A few weeks ago, I installed a NetGear ReadyNAS NV+ file server appliance for my home office. So far, I'm loving it!
For about $1000, I've got a 1TB RAID fileserver. Since mine is currently configured with 2 500GB drives, I've got 500GB of useable RAID-protected space. There are 2 still-open SATA drive slots, to which I can add more drives; if I use 500GB drives, I could get to 2TB of total space, 1.5TB of that being useable and RAID-protected. When I want to add more drives, I just plug them in; the box will take care of all the details of configuring the new drives, updating the RAID configuration, shuffling data as necessary between the drives, etc. Furthermore, the new drives don't have to be identical to the existing ones; they can be whatever size SATA drive offers the best price-performance at the time, and the box will "do the right thing" to maximize the amount of RAID-protected available to me.
The device includes a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, and supports Jumbo Frames for high performance. Management is through a fairly nice web interface. It will serve files via NFS, SMB (for Windows), AFS (for Macintosh), and even HTTP (for convenient access from elsewhere). It also supports access via rcp/rsync, both inbound and outbound. You can set up user accounts on the device itself, or tie it in to Windows domain or Active Directory Server.
Other cool features include the built-in iTunes and Slingbox servers, so that if you store your music on the box, it's available to iTunes or Slingbox anywhere on your LAN.
The device includes 3 USB ports (2 on the back, 1 on the front), which you can use for a number of things:
- UPS monitoring -- if you connect a supported UPS, it will monitor the UPS status, and automatically do a clean shutdown if the batteries run low
- Printer sharing -- enables you to share a USB printer among computers on your LAN
- External hard disk -- for backups. You can even set up a button on the front to enable "one-touch" backups to an external hard disk, which you can then store off-site.
Setup was fairly straightforward. I moved all my stuff from external drives on my laptop (backups and iTunes library) to the server, and have been running nightly backups to it for the past couple of weeks. I haven't done any careful performance benchmarking, but Retrospect backups from my Mac laptop via AFP over a GigE connection seem to be about twice as fast as from that same laptop to an external disk via FireWire.
The device is reasonably quiet; certainly no noisier than the pair of external FireWire disks for my Mac that I'd previously been using.
One of the things I like about the server is that you can tell it to email you (at multiple addresses) about any significant events. That's cool, since it means I don't have to periodically scan the logs. I have it set up to email directly to my phone, as well as my normal email address.
About the only annoyance so far is that "UPS activated/deactivated" is one of the "significant events" that it emails about. Unfortunately, since my UPS is on the same electrical circuit as my laser printer, whenever the laser printer warms up (i.e., the first time I print something when the laser printer has been idle for more than a couple of hours), the UPS trips for a couple of seconds, and I get two messages to my phone in quick succession: "UPS activated" and "UPS deactivated".
There's a very detailed review, including lots of photos, screenshots, and the like, available at Barry's Rigs 'n Reviews. I bought my unit from eAegis because they offered a good price that included initial setup and burn-in testing at their end. The product is also available from Amazon in various configurations: