ReadyNAS NV+ vs. Synology CS-407

Since an unfortunate even last year with an IBM “DeathStar” hard drive which almost cost me all of my files, I have been evaluating the prospects of acquiring a decent Network Attached Storage (NAS) with RAID (which is geek for disaster control). This is what I am looking for:

  • Good industry standard support: No proprietary-only stuff, unless it is in addition to standards.
  • Reliable: A solid firmware with no bugs.
  • Easily expandable: If I add a new disk to the array, I shouldn’t have to format any disks.
  • Fast: Both network access and disk access.
  • Good support and active community: To have my questions answered and to promote enhancements to the product.
  • Extra features: Media streaming, download stations, external USB connections, web server and any other interesting set of features would be a plus.

The first option I came across was Techus, but I dismissed it immediately after some negative reviews. Then after reading some reviews about Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ (followed by Infrant’s acquisition by Netgear), I thought I had finally made my choice. But when I called the distributor to place an order, he mentioned that Infrants ReadyNAS was out of stock and they were currently renegotiating their contract with Netgear (Infrant’s new owner). He immediately suggested that I looked at the Synology CS-407 instead, which has a plethora of interesting features.

According to reviews, the CS-407 is quite fast. It also support standard RAID technologies (RAID 1,5). At first I was concerned that the CS-407 had no NFS support, but I have no immediate plans to use NFS in my network anyway and moreover, I found out by reading at some Synology related forms that it is relatively easy to add NFS for it anyway.

As for the RAID methods, what I am really apprehensive about is the ability to expand into my NAS device (i.e.: add more disks) without the need to format any disks, a feature that Infrant claims that their proprietary X-RAID technology (available on the ReadyNAS) can do.

I decided to download the Synology CS-407 User Guide to see if I could get some of my questions answered, and I found some very positive information in there:

  • Although the CS-407 doesn’t have the hot-swap trays that the ReadyNAS has, the CS-407 is still a hot-swappable unit. Perhaps not having such trays is what makes the CS-407 smaller than the ReadyNAS?
  • The manual clearly explains that it is easy to expand the unit (i.e.: replace disks with higher capacity ones) without having to format the disks. So what’s the deal with ReadyNAS X-RAID you might ask (well I did)? For what I read, it is simply dumb-proof: It changes the RAID technology according to the amount of disks added, and takes care of storage expansion with very little user intervention. Well I think I can handle RAID without needing my mom to change my diapers.

My last concern was with the ammount of built-in RAM. The CS-407 comes with 128MB, compared with the ReadyNAS which comes with 256MB (which you can also add more memory to it). However, CS-407 seems to be doing very well in its reviews, and I guess that the amount needed is really down on how heavyweight (thus RAM hungry) an operating system is; so I guess that I shouldn’t worry about it.

So I got completely sold by the Synology CS-407 unit. Not only it has more appealing features for my needs than theNetgear’s ReadyNAS but it is cheaper too! However, I was about to place an order for the CS-407, when I decided to read about the upcoming Windows Home Server (WHS) Units to be released Mid/2007, which are focusing on Network Storage. I briefly tried WHS Release Candidate 1 and I must say that WHS has some quite interesting features. However, I also have my reservations about certain “features” and claims which, I will be discussing in an upcoming post.

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