NAS shoot-out: Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 6


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The ReadyNAS scores with simple setup, easy management, and the best hardware in its class

Netgear is the leader in this segment of the NAS market, and it's easy to see why. The hardware is solidly built, and the software makes it quick and simple for almost anyone to get up and running quickly. Netgear also offers a wide variety of backup solutions to fit your needs. And while many of the competitors in this playing field are taking "everything but the kitchen sink" approaches, Netgear seems to be more clearly focused on the business customer.

The Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 6 is the largest NAS box Netgear makes before you get into the company's rack-mount server lineup. I received a unit with six Seagate Constellation ES (ST32000644NS) hard drives, and dozens of other drive models are supported. Netgear provides a full hard disk compatibility list on its website (I only wish the list highlighted enterprise-rated drives versus consumer-rated drives). If you want to pay extra for 3TB hard drives, you can choose from six different drives: three from Hitachi, two from Seagate, and one from Western Digital.

Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 6: Hardware considerations
The build quality of the Netgear ReadyNAS is without question the highest in this roundup. Fit and finish are excellent. The hard drive trays are as well-built as the case itself -- a quality you would expect to find in more expensive, enterprise-grade NAS boxes, in contrast to the flimsy plastic trays used by the other manufacturers. The only issue I see with the Netgear cabinet is that there's no way to lock the front panel. The hot-swappable trays have a recessed lock switch, which may prevent an accidental removal but remains vulnerable to theft.

The face of the unit sports a single USB 2.0 port (with dedicated backup button), the power key, and an OLED screen. The display is very readable, but it's for information only; there are no buttons or controls for interacting with what's shown, not even for initial setup. All configuration and management is handled through software.

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