Network Storage Tips

Which Home NAS Is Right For Me?

synology-two-drive-home-nasLots of people with growing data files are asking which home NAS is right for me? There is a lot of information out there about the various network storage devices for sale but little that really describes what they do.

Let’s start out by finding out if you are in the category of most first time network attached storage buyers.

Often people will start out with a computer whose hard drive fills up with lots of photos, music and some video, so they buy an external hard drive.

Then, one of two things happens.

  • The get tired of moving that external hard drive from computer to computer and wish they could easily access that data from any computer in their home over the wireless network already in the house.
  • Or, they find out the hard way that keeping your only copy of an important file on a single external hard drive is a good way to suffer data loss when that hard drive crashes. That’s when they find out about RAID data protection – which is offered on most home NAS devices.

The 2 Drive NAS

A natural step up from the external hard drive is the 2 drive NAS device. Strictly speaking, the 2 drive NAS, configured in RAID1 where both hard drives are simultaneous copies of the same data for redundancy, is just an external hard drive with network access and protection against a single hard drive failure.

Certainly these home network storage devices do a lot more than that, but usually those are features that the NAS owner comes to appreciate later on.

Considering the increased cost of a home NAS over a cheap external hard drive, this is and important first step for anyone serious about their data to take.

Which Home NAS To Buy?

Naturally our personal preference is to buy the best home NAS, which arguably is the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 2 Plus, but we realize that this is not in everyones budget (especially these days) and may be more than some people need.

So if you want to get a decent home storage device that meets your needs now but won’t break the bank, take a look at a 2 drive home NAS that:

  • Is made by a reputable manufacturer like Netgear, DLink, Synology, Buffalo, QNAP, Thecus, etc.
  • Has a warranty that you are comfortable with (1 year goes by quickly, so look for longer – 3 year will probably be max for consumer NAS)
  • Has at least 2 hard drives (or diskless that you can put 2 or more drives in)
  • Gets 4 star or above user reviews based on lots of reviews. (The Synology pictured above is 4.5 stars at
  • Has a gigabit (10/100/1000) network connection, not just 10/100.
  • Offers good support options

Don’t Forget RAID

Many of these home NAS units will come with just 1 hard drive or will offer JBOD (just a bunch of disks) configuration. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, don’t do that!

Choose RAID1 for two drives or RAID5 for 3 or more drives (RAID6 is great but only on larger, more expensive units).

RAID0 is touted as being fast, so some people choose it. Please DON’T! RAID0 does NOT protect your data against drive failure.

You are going to want to make sure that your new home NAS is properly configured for RAID1 (or above) before you start copying any data to it. Contact tech support if you have any doubts.

Here Are Some Highly Rated 2 Drive Home NAS Devices To Choose From

These less expensive home NAS devices (not “cheap”, don’t want that!) are rated well by most people who own them. We have not tried out each and every one ourselves, but would be comfortable having our “mom” buy one.

There are other great 2 Drive NAS’s but we want to show you some of the more affordable ones. And certainly, you can buy a  4 Drive Bay NAS and start with only 2 drives in it.

Understand, though, that some Network Attached Storage vendors make it easier to add disks or migrate arrays than others. That’s another reason we really like the Netgear ReadyNAS devices with X-RAID2 technology and array migration ability.

3TB Hard Drives For ReadyNAS Ultra

Find 3TB Hard Drives Guaranteed Compatible

- ReadyNAS Ultra and Ultra Plus -

seagate-constellation-3tb-hard-driveA list of 3TB hard drives will vary day by day, but when searching for ReadyNAS Ultra and ReadyNAS Ultra Plus hard drives for your diskless NAS device or to add storage capacity, you want to guarantee compatible hard drives.

Crossing the 2TB boundary for many devices will make the hard drive either not recognizable or not seen at its full capacity.

Note in the table below the minimum firmware version needed for any 3TB hard drive to function properly.

Buying 3TB hard disks that ReadyNAS has tested means they will stand behind the drive working in their Ultra NAS devices.

