Netgear's tiny Network Attached Storage RAID -- just right for a home entertainment/data server?

I'm intrigued by this Netgear ReadyNAS box -- it's a network-attached storage box with four SATA slots that comes empty or with up to 4 terabytes of storage and is approximately the size of the little practice amp I had when I was learning to play bass guitar.

One of my new year's projects is get a little MythTV Linux-based video box running under the TV. The plan is to get around 3TB of storage and rip all the DVDs and music in the house to it, toss in MAME for gaming, and use it as backup for all the family data, photos, etc. Then we'll get all the DVDs out of the tiny living room (they're already overflowing the shelves and crowding out our books) and into a storage box. What's more, we'll be able to find any video by doing a text search, instead of hoping that we can find it on the shelves (we alphabetized the videos last week and found three Blade Runners, each bought because the others had gone AWOL). Add DynDNS and a streaming server program and we'll be able to access our movies from anywhere in the flat or the world. Plus we'll run Miro on it and get all our video podcasts directly on the TV.

One thing I'd worried about was offsite backup, but I have an office a mile away that I'm also building a desktop Linux system for. My thinking now is that if I bought two 3TB boxes and synched them up initially, I could bring one to the office and use it as storage for my desktop system, and keep the two in synch with rsync over the Internet (our home DSL connection should be able to handle syncing up a new DVD or recorded TV show every day or two).

I even envision having an automated process that downsamples all our video into a format that plays on one of the cheap pocket video-players I bought in China (I even have one that's a watch!) so any time I'm leaving the house, I can just grab a couple episodes of something I'm following or a movie I've bought recently and toss it onto the device (and with network access, I'll be able to grab those shows from the road as well).

The thing I love about the idea of using NAS for this is that the big, noisy part of the system can live in a cupboard somewhere instead of right there under the TV. What's more, I can just pick it up and carry it to the office if the backup system blows up and needs to be resynched (or vice-versa). And with a separate storage box, I don't have to worry about finding a media center enclosure with a stupid number of drive bays. With 3TB of headroom, I don't have to worry about not having enough space to backup any of the working systems at home, either.

Anyone tried anything like this yet? Got sage advice? Leave it in the comments. Link (via Dvice)


  1. Seems like a pretty good device, but it’s a lot more money than buying the hard drives and building a SAN yourself. Also less upgradable. I’m sure premade SANs will become much economical over time though.

  2. I’ve run a setup something like this (not using the storage solution described in the article, but the principle of the thing is the same) and I’ve had fairly good results. The main things to consider in my estimation are:

    1) Your Myth setup. I use a slave setup for each TV, with a single Master media server that does all of the capture of content. This way I can us as small a box as possible for the part that is out in public and just put the rest in the ‘server closet’ as it is called. If you follow this model, and the storage is close (in a network sense) to the primary media server you might be ok.

    2) Network impact. Having a lot of data from the NAS to your Myth box for the purposes of using the TV could have a impact on your network. You just might need to take some steps to isolate the network that the NAS is running on from the one that you’ll be using to browse the internet if you are anything like me.

    3) What do you really want to backup. I purposefully don’t try and backup everything, just the things I don’t already have some backup for. Thus, the DVDs I’ve pulled to the disk don’t get backed up because the DVD is the backup. Just my personal data and this lightens the load a bit. (I’m primarily doing that because I’m in the States, and we have really bad upstream rates on most broadband so I have to be more selective.)

  3. Well, you can buy it “hollow” and put your own drives in, right? That’s the same difference, isn’t it?

  4. I have two different broadband links at home — cable-modem and DSL — and a load-balancing router. Both have pretty good upstream, too.

    Your point is well-taken about network congestion. Luckily, we only have one TV (plus laptops). But it might be worth creating a dedicated 803.11g network interface just for the NAS and the Myth to talk on.


  5. I have an Infrant (company that Netgear purchased) NAS. Five months ago, the fan died right before my 1-year warranty would expire, so I had it replaced. Netgear sent me a used / refurb and it died after two whole months. warranty’s done, just like the box. SOL, I reckon.

  6. I’ve had a ReadyNAS NV for a couple of years, doing exactly what you describe, and it’s great. It’s small, portable, and quiet. You can even increase the size of the RAID without losing your data, by replacing each drive one at a time, which is something other RAID devices can’t do.

    Two days ago, I had a glitch due to some unusual circumstances, so I posted in the forums. I had a response from a Netgear staffer in 15 minutes, and my problem solved in just under an hour. On Christmas Day. Even though my ReadyNAS has been out of warranty for a year. As far as I’m concerned, their support is amazing.

  7. I use FreeNAS with 2TB in raid 5, it does a brilliant job of streaming media. I’m going to build another and put it over at my parents house so I can have off site backup (all I have to do is find someone with an old PC laying about that I can talk/bribe them out of).

  8. I’ve got a couple of these boxes and really like them. One suffered from a failed PSU after just over a year (a design fault, now fixed) which Netgear replaced promptly despite being out of warranty.

