Tactical Advice

Review: Netgear ReadyNAS 516 Is Ready for Anything

This network-attached storage device can meet even the most challenging SMB storage requirements.
This story appears in the Fall 2013 issue of BizTech Magazine.
Review: Netgear ReadyNAS 516 Is Ready for Anything
Credit: NETGEAR

Strategically, network-attached storage is an ideal vehicle for small and medium-sized businesses to deploy, manage and secure storage. With its midrange ReadyNAS 516, available in multiple configurations, Netgear offers an easy-to-use NAS solution that’s capable of fulfilling even the most demanding SMB storage strategies.

Advantages

The compact (yet heavy) ReadyNAS 516 is designed for heavy-duty (even enterprise) use. It has 4 gigabytes of RAM, a 3.3-gigahertz Intel Core-i3 processor and six hot-swappable 1-terabyte hard drives. Solid-state drives can be used if desired, and other configurations are available. Setup is a breeze with an impressive range of configuration options, including a wide variety of RAID settings and both local and cloud-based discovery.

Assuming a little advance planning, an IT shop can bring the 516 online in minutes, with shares showing up almost immediately on client PCs. For businesses that run multiple operating systems, the 516’s ability to function effectively in Windows, Macintosh and UNIX/Linux environments can pay big dividends in both productivity and cost control.

A secure online portal, ReadyCloud, comes standard and provides both access and management tools such as volume maintenance, folder sharing, group and user accounts and remote access. The ReadyDrop feature acts a lot like a web-based file-sharing service with automatic synchronization. A related ReadyNAS remote function provisions drag-and-drop copying between the 516 and local PCs.

Why It Works for IT

Make no mistake. This is a powerful, high-performance NAS product. It’s also so easy to use that little IT involvement is required once it’s operational.

Most shops will want to configure the 516 as primary, fault-tolerant storage or as shared storage for multiple workgroups. But IT administrators who really want to dig in will find that it offers an extensive array (no pun intended) of configuration options that allow fine-tuning for even demanding applications.

Detailed real-time and historical monitoring functions make it a breeze to check status and note issues before they become bigger problems.

Such essentials as backup (snapshots), real-time anti-virus, data encryption and replication, Ethernet-port bonding, remote access and support for a large number of file-sharing protocols (Server Message Block, Apple Filing Protocol, HTTP and many more) make the ReadyNAS 516 a powerful tool suitable for serving as the core of any SMB’s storage strategy.

Disadvantages

The flexibility of Netgear’s ReadyNAS products demands that the IT team carefully consider deployment strategies, from initial configuration to what options to select. That means reading the documentation first. Although the 516 may be easy to set up and use, IT staff unfamiliar with NAS will need to spend some time carefully considering usage models and required services for optimal deployment.

A final note: Some 516 features, such as Digital Living Network Alliance support and iTunes streaming, seem more suited to residential-class products than a storage server at the heart of a business network. But to be fair, as multimedia becomes more important in business, even those capabilities will likely prove useful to some businesses.

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About the Author

Craig J. Mathias

Craig J. Mathias is a principal with the wireless and mobile advisory firm Farpoint Group. A well-known technology analyst and consultant, he’s been active in the field for 20 years.

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