New Netgear Centria WNDR4700 All in One Router and NAS Review - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 10:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Netgear Centria WNDR4700 All in One Router and NAS Review


Netgear recently introduced and released the newest product catagory called Centria which is an All in One Router and NAS. This product is a new category of products for Netgear combining a wireless router and high performance NAS in one single form factor. I was given the Centria about a month ago to try out and provide feedback to Netgear about it as well as writing this review and help introduce the product to potential users.

The Router is Built on the Excellent WNDR4500


The Centria WNDR4700 has the router internals of the very popular Netgear WNDR4500 router. For those not familiar with that router the 4500 is the Flagship N router Netgear offers today. The 4500 had a few unique attributes that made it stand out from other Netgear N routers such as the WNDR3700, WNDR3800 or the WNDR4300.

The Centria WNDR4700 like the WNDR4500 utilizes the latest in 3 radio technology. What I mean by 3 radio technology is this. The 802.11 N standard and technology allows a maximum bandwidth of up to 150mbs per radio. When you add 2 radios you get 300mbs and when you add 3 you get 450mbs. When you add dual bands 2.4ghz and 5ghz with multiple radios you get the combination of the 2.

This new 3 radio technology is the latest in pushing the wireless boundaries of bandwidth but also has another valuable asset. Because of a technology called Beam Forming the WNDR4700/4500 routers have better range and coverage then their standard 1 or 2 radio counter parts. In essence through a combination of Beam Forming and higher powered RF amplifiers built in to these routers they have the best range and coverage of any of the Netgear routers currently offered. In my real world tests I would say these routers provide about 15-20% better coverage then their standard N counterparts.

What sets the Centria WNDR4700 apart though is it's built in NAS. This is a whole different approach then what we have seen before. Netgear routers have included READYSHARE technology for file and media sharing by adding a usb based external drive. While this approach works well for light duty tasks it did not serve those looking for a fast network storage device. The Centria solves that.

The Centria NAS portion is built on technology Netgear has mastered from their NAS storage group. The speed of the Centria NAS is 4 times that of what one would see from a usb connected drive to a 4500 as example. With Read and Write speeds in the 45-60mbs range the Centria can perform well in a relatively high demand area such as HD media streaming an network based backup. The Centria uses a different network processor- a much more powerful power pc based 1GHz processor as against the 600MHz network processor used on the WNDR4500.

The Centria ships in 2 versions. One with a 2TB hard drive (WNDR4720)and a driveless version(WNDR4700).

The Form Factor


The form factor of the Centria is that of their latest routers such as the AC based R6300/R6200. This is a vertically standing form factor which I find highly functional and very attractive. The drive fits vertically in the router. It is very easy to add or remove drives from the unit. Quick snap enclosure. The thickness of it is a bit more then the R6300 but if you just looked at them side by side you wouldn't tell them apart at a quick glance.

Other features in the Centria are a built in SD card reader as well as 2 USB 3.0 ports. USB 3.0 is the latest and fastest of the USB standards. Having these ports allows for easy expansion of the storage capacity of the Centria with performance that should come close to that of the internal sata drive.

New Software Features

Netgear products have been enhanced over the past year with a bundle of add on software and utilities. The Centria actually will become a cornerstone product of the Netgear movement toward supporting a 3rd party ecosystem of apps. But for today the Centria includes some compelling software features.

The Centria includes all of the software features we have seen in the WNDR4500 and WNDR3800. These include shared usb printing, network based TIVO storage, Apple Time Machine Support, Ready Share Cloud remote file access for mobile devices, Netgear Genie network tool and IOS Airport printing support. The Centria is the 1st product and currently only Netgear router that includes all of these features. And it includes one new feature we had not seen before. Readyshare Vault.

