When you’re into great quality audio, it doesn’t take long until issues of how to deliver that audio successfully arise. While some high quality streaming providers exist, like Tidal, offer FLAC music over the Internet, most people opt for using their own converted tracks or download from a high quality service such as HDTracks. If you want all that great music available throughout your entire home, however, how do you do it? Personal cloud storage with the Netgear ReadyNAS RN202 was presented as a solution, and I welcomed the opportunity to review the system to see if it could weather the burden.
The Case for Personal Cloud Storage
There’s no doubt that cloud storage is the future (and, largely, the present). With services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud dominating people’s workflows, the trend is that collaboration and online file storage is the way to go for many things. For high quality music streaming, however, a local solution is often desired for a number of reasons:
- Personal cloud computing gives you the ability to handle higher quality audio files since you’re not streaming it from the Internet
- With personal cloud computing you aren’t paying for, or taking up, valuable Internet bandwidth every time you listen to a high quality streaming song
- Additional benefits of personal cloud computing include local backup and server-side solutions for popular platforms
- A personal cloud storage solution gives you the ability to more quickly transfer and copy files from one location to another on your network or for use with personal portable devices (your gigabit home network is much faster than an Internet download)
Personal Cloud Storage with Netgear ReadyNAS RN202
We chose the new Netgear ReadyNAS RN202 for a couple reasons. For one, it’s a second-generation (or later) product that is still hot and being heavily developed. That means that it’s being improved, and more and more software and options are being made available each week to extend its use with more and more platforms (more on this later). The second reason is that it could be configured in a number of ways that made it the perfect machine for our internal media serving and backup needs. Before explaining the media streaming and server functions, let’s look at the raw specs of the ReadyNAS 202.
The ReadyNAS 202 is powered by a dual core ARM Cortex A15 1.4GHz processor with 2GB RAM. That processor speed and memory is what allows it to handle the server tasks that it does without bogging down transfer speeds. It’s also what allows it to handle cloud duties for remotely accessing your files using the ReadyCloud software. The ReadyNAS 200 series also has 5 layers of file protection, including “bit rot” protection and point in time recovery with snapshots (much like Apple’s Time Machine). You can also selectively sync folders with a computer for backup and recovery of specific files or data.
Setup of the ReadyNAS is effortless. Load your hard drives, plug it in, and follow the instructions once it’s automatically found on your network. The included ReadyCloud software lets you access and share files from anywhere, including smart phones, tablets, or computers. On top of all that, over 100 apps are provided to extend the use of the Netgear ReadyNAS 200 to handle tons of functions you simply can’t do with a hard drive array or removable storage device. And that’s where things get really interesting.
Netgear ReadyNAS 200 Favorite Features
As a personal cloud storage device, the ReadyNAS 20 series gives you access to some very powerful server software that can be installed in the form of apps that are included with the ReadyNAS Admin interface and can be installed at the click of a button. Web server? Development platform? Media Server? Peer to peer file server? It’s all there.
ReadyNAS supports a ton of streaming methods including DLNA, Plex and iTunes. Any files placed in the Music, Pictures, or Videos folder automatically show up on any DLNA player. Plex organizes all of your media, You just add Plex as an app in the ReadyNAS, activate it, and then connect it to your music, movies, photos, and any other media files you wish to access via PC, smart phone, smartTV or tablet. It’s a great piece of software that will possibly revolutionize the way you consume media in your home.
If you’re an Apple user, built in iTunes streaming lets you share your music library with your entire house using the Netgear ReadyNAS RN202 as an iTunes server. This has kept us from having to duplicate all of our content on each and every computer in the home. It’s a very practical solution for streaming media, and ensuring that you have just one location for all your music files. To use this feature, you just select install the iTunes app in the ReadyNAS Admin interface, enable the software, and you can then tell iTunes to use the media on your ReadyNAS instead of your local folder (note, don’t relocate any of your iTunes library or database files, just the actual media). Now you can share music with your family via computer or AppleTV. We do this on every machine in our home and it’s made it much more convenient for us. Coupled with Plex, it also gives you multiple ways to access the same content—again, it’s all about choice.
The ReadyNAS 202 is priced under $330 (without drives). For that price you get enough features and flexibility to make it very much worth it, particularly if you have a need to localize your media and want a fresh way to serve up content. If you choose the ReadyNAS 204, you get an even more powerful processor and, as a result, gain the ability to stream your home content to your mobile phone while you’re on the go. If that isn’t a reason to buy then I don’t know what is.
Because the Netgear ReadyNAS RN202 is such a flexible system—and being supported by users with new apps all the time—it’s tough to cover everything it does. One thing is for certain, though: If you want a solid Raid 0 or 1 solution to securely store your media and serve it up to you at home and on the go, the ReadyNAS 200 Series is an amazing solution that is well worth the cost of entry. Add whatever storage you need, and you’ll be able to serve up literally terabytes of media on demand.