Buffalo LinkStation Pro review

Price when reviewed

With its latest LinkStation Pro family of NAS appliances, Buffalo is targeting small businesses that want a low-cost network storage and backup device. To achieve this, Buffalo has taken its basic Gigabit LinkStation products, given them a new chassis and dropped in the firmware from its TeraStation Pro. There’s more, as support for a single SATA hard disk has allowed Buffalo to offer capacities from 250GB right up to a massive 750GB.

Buffalo is also making some bold claims about performance, as it reckons the Pro is the fastest single-drive NAS appliance on the market and quotes a top speed of 35MB/sec. Processing power has been doubled, as the 200MHz processor in the standard LinkStations gets boosted to 400MHz for the Pro. The memory contingent stays the same as Buffalo’s other appliances. You tread the same installation path as all Buffalo’s NAS products by loading the bundled client utility, which searches the network for any Buffalo appliance. You can then move on to the web browser interface, which is identical to that offered by the TeraStations and adds several useful features. Access controls get beefed up, as both NT domain authentication and Active Directory (AD) integration are supported. We found the latter feature easy enough to set up, allowing our AD domain server to handle user authentication.

Client support extends to Windows, Linux and Macintosh systems, and you can also publish shared folders for FTP access. As shares are created, you can decide which clients can access them, enable or disable individual services, and determine global read and write access or hand these rights out to specific users and groups. The appliance has a couple of USB ports, and devices are automatically shared as soon as they’re connected. However, Buffalo doesn’t recommend using flash storage devices, as it can’t guarantee they’ll work. We successfully tested using a 300GB Maxtor OneTouch external drive. Note also that the USB ports don’t support printers.

To test performance, we installed the appliance on a Gigabit Ethernet network and copied a 690MB video file from a 3.2GHz Pentium D PC to the appliance and saw an average write speed of 16.5MB/sec. We then copied the file from the appliance back to the PC, which returned a more impressive 20MB/sec. Raw throughput comes close to Buffalo’s claims, as the Iometer utility reported 19MB/sec for 100% write operations and 31MB/sec for read operations.

Backup features abound, as the appliance can run up to eight scheduled jobs that copy local data to a USB device or another networked LinkStation. The bundled Easy Backup software allows users to manage their own backup and restore jobs. A single-user licence is included for the Memeo AutoBackup software, which is far more sophisticated. It provides wizards to help select folders and application-specific files, it can run a schedule of full backups followed by incrementals and also offers optional encryption.

The LinkStation Pro is certainly one of the fastest devices in its class and comes with a good range of backup tools. It also has a low price tag, making it a good alternative for small offices that don’t want to fork out for a larger multidrive storage appliance.

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