Readyshare Vault is perhaps my favorite aspect of this router. The Vault software monitors your system and provides real time backup of any file or folder you select to the built in NAS drive. What I like about this is that it is fast. Within seconds of a new download, created file or photo it is backed up. Plus Netgear did a very nice job on the Vault software. It runs seamlessly in the background. It is light weight so I notice no performance hit to my machine. And it does a nice job of identifying what files are backed up and those that are not. All files that are marked for backup with have a colored dot on the bottom left of their icons. When the dot is red it is not backed up. When green it is. Very simple and clear. And again it backs up within seconds when a new file is put on your system.

I have used many methods of backing up my system. I take regular images of my OS partition and backup data by copying it to multiple drives. But I have inevitably lost data on that system crash or hardware failure. The Vault greatly simplifies this. I really like Vault a lot. Though I want to pint out it is not setup for OS backup although you can use the drive to do an image backup from Windows but you will need to manually schedule that from the PC OS not Vault.

NAS System Performance

The performance from the NAS and the DLNA server that are built in are very good. I have had several SD and HD streams going concurrently through a Plex server streaming to Plex on a Roku and an IOS client. No issues. Copy times are also excellent. I copied my 20gb of photos from my main pc top the Centria in a little over 5 minutes. About the same as it takes me to copy them to my main PC server with a RAID 5 array. In past the copy times to the attached drives on the prior Netgear routers could be painfully slow. No more. The Centria is plenty fast enough.

Is the Centria for you?

So who is the customer for the Centria? Well clearly anyone in the market for a NAS and a router. Cost wise this will be their best bang for the buck as the Centria itself will cost about the same as a lot of the NAS devices available today. The Centria is also a good choice for anyone looking to update their router. The built in NAS is really handy. I always have used ReadyShare as the family based NAS. But as I stated it was limited due to speed. But no more. Add to that the host of software that comes with Centria and it is really bountiful. In particular as I said the Vault is just great. To me that is almost reason enough.

The downside? Well unlike most NAS devices this is not a redundant array. Meaning that if the drive fails you lose what is on it. But if it is used in a Vault mode it is a copy of what is on your PC so you still have the data. I just wouldn't put my only copy of anything on it. Just use it as a backup copy.

For media streaming the Centria finally has the speed many AVS users wanted in their router. For most homes the built in single drive should be enough as it can support the new 3tb drives but again you can expand on it if you need to with the USB 3.0 ports and external drive.. T he USB 3.0 ports are located on the with one on the back and one on the side. And on that same side is the SD card reader to immediately backup your photos too. Another nice touch.

My Conclusion

I have spent much of this review on the NAS aspect. This clearly is what sets this router apart. But lets not forget it's primary role as the manager of your network and the carrier of your wireless signal. As I stated early on the Centria is basically a WNDR4500 which has been and still is one of the most successful products Netgear has introduced. With the enhanced range the 4500/4700 is probably the best N based router on the market. Plus the newly enhanced UI Netgear introduced with the 4500 is carried over intact and is in my experience one of the easiest and clearest UI's I have used on a router. So suffice it to say the router is top notch.

For more information on the WNDR4500 please see this thread I started http://www.avsforum.com/t/1360419/comparison-of-new-netgear-wndr3800-and-wndr4500

So in conclusion I will say this. I evaluate a number of routers. I usually wind up leaving the last one I tested in place. The Centria will probably change this. It performs great and with the Vault has become a very important part of my computing network and system. More then the router this devices overall utility will be the fallback device for sometime to come. I highly recommend it.

Bob Silver
Netgear AV Consultant
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post #2 of 53 Old 12-16-2012, 11:14 AM
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Yesterday I bought a 6300 and now today I see this. I haven't opened the 6300 I may want to switch since I do not have a NAS
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post #3 of 53 Old 12-16-2012, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swak View Post

Yesterday I bought a 6300 and now today I see this. I haven't opened the 6300 I may want to switch since I do not have a NAS

If you dont have a NAS and need one this will be a good choice. You do give up AC spec (but there are very few clients available today and it will be a while before they are mainstream) but that is it. Plus you get the NAS and Vault. Everything else is pretty much the same as the r6300. And cost wise on a driveless unit is only $20 more.

