Netgear ReadyNAS 526X review

Dual 10GbE ports, top performance and quality data protection features make this a great NAS choice for SMBs

IT Pro Recommended
  • Impressive transfer speeds; Robust backup and recovery features; Good value
  • No RAM or PCI expansion available; No additional Gigabit Ethernet ports

It's nearly two years since Netgear last updated its business storage portfolio; now, the ReadyNAS 526X is here to deliver a serious storage upgrade. Performance is the name of the game, since this chunky six-bay box sports a pair of 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) copper ports.

It's also powered by a speedy dual-core 2.2GHz Intel Pentium D-1508 CPU, supported by 4GB of fast DDR4 memory. The only disappointment is that, as a peek under the lid revealed, there's no provision for adding additional RAM. While we had the lid removed, we also noted that despite the expansion bay blanking plate at the rear, there isn't a corresponding PCI-E slot on the motherboard.

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The 526X's dual embedded 10GBase-T ports are obviously the main story, but it's worth noting that, unlike the ReadyNAS 716X and 626X, it doesn't provide any additional Gigabit ports. You do get three USB 3 ports, however, and the single eSATA port can be used to expand capacity via Netgear's EDA500 five-bay desktop unit.

Netgear's ReadyCloud web portal discovered our appliance right away, and helped us set up a single X-RAID2 array using the six 3TB SATA drives supplied with our review unit. Once the unit is registered to your ReadyCloud account, you can manage it remotely from anywhere in the world.

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You can also give users access via ReadyCloud, allowing them to remotely view, add or delete files and folders from the portal. Files can be copied to the appliance directly from the desktop by simply dragging them into the portal's folder view page.

Data protection is well catered for. Along with X-RAID2 arrays, the 526X provides copy-on-write data protection, unlimited snapshots for NAS shares and iSCSI LUNs, real-time antivirus scanning and private cloud backup.

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What's more, ReadyNAS OS 6.6 includes Netgear's ReadyDR remote replication and recovery service. This takes copies of snapshots and backs them up to a local ReadyDR share, or one on a remote ReadyNAS appliance.

It's easy to use: you just select a source and destination, schedule the job for hourly, daily or weekly intervals and, if required, apply bandwidth restrictions. For recovery, we were able to access the ReadyDR share and its snapshots using Windows Explorer, while data on remote appliances could be recovered directly from the ReadyCloud portal.

To test the 526X's performance, we used a Lenovo x3550 M5 rack server equipped with an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T adapter card and running Windows Server 2012 R2. With a NAS share mapped over a direct 10GbE connection, we saw Iometer report raw read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec and 5.1Gbits/sec.

In practice, this translated to excellent file-transfer speeds: our 25GB test file was copied between the server and appliance at average read and write speeds of 6Gbits/sec and 5Gbits/sec respectively. Our 22.4GB folder, containing 10,500 small files, was copied at an average of 2.5Gbits/sec, pointing to fast backup tasks.

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Note that these figures were obtained without using Netgear's compression feature. When we created a new share with compression enabled, read and write speeds for our 25GB file copy dropped markedly to 2Gbits/sec and 2.9Gbits/sec.

The upside is big storage savings: our 50GB of test data was reduced to only 19.6GB on a compressed share. The compression is transparent to the user, although Windows Explorer signals it by showing compressed folder and file names in blue.

The 526X isn't as app-rich as appliances from Qnap and Synology, but it natively supports Dropbox and Amazon Cloud Drive file syncing. An app is also available for backing up data up to iDrive, and Netgear's Replicate service is still free. It's also worth mentioning that the unit itself is very quiet: using the SPLnFTT iOS app, we measured noise levels of only 39.4dB with our iPad 1m away.

If you're looking for enterprise-class performance on an SMB budget, the ReadyNAS 526X is a solid choice. Transfer speeds over 10GbE are impeccable, and Netgear's integral snapshot, backup and replication features make it suitable for roles where data loss isn't an option.


If you're looking for enterprise-class performance on an SMB budget, the ReadyNAS 526X is a solid choice. Transfer speeds over 10GbE are impeccable, and Netgear's integral snapshot, backup and replication features make it suitable for roles where data loss isn't an option.

Desktop chassis 2.2GHz Intel Pentium D-1508 4GB ECC DDR4 6 x hot-swap LFF/SFF SATA drive bays Supports RAID0, 1, 5, X-RAID2, JBOD 3 x USB 3 2 x 10GBase-T 1 x eSATA Internal 200W PSU 192 x 290 x 259mm WDH 5yr RTB warranty

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