Netgear got into the desktop NAS (network-attached storage) business early on, and remains one of the major players in this market. Today we look at the company's new ReadyNAS RN104, a four-drive, 4TB system. But this time, the focus is not on the hardware as usual, but on Netgear's new software to make its already simple-to-use systems even easier for users and administrators.
As usual for Netgear, even with four drives the unit is only slightly larger than a two-slice toaster. This one comes in basic black with silver feet (with rubber bottoms) as the only design point. But these are meant to disappear while at work in a modern office, so flashy is not the goal.
As with all things storage, Netgear now wants to make sure remote users can get access to their files. Many of us are nervous about letting users who banish thoughts of data security so as not to ruin a nice day put their critical business files on an accessible storage system. Yet all vendors say users demand this type of access, so they need to supply the access lest they lose business. And using a company-managed portal, ReadyCLOUD, allows Netgear to make the connections as safe as possible.
This means signing up for the ReadyCLOUD service even before setting up the actual hardware in front of you. Use your browser to go to https:\\readycloud.netgear.com. This process actually configures your local drive by starting through the portal, which is pretty slick.
Welcome to the portal. Follow the directions – plug in your ReadyNAS, link it to your router, and wait for it to boot. Then hit the Discover command button. You may have to hold down the "Backup" button on the box to make the connection.
Success. We already renamed the box from the clunky nas-36-04-E2 name from the factory. Click the Manage button and the full administration screen appears. Yes, you can also get to this screen via the TCP/IP address.
The main system overview page is cleaner than in the past. The red dot you see is for the included AntiVirus scanning software that checks all files for malware. We have yet to enable that feature, which is why the red dot. It's easier to see on this screenshot this way.
No longer satisfied with being mere "file" servers, all the desktop NAS devices yearn to be application servers. Netgear either started this trend or jumped in quite early, and they have their own multiple services like iTunes and AntiVirus to leverage, as well as a set of applications we'll see soon.