Bob Silver
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post #4 of 53 Old 12-16-2012, 03:24 PM
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Bob,

Is the hard drive always spinning in this or does it spin down when not being used?
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post #5 of 53 Old 12-17-2012, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swak View Post

Bob,
Is the hard drive always spinning in this or does it spin down when not being used?

The hard drive spins all the time. Thats good and bad. The good. If it had to spin up each time you need it youd may end up with errors in that the device is not available or it would take a bit of time to access data. The other good is that drives do better when they run as opposed to start and stop. In my experience they last much longer. The bad is that it will use more power. But frankly 1 drive doesnt use that much power so the good out weighs the bad in a big way IMHO.

And BTW there is no fan so it is relatively quiet or as quiet as your drive is.

Bob Silver
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post #6 of 53 Old 01-15-2013, 01:32 PM
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Bob,

What type and size of hard drive did you install? I'm am really interested in installing a Western Digital 4TB Black hard drive. This is an excerpt from their support page:

Why did my 3TB (or more) hard drive reduced to 2TB when WNDR4700 did the format?

Cause:
The formatting tool on the WNDR4700 can only format a hard drive up tp 2 TB size. For example, if you have a 3TB hard drive and use the wizard in the WNDR4700 to format it, the total usable capacity will be reduced to 2 TB size.

Resolution:
Use only a 2 TB hard drive on WNDR4700. If you must use a hard drive that is 3TB or more in size, it is best that you format it using a 3rd party tool or application before inserting to the WNDR4700 (Centria) router.


Am I to assume that as long as I pre-format the drive before installing it into the Centria, that it can handle 4TBs? I was hoping to find someone that has tried.

It is not listed in their "Compatibility List", but I don't see why it wouldn't. http://kb.netgear.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/21554/related/1/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xMzU4Mjg0NzIzL3NpZC9zVFBKOG9nbA%3D%3D

Any help would be appreciated, thanks!
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post #7 of 53 Old 01-15-2013, 01:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kellybombs View Post

Bob,

What type and size of hard drive did you install? I'm am really interested in installing a Western Digital 4TB Black hard drive. This is an excerpt from their support page:

Why did my 3TB (or more) hard drive reduced to 2TB when WNDR4700 did the format?

Cause:
The formatting tool on the WNDR4700 can only format a hard drive up tp 2 TB size. For example, if you have a 3TB hard drive and use the wizard in the WNDR4700 to format it, the total usable capacity will be reduced to 2 TB size.

Resolution:
Use only a 2 TB hard drive on WNDR4700. If you must use a hard drive that is 3TB or more in size, it is best that you format it using a 3rd party tool or application before inserting to the WNDR4700 (Centria) router.


Am I to assume that as long as I pre-format the drive before installing it into the Centria, that it can handle 4TBs? I was hoping to find someone that has tried.

It is not listed in their "Compatibility List", but I don't see why it wouldn't. http://kb.netgear.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/21554/related/1/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xMzU4Mjg0NzIzL3NpZC9zVFBKOG9nbA%3D%3D

Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

In my discussions with the Product Manager we discussed drive formatting. You can format the drive with NTFS. At the time we discussed up to 3tb. I will need to check about 4tb. My guess is under NTFS you should be OK. But let me confirm and get back to you.

Bob Silver
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post #8 of 53 Old 01-15-2013, 04:14 PM
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I was excited to possibly get one of these for my parents to use on their DLNA streaming devices.
I read some reviews and it appears .MKV file format is not supported using this device....

If true this is a bad oversight IMHO.
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post #9 of 53 Old 01-16-2013, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post

In my discussions with the Product Manager we discussed drive formatting. You can format the drive with NTFS. At the time we discussed up to 3tb. I will need to check about 4tb. My guess is under NTFS you should be OK. But let me confirm and get back to you.

