NetGear (Infrant) ReadyNAS Drive Upgrade

Posted on 13 Jun ’08 by Earl

In 2006 I purchased an Infrant ReadyNAS network storage device. Soon after, Infrant was bought by NetGear and ReadyNAS devices are now being sold under the NetGear name.

I did a review of my ReadyNAS device on Meandering Passage in August ’06 as well as an article concerning a memory upgrade on the device in February ’07.

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When I purchased my ReadyNAS it was a diskless model. I purchased four 250GB drives separately, configuring them into a single array using Infrants X-RAID (Expandable Raid.) This RAID mode allowed acceptable performance, data protection and array expandability (1 drive > 2 drives > 3 drives, ect.).

Combined in a single RAID Volume, these four 250 GB drives gave a total usable space of 681 GB, which at the time was more then adequate. That’s not been the case recently.

This device backs up my digital media (music, movies and photos), syncing data automatically each night from my primary computer. Lately the free space has been steadily disappearing.

Adding additional space to a RAID array most isn’t often as simple as adding one larger drive. Especially when all four drive bays are already in use.

With RAID protection and four drives, the ReadyNAS stripes data across all the drives. To increase total storage space you have to increase the size of all four drives. The storage array can only be as large as the smallest drive in the array, minus checksum and overhead space.

My decision for this upgrade was to replace all four of the 250GB drives with 500GB drives. Interestingly, the current cost of these 500GB drives was less then the cost of the 250GB drives at their time of purchase two years ago.

I considered two methods to accomplish this drive upgrade/replacement. I’m sure there are other methods or slightly different steps then what I’ve outlined below to accomplish the same goal. Times are estimates based on my experience and using 500GB drives. As a rule of thumb, larger drives take longer.

Method I – Disk Initialize and Re-Sync Raid Volume

This process of replacing the smaller drives is simple but time consuming and consist of the following steps:

  1. While running (these drive are hot swappable) you pull out one of the old drives from the ReadyNAS. The ReadyNAS will continue running uninterrupted.
  2. Remove the old drive from the drive tray and attach the new drive to the tray (four screws) in its place.
  3. Slide the drive tray back into the ReadyNAS.
  4. The ReadyNAS will recognize the new drive and will begin initializing/formatting it.
  5. Once finished initializing the ReadyNAS will “re-sync” the volume data across the new drive.
  6. When step 5 is complete, repeat steps 1~5 for the other three drives.
  7. After all four drives have been initialized and re-synced, reboot the ReadyNAS and it will expand/resize the array volume to use all the new drive space.

On my ReadyNas the initialization and re-syncing of each 500GB drive was estimated to be about 4.5~5 hours. Then there’s the array rebuild process after all four drives have been replaced.

Yes, 18-24 hours of processing to replace four drives but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Except for physically pulling our the old drive and putting in the new drive the whole process takes place unattended. Also, the ReadyNAS is only unavailable during the final reboot/resize process.

Method II – Scratch: New Raid Volume and Reload Data

This method will appeal to you if you have a temporary drive you can back all the data to and you want to make a change to the current RAID Array Volume or type of RAID protection used. It consist of the following steps:

  1. Back up all your data to another disk or disks. A large USB external drive with the ReadyNAS configured to automatically backup all data should work great.
  2. Power down the ReadyNAS and remove all the drive trays. Replace the old drives on the trays with the newer larger drives.
  3. Re-insert the first drive tray with the new drive into the ReadyNAS.
  4. Reset the ReadyNAS to factury default settings. (Use a paperclip to hold the reset button in the back while powering the device on…hold reset button for 30 secs or until the drive lights flash for the second time.)
  5. Using the RAIDar client monitor the ReadyNAS and click on “Setup” when told to do so.
  6. Select the options you wish for your new RAID Volume (you could change the type of RAID at this point.)
  7. Wait while the new Volume is created.
  8. After the new RAID Volume is complete, add the next drive and return to Step 7. Do this until all four drives have been added.
  9. When all drives have been added to the new Volume, restore the data from the temporary backup drive.

This method also can take as long as 24 hours for four 500GB drives. If you decide to use RAID 5 the times and steps may slightly differ. That copy/restore times depend upon how much data you are restoring.

I used Method I since I only needed to replace the drives with larger ones and this seemed the most straight forward method.