    I’ve got my music collection ripped to FLAC, which the NAS box streams to a Squeezebox with its built-in Slimserver software. I’ve held off on ripping the DVDs so far, though. Having experimented a little, 400+ DivX rips is going to take a looong time. For now I’ve solved the space issue by sticking the DVDs in a couple of large CD wallets. Ok, so the search engine is a little more manual than the iPod’s Coverflow, but it’s a lot more tactile!

    For me, the advantage of the ReadyNAS over a homebrew version is the size, relatively low noise, and low power consumption, especially with the drives spun down.

  9. Your requirements are a bit leading edge, but actually lots of people have the same problem and more are going to. There’s a hole in the market for *home* NAS. Not SoHo or Enterprise but Home. And the few boxes available tend to be riddled with horrible MS Win only drivers.

    What we need and what we want (right now!) is the old Linksys NSL-U2 “Slug” updated and put in an empty 2-4 bay 3.5″ enclosure for a 100 bucks-quids. In fact they could put the guts of a WRT54G in there as well with a 4-8 gigabit hub as well and reduce the number of electricity sucking, always-on devices in the cupboard under the stairs. The nearest thing I’ve seen to this is the Buffalo Linkstation.

  10. Maybe can be usefull as a means of secured backup? It’s not that expensive as of unlimited amaount of data..

    I’m not so familiar with linux solutions, so is there a way that this can be done on a Mac? I’m particulary interested in the way I can create and keep a database up to date of all the dvd’s AND audio-cd’s i put on the server. It’s nice to put all this stuff “online”, but I will need a means to find it back next year…

    I’m very interested in the technical part of it. Is there some good forum wher one can ask questions about it?


  11. One thing you might want to bear in mind is SSH is not enabled out of the box (for rsync over ssh) and you need to install a plugin for root ssh access. If you want SSH access at user level, then you do need a small amount of hacking.

    Also the CPU of this machine is quite low (quite rightly so for a low power device). If you are using Rsync over SSH then the speed is pretty poor (I get around 1.5Mb/sec on a LAN). Still faster than your DSL connection I guess.

    The box is a great little beasty. It is on the expensive side, but the user forums are excellent, and Netgear’s acquisition seems not to have damaged this. I love mine.I can stream HD (720p) (well NFS mounted, not streamed) to my Mythtv box without issues.

    Finally I wonder why news of this device has hit Slashdot recently. The device has been about for a year or so.

  12. For your Myth front end box under the TV you might like to check out the Minimyth project

    Minimyth is designed to run on a low end discless/fanless PC such as Via Mini ITX motherboards.
    Minimyth boots either from Flash, or over the network.

    The front end can then be totally silent.

    While Via processors are no match for AMD and Intel for raw processing power, they have a hardware MPEG2 decoder which makes them ideal as multimedia players.

  13. The “typical” transfer rate of 802.11g is 19 Mbps. Since the max DVD read (1x) is only 1.4 Mbps, you shouldn’t need another network, even with multiple TVs. ~~~~

  14. I’ve been using an old P3 with 2TB of space as a media server for a couple of years now.. But it’s just awful having this tower case in the living room. (I too planned to rip all of my DVDs, but somehow it got filled up with other media before I got to that :) )

    I would love to replace my current setup with a nice small consumer NAS box but the solutions I’ve seen are too constricting.

    If only there was a product that supported 6-8 drives or one that could be expanded by attaching a second unit… I would buy it.

  15. I’m pretty seriously bummed that Netgear jacked the price way up. I was looking at getting one of these, never quite got around to it and now it costs 1.8x as much as it did when I first started looking. When I was first looking at these they were $550-650 for a bare box. Absurdly, the bare system is now only $50 less than the 4x250gig version.

    I’m probably just going to build my own NAS at this rate. Bah.

  16. I’ve got a previous version for my home NAS and it’s worked a treat. As previous posters have replied, their customer service folk are really involved (and seem to be so even post-Netgear acquisition).

    I bought mine barebones on Newegg.

  17. With regard to synchronizing data between your home and office, I’ve pretty much have been doing the same for a couple of years now using Unison.
    I’m also synchronizing my dotfiles and other customization data, this makes it a lot easier to settle into a new machine.
    However I must wonder about synchronizing video, I only do that for mail, documents and such, wouldn’t it be more efficient, bandwidth-wise, to simply torrent the movies back from somewhere if you ever need to?
    WRT the NAS box, I couldn’t find many details on the Netgear site, is it even possible to make it talk anything other then CIFS?

  18. I bought a Thecus N299 with 2 500GB drives for about $450 AUD. I run RAID 1 on it.

    Works fine for my pics and stuff. Not perfect, but cheap. Seems much cheaper than the Netgear.

  19. I was not impressed with the ReadyNAS I was farced to use, it was super slow and the interface was really clunky. But, it might work fine for a small (<10) client base.

    I believe it would do Samba/CIFS as well as NFS (possible iSCSI but not sure on that one).

  20. I have had the Infrant ReadyNAS (Now Netgear) for about 2 years and have been extremely happy with it. It supports AFP so it’s a breeze to use with my mac at home. You can also install extra plugins and I would recommend TwonkyMedia as we are using it to stream all our movies to our xbox 360 over wifi without any problems.