This will likely save you the trouble of having to seek out tech support in the first place, but if you do need support when adding or upgrading a hard drive, having bought one that was on their ReadyNAS compatibility list will certainly make their job – and your life – easier.

In fact, it’s possible that Netgear will even deny support if you do NOT buy your 3TB hard drive from their compatibility list.

3TB Hard Drives – Netgear ReadyNAS Compatibility List

Vendor Class Model # SATA RPM Cache Vibration
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 HDS723030ALA640 6Gb/s 7200 64MB Y 3 Must be used with 4.2.16 or newer firmware
Seagate Constellation
ST33000650NS 6Gb/s 7200 64MB Y 5 Must be used with 4.2.16 or newer firmware.
Western Digital Caviar Green WD30EZRS 3Gb/s # 64MB Y 3 Must be used with 4.2.16 or newer firmware.
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 HDS5C3030ALA630 6Gb/s 5400 32MB N 3 Must be used with 4.2.16 or newer firmware.
Seagate Barracuda XT ST33000651AS 6Gb/s 7200 64MB N 5 Must be used with 4.2.16 or newer firmware.

# – Intellipower “Green” hard drives do not rate at a particular constant speed

As you can see from the table above, you have a wide array of choices in picking a 3TB hard drive for your Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra or Ultra Plus NAS.

By wide array, not that five hard drives to choose from is that many, but the combination of performance, price and warranty covers a fair span.

How to Choose a 3TB Hard Drive from the List

Depending on the number of hard drives you have to buy to populate your ReadyNAS Ultra, the difference of about $150 per drive from the most expensive model on the list to the cheapest hard disk on the list can really add up.

Here is the way I would decide what hard drive to buy:

First, how important is it how fast the hard drive performs? The SATA rating of 3Gb/s or 6Gb/s really does not tell the whole story. Rotational speed and cache size will certainly matter, especially in multiuser environments.

If you spent the extra money for a ReadyNAS Ultra Plus over the Ultra model to get the dual core processor and the maximum performance, then it really does not make sense to scrimp on the hard drive. That would narrow it down to the Hitachi 7K3000 or Seagate Constellation.

If warranty is important, then take the Constellation’s 5 year warranty AND the knowledge that the Seagate Constellation, being and Enterprise grade hard drive, is probably less likely to fail and require you to take advantage of the longer warranty.

Power Consumption

If being “green” is your thing, or you just want to save as much money on energy as possible, then take a look at the Western Digital Caviar Green hard drive. It combines a decent amount of performance while saving on energy consumption.

And if your usage of your Netgear NAS device is infrequent over the course of the day and usually only one user accessing it at a time, then performance that falls short of other 3TB hard drives on the compatibility list really will not matter that much.

How Do I Share and Back Up Files in My Home?

One of the reasons we began this website was that so many people are asking “How Do I Share and Back Up Files in My Home?” and we wanted to help with that.

Since is one of our preferred vendors for home network storage anyway, we thought that we would pass along a link to a video that Amazon has especially for people like you wanting to share and backup files on their home computers.

Watch this Video at Amazon

People everywhere are accumulating digital photos, video, music (iTunes, MP3) and an ever accelerating rate. Maybe your songs can be downloaded again if you lose them from the service you bought them from – if they are all paid for, but precious photos and video of children, grand-children, etc, are lost every day due to lack of a good backup when a single hard drive fails.

Similarly, as people become increasingly alarmed at the risks of sharing photos on Facebook and other sites, users are wanting ways to directly share photos with family and friends without using a third party website.

Here is the link again for the video.

Can You Use Online Storage Instead Of Network Attached Storage?

Online Storage Customer Loses All His Data

The difference between Online Storage and Online Backup is that storage items no longer exist on your computer system, they have been “archived” to the online storage provider and then deleted from the local system, usually to save space.

You are then trusting a company you may have had a relationship with for a while, but chances are you really don’t know much about them and personally know no one there.

It’s tempting to save money by archiving data to an online storage provider (note: few online backup services offer to store files no longer on the computer being backed up!) instead of buying a quality network attached storage device, or NAS, of adequate capacity to store them yourselves in addition to backing them up online.