I experienced one problem with a hang-up, but a reboot and reinsertion of the disk got it going again. I believe this problem was related to a scheduled back-up trying to run that I’d neglected to put on hold while doing the upgrade.

It did take a long time to upgrade, longer then I’d like and I’m sure many are wondering why all the effort when larger external USB drives are so cheap and faster. Here’s a few reasons:

  • data redundancy – I’ve had a drive fail in the unit and it was a simple matter of removing and replacing the failed drive while the unit was still running. Nothing was lost and nothing had to be restored.
  • server capabilities – My ReadyNAS serves a multitude of functions on my network. It’s a file/backup server, digital music server, ftp server and WINS server to name a few. It does this all quietly and reliably day in and day out without my computer having to be on.
  • flexibility & accessibility – data security and storage quotas can easily be configured via a GUI to make the management of the available storage space straight forward. This storage is always available to any computer on my network yet has the safeguards to prevent unauthorized access, deletions or overwrites.

After installing the four 500GB drives using X-RAID (Expandable RAID) I ended up with 1.4TB of redundant hot-swappable storage. Hopefully it’ll be a couple more years before I need additional space.

What Others Are Saying

  1. miracle fruit 3 Jul ’08 at 3:32 pm

    How long did each rebuild take when replacing your drives? My current RAID solution is very slow and it would scare the crap out of me if I ever had to replace a faulty drive…

  2. Earl Moore 3 Jul ’08 at 4:35 pm

    @miracle fruit: Each rebuild took about 4 hours for each drive (4hrs/drive x 4 drives = 16 hours)

    …and yes I was scared during the whole process, but it worked out okay. :-)

  3. miracle fruit 3 Jul ’08 at 5:10 pm

    That’s not bad. My current one takes about 48 hours for 5 x 500 GiB and 36 hours for 3 x 500 GiB.

    Does the ReadyNAS do it on a per drive basis somehow?

  4. Earl Moore 3 Jul ’08 at 5:25 pm

    @miracle fruit:
    Because of the way I did the upgrade the ReadyNAS did one drive at a time.

    I’d remove one of the older/smaller drives and put in the newer/larger drives let it initialize and resync and then do the next one. That way in kept all the data in the unit intact.

    I didn’t actually get the additional volume size increase until the final drive.

    If I’d said to hell with the data and replace all four drives at once if would of done them all at the same time, but my data would of been gone.

  5. miracle fruit 3 Jul ’08 at 6:16 pm

    Sorry, I misunderstood you. You can only rebuild a RAID 5 when one drive is missing so it was only 4 hours for each rebuild? That’s really quick.

    When I said it takes 48 hours for a 5 x 500 GiB array that’s just replacing the one defective 500 GiB drive. Reducing that to about 4 hours would save a lot of stress!

  6. Reg 8 Jul ’08 at 11:54 pm

    Great post! Actually, all your posts on the ReadyNAS are quite excellent.

    I hate to ask simple questions, but I just want to make sure from someone else’s experience:

    1) Did you upgrade your Infrant Ready NAS firmware, v3.01c1 to the Netgear version, v4.01? And did you have any glitches or problems with the upgrade? (considering how the company switch ownership, maybe the support for the Infrant branded models may not be as good…)

    2) You mention that the ReadyNas backs up your local computer…I have a Macbook and wanted the NAS to backup specific folders on it, but in the Backup Menu from FrontView I don’t see the option to select a local drive/local folder on my Macbook system. Is this where your recommendation of SuperDuper! comes in? I’m more interested in individual folders, vs whole system images.

    3) Any experience on Backing-up personal Thumb/Flash Drives?

    Thanks so much for any help, you’re articles have already been very helpful!

  7. Earl Moore 9 Jul ’08 at 7:03 am

    @Reg: Thanks and I’m glad the ReadyNAS posts have been helpful. In response to your questions:
    1) Yes, I upgraded to the latest Netgear firmware (4.01c1-p1) that was available at the time of this upgrade. Luckily I haven’t had many problems so my contact with Netgear has been minimal. :-)
    2) I do use the NetGear as a back-up resource for my computers. Superduper is great if you’re backing up a whole drive but across a network it will only back up to a spareimage file (dmg), which is not always convenient. I’m using an application named Chronosync from Econ Technologies ( http://www.econtechnologies.com/site/index.html ) for backing up individual folders. It’s a good product and can be scheduled to do folder back-ups automatically, even multiple back-ups. Chronosync can do a compare and update, only backing up those objects that have changed which saves time.
    I’m doing all of this from the computer side and “pushing” the back-up to the ReadyNAS. I’ve found this to work best for me.
    3) Sorry no experience with the Thumb/Flash drive but there should be a number of ways to do it either locally by plugging in the flash drive to the ReadyNAS USB port and having a back-up job “keyed” to the button on the front, or from your computer/laptop perhaps using Chronosync.
    Hope this helped. Best Regards!

