Buffalo LinkStation HD-H250LAN review
Buffalo’s LinkStation has plenty going for it. It’s the only device here with an internal PSU, meaning one less black box cluttering up the place. It’s also well built and thoughtfully designed.
For a start, there’s a front-mounted power button, so you don’t have to feel behind to switch it off as with the others on test. Sensibly, there’s a USB port on the front too, so you can easily plug in a printer or USB hard disk.
From this, it’s obvious that the LinkStation can function as your network’s print server as well as allowing you to add capacity via an external disk (there’s a second USB port on the rear). Alternatively, you can configure the LinkStation to back up its contents onto an external disk at a time you specify.
Although there’s no official support for Mac clients, the fact that the device supports AppleTalk means you can share files across both platforms. Just don’t call Buffalo for any technical support where Mac OS is concerned.
Initial setup couldn’t be simpler. Running the LinkNavigator application starts a search for the appliance and automatically configures the IP address to match your existing setup. If it’s connected directly to a PC, it will also mount the default ‘disk’ share as a network drive.
Likewise, managing the LinkStation is easy. The web interface is well designed and allows you to set when the station sleeps and wakes up, although it can’t tell a connected USB disk to sleep and wake up in sync. You can create user accounts and groups to allow or deny access to particular shares. There’s no quota management or email alerts and, like some others, hidden files aren’t supported. The latter means that files hidden in Windows will show as normal files on the LinkStation. This is somewhat offset by the fact that there’s no file-size limit and you can use the LinkStation to store media and serve it to a LinkTheater.
Another bonus is that the LinkStation is fairly quiet. There’s a temperature-controlled fan at the rear, but the 28.9dBA we measured at idle will fade into the background noise. Seeks can be heard occasionally, but from the front they only just nudged over 30dBA.
Performance was slightly down compared to other 10/100 devices, with a write speed of 5.8MB/sec and a read speed of 6.4MB/sec. If performance is more important than functions, look at Freecom’s Classic SL. However, if speed isn’t your top priority and you can take advantage of the FTP-, print- and media-serving functions of the LinkStation, it’s a cheaper (and larger capacity) alternative to the Synology.