High speed drives, responsive software, low-speed writes.

A manual copy put files on the drive at around 300kb/s over wi-fi and around 1mb/s over wired. Looking at around 30gb to back up and secure, it wasn’t a fast job. Ideally I’d set an incremental backup (scans for changes to files/folders and copies new) for jobs, but with critical data a snapshot (fully dated, time stamped backups) system will be needed.

The silly thing is, the features are nice and there, In theory it should work! But there so much conflicting inputs and odd things not documented clearly. For a target audience of ‘setup and forget’, it’s going to take a long time to set it up right, and that’s not good for anyone!

The operating system and it’s menus seem completely ‘unfinished’.. For example you’d expect local users to also have their folders available via Readycloud or ReadyRemote (acts as a¬†VPN?), instead they have to be setup separately. Under Linux or even Windows server they can login using the same account. No where does it tell you how to connect accounts or add new ones.

Lessons have been learnt, I think I’ll stick to my own built Linux-based solutions. That way I can update the paths on the fly and not trawling through several screens. When a Client wants features¬†added, I can add it myself than asking the manufacturer if they have an ‘app’ to install such a thing.

Part of the issues experienced could be me expecting it to work the same way as a scripted SAMBA install, or Netgear’s incoherent method of pumping out changes and updates without updating their guides, FAQ’s or documentation.. Which reminds me of the ‘quick start guide’ being 2 pages in English.

In Closing

In my view, this was too much of a pain to deploy. Netgear Network Attached Storage devices are now on our list to avoid.

Where possible I’ll be quoting clients who request a Network Attached Storage type file server for a custom-built linux box or something proven and available, like Synology or D-Link enclosures. The advantages of a dedicated Network Attached Storage over that is less maintenance and less power usage, as essentially a linux solution will be a mini PC.




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