  8. Reg 10 Jul ’08 at 6:49 am

    Thanks for the great input! It’s really great to find some excellent content regarding back-up methods and hardware.

    I’ve lost some drives in the past, and definitely have learned from those experiences, so, I’m probably a bit more extra diligent when in comes to data redundancy and back automatizing (hence, my concern of even a firmware upgrade affecting the current data on the ReadyNAS).

    Keep up the great work, it’s definitely appreciated!

  9. Marty Hagen 25 Feb ’09 at 12:08 am

    Earl,
    Thanks for taking the time to write up your experiences — it gives me more confidence with my inherited ReadyNAS NV+ box going forward. No problems with it so far, though, except for a resolved issue where a primary Domain Controller failed and a secondary DC didn’t take over authentication. But that really wasn’t a ReadyNAS problem per se, and resetting permissions on the ReadyNAS fixed it. But again, thanks for taking the time to help others.

  10. Al 6 Jan ’10 at 1:11 am

    “A large USB external drive with the ReadyNAS configured to automatically backup all data should work great. ” Despite my research, I don’t see how to do the above. The “backup button” and/or Frontview will backup shares; the “backup button” appears to only backup the ReadyNAS backup share (if no backup jobs are defined). Would love to be able to automatically backup all data from the NAS as a safety net before trying to upgrade the disks. Also, is it necessary to backup the configuration in the above scenario? Much thanks for any help!

  11. DJW 9 Mar ’10 at 8:26 pm

    Earl,

    I am changing out a 4 disk (500GB each) array with 4 new 1 TB drives.

    I followed the above procedures for the first drive. After about 4 hours, I am still waiting any update from the NAS. When I go to the website on the NAS, it shows the drive as “dead” and there is a flashing yellow light on the site (the light on the NAS itself is flashing green). I received the following message after installing the drive:

    A SATA reset has been performed on one or more of your disks that may have affected the RAID parity integrity. It is recommended that you perform a RAID volume resync from the RAID Settings tab ( accessible in the Volumes page => Volume tab in FrontView ). The resync process will run in the background, and you can continue to use the ReadyNAS in the meantime.

    The resync button on the site is actually grayed out, so forcing it to do anything does not work.

    Should I continue to wait or is there something wrong here?

    • Earl 9 Mar ’10 at 10:10 pm

      DJW, the only similar problem I experienced was the hang-up I wrote of in my post. I replaced the old drive and rebooted and once it came back up reinserted the new drive and it worked. I don’t know if this is the same issue your having or not and I don’t have any more helpful info I’m afraid — sorry.

      Perhaps one of the other commenters will have more help.

    • Bryan 11 Jul ’11 at 8:48 am

      DJW,

      In the shutdown menu you can select to resync on next power up, but if it’s saying the drive is dead, it sounds like it hasn’t even detected that it’s been inserted.

  12. Pingback: Wombat Diet » Blog Archive » ReadyNAS Drive Upgrade

  13. Nana Ghansah 18 Sep ’10 at 10:44 am

    Thanks for sharing.
    What did you do with your old drives?
    I upgraded my ReadyNas NV and have 4 500GB seagate drives.
    My MAC doesn’t recognize them.

    • Earl 18 Sep ’10 at 10:47 am

      I gave a couple away and I believe there may still be one sitting around on a shelf somewhere. :-)

  14. Mark 28 Dec ’11 at 11:53 am

    Ha! Kind of funny Earl. My Ready NAS has less than 20 GB free space right now and I decided to look around for what drives are recommended. I landed on your blog post on the first page of search. :-) Off to go look for some drives now…

    • Earl 28 Dec ’11 at 3:07 pm

      Mark, I’m glad to be so easy to find. Some of my older more technical posts are still fairly popular and get hits every month. Good luck with the drives. From what I remember, it’s a slow process to move all that data.