That is, it’s is tempting UNTIL, you read a horror story like this one I just found as a comment at an online backup review site (emphasis mine):

I had a pre-paid, unlimited account with for several years that I renewed annually. In 2011 the company sent me a note stating that I was using too much space and that they were cutting off my access to the service. Many emails from me to various employees went unanswered. I lost all of my backup data, including some data that I had no other copy of.

In addition, I’m out the balance of my prepaid subscription.

The only thing worse than having no backup of your data is to pay a company to keep your backup data and have them not do so. I would not recommend that you trust this company with your data or your money.

Now, this particular user suggests not trusting this particular company. Yet, how do you know until something like this happens? I’ve taken a look at this company before and they look as trustworthy as the next online backup vendor.

What you need to ask yourself are these three questions:

  1. Who values your data as much as you do?
  2. Who suffers if your data is lost? (Just you!)
  3. What will you do if you lose it? (If it’s no big deal then why pay someone to store it?)

We are all for online backup, don’t get us wrong. We just happen to believe that any data important enough to pay someone else to store better also reside somewhere you have control of a copy.

Start now by checking out our NAS Reviews.

How To Setup A New ReadyNAS

netgear readynas setup with raidar softwareWhen you buy a New ReadyNAS and power it up, it takes the IP address What do you do with that?

Netgear includes a CD in the box that has their RAIDar configuration software that will discover all Netgear ReadyNAS units on your network regardless of IP address.

Once you discover the ReadyNAS you can click a button in RAIDar and launch the FrontView configuration software builtin to the NAS, set either DHCP addressing or a static IP address.

In this video we take you step by step through the process and then through each of the configuration screens in the basic setup wizard.

Hard Drives For Your Diskless ReadyNAS Duo

Buy The Right Hard Drive For Your Diskless ReadyNAS Duo

Some people will buy a Diskless ReadyNAS Duo home NAS because they already have some hard drives, others so they can get the hard drives they want, or maybe the price point was just more favorable that way.

So what hard drive should you buy for your Diskless ReadyNAS Duo?

(Note: All of these drives, except 1, noted in the “notes field”, are also compatible with the newer ReadyNAS Ultra 2 and ReadyNAS Ultra 2 Plus)

Jump to 2TB NAS Hard Drive List
Jump to 1TB NAS Hard Drive List

If you already own a ReadyNAS Duo, I would suggest matching the hard drives already installed. Otherwise, you definitely want to buy NAS hard drives that are on the Netgear hardware compatibility list (HCL) – see below.

On this particular post, I am only going to cover the 2TB NAS hard drives and 1TB NAS hard drives as I feel those are going to be the most appropriate and most popular.

While I ordinarily like to spend a little more now and avoid having to upgrade later, sometimes finances just don’t allow it..

High Speed, High Quality, High Price

Since a ReadyNAS Duo is typically a home unit, I will not harp on you to buy more expensive enterprise grade hard drives with the 5 year warranty. A good quality drive will have a 3 year warranty and hopefully last even longer than that. The drive spindown option during inactivity, set in the ‘FrontView’ configuration on the NAS, can help save power expense and the life of the drive.

Just do not make the mistake of thinking that since RAID is protecting your data against hard drive failure that you can buy cheap NAS hard drives and not worry about if they fail.

Not only is it possible for two hard drives to fail within a short time frame – they are probably the exact same age with the same amount of wear and tear, but going through the warranty replacement process is not only a big hassle, it can take a couple of weeks before you get the replacement drive.

Saving Money On 5900rpm NAS Hard Drives

There is only one new “green” hard drive, they spin at 5900rpm instead of 7200rpm, and may save you some money on power.

But according to one of the Netgear ReadyNAS support team, expect to lose about 10% or in the performance category. For some, that tradeoff in cost saving may be appropriate and appreciated.

How We Chose These Particular NAS Hard Drives

There are not too many companies even making hard drives, let alone finding themselves on the Netgear hardware compatibility list. All of them are reputable.