Bob Silver

Thanks Bob, I really appreciate it. Do you know why they use Ext4 if you format the drive inside the Centra?
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post #10 of 53 Old 01-16-2013, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NavySeal View Post

I was excited to possibly get one of these for my parents to use on their DLNA streaming devices.
I read some reviews and it appears .MKV file format is not supported using this device....

If true this is a bad oversight IMHO.

It is my experience that the device you use to actually play the video files control the codecs. The NAS has nothing to do with what media format you are using. In the past not many media devices could handle .MKV, but now all the newer ones I've seen, especially the new Netgear NeoTV line plays them just fine. One format I've been seeing alot of players drop is AVI's encoded with DIVX because of the licensing.

What media player and/or tv are your parents using? If it happens to be an Apple TV then they ony support MP4, MOV, and M4V files.
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post #11 of 53 Old 01-16-2013, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kellybombs View Post

It is my experience that the device you use to actually play the video files control the codecs. The NAS has nothing to do with what media format you are using. In the past not many media devices could handle .MKV, but now all the newer ones I've seen, especially the new Netgear NeoTV line plays them just fine. One format I've been seeing alot of players drop is AVI's encoded with DIVX because of the licensing.

What media player and/or tv are your parents using? If it happens to be an Apple TV then they ony support MP4, MOV, and M4V files.
From reading reviews it is my understanding that the WNDR4700 does not serve .MKV files thru their DLNA protocol.
They are using an ancient router along with a decent media player (it plays MKVs). I was looking at this to kill two birds with one stone: router and a NAS for them

I'm just hoping that Bob can confirm whether or not the WNDR4700 supports MKVs on their end and possibly the reviewers are just ignorant. I understand the media PLAYER needs to support MKVs as well. I'm just confused as to why I'm seeing "The WNDR4700 is not compatible with MKV's" from users.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NavySeal View Post

From reading reviews it is my understanding that the WNDR4700 does not serve .MKV files thru their DLNA protocol.
They are using an ancient router along with a decent media player (it plays MKVs). I was looking at this to kill two birds with one stone: router and a NAS for them

I'm just hoping that Bob can confirm whether or not the WNDR4700 supports MKVs on their end and possibly the reviewers are just ignorant. I understand the media PLAYER needs to support MKVs as well. I'm just confused as to why I'm seeing "The WNDR4700 is not compatible with MKV's" from users.

I love the router.

It serves MKV just fine to my Oppo 103. My Sony S390 and S590 now do not play MVV (it shows them as AVI's) since upgrading my WDNR3700 to the WDNR4700. Now, I can still "fling" a MKV to the Sony's via a media server on my Android devices.

From what I can gather, this is a problem with the Sony not knowing what to do with a Video/x-Mastroska MIME, which is how the 4700 classifies an MKV file, instead of a Video/x-MKV MIME. This could be fixed with a software update from Sony or Netgear, but I do not fault Netgear for this as my other DLNA devices see the MKV just fine. Having said this, Sony has not put out a firmware for the S390 and S590 since July. I may return the Sony Blu Ray players for devices that can understand the file type passed via the Netgear. This is especially frustrating considering that the Sony Blu Ray players will play MKV natively. I know this because I have a hard drive connected to the Sony via usb and it plays MKV just fine and as stated prior, it worked with my WDNR3700.

From what I can uderstand, MKV is not a standard format. So devices depend on the server to send them the file in a format that it understands.

As I said earlier, I hope that this will be fixed via firmware to either the 4700 or Sony.

Otherwise the 4700 outperforms my old 3700 in every way. I always had problems with my 3700 updating my DNLA content properly. This is not a problem in the 4700. The range and bandwidth with the 4700 greatly surpasses my old 3700. Especially in 5Ghz .

Biggest hangup I had on the 4700 was getting my 3TB hard drive formatted as one 3TB partition. I was able to do this via Linux boot disk and formatting the drive as EXT4 that way.

