ReadyNAS is a comprehensive storage appliance suitable for serious home users and small businesses. It has an easy-to-use interface, with a helpful wizard to get started, and it can house up to four Serial ATA hard drives of any size.
There's no drives with the RND4000 - users will have to buy those separately - but there's reasonably solid housing for those drives and a management interface with plenty of features. The appliance connects to a network switch or all-in-one broadband router using Ethernet, and it supports speeds up to 1 gigabit (Gb).
It's a relatively small unit, but it does have an 8cm fan at its rear to keep drives cool, and its management utility will keep users apprised of each unit's temperature.
As well as managing user accounts, the configuration interface lets users enable the drive's many services. These are services for streaming media files mainly, so those with a Logitech Squeezebox can set-up the drive to be a SlimServer. Those with iTunes on multiple machines can also set it up to be an iTunes Streaming Server. UPnP for audio/visual files is also supported, so it can be used to serve data to a Netgear Digital Entertainer unit, for example.
Apart from sharing data, the ReadyNAS can be used to share a printer via its USB port, while a USB port on the front of the unit lets users easily copy data from it and onto the ReadyNAS 8211.
ReadyNAS is setup by default to provide redundancy, using the X-RAID architecture, which stripes and mirrors data automatically; in fact, the RAID array in the ReadyNAS is very much transparent to the user, although users can delve deeper into the settings and implement RAID 0, 1 and 5 architectures, too.
If a disk in the array goes bad, users can easily replace it without even powering down the unit, and the appliance will resynchronise the data in the array. Migrating to larger capacity disks can also be done relatively easily by replacing the old drives one at a time.
Indeed, there's a lot to this network attached storage device and Netgear has done a good job making it easy to understand and setup through its Windows discovery application and the drive's own management software.
The unit could use a lock to keep anyone from accessing the drives, and the management interface does have a couple of aspects to it that aren't intuitive (such as setting up backups for data on the NAS), but overall it will capably, and safely, store and serve data.