Friday, January 04, 2008

Netgear ReadyNAS NV - Power Supply Burns Out

Having gone through a number of low end network attached storage (NAS) devices, I finally opted to pay for a premium product that also happened to run the streaming music server software I use. That combination was the Infrant ReadyNAS NV, a toaster-sized unit that houses 4 hard disks and connects to your network to provide a common storage pool. I initially reviewed the unit here.

Everything was going along well until I received a technical support email informing me that overheating problems in some power supplies required a mod to the unit. As luck would have it, my unit was within the range of affected devices. I checked the temperature the unit was operating at by looking at the status screen of the built-in web server, and everything looked OK.

As my equipment room at home is reasonably well ventilated and air conditioned, I figured that would be the end of the story. Unfortunately not. Coming home from dinner out one evening, I was greeted with the unmistakable and panic inducing smell of electrical burning. The sniff test revealed the ReadyNAS as the culprit.

I did a quick system shutdown, and then unplugged the unit. Checking the online support forum, it was clear this was a common problem, and the new owners of Infrant, Netgear, were replacing faulty power supplies. My challenge was that I had imported three of the units from the United States directly, and the Netgear support call centre, which turned out to be in Australia, didn't know or want to know anything about the problem.

After getting increasingly frustrated, the tech finally suggested that if I called the Netgear support number after 6pm local time, I would get the US call centre instead of Australia. That actually worked, and I was able to walk the phone jockey through the problem and get an RMA. Since I was going to be in the US anyway, I figured I would have the replacement power supply shipped to me there and then bring it home and do the swap myself.

All of which was great, except that Netgear never shipped the replacement, and charged my credit card for shipping.

On returning to Singapore, I was able to make contact with the local Netgear office, and the extremely helpful Andrew Tan. In the end, I was able to do a swap with him at their office in Raffles Place, and install the new power supply myself.

So a happy ending, but a few insights as well.

I had always thought of the NAS as extremely safe archival storage because of the 4 disks and RAID arrangement that allows data to be recovered even if there is a disk failure.

What I didn't consider was that a power supply failure would cause all the data to be inaccessible because the RAID controller and software format are essentially proprietary. I did find some forum posts about using Linux and some utilities to get at the data, but that is way too hard for most.

1 comment:

Kelly C said...

The proprietary problem is rampant across the whole consumer NAS industry. I downloaded your firmware for the compusa landisk, thank you.
That cheap little device did not have the problems that some have, it will mount and read any FAT32 formatted disk.
I recommend using a linux-based NAS device, at least then the storage disks can be mounted on another computer and read in an emergency.