Netgear ReadyNAS 102 Review

Introduction

I have been on the fence for a while now, cannot seem to decide whether I needed a NAS or not. Then, found out how cheap the full-featured Netgear ReadyNAS 102 was, it became a no-brainer, bought one and here is my experience with it.

Design

When you first look at the box, it feels like the ReadyNAS 102 is very big (cos it comes in a big box), but once you open up the box, you’ll realise it’s a fraction of the size of the box, rest of space is used as padding to protect the actual NAS (see Figure 2 below). The box and packaging is very solid BTW.

The ReadyNAS 102 isn’t a bad looker, but it’s not the best looking or most stylish 2-bay NAS out there. There is only one USB-port at the front and due to the cover over the hot-swap drive bays; you will want to unplug the USB-drive in order to safely open the drive bay cover to reach the drive trays.

Not much else worth mentioning, everything is pretty much stock standard.

Setting Up

Note: This is my first experience with a NAS, so am not sure if this is the same for other branded NASes.

I normally just dig right into things and not need to read the manual. Because, let’s face it, we’re in an age where most things are just ‘plug-n-play’. With the ReadyNAS 102, I had to actually read the manual and do a bit of googling before I could get it to work. So to streamline your experience, here’s a few tips to help you get started:

  • Read the section in the manual detailing what each of the different LED signals mean
  • Read the section in the manual on how to format the hard drives
  • If you do not have access to the internet or do not want to connect your ReadyNAS to the Netgear ReadyCloud, you will need to ensure you have JAVA installed on your machine and download an app called RAIDar from the Netgear website.
  • Once you have the IP address to your ReadyNAS 102, Login to the administrator portal and update the device’s hostname. Then next time you can access the ReadyNAS device using the hostname.

Note: You can find digital copies of manuals, faqs, latest firmware, etc on the ReadyNAS 102 support page.

As mentioned, the ReadyNAS 102 is a full-featured NAS, there’re a ton of customisations and configurations you can do. But that’s all out of scope for this review. The point I wanted to make here, is, it’s not a straight-forward plug-n-play install. There’s a couple of hurdles you need to overcome before you can access and use the device.

Apps

One of the features of being a ‘full-featured’ NAS is the ability to run apps on the device. I know in the promotional material, Netgear makes it sound and look like there’s a ton of apps and third-party apps for the ReadyNAS range of devices.

Sadly, the truth is, there aren’t many, and the ones available are outdated and have not been updated or maintained for years. Therefore, the apps either does not work with the latest ReadyNAS OS, works with very limited functionality, or unstable and cannot connect to function with third-party services such as a SVN server.

Performance

I didn’t run any benchmark tests on the device, but from my general usage, the ReadyNAS 102 didn’t have any lag or stutter when I accessed contents on it using just one computer. However, when I try to access contents on the ReadyNAS 102 with two computers simultaneously. The ReadyNAS struggles to deliver, it stutters and sometimes fails to stream media files altogether.

Not sure if it’s to do with my configuration settings or the fact that it contains only one hard drive. But one thing is for sure, it’s not a one-off, this happens every time I try accessing the ReadyNAS with more than one computer.

On the good side, the device is very quiet, I barely notice it on, when it is on. Only way I tell that it’s on is by looking at LED lights.

Conclusion

The purchase of the Netgear ReadyNAS 102 has been a good purchase for me. It allowed me to experience first-hand what it is like to own and use a full-featured NAS without having to spend several hundreds of dollars.

I can confidently recommend the ReadyNAS 102 to anyone who is on the fence about whether they need a NAS or not; but for anyone who is sure/’knows‘ they need a NAS, my suggestion is to look at more pricier options from other brands such as Synology.

Product Photos

Figure 1. ReadyNAS web portal administration screen.
Figure 2. ReadyNAS 102 sitting inside packaging.
Figure 3. Ethernet and various power cables.
Figure 4. ReadyNAS 102 sitting on desk.
Figure 5. Empty drive tray.