The only reason I went with the 4700 over the 6300 is because the 4700 has the built in hard drive bay and the inclusion of USB 3.0. Add in the fact that I am not sure when I will have a device that will support the AC band.

Anyway, that's my .02.

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post #13 of 53 Old 01-18-2013, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Bob, I really appreciate it. Do you know why they use Ext4 if you format the drive inside the Centra?

Yes Ext 4 is the format Centria uses when you choose format from the UI.

Bob
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post #14 of 53 Old 01-25-2013, 01:02 PM
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Did you ever get a response on whether the 4TB WD Black drive would work?
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post #15 of 53 Old 01-25-2013, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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4TB drives are compatible today but you will need to format them with NTFS outside the Centria. NETGEAR will be releasing a new firmware for the unit in about a month that will support internal formatting of drives larger then 2tb which is the current limit.

I might also note that I read an independent review of the Centria in Small Net Builder where he really tested out the Centria NAS performance. In his findings formatting the drive with NTFS generates almost twice the performance of the native EXT4 formatting. Read the review here http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/31882-first-look-netgear-wndr4700-centria?start=2. In his findings he believes that the Centria makes for a very viable NAS alternative. Read the review. Very informative.

Bob Silver
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post #16 of 53 Old 01-26-2013, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post

I might also note that I read an independent review of the Centria in Small Net Builder where he really tested out the Centria NAS performance. In his findings formatting the drive with NTFS generates almost twice the performance of the native EXT4 formatting. Read the review here http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/31882-first-look-netgear-wndr4700-centria?start=2. In his findings he believes that the Centria makes for a very viable NAS alternative. Read the review. Very informative.

AWESOME! This has made me very happy! Thanks so much!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsilver View Post


I might also note that I read an independent review of the Centria in Small Net Builder where he really tested out the Centria NAS performance. In his findings formatting the drive with NTFS generates almost twice the performance of the native EXT4 formatting. Read the review here http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/31882-first-look-netgear-wndr4700-centria?start=2. In his findings he believes that the Centria makes for a very viable NAS alternative. Read the review. Very informative.

Bob Silver
Netgear AV Consultant

Bob,

You might want to reach out to the commenter from the beginning of January on that smallnetbuilder post. He seems really angry and dissatisfied with the product. It might be worth trying to assist him so he can update his comment.
Otherwise a great review and some stellar results.
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post #18 of 53 Old 01-26-2013, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Bob,

You might want to reach out to the commenter from the beginning of January on that smallnetbuilder post. He seems really angry and dissatisfied with the product. It might be worth trying to assist him so he can update his comment.
Otherwise a great review and some stellar results.

Good point. Thanks for the heads up.

Bob
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post #19 of 53 Old 04-01-2013, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
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UPDATE on my WNDR4700 experience.

I ave been using this router for 90 plus days now. The router has been rock solid and the NAS component has also been excellent. Streaming from the device as worked well. No real issues to report. Also performance has been similar to my standalone. ReadyNas Duo as to read speeds.

But my favorite aspect still remains the backup utility ReadyShare Vault. It s superb. Immediate backup with any new files or meddled files. This to e is the best backup experience I have come across as it adds hardly any overhead to the system.

I still really like this router/NAS combo and of all the Netgear routers I have used this is my favorite one yet.

Bob Silver
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post #20 of 53 Old 04-02-2013, 08:00 AM
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I ended up getting the 4TB WD Black drive to work in the Centria by formatting it with NTSF first. I had loaded it with alot of movies and tv shows before installing it into the the Centria, and now when I try to access it, the folders show up, but none of the content shows. Not on any of my network computers, or on my Samsung Smart TV via DLNA.
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post #21 of 53 Old 04-02-2013, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Are you seeing the device on the Network ? Do you turn on the media share features? Can you access it directly via te IP address throughout the browser?
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post #22 of 53 Old 04-02-2013, 09:22 AM
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I see the device and the media share feature is on. I can access it via IP as well. I even tried to copy files to it and it wouldn't copy, gave me some sort of error. I haven't had a chance to problem solve much yet, but I will post updates.
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post #23 of 53 Old 04-02-2013, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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OK kind of weird issue. The problem may be that when you formatted outside the unit and then copied data to it Windows did something to the drive format. Also there is new firmware for the 4700 recently. I believe that this firmware allows the internal format of the large capacity drives. You may need to do a reformat and copy content when the drive is in the unit. Th fact you cant copy anything to it but you can see it is a tell tale sign of the drive format is not right.