All of these drives are 3Gb/s SATA.

The primary distinction is between 1TB and 2TB in size and Enterprise Class versus Consumer in price. Using a NAS in a home environment will not be as demanding anyway; consumer grade should not be a problem.

2TB Hard Drives from the ReadyNAS Duo HCL

Vendor Class Model # RPM Cache Vibration
Hitachi UltraStar
(Enterprise $$)
HUA722020ALA330 7200 32MB Y 5
Western Digital Caviar Green Consumer WD20EARS # 64MB Y 3 Firmware 80.00A80, Model # WD20EARS-00S8B1, See Tech Bulletin
Seagate Barracuda LP
ST32000542AS 5900 32MB N 3*
Hitachi DeskStar
HDS722020ALA330 7200 32MB N 3

Footnotes: Some information taken from Netgear HCL and NOT Vendor’s incomplete website or product specification pdf

* Seagate consumer drives have a 3 year warranty if bare drive, 5 year if purchased as drive “kit”

# Western Digital claims “Intellipower” for rotation speed. Translation: “We care more about your impact on the environment than we do your satisfaction with our product” or “So slow we don’t want to admit it“. Take your pick.

1TB Hard Drives from the ReadyNAS Duo HCL

Vendor Class Model # RPM Cache Vibration
Seagate Barracuda ES.2
(Enterprise $$)
ST31000340NS 7200 32MB Y 5 RAIDiator 4.01+ req’d if firmware is SN03 or SN04
Hitachi DeskStar
(Enterprise $$)
HDE721010SLA330 7200 32MB Y 5
Western Digital RE3
(Enterprise $$)
WD1002FBYS 7200 32MB Y 5
Hitachi UltraStar
(Enterprise $$)
HUA722010CLA330 7200 32MB Y 5
Seagate Barracuda LP
ST31000520AS 5900 32MB N 3*
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12
ST31000528AS 7200 32MB N 3* ! NOT compatible with Ultra 2 and Ultra 2 Plus
Seagate Pipeline HD Pro
– Video
ST31000533CS 7200 32MB N 3 Optimized for DVR, Video, Home Media
Western Digital Caviar Green
WD10EACS # 16MB Y 3
Hitachi DeskStar
HDS721010KLA330 7200 32MB N 3
Hitachi DeskStar
HDS721010CLA332 7200 32MB N 3

Footnotes: Some information taken from Netgear HCL and NOT Vendor’s incomplete website or product specification pdf

* Seagate consumer drives have a 3 year warranty if bare drive, 5 year if purchased as drive “kit”

# Western Digital claims “Intellipower” for rotation speed. Translation: “We care more about your impact on the environment than we do your satisfaction with our product” or “So slow we don’t want to admit it“. Take your pick.

After reading the footnotes (*, #) above, do you see why I like enterprise drives?


Buying NAS hard drives for a Diskless ReadyNAS Duo or adding hard disks to the NAS you own can be an exercise in frustration. Specifications can be hard to find and then once you decide on a drive you may have trouble finding a brand new one in stock at your favorite online store.

I have done my best here to dig through the confusion and lay things out as clearly as possible.

Again, these are not the only hard drives on the ReadyNAS hardware compatibility list (HCL) but it is almost all of the 1TB and 2TB ones on the list as of this date. Hopefully that helps you pickup some NAS hard drives for your Diskless ReadyNAS Duo that will work well for you and bring years of faithful service.

Back to Top

What About External USB Hard Drives Instead Of Network Storage?

seagate-external-usb-hard-driveNetwork storage does cost more money than an external USB hard drive, and a lot of people who use an external hard drive for large file storage simply are not aware of home network storage options.

Recently on the Free Computer Consultant Support Forum there have been lots of people asking for help with external USB hard drives that they can no longer read their critical files and data from. Some have their entire, expensive MP3 collection on that external drive with no backup.

Now, certainly they have asked for trouble by not having a backup of their data, but that is not the issue at hand.