    All in all one of the better investments I have made. Now I just need to upgrade the ram to 1GB on the box.

  21. Yep, that was previously known as the Infrant ReadyNAS NV+. I have the 3TB version (4x 750GB drives) and am pretty pleased with it. I have it set to spin down the drives after 30 minutes of inactivity, so it is usually very quiet.

    I had a drive fail last year, but everything worked perfectly – the NAS sent me an email warning of impending failure, I pulled the drive, swapped in a replacement, and 2 days later I got a new drive from Seagate.

    I run it off a battery-backed UPS (with which it integrates very tightly) which also helps reliability.

    Don’t forget the clean out the air filter with a vacumn cleaner every once in a while. It clogs fairly quickly, and then the fans run much faster (and noisier) to try to keep it cool. It is remarkable how much quieter it is with the filters cleaned.

    If you are using a wired network, don’t worry about bandwidth.

  22. I’m got the entertainment system for the place running on a laptop with a dual processor, which is networked with our office system that has the DSL. The laptop is wi-fied and the bandwidth is fine. It is nice to have all the music and vid on the computer. I then used some in-house satalites so other TVs could be used. It’s all backed up (I buy hard disks for the most part and store them in the basement). Now, I just need to get that voice rec software to work! When I say “TV on” it just responds my saying, “Good morning, Dave.”

  23. Anyone have any experience with this unit, ?

    I have been considering it for a while. 1TB should be plenty for me – may not be enough for lots of video. It’s attraction to me is the low price and that it advertises itself as an iTunes share. Don’t yell at me – I use iTunes as a music player – I don’t buy DRM-enhanced :-) tracks from the store.

    It may be the first home NAS that has become available.

  24. In terms of connectivity, ethernet over power is getting good writeups now, and the kit is getting cheaper. However, outside the building ADSL2 still isn’t that fast so perhaps a Slingbox or something that does similar to compress the feed might be worth considering. I’ve been thinking about options for a while because I’m away from home a lot and want something that distribute around the house and to my flat in Manchester.

  25. I’d really recommend checking out the Drobo:
    It’s allows you to expand your storage on the fly.
    Also, I’ve tried many of the dedicated Myth distributions, and can highly recommend Knoppmyth. It really is a quality distro.

  26. This looks like the bigger, tougher brother of the Linksys NSLU2, which is about the size of two packs of cards laid side-by-side, and has an Ethernet adapter and two USB2 connectors (expandable to 4 with some hardware hacking, IIRC) for attaching external hard drives or whatever external USB devices you want to attach. (I plugged a tiny unpowered USB hub into mine and gave it 2GB of storage, a Bluetooth dongle and an 802.11b dongle.)

    The NSLU2, aka “slug”, has become a favourite of tiny-Linux fans because its 133MHz ARM CPU (overclockable to 266 by removing a resistor) supports Linux just fine. Check out to see what kinds of tricks you can do with one.

    So my biggest question is “could you use the NAS as a MythTV box and cut out the middleman?”

    The Netgear’s CPU is an Infrant IT310X, which is a RISC processor running at up to 280MHz, according to the manufacturer. You’ll probably need a USB video adapter for the MythTV side of things, and I’m not sure if anyone has yet cross-compiled Linux for the IT310X, but one of the Unslung guys can probably give you some tips there.

    Good luck! If I had the money to blow on one of these things, I’d be figuring out a cross-compilation environment already…

  27. Cory, could you share your final config and lessons learned when you get this set up and working? I’ve got the parts you mentioned working in separate areas, but would love to see how you get them working in one unit.

  28. Cory, I’ve got the ReadyNas (1TB – 4X250GB) for now, and I’m using it a lot like what you do. I’m not completely off the MS bandwagon yet, since I get really good deals on their stuff, but the device should work really well for what you’re proposing.

    I have all of my movies stored in Divx format, and those are accessible from anywhere in the house, as are the MP3’s. I use a chipped Xbox running Xbox Media Center for my living room entertainment center, and the laptops/PCs in other rooms can access all of the same content.

    This weekend, I’m planning on setting up the SlimServer on the ReadyNAS for streaming to my Chumby. It also has an ITunes server (useless to you, I know) which makes it easy to access playlists etc from ITunes without having to map a drive and risk screwing up the folder structure with some self-organizing routine.

    The box itself is small, solid, and overall a very nice piece of equipment. The administration is intuitive, and there are plenty of provisions for security and features. It has a fan that’s about as loud as a normal PC’s fan, so if you’re into absolute silence this might be a problem. For me, it’s not. It’s sitting right here next to me and is just a little white noise in the background.

    One thing I really like is the X-RAID option. Basically, it’s RAID5 with automatic expansion. If you want to grow the NAS, just buy 4 larger drives and swap them out one at a time (wait for the data to rebuild between swaps). Once all 4 drives have been exchanged, the new space is automatically available without having to wipe and recreate the RAID. This is huge, since the average guy/gal isn’t going to have the ability to back up th entire contents of their NAS before upgrading it. If you’ve got 2 of them and can sync them periodically, you’re going to be in great shape.