    • David 29 Dec ’11 at 9:36 am

      compatible drives list from Netgear. I made the mistake of ordering drives without confirming they were compatible. If drives are not on this list, I would not order them.

      http://www.readynas.com/?page_id=82

      • Mark 7 Jan ’12 at 8:25 am

        yep, I selected drives off that list, and also wanted to pick one of the recommended ones that have the rotation vibration safeguard. It is interesting that not all drives have this.

  15. Mark 7 Jan ’12 at 8:22 am

    I’ll help keep this post going with a status update. :-)

    You weren’t kidding about the amount of time the NAS takes to initialize, resync the volume, and then ultimately expand all 4 drives at the end! Good thing I didn’t need to be around for most of it. :-) Over the past 4 days I have replaced all my initial 250 GB drives with 1 TB Western Digitial enterprise drives. Each night I would swap one out and let the thing go to work.

    So nice to see 2.0 TB of 2.6 TB free on the display.

    • Earl 7 Jan ’12 at 11:59 am

      Mark, I have to congratulate you on your patience. I was totally shocked when I first upgraded the drives on how long the rebuild process took.

      Glad it finished up okay. I’ve seen a few who’ve reported it stopping or hanging up somewhere in the middle of the process…now that would break your heart. :-)

      • Mark 7 Jan ’12 at 1:29 pm

        Well, when I first started thinking about it, I had no idea how long it was going to take. I was also shocked on exactly how long it is. I thought initially, pop the old one out, put the new one it – and it might “think” a bit about what I just did. I had no clue it would be a 4 day process. Yeah, I am glad it went OK also. I had some troubles with the levers in getting the drives out, but googled that also and just used a jeweler screwdriver into the hole and applied the force that way.

  16. Roger M 18 Jan ’13 at 3:01 pm

    I just completed my 3rd round of drive upgrades on my ReadyNAS NV+. In January 2008 when purchased, I populated the ReadyNAS with four 500GB drives (Seagates) in XRAID configuration. When I needed more space, I upgraded to four 1TB drives (Samsungs) by replacing one drive at a time, letting the NAS rebuild each new drive in succession and automatically expanding at the end of the process. I next installed four 1.5TB drives (Seagates), using the same one drive at a time rebuild method. I have always used drives that were on Netgear’s compatibility list for the ReadyNAS NV+ and all the upgrades were time consuming but otherwise straightforward.

    This last upgrade was to four 2TB drives (WD20EFRX Reds). I discovered, after trying, that the serial drive rebuild method that worked with previous upgrades isn’t an option with 2TB drives. Each drive rebuild took the best part of 24 hours (format plus data restore) but at the end the XRAID expansion failed with error dialog: “Disk capacity expansion error, resize2fs”. My data was there but the allocation hadn’t expanded into the now 5.5TB space.

    It didn’t take long to discover that others had already learned this painful lesson and that the best solution for 2TB drive upgrades is to ensure you have current backups of all data, upgrade the NAS firmware to the latest RAIDiator (version, 4.1.10 in my case), do a System\Config Backup, then run System\Update\Factory Default. This will, of course, clear all data and settings and require the default password, netgear1, to login to Frontview. It then took another circa 12 hours to synch the drive array before I could restore my settings from the Config Backup and finally reload all the data from my backups. There’s also a “forced expansion option” that I didn’t attempt because it’s said to limit the maximum space to 5TB.

  17. Colin 3 Jun ’14 at 3:18 pm

    Earl,

    Are you still using the ReadyNAS? I have the same model after many, many years and I’m curious if you’ve upgraded yet. I’m debating it myself and have no good reason to…

    - Colin

    • Earl 3 Jun ’14 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Colin, yes, the ReadyNAS (Infrant brand when I bought it) is still being used although I using it as an archive drive not a primary backup. It’s been a real workhorse…and I’ve thought of upgrading several times myself, but like you, I struggled for a good reason. :-)

      • Colin 3 Jun ’14 at 3:40 pm

        Sad. I was half-hoping you would jump in with an excellent reason for me to spend several hundred dollars on SHINY. What do you mean by using it for ‘archive’ instead of ‘primary’ backup though? Are you relying on a Time Machine instead for weeklies of your main machine?

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