Buffalo TeraStation 5400 review

£816
Price when reviewed

Buffalo’s TeraStation appliances have suffered from a lack of serious development for some time now, but the all-new 5000 series aims to drag them out of the doldrums. The TeraStation 5400 sits in the middle of a five-strong range, and with both NAS and IP SAN powered by an Intel Atom processor, it’s ready to take the fight to Synology and Qnap.

Buffalo TeraStation 5400 review

On paper, the TS5400 ticks all the boxes. The dual-core 1.86GHz Atom processor partners 2GB of DDR3 memory, and the four drive bays are filled with 2TB Western Digital GreenPower HDDs. It’s reasonable value for money – only slightly more expensive than Synology’s DiskStation DS412+ and Qnap’s TS-469L. The only downside is that there isn’t a diskless model on offer, and replacement drives are only available from Buffalo.

Buffalo’s NAS Navigator 2 software streamlines the installation process, but the optional logical volume management (LVM) feature means you’ll need to think carefully before configuring the storage array. Out of the box, the TS5400 is preconfigured as a single RAID5 array with LVM disabled. Only one logical volume is supported, and this can be used for NAS shares or an IP SAN volume – not both. The LVM feature allows for multiple NAS and IP SAN volumes in the same array, but enabling it deletes any pre-existing shares. Likewise, if you decide to disable LVM further down the line, it also requires any existing shares and IP SAN targets to be deleted.

Buffalo TeraStation 5400

Previously, our testing with the TeraStation iSCSI revealed that enabling LVM resulted in a severe performance drop. Thankfully, Buffalo has rectified this with the TS5400. With LVM disabled, Iometer reported a fast raw read speed of 109MB/sec for a mapped share. Enabling LVM and creating a new set of shares saw Iometer return the same speed.

Real-world performance is strong: drag-and-drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip returned read and write speeds of 104MB/sec and 81MB/sec. IP SAN speeds were also right on the money, with Iometer returning a top raw read speed of 112MB/sec for a 100GB target. Small file transfers were more of a challenge, though: it took more than 14 minutes to copy a 22.4GB mixture of 10,500 files to the appliance over Gigabit, an average of only 26MB/sec.

The TS5400 comes with a ten-user copy of NovaBackup Business Essentials, which offers plenty of useful backup features including support for SQL database and Exchange backup. Version 13 is included as standard, but it’s possible to upgrade to version 14 for £20.

IP camera-feed recording is handled by Buffalo’s Surveillance Server software, which runs on a Windows or Mac host and uses the appliance as a recording vault. Real-time streaming protocol (RTSP) feeds are supported, and we successfully tested it with an Axis 216FD IP camera. We were able to create continuous and scheduled recording policies and use the Video Manager tool to view all recordings and export clips to other media. Buffalo includes one camera licence; additional licences cost £37.

Despite all the new additions, and some handy backup features, the TS5400 is still found wanting. The surveillance tools are useful, but require a host PC to be left on permanently; features such as thin provisioning and LUN backup are entirely missing.

It’s an improvement on previous models, but compared to rival appliances from Synology and Qnap, the TeraStation 5400 has some serious catching up to do.

Basic specifications

Capacity 8.00TB
RAID capability yes
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Services

FTP server? yes
Web hosting? yes

Connections

Ethernet ports 2
USB connection? yes
eSATA interface no

Physical

Dimensions 170 x 230 x 215mm (WDH)

Software

Software supplied Buffalo Surveillance Server, NovaBackup Business Essentials v13

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