Infrant/Netgear ReadyNAS

By Rob Scovell, in , posted: 25-Jun-2007 14:49

(NB -- this is not one of Juha's paid conversations!)

I really must put in a word for this nifty device. I installed it at a client's site a couple of months ago. It has so many things going for it that I don't know why it's not more popular -- perhaps simply because it's not available at Dick Smith or local PC stores.

This client badly needed a NAS (long story). I looked at the retail products available but they just didn't seem quite robust enough for this particular organisation. The best I could come up with was the Netgear Storage Central NAS. It's respectable enough but I had concerns about how it would handle the number of users I was going to throw at it (10 to 15). It seemed like a home appliance to me. I may have been wrong, but I prefer to be over-cautious than set myself up for a support nightmare.

I googled around for reviews and came across the Infrant ReadyNAS and it seemed to fit the requirements perfectly, in terms of robustness, expandability and price.

It's only available in NZ through Piako Computers.

These are the 'highlights':
  • Infrant NSP IT3107
  • 4 lockable hot-swappable SATA disk trays
  • Infrant Expandable X-RAID, RAID 0/1/5
  • Programmable backup button
  • One USB 2.0 port in front, two in back
  • Compact portable design (8"H x 5"W x 9"D)
  • LCD panel for instant status readout
  • Server-rated power supply with noise-killer design for quieter operation
  • Powerful 92mm cooling fan
  • Low power consumption and power saving mode
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, UNIX, and Linux systems
  • Gigabit Ethernet with Jumbo frame support
  • Simple setup wizard
  • Integrated Backup Manager
  • Compatible with leading network DVD players and UPnP AV streaming devices
  • Multi-lingual browser-based setup
  • Kensington lock compatible
  • EMC Retrospect backup software for Windows (5-client license) included
  • EMC Retrospect backup software for Macintosh (5-client license) included
  • Supports Slim Server, Twonky Vision & UPNP - so fantastic as a media server! 

  • Of course, not everything is perfect. The browser-based interface could do with a usability overhaul. There are a number of irksome annoyances there, including backup settings:

    1. You can't set up a single backup schedule for all shares. You have to set a backup schedule for each share individually.
    2. You can attach a USB drive for backups ... BUT ... everything on this drive is visible to all users! This is crazy if people's home directories are on the NAS. Anyone can just go into the USB drive (which shows up as a 'share') and poke around. I couldn't find a way to prevent this happening.
    3. Related to 2. The admin interface doesn't give quite as much control as I would like.
    4. There is an ssh daemon running ... BUT ... Joe Admin can't use it. It's not for public use and Infrant don't reveal the root password. It would be great to be able to configure it by command line.
    5. Related to 4. The only way to configure it remotely is to use a VNC connection to a computer with a browser on the subnet. That computer must have the Infrant Raidar software installed -- for some reason, the browser interface doesn't work without the Raidar software. Not sure why. (I tried using port forwarding to get into the browser directly but it didn't work.)
    6. You can access shares over https from outside the firewall, but the interface is rather graphics-heavy and slow. It uses .htaccess-style browser authentication, which is irksome for 2 reasons. (a) logging out involves shutting down your browser. (b) If you 'remember' the username/password, you then have to dig around in your browser to unremember it if you want to log in with a different username.

    Perhaps the linkup with Netgear will result in more focus on usability.

    However, apart from these admin interface issues, this is a superb device and well recommended.

    Other related posts:
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    Google Desktop for Mac ... a Health Warning!

    Permalink to Infrant/Netgear ReadyNAS | Add a comment (3 comments) | Main Index

    Comment by freitasm, on 25-Jun-2007 16:30

    I had one of these devices for review - lots of pictures. Haven't posted about it yet, but it's a killer device. I would buy one if I could plug it into my Hamachi network...


    Comment by Woolong, on 7-Jul-2007 02:50

    Yes, it'll be nice to have ssh access to the box. I've been searching for the root password myself.

    If you can https access the shares from outside the firewall like you stated on #6. I don't see why #5, configuring it remotely with port forward wouldn't work.

    I had mine worked that way, and I never bothered installing the Raidar software. But I don't feel it's a very safe way to port forward, therefore expose your Infrant box to the Net.

    Author's note by robscovell, on 8-Jul-2007 20:39

    Odd. I found I couldn't use the browser admin interface without installing Raidar. It didn't entirely make sense that it didn't work but I didn't have time to fuss and worry about it at the time so maybe there was something odd happening. I vaguely thought there may be some browser plugin that gets installed but I didn't go hunting around to see exactly what had happened.

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