    BTW, unless you can get a great deal on a full one you’re going to be better-off buying an empty ReadyNAS and supplying your own drives. AFAIK, there’s no difference between the “old” Infrant boxes and the new Netgrears…I don’t think Netgear has an empty one available anymore, so you’re probably going to have to hunt for the Infrant. No biggie – they’re the same and you can easily upgrade the firmware.

  29. Yeah, I forgot to mention all the plug-ins and applications you can run right off the box. Others above have mentioned it, but I want to underline it. Running a Slim Server right off the NAS is awesome. If you do end up running many server apps off it, though, it’s better to make sure you’ve upgraded its RAM.

  30. Just spent the last half of Boxing Day getting everything working again, after putting my Netgear NAS onto a gigabit switch, on a second NIC which is not connected to the outside world, and therefore no DHCP server.
    Which is about when I found out the NAS has no functionality to set static IP’s. There followed a bit of frantic net searching for a Windoze based DHCP server as I am running XP Pro and my Ubuntu box is not up and running yet!
    And then it took a bit more fiddling to get the proprietary (non-configurable) software to look for the NAS on the right network i.e. the one WITH the NAS now attached to it!

    Apart from that its an excellent mirrored media streaming solution and I have never lost a single bit from it. Netgear must be trying to corner the home NAS market as they seem to be buying up all of the small & clever SAN/NAS makers, and then rebranding them.


  31. The ReadyNas product has gotten stellar reviews for years now. Its a shame that Netgear has jacked up the price on these…$850 for a diskless one on Amazon.Com? Holy crap, that’s expensive.

  32. Rsync should work nicely for backup — I have it in production use for any number of things, one of which is keeping 2 2T RAID-5 arrays sync’d across a WAN.
    You’ll probably want to RTFM on the various flags
    to figure out what works for you; an off-hand guess
    would be something involving a subset of
    -vrlogptHDxz –progress –stats –delete-after
    with –progress and –stats handy for logging and

    One consideration is whether it’s worth trying to
    compress already-compressed data over the wire;
    often the answer to that is “it’s not”, so if that’s the
    case for you, one tactic is to segregate “compressible”
    information — text, HTML documents, etc. from “pre-compressed” information — mp3, mpg, etc. — and
    use different invocations of rsync on those directories.
    This is one reason why I suggest –stats, since it’ll
    help you evaluate performance given your combination
    of CPU cycles, bandwidth, etc.

    Another consideration is encryption — you may
    want to keep the remote copy encrypted in case it
    takes a walk one day. If that’s the case, it’s probably
    better to do so at the volume level rather than file-by-file.

  33. Might want to consider the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) offered on the Amazon Web Services development platform:

    Can use the API to write your own interface to create an NFS mount or windows/mac share or use an off the shelf package like Jungle Disk

    The throughput is excellent and is designed to provide streaming media capability and the storage rates are second to none: $.15/month per GB of storage and $.18 per GB of download.

    Jeremy Zawodny has an excellent cost comparison ( of using S3 vs the costs associated with building a box, supporting it, paying for electricity and replacing disks, power supplies, etc over time. S3 clearly becomes a much more cost effective solution in a very short period of time, and the assumption is that storage prices will only continue to fall.

    I actually just finished implementing this solution and am pushing data up from my home linux and mac boxes as well as backing up various remote family member’s windows machines.

  34. My company has two of them. We are using them as our main file servers for 10-15 person work groups. They are great when they are working. One of them showed up with a bad disk and the other one had the SO-DIMM memory go bad after a month of use. In either case, we didn’t lose any data, but it was annoying.

    The Infrant forums are amazingly good and seem to be monitored by “level 3” tech support people. They solved the bad memory problem in 15 minutes.

  35. Note of caution:

    The ReadyNAS is a pretty decent, solid, somewhat-non-proprietary Linux based NAS.

    Netgear’s other NAS offerings, sold under the name “Storage Central”, are closed, proprietary, slow, terribly-supported pieces of crap.

    I fought with a Storage Central device for awhile. It really is a traditional ‘NAS’ device as opposed to ‘file-server-in-a-box’ in that it requires special drivers on the client to do its work. Oh, and for best results your client better not be anything other than Windows XP. And oh yeah, the filesystem is proprietary so if down the road your NAS breaks and you can’t get another your data is unreadable.

    ReadyNAS good, Storage Central bad.

  36. Rsk
    is right, don’t use rsync’s -z switch for compression when copying any of your media, it will just slow things down. Running a separate rsync job just for the compressible stuff probably isn’t worth it unless you have other reasons for it (more frequent backups, different destination, etc.).

    Meta question: when you use the Preview button to preview your comment, where’s the Post button? I used the browser back button to get back here, is that the only option?

  37. Sounds like Cory was fishing for alternatives to his “project” and he got plenty of them. For me, I have a modded XBOX running XBMC and it does everything MythTV does plus more and judging by the screenshots XBMC does it much prettier as well. I have an old PC run WinXP and using an SMB share all my movies, music, and pictures are streamed to the box and viewed on my TV. Even thinking about getting another box for the office and bedroom. Whole lot cheaper in the long-run, for me.

  38. @38 JungleDisk is awesome as a backup solution. I’ve just a few hours away from fishing my massive 269gb backup of my important data files.