The point is that most external USB hard drive solutions that you buy off the shelf have a slow, 5400rpm hard drive in them, probably with only a 1 year warranty. OK, it’s USB, so who cares that it’s a slower drive?

I do.

Slower, 5400rpm hard drives are cheaper. Cheaper in price and cheaper in quality. The 1 year warranty instead of a 3 year or even 5 year on many quality drives – yes, they cost more – indicates that the manufacturer does not have a lot of faith in the drive’s longevity.

That’s OK, if you bought it cheap enough, and JUST use the external USB drive as a BACKUP for other data. That way, if the drive dies, nothing lost; you still have the original data.

But if you think an external USB hard drive is a substitute for storing your important files on a home network storage device that has RAID (hard drive redundancy) that will notify you of any impending problems that might put your data at risk, then I am here to help educate you otherwise.

When you place important files on a home NAS that has multiple hard drives, possibly of a higher quality than those in most external USB drives – then backup that data to an online backup service – NOW you can have some confidence that your data, files, music, pics, movies, etc are safe and secure.

Take a look at some respected, affordable, home network storage solutions here.

- – -
Listen to this post on AudioBoo:

The Problem With Workstation RAID

Lost Data, Corrupt Data, Cannot Transfer RAID Array

I spend some time on network storage forums and I frequently see threads regarding workstation RAID and lost data, RAID corruption or, why-oh-why do they even use it, RAID 0 problems.

RAID on a workstation, i.e. normal PC running a non-server version of Windows, is NOT recommended.

Yes, I have used it on RARE occasion, but here is the thing:

RAID relies on drivers, and workstation RAID drivers are notorious for being buggy. In the cases where I have used workstation RAID (RAID1) successfully has been on Promise brand controllers – either add-in cards or built-in to the motherboard.

BUT! In those cases, when I ran the RAID monitor utility to let me know if a drive had failed, the monitoring utility had a memory leak that required at least a weekly reboot! Otherwise the system would crash. (It was never fixed on that product.)

Further, server RAID manufacturers now (in the last 10 years) pretty much conform to standards such that you can move a RAID array from one controller to another without having to backup/restore. THIS IS CRITICAL!

Otherwise, what if your RAID controller fails, but your data is salvageable, yet you cannot find an identical controller to replace it with? Back in the late 1990′s I had this situation with an Adaptec controller that failed. Adaptec tech support told me my only option was to restore from a backup – and lose that day’s data (it was after 3 p.m.). Totally unacceptable.

The RAID0 Trap

RAID0 is awful. Now, instead of the potential for one drive to fail and lose data, one of TWO drives can fail and you lose data. You have just doubled your chances of losing data. RAID0 is NOT redundancy. People do it for speed, yet, on all those threads I read, folks just are not seeing blazing speed.

RAID0 is a huge time hassle, extra expense, for little to no benefit.

If you want speed, buy an SSD (solid state drive). Buy a small (64, 80GB – currently around $100 with rebates) SSD drive and install that for your Windows (C:) boot drive. Put anything of any size that does not fit on the SSD on either a 2nd internal hard drive or an external hard drive. DON’T FORGET TO BACKUP!

Or, better yet, put those large files which are probably valuable to you on a network storage device (click here for home or here for small business).

Save yourself time, money and frustration, do NOT install workstation RAID and NEVER use RAID0.

Server RAID Is The Answer

Server RAID is the answer; the only problem is that it can be very expensive on a Dell or HP server running Windows!

Enter the NAS device. MUCH lower cost, rock solid RAID protection. Make sure you choose RAID1 (mirroring), RAID5 (with 3 or more drives), RAID6 (4 drive minimum, DUAL REDUNDANCY) or the equivalent in Netgear ReadyNAS products using X-RAID2 (which has more features than standard RAID, but still fully compatible).

Check out these solutions:

Home NAS Server RAID

Small Business NAS Server RAID

Enterprise NAS Server RAID

- – – -
Listen to this post on AudioBoo

Netgear ReadyNAS Pro – Details To Eliminate Confusion

ReadyNAS Pro Models De-Mystified

Search on Netgear ReadyNAS Pro if you really want to be confused about one of the top small business network storage devices on the market. Under the same root model name we have a consumer device that I do not recommend, a small business NAS device that I highly recommend, and 3 newcomers that have some odd distinctions between them.

