Buffalo Technology TeraStation Pro II 2TB review
When Buffalo launched its TeraStation Pro, it impressed us with its high capacity and low price, but performance wasn’t a strong point. The TeraStation Pro II aims to remedy this shortfall in speed and brings to bear a few extra features as well.
All changes have occurred internally, since the Pro II uses precisely the same chassis as its predecessor. The review model came with a quartet of 500GB SATA hard disks and, unlike much of the competition, these still don’t support hot-swap. Coined by Buffalo as quick-swap, the drives are connected to the controller board with combined power/SATA cables, so the appliance must be powered down before they can be removed. Buffalo advised us that it provides a replacement service for failed drives and will send out a new unit complete with carrier. The Pro II can’t be bought as a driveless chassis, as the Linux kernel runs from a 4MB flash memory chip and is spread across a protected 100MB partition on each drive.
Installation treads the same path as the bundled NAS Navigator utility, which locates the appliance and provides quick access to its web interface. This is pretty much the same as that offered by the Pro, but RAID options have improved, as the appliance also supports RAID0, 10 and spanning as well as RAID1, 5 and JBODs. Bring a good book when you create an array, as we clocked a four-drive RAID5 build at seven-and-a-half hours.
General NAS-related features are good, with support for CIFS/SMB and AFP, and the appliance can function as an FTP server for specific shares. For backup, the appliance can manage and schedule up to eight full or differential jobs for securing selected shares to any local storage device or to another TeraStation. The bundled Easy Backup utility provides users with basic tools for securing their own local data, and this is augmented with Memeo’s AutoBackup. It’s a pity Buffalo couldn’t stretch to more than a single-user licence, but it does have the ability to back up new or changed files in real-time for continuous protection.
The Pro II sports a new controller with a faster 500MHz Marvell Orion onboard. This is the only significant improvement, since memory is still a modest 128MB, which can’t be upgraded. However, as we found in our performance tests, this has made a huge difference. We loaded up an older Pro model to compare and looked on as the Iometer utility (www.iometer.org) reported a raw read speed of only 15MB/sec, while the Pro II came back with a much healthier 34MB/sec. For real-world testing, we saw FTP speeds increase from 11MB/sec and 7.2MB/sec read and write up to 26.6MB/sec and 16MB/sec for the Pro II. General file copying gets a boost as well, with a 690MB video file written to the Pro at 4.2MB/sec and 13.8MB/sec for the Pro II, while read speeds went up from 11MB/sec to 18.2MB/sec.
The new processor gives a significant speed boost, but other than this the Pro II doesn’t offer any major improvements over the previous model. Even so, value has always been one of Buffalo’s strong points, and the TeraStation Pro II is offering a lot of storage at a sensible price.