Netgear ReadyNAS 4200 review
Netgear's new rack NAS appliance has limited expansion potential but offers a high storage capacity and storming speeds
Review Date: 6 Sep 2010
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: £4,560 (£5,358 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Netgear's latest rack NAS appliance has an eye on mid-sized businesses as well as SMBs. It's the first ReadyNAS model to support 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE), and it aims to offer high levels of redundancy and reliability, and it also wants to be your storage partner for virtualised environments.
The 4200 isn't that different to the ReadyNAS 3200 as it uses the same Supermicro 2U chassis and customised X7SB3-NI015 motherboard. However, it does have a faster processor and more memory.
The board's eight embedded SAS ports are all cabled through to the drive backplane along with four of the six available SATA ports. This presents the 12 1TB WD drives in the review system to Netgear's RAIDiator OS, which handles all RAID management.
The 10GbE feature is an option with upgrade cards offered with CX-4 copper or SFP fibre ports. This highlights the limited expansion capabilities as although the chassis has seven backplates, the motherboard only offers single PCI Express and PCI slots.
The PCI Express slot is the only usable one as the PCI slot won't support 10GbE cards. You can't use it for anything else either as it's behind the embedded SATA ports and installing a card will foul the interface cables.
The 4200 scores well for reliability as the chassis has a pair of hot-plug power supplies, dual embedded Gigabit ports for adapter teaming and the embedded OS offers plenty of RAID options, including RAID6 and X-RAID2.
It offers the same software features as the 3200 so backup features are in abundance. It manages schedules that can pull selected data from workstation shares to a local directory, and it supports many other backup sources and destinations.
The appliance can be replicated using Rsync to another remote unit while Windows and Mac users can take advantage of the three user copy of Memeo's Backup Premium. Along with a heap of other add-ons, Netgear also provides an agent for Symantec's Backup Exec (BE).
We loaded this on the 4200 and entered the host name of our lab system running BE 12.5. There was nothing more to do as the appliance popped up in BE's source selection window as a Linux system from where we could add its files and folders to backup jobs.
The 4200's superior specification showed in our real world performance tests: we saw a 25% improvement over the 3200 for read operations during drag and drop copies over Gigabit. Netgear also provided us with the optional 10GBase-SR card so we hooked the 4200 up to the lab's 10GbE network via a Netgear GSM7328S switch and linked it to a Dell PowerEdge R310 with an Intel 10GbE card installed.
Copying a 4GB test file between the two systems using drag-and-drop returned storming average read and write speeds of 450MB/sec and 424MB/sec. The good news continued with our FTP tests as the FileZilla client reported fast average speeds of 450MB/sec and 403MB/sec. Running Iometer against a 200GB iSCSI target also returned very high raw read and write speeds of 494MB/sec and 439MB/sec.
For a 12TB NAS appliance the ReadyNAS 4200 is good value and offers plenty of business class backup tools. The lack of chassis expansion capabilities is a real drawback but this appliance is super fast over 10GbE.
Author: Dave Mitchell
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