Priced at around $400 without any storage, the new ReadyNAS NV+ v2 is slightly cheaper than the older but higher-end ReadyNAS Ultra 4 while offering higher storage capacities and more features. Where it needs to catch up, however, is its performance: though not slow, the NV+ v2 was significantly slower than the Ultra 4 in our testing.
To make up for that, the ReadyNAS NV+ v2 sports easily front-accessible drive bays, and USB 3.0 connectivity, and its flexible X-RAID2 configuration makes replacing and upgrading the server's internal storage a nonissue. The server also has a great backup mechanism and supports Apple's Time Machine. On top of that it now features Netgear's sleek new RAIDiator 5 operating system for NAS servers. While easier to use than its predecessor, RAIDiator 5 doesn't add many more features, however, and the server is still behind competitors' servers in this regard, missing popular options such as PC-less download and support for IP cameras.
If you're looking for a relatively affordable server with lots of storage space, and don't mind the intermittent loud noises its fan emits, the ReadyNAS NV+ v2 is a decent choice. For better performance and more features, also check out the Synology DiskStation DS410.
Design and setup
ReadyNAS NV+ v2 has almost exactly the same design as the ReadyNAS Ultra 4: it's as compact as a four-bay NAS server can be. On the front the server has a large door that opens to reveal the hard-drive trays, which can be pulled out easily without using any tools. Once a hard drive is installed, a tray can be locked into its place firmly with a latch. You do need a screwdriver and four proprietary screws to attach a hard drive to a drive tray, though fortunately the server comes with enough of them for all four drives.
Below the drive bay door, there's a small LCD that shows the IP address of the NAS server and the current status of the internal hard drive. On top of the drive bays are a USB 2.0 port and a Backup button that quickly copies a USB drive's contents into the server's internal storage. On the back, the server has two USB 3.0 ports to host more storage via external hard drives. The NV+ v2 is the first NAS server we've seen that supports this new and much faster USB standard.
Unlike the Ultra 4, which comes with two Gigabit Ethernet ports, the NV+ v2 has only one. This means it doesn't have the fail-safe or load-balancing networking feature, which is not a terrible shortcoming, since most NAS servers don't have that, either.
The NV+ v2 comes with a CD of help materials and a desktop application called RAIDar you can use to detect the NAS in the network, browse its share folders, and launch its Web interface to further customize the server's features. For the server's target audience, tech professionals, the NV+ v2 is easy enough to figure out.
The reviewed unit comes with one 1TB hard drive but the server can handle up to four hard drives of up to 3TB each (as opposed to the 2TB of the Ultra 4) for a total maximum storage space of 12TB. (In most cases, when all four bays are occupied with 3TB hard drives, you'll get about 9TB of storage out of the server; generally the other 3TB are used for redundancy overhead.) The server, however, works even when there's only one hard drive installed.
Regardless of how many hard drives you use, even if it's just one, the server by default will set them up in Netgear's proprietary X-RAID2 configuration. Similarly to Synology's Hybrid RAID or LaCie's AutoRAID, X-RAID2 enables you to dynamically expand the volume without having to back up or restore the existing content. The configuration automatically safeguards the setup against a single-drive failure. Obviously, you'll need at least two hard drives for the XRAID 2 to be effective. In this case the two drives will be set up in a RAID 1-like configuration (also called a "mirror," in which only half of the total capacity is available). Now if you add another hard drive, the volume will be dynamically expanded and changed to a RAID 5-like setup, which is balanced between data integrity and maximum storage space. And you can keep doing that until the bays are all occupied.
X-RAID2 permits changing the hard-drive setup anytime, even when the server is running, as long as you only add or subtract one drive at a time. You can even replace an existing drive with another of larger capacity, making this a great way to upgrade the server's storage without having to rebuild the RAID from scratch. Note, however, that once a new hard drive is added, it takes a very long time for it to be synced with the existing RAID. This means, depending on the capacities of the drives, it could take up to a few days for you to replace all four drives. The good news is the server still works, though at slower speed, during this process and you can keep track of this process via the front LCD.
The ReadyNAS NV+ v2 doesn't have much to offer in terms of features. Nonetheless, the server does come with a completely new user interface compared with the Ultra 4. It's sleeker and more or less resembles the UI of an operating system. Once logged in you'll be greeted with the Dashboard showing the server's operating condition. On top, you'll find four self-explanatory tabs, Configure, Documentation, Community, and How To. The Configure tab is, obviously, the most important since it takes you to all the server's settings.
The server offers an easy way to add or remove users and share folders. Once each new item is added, you'll be able to assign the access privileges (Read-only, Read/Write, No access) of each user to each folder with a few clicks. For each share folder, you can also turn on the ReadyDLNA feature, which permits streaming digital content stored in that folder to DLNA-compliant streamers in the network. All in all, we found the new interface much easier to use than the Ultra 4's.