Bob
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post #24 of 53 Old 04-02-2013, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Kellybombs,

I confirmed with Netgear product management that the latest firmware release for the 4700 now allows the unit to format 3 and 4tb drives. So I would update your firmware and then reformat the drive in the 4700. You will need to recopy all your media over to it but you should be problem free at that point.

Bob Silver
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post #25 of 53 Old 04-02-2013, 09:35 PM
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Thanks for the follow-up Bob.

I do have the latest firmware, which is Version 1.0.0.50. I don't have a problem moving the data and reformatting the drive, whatever it takes to make it work the best it can. But my question is, do I still format it from Windows in NTFS like Small Net Builder recommended? Or do I format it via the admin console in the Ext 4 format? I don't want to sacrifice any speed, if NTFS performs faster like Tim Higgins stated in his benchmark tests, I'd prefer to go with that. Have you tried in both NTFS and Ext 4?

BTW... I did a little more testing, it let me access and copy files one and two folders deep, but once I got to three, it wouldn't read or write 3 folders deep. I also got a few videos to play on my smart tv that were only 2 folders deep. The error I would receive is "Could not find this item. This is no longer located in \\drive\. Verify the item's location and try again."
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post #26 of 53 Old 04-02-2013, 11:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Well the nested folder issue is still related to the structure of the drive format I suppose. Format the drive in the 4700 using Ext4. While compared to NTFS there may be a performance hit first lets get it working. Then yu can evaluate performance. My 4700 use Ext4 and I am ok with it. Give it a try first.
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post #27 of 53 Old 04-08-2013, 08:16 AM
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I did a test over the weekend on a smaller drive. Formatted it Ext4 and it worked properly, both on my network computers and smart TV. I then formatted that smaller drive in NTFS, and did the same test. Everything worked fine. I will try again with the 4TB sometime this week.

But for now it looks like the issue happened when I put data on the drive before inserting it into the Centria. Thanks again for all your help!
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post #28 of 53 Old 04-10-2013, 12:05 PM
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Sad to say the WD Black 4TB just won't work in the Centria, formatted in Ext4 or NTFS. Shows up one minute, gone the next and seems to affect the actual internet connection as well. Tested with a Seagate 1.5TB and a WD Green 2TB and they worked perfect in both formats. Just doesn't seem to want to work at all with the 4TB. Normally I would assume something might be wrong with the drive itself, but it works fine internally in my computer and as an external connected via USB. Oh well, I'll just have to swap it with one of my other internal drives.
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post #29 of 53 Old 04-10-2013, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Let me contact the Product Manager for you. See what drives were tested. When you say shows up one minute and then gone can you explain this more. Also you said it affects the Internet connection. That's weird. I wonder if it is power supply related since the drive and the Internet are not related at all. So what other detail you can provide would be helpful. Again I will contact the PM for you.

Bob Silver
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post #30 of 53 Old 04-10-2013, 12:40 PM
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It will be under my network drives, I'll click on it, go a folder or two deep, then click on a video, then it will say content is no longer available. Sometimes the folder is empty when it actually isn't. Other times the drive is completely gone from the Network Drives. The same thing happens on my Smart TV via DLNA, the content is listed, but once I click on a video to watch, the drive in the Centria will just be gone as a DLNA source.

When these issues happen, I also frequently have lost my network connection completely. Just seems to be buggy all around when the 4TB is used compared to a smaller drive.
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