In fact, despite promised to ship imminently, Netgear’s site shows nothing but the older Business Edition model in the product drop down. So hop over to the and you will find two product drop downs to choose from, “ReadyNAS Pro” and “ReadyNAS Pro Series”.

Confused yet? Keep going and hopefully it really will be crystal clear by the time you get to the bottom of the page.

Current Netgear ReadyNAS Pro Models Offered

ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer Edition

– Lowest level, consumer grade, NAS that unlike all other ReadyNAS Pro’s only comes with a 3 year warranty, not the 5 year, nor does it have the ability to join an Active Directory domain. Frankly I wish Netgear would not confuse us by offering a consumer NAS with business NAS name.

ReadyNAS Pro Business Edition

– This is probably the unit that comes to mind when talking about ReadyNAS Pro because it is the stalwart performer that has been around a while and gained lots of accolades and recognition. This 6 hot swap hard drive by has become the standard by which others are measured; so why is it being replaced?

The newer ReadyNAS Pro lineup doesn’t really offer anything that the Pro Business Edition doesn’t except for a faster processor; which, you probably would not even notice.

I think ReadyNAS just wanted to freshen the lineup and offer what others have been clamoring for: the Pro quality in a 2 drive bay and 4 drive bay configuration to save a little space and some money.

Some workgroups really want the business features of the Pro lineup but not have a big honking 6 drive bay unit on the desktop when 2 will do. The ReadyNAS Duo which might otherwise have been chosen for the task simply does not measure up for many small business needs.

When it comes to 4 drive bay small business performance, the NVX has been filling this space quite nicely, and all the ReadyNAS Pro 4 offers over it is a little power savings and a faster processor.

ReadyNAS Pro 2

– The baby of the new lineup, the Pro 2 has some interesting features the others don’t have!

Due to it being the last of the model family to be released, it sports a faster processor than the Pro 4 and has a USB 3.0 port on the front of the unit that no other ReadyNAS device currently has.

The Pro 2 is a great upgrade if someone has or has been considering a ReadyNAS Duo. Unlike the Duo, there is essentially nothing the Pro 2 cannot do, other than RAID5, RAID6 or X-RAID2 dual redundancy – and that is due, obviously, to an insufficient number of hard drives.

Note: The Pro 2 has an external power supply (brick) and consumer grade hard drives on prepopulated systems. The Pro 4 and Pro 6 have internal server grade power supplies and enterprise class hard drives.

ReadyNAS Pro 4

– As stated above the Pro 4 has a faster processor than the very similar NVX, but slower than the Pro 2 (and no USB 3.0). Having 4 drive bays, if populated with 3 drives or more will do RAID5 or the X-RAID2 equivalent thereof.

ReadyNAS Pro 6

– Small upgrade to the ReadyNAS Pro Business Edition, so small it carries almost the exact same model number. Both use the RNDP prefix, the Business Edition uses the -100 suffix and the new Pro uses the -200 suffix. Don’t be confused.

Get all the details on the new Netgear ReadyNAS Pro Series here.

One Big Difference

The biggest difference currently between the older ReadyNAS Pro and the new family lineup is availability.

Despite being promised to ship in November 2010, November is about gone (all but the Turkey & leftovers) and still no sign at the major online retailers like and

Door Buster Sale Seagate BlackArmor NAS220 4TB

seagate-blackarmor-nas-220-4-tbSeagate is my preferred brand for hard drives and the BlackArmor NAS220 is a highly regarded NAS device in its class.

If you want door buster sale savings on the Seagate BlackArmor NAS220 4TB then head over to and pick one up before this sale is over.

DOORBUSTER: Get a Seagate BlackArmor NAS 220 4TB Ethernet USB 2.0 RAID Network Attached Storage for $329.99, a $220 Savings! (exp. 11.21.10)