    That said, at least in the United States JungleDisk is still slow for must of us because of the limited upload capacity that most of us have. I have a 10mbs/1mbs pipe to my home, which means I get about 720kilobits/second upload directly to S3 or around 8 gb/day I can upload. So that 269gb backup is 33 days assuming I get that throughput constantly, which is definitely not the case.

    Also, S3 seems very susceptible to latency issues which cause frequent interruptions of the process, requiring one to start uploading the file that got interrupted over…which is a bit of a pain if you’re at 997mb of a 1000mb file.

    The JungleDisk folks have gotten around a lot of these problems with their new JungleDisk Plus product, but that does add some additional expense.

    Still, overall I’ve been extremely happy with JD/S3 as a reliable off-site backup solution.

  39. I have a ReadyNAS NV in which I just replaced the PSU after it died a couple months ago (inside warranty, thank God; no data loss). My unit is streaming my DVD rips to an AppleTV and music to my SlimServer running off a Mini on the same wired network. DO NOT try to run the SlimServer service off the Infrant without a RAM upgrade. I’ve been pleased with my unit since buying it (diskless) almost a year ago. At various times, I’ve mounted it via NFS, AFP, and SMB from either my Mini or the (hacked) ATV. It does what I need it to do, though I’d think thrice about buying one at the present prices.

  40. No-one’s mentioned the Hauppauge PVR-250 yet. It’s an MPEG2 encoder card for which drivers have recently entered the mainline kernel.

    The hardest part was to make my Mythtv PVR silent. What I have at the moment is an VIA EPIA ME6000, the Hauppauge card and one fan (mounted on rubber grommets). I boot over the network and use NFS root, both from the ubiquitous NSLU2.

    This works fine for DVD-quality video. But I don’t play Xvids/movs etc since both input and output hardware are accelerated for MPEG2 and the 600Mhz CPU isn’t really up to that kind of job.

  41. I have had a ReadyNAS device for a little under a year and I think it is fantastic, for the most part. I bought a bare-bones version and originally installed two 400GB drives. Since then I have added a third drive (750GB) which the system used to hot-expand my drive space. I have also had to replace one drive that began to fail prematurely. It worked beautifully.

    I have all of my CDs ripped to the drive, all of my digital photos stored on the drive, all of my computers are backed up nightly to the drive and most of my documents are stored there as well. With a gigabit switch and gigabit NICs, everything is quick and smooth.

    I have two SlimDevices SqueezeBoxes in my house which are synced to play the same music at the same time (for parties). They connect wirelessly over an 802.11g network. I have had no problems streaming music to both of those devices while simultaneously streaming video to a PC on the local network.

    The only problem I have had is which the SlimServer software user interface. Though the music streams fine and the software is very responsive to the SqueezeBoxes, the user interface for configuring the SqueezeBoxes and creating playlists is very, very slow. Building a playlist using the GUI is painful, and there are no good alternatives. iTunes will not export m3u files, and I have not been able to get any m3u exporting utilities to work (though I haven’t tried any commercial versions yet). Even if I did get them to work, however, the paths in the m3u file would be wrong and would need to be modified to a syntax that the SlimServer could understand. The resolution to this problem doesn’t seem like it would be hard for someone to code over a weekend, but the languages I know wouldn’t be useful to most people running on Windows systems.

  42. IMO if you already want to build a MythTV setup out of Linux, you might get more enjoyment if you just build the storage yourself.
    I’ve seen a boxing day special on (although store only, i.e. Vancouver only) that prices an AMD Sempron box (case+mobo+cpu+mem) at about $120+CDN, and you can add your choice of drives.

    Chances are, the Infrant (now Netgear) ReadyNAS would be your typical software-RAID in a small form-factor, whereas if you built it, you can actually plug in a real hardware SATA RAID card into it, speeding up any rebuild that you will eventually come across.
    You can even hook it up with SATA hotswap bays if the SATA controller (software or hardware RAID) supports hotswapping

    A 3TB setup with the ReadyNAS won’t be cheap anyways. Might as well cut some of the cost with commodity hardware. The ReadyNAS won’t be cheap if you plug in 1TB drives, and as other have said, if it breaks, SOL.

  43. FYI, the reason why Netgear upped the price of the NAS systems is because the warranty increased from 2 years to 5 years. I would take that any day.

    I have the ReadyNAS NV+ (3x500GB) system and I absolutely love it. I’m running an APC UPS and the NAS box automatically sends emails and gracefully shuts down in the event the power in my house turns off.

    I’ve been streaming video/audio from the NAS box to my computer and it runs flawlessly. Once my tv arrives, I plan on streaming videos to it.

    A new firmware for the box was recently released and it has a bunch of new features and bug fixes. Tech support is amazing and there is a pretty large community.

    As mentioned before by other users, Netgear has not changed anything that negatively affects Infrant’s products.

    Kudos to Netgear and Infrant team.

  44. Long time Reader, first time Poster — thanks to everyone who keeps this site fun.

    Happy ReadyNAS NV owner here… Also, I’ve sold about a half dozen NV/NV+ boxes to various folks, with no complaints. Also, I’m using it somewhat like Cory is thinking about.

