Buffalo TeraStation Pro TS-1.6TGL/R5 review

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Buffalo’s NAS appliances were among the first products in 2005 to hit the magical 1TB marker in a desktop unit. The TeraStation received a Recommended award for its high capacity and remarkably low price. Now we have the TeraStation Pro, which targets SMEs, takes raw capacity up to an impressive 1.6TB and delivers improved disk-swap capabilities.

Buffalo TeraStation Pro TS-1.6TGL/R5 review

As with its predecessor, the Pro is designed to look good on the office desktop, with a smart LCD providing plenty of operational information. The drive bays are protected by a lockable door, and behind this you’ll find a quartet of 400GB Western Digital SATA drives. We criticised the TeraStation for the poor access provided for disk replacement, and the Pro goes some way to remedy this. The drives are fitted in carriers that can be removed easily from the front, but they aren’t hot-swappable. Each drive is connected to the controller board with combined power/SATA cables, so the appliance must be powered down before they can be removed. Buffalo provides a next-day replacement service for failed drives and will send out a new unit complete with carrier. The Pro can’t be purchased as a driveless chassis, because the Linux kernel runs from a 4MB flash memory chip but is also spread across a protected 100MB partition on each drive.

Buffalo’s client utility allows users to search for TeraStations, view shares, change the IP address and access the web management interface. The appliance supports up to two RAID arrays, which will only be of use if you opt for a pair of dual-disk mirrors. Otherwise, you can use each drive individually, go for a single 1.6TB stripe or plump for the default four-drive RAID5 array.

Apart from the quick-swap functions and the larger capacity, features on the Pro model are pretty much the same as those offered by the older TeraStation. Along with support for the CIFS/SMB and AFP protocols, the appliance can function as an FTP server and these features can be enabled or disabled for each network share. Two USB ports are provided for adding external storage, but networking USB printers isn’t an option. User accounts and group membership can be used to restrict access to network shares, and the appliance can join a workgroup or domain. The review unit had the latest firmware upgrade supporting Active Directory integration. We tested this successfully by configuring the appliance to join our test lab domain, allowing the AD domain server to deal with user authentication.

Data backup features are reasonable. Up to eight full or differential jobs can be scheduled to secure selected shares to any local storage device or to another TeraStation. You also get a Windows client for scheduling workstation backup to the appliance. However, if you want to secure the appliance data to another location, you can only do this via network shares, as you can’t install any agent software on the appliance.

Small businesses looking for a simple, low-cost NAS device should consider the TeraStation Pro. General file sharing and access control features are above average, and it’s offering a lot of storage at a competitive price.

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