    Bottom-line: The ReadyNAS is happy sitting tucked in a corner, serving up files over the network, over pretty much whatever protocol you could need. Works fine with Leopard/Tiger/etc, Linux, Windows. The automated converting of video, etc, is something that would have to be implemented on some other general purpose computer that stored it’s stuff here. The ability to automagicly upgrade storage simply by dropping larger drives is the single biggest reason I bought & like this box. It’s ability to automatically back itself up to other resources (USB or over the network via various protocols) is good too.

    On of the the really key things that can be hard to keep in mind with NAS devices is that they are simply *storage*. While the ReadyNAS has more brains than most, it’s *not* going to help with any workflow problems — it’s merely going to provide ready storage for the input/output of whatever solutions you come up with.

    There are quirks working with networked storage as well — Adobe Lightroom, for example, cannot abide by having it’s Library file on a non-local drive (thus, using Lightroom on multiple computers requires moving the file around, while the photos all sit at the same path on the NAS). Lots of other little MAC applications have been coded with assumptions some of their key files being on local drives, so be prepared surprises. Our key to resolving most of those issues is Open Directory, which allows Mobile Accounts — and files inside a Mobile Account are *synchronized* over the network, *not accessed live* over the network. Of course, this gets you into Mac OS X Server, and a little thing called “Scope Creep”.

    The ReadyNAS box VS the Drobo is an apples/oranges thing: ReadyNAS is network attached storage, Drobo strictly a USB attached RAID drive.

    ReadyNAS and Drobo are similar in that they support dynamic expansion w/o having to wipe & rebuild the data. Unlike the Drobo, the ReadyNAS requires a reboot when you add capacity (but is otherwise completely automatic), and the ReadyNAS cannot *reduce* it’s size.

    In terms of the “fan failure” mentioned above – the Fan is a totally standard PSU fan that can be replaced for approx $5 USD, and is designed by Infrant to be user replaceable. Likewise, accessing the RAM SO-DIMM socket *does not* require voiding the warranty, and the RAM required is plain jane stuff (PC2700 or PC3200 SO-DIMM if memory serves).

    As an aside, my understanding is the box is based on Debian. The general logs that are shown through the web are basic, but the underlying logs that the box stores (that you can download as a tar via the web interface) are exactly what you would get from a regular linux box with the logging cranked right the heck up (and why not? It’s not like they expect to be short on disk space.)

    I had an older ReadyNAS with the original flawed power supply, which was replaced with zero hassle by Netgear. The power supply has a ATX 20 pin connector, and other than being of a lower power factor & smaller size than a standard full bore PC power supply, it’s non-proprietary. In the long run, Netgear could stop sales & support, and us users could hack in any random power supply (it would, granted, lose some of that “packaged product” look, but it would also *work* :)

    In terms of performance, it’s been quite decent for general needs — in terms of personal use, we have around 8 MACs, a couple Linux boxes and the odd Windows VM instance connecting to this box, serving up ~55k tracks of music, thousands of digital photos, some DVD rips (we are big on buying music, but not really into video), a library of dozens of ISO images of various useful things, corporate files, etc.

    I’ve found that with 256 Mb of RAM, the rsync loses it’s charm as you climb in the 1M+ file range (rsync has to build it’s sync plan before it starts to copy, and if the master rsync instance is running on the ReadyNAS, the memory required to hold that sync plan in memory exceeds the RAM in the box).

    I believe it’s fine when you run your Rsync process from an external box (eg: you want to synchronize to a regular Linux box? Fine – drive the rsync process from the general Linux box).

    Given the size of our music library (55k tracks), the processor & memory (especially with SlimServer 6.5 and it’s use of MySQL, etc.) the processor on the box & it’s available RAM is simply not enough. We have a Mac Mini dedicated to being a SlimServer / Open Directory server (so we can have music, mobile accounts, and Time Machine over-the-network). If you are using SlimServer & Squeezebox devices, then the devices will freeze if the server lags, which definitely lets you know when you have a server performance issue.

    The “tight” integration with an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that someone mentions above is worth noting — simply take a standard (say, APC Smart-UPS) ups with a USB monitoring port, plug it into one of the USB ports on the ReadyNAS and tada — the ReadyNAS will know when the power goes out, will safely shut itself down, and will also enable write-caching for a performance boost. (By default, it doesn’t cache writes, to protect against corruption brought on by a power failure).

    One other note for people thinking about home directories & Open Directory — I have not found any neat way to make this box available as a share point in Open Directory, which means that it cannot be a Mobile or Networked home directory storage location for OS X boxes.

    It gets it’s lists of users just fine from Active Directory, or works off of a local list, so it’s not necessarily an island. It allows you to manually force UID numbers, so if you need to integrate with pre-existing NFS stuff, it’s also fine.

    As an aside, for people with issues with the SlimServer web interface — Logitech has recently revved it to version 7 — they’ve created an AJAX interface that resolves many of my complaints, so maybe you’re in luck.

    That ought to cover it, but if I’ve missed anything interesting, I’d be happy to share more.

    Peace & out!

  45. Miro doesn’t really mesh well with MythTV. Seems almost criminal considering the logo is “turn your computer into an Internet TV”, except if you actually want to hook your computer to the TV, then it doesn’t really work out. You can set up Miro to record to a folder and get Myth to play videos out of that folder, but that’s about as good as it gets. You can’t control Miro directly from within Myth, so you’ll have to dump out to desktop to make changes or just poke around. Also, since Miro is hardly what I’d call a 10ft GUI, you’ll have to bust out the keyboard and mouse and sit really close to the TV to see what you’re doing. I’ve even logged it as a feature request , but it seems like other things are more pressing at the moment.

  46. Setups like this are a focus of my consulting work – and thus a large part of my income. I’ll 2nd or 3rd or 54th most of the comments regarding the ReadyNAS systems… it’s a great product, and will do everything Cory was looking for and more.

    I wanted to suggest two other brands, though, that I’ve used extensively for similar situations –
    QNAP ( and Synology ( I have a slight preference for the QNAP products, but that might be a personal thing.

    Both of those companies make systems that cost a bit less than the ReadyNAS line but function just as well in most situations. I usually use them in situations that call for smaller storage requirements than Cory’s 3TB and that need the redundancy of a RAID1 array. Home file-storage systems for non-geeks, for instance, who’d prefer to never think about their system ever again. I’m not sure that these are exactly what Cory needs, but they’re certainly worth considering.

    On a related note, I’d encourage you (Cory) to consider NOT backing your personal data up to the same box as your collection of media files – something I’m sure you’ve thought of already. I prefer, whenever feasible, to keep misson-critical data seperate… the more redundancy, the better. So I’d probably set up one NAS strictly for personal data backups (you mentioned family data, photos, etc) – this one wouldn’t be a huge amount of storage space, probably just running a pair of drives in RAID1 – and then having an automated backup procedure from this one up to S3/JungleDrive.

    Incidently, this is a lot like the backup system I have for myself. One small-ish QNAP box for my work files and important family/personal files (financial, writing, and other irreplaceable stuff) which is encrypted and mirrored on S3, and then another NAS with lots of storage space for media files and working space for photo and film editing. The small box gets backed-up often (every other day or so, I think), while the larger box gets backed-up maybe once a month.

    … I’m all about the redundancy, clearly.

  47. Having only recently joined the 1TB Club, I’m not really in a position to comment on most of the conversation above, but I’ll add some esoteric bits of data:

    – I highly recommend buying Seagate Nearline drives for those building a NAS or just looking to keep their master server quiet. These babies come with a 5yr warranty, keep their power consumption low, and spin-up in a jiffy.

    – As an alternative to Miro you might try the unofficial MythStream
    plugin. It’s probably not at the level of maturity of Miro, which I haven’t tried, but heck, it integrates with MythtTV. ;]

    – I’ll second comments made above about not backing up media rips. It took me days to rip my collection the first time around, which definitely translated into time and, by extension, money. Having said that, for me the cost-benefits analysis came down on the side of simpler backups. Besides, it was somewhat meditative to pull out every single CD and DVD I own for the ripping process.

    Cheers, can’t wait to see the final system specs!

  48. I’m not sure what DSL you have at home, but I would definitely recommend checking out Be Broadband in London. I’ve never had such great customer service in my life. And their user agreement/contract thingy is really clear and fair. I don’t mean to come off as a shameless shill for the company but they’ve been really good to me and I’m eager to return the favour.

  49. Depic is my new hero.

    Thank you all for chiming in on these great solutions… this has been lurking in the back of my mind and I’m gratified to see the solutions are finally robust enough to accomplish it. (They weren’t when I looked 2-3 years ago.)

    Now I have an excuse to buy a Chumby!

  50. Check out the Buffalo TeraStation Pro, which uses ARM9, RAID-5, and most importantly runs Linux. Buffalo also makes the LinkStation Pro and the KuroBox.

    As far as Network Attached Storage (NAS) goes, people seem to get really excited when they stumble upon the NetGear ReadyNAS or the Linksys NSLU2, but the Buffalo equipment is by far and away better community supported and much more hackable/customizable than either of those other products.

    Once Sun Microsystems finally GPL’s OpenSolaris as they have promised, and Linux supports ZFS, I’m all for RAID-Z end-to-end data integrity storage on a TeraStation Pro.

  51. Have none of you ever heard of Addonics?

    NAS has it’s place but you’ve already got a server running, why do you need to run another OS, even an embedded one? Get a storage tower that can hang off your existing server.

  52. This thread prompted me to dig around some more. I still really like the idea of the ReadyNAS NV+, and I’m still considering trying to find one for the original price, but I also discovered that Promise now has a device that seems to compete pretty directly — the NS4300N. It seems to be new enough that I cannot find any actual reviews of it, but it is included on the NAS performance charts at It’s got pretty middle-of-the-road performance, but it’s also less than half the MSRP of the ReadyNAS.

    I’d post a link to it, but Promise’s website appears to be brain damaged at the moment (which does not inspire frothy gouts of confidence). For my purposes, the feature that makes it interesting is that it can grow the array as you add hard drives in the same way the ReadyNAS can. How well it does that, whether it requires homogeneous drive capacity, what OS it runs — these are all things I do not know, but am keenly interested in.

  53. For a solid, flexible, and friendly Myth + NFS setup, you are best setting up 2 linux boxes – a backend and a frontend. If you’re careful in your purchases, you should be able to end up with a lot more capabilities and still have some extra money in your pockets at the end of the exercise.

    The backend would be a big case with a reasonable (but not necessarily substantial or expensive) cpu/motherboard/memory setup and stuffed with as many drives as you like – preferably attached to a real hardware RAID card (from 3ware or someone like that). Stash it in your basement/closet/garage/wherever. It has to be somewhere you can get power, network, and television/cable feeds to it that can keep things cool. Install your favorite flavor of linux on it and install/configure Myth, NFS, Samba, Apache, and whatever else you desire.

    For the frontend, get as fast and small of a computer with as good of a video card as you can (“good” doesn’t always mean “expensive” – best to refer to the Myth hardware recommendations and mailing lists). If you can, go FANLESS. And don’t put a hard drive in it – boot it over the network using MiniMyth + PXE. Requires some additional server configuration but that shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

    With this combination, you’ll have a media storage server that can expand to a nearly unlimited number of hard disks (I have 12 in mine right now), the flexibility to do whatever you can get linux to do in the server, and a silent frontend. Nothing drives me crazier than the hum of fan noise and hard drives spinning and clicking throughout a movie.

    And here in LA, there are several great options for cheap and available parts. Should be a fun, mostly no-brainer weekend project.

  54. Cory – which dual-wan router are you using? I have a Hotbrick and I’m not totally satisfied with it.


  55. I’d also like to give an honorary mention to the Sun/Cobalt Qube. They had the right idea a decade ago but hardly anyone seemed to notice.

    If the Internet were used “properly”, everyone would run their own webserver and mailserver from home with a domain name that they own themselves, instead of giving in to the centralized overlords of hosting and “web applications” — e.g. Google, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, et. al. Centralization provides a single choke point of failure, censorship, and surveillance.

    With NAS available on the market again, however, we can use YaCy for uncensored web searching, FOAF for social networking, Jabber for Instant Messaging, and so on, in accordance with the end-to-end principle.

  56. I set up my first 1TB hardware RAID array in 2002, in a tower-case PC box. It’s still running 24×7, although to date just over 50% of the dirt-cheap IDE drives have failed and been replaced. However, since that time I’ve chained various enclosures to the box, ranging from non-name $20 USB boxes to pricey on-brand firewire and NAS boxes, config’d as software RAID. Almost without exception, within 2-4 years of always-on, the non-PC case boxes have failed, either through bad fans or dodgy PSUs. Some within warranty, some without. Always basically impossible to repair, leaving only replacement. The cases fail more frequently than their contained drives. Meanwhile, the tower PC’s PSU ticks along, and I know I can replace that at any time. If I’ve learned anything from this, it’s to go with commodity, interchangeable hardware. Your expensive system is only as reliable as the cheapest fan. If power consumption is a factor, install a mini-ITX or similar low-power board.

  57. I’ve built a myth box myself. Properly designed (see the disks are not the noisy part, the fans are. You cannot hear the disks in my myth box in my living room. Ever. Even if you sit 1 foot away. Linux can SW raid them for you (I don’t raid the recordings, just the system, and lvm allows expansion).

    My disks are samsung spinpoints in a p180 case.

    I can also second knoppmyth as good and very easy. But it does limit your upgrades to what they do, so I eventually migrated away.

  58. Whatever you do, use NFS as the sharing protocol. Its faster than SMB/CIFS and much easier to setup. As a longtime user of Windows networking then Samba, I must say I discovered NFS way too late.

    If the box doesn’t support NFS then definitely find another one. You’ll be glad you did!

  59. I know this thread is a few days old, but I was throwing out the possibility of another product (although I do love the idea of a front and back-end system as outlined by WHamlin).

    I’ve used Thermaltake power supplies, heatsinks, and fans for a while, as they tend towards the high-end of better than average. I noticed that they now have some NAS options – the Thermaltake Muse series, with 1, 2, and 4 drive configurations, featuring 1GbE, multiple RAID options, and pretty respectable hardware specs. The 4 drive system, the N0001LN, also has a big, quiet 120mm fan, which gives it arguably the best cooling capability of the other available 4 drive boxen.

    Anybody have any experience with these? They appear to be new products, but are priced much more reasonably than the NetGear products. My experience with other Thermaltake products says they’ll be reliable, as well (as far as hardware, PSU, etc, goes, not sure about the software that powers them).

  60. “Anybody have any experience with these? They appear to be new products, but are priced much more reasonably than the NetGear products. My experience with other Thermaltake products says they’ll be reliable, as well (as far as hardware, PSU, etc, goes, not sure about the software that powers them).”

    No experience with them, but the reviews are kind of blah on this device (see, for example)

    The main problem, though, is that even though this is a 4 bay device, it doesn’t support more than > 1.6tb of storage. So you can’t, for example, throw four 500gb HDs in this sucker — that’s simply not supported.


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