Buffalo TeraStation Pro II Rackmount review

£352
Price when reviewed

Netgear started a trend last year with its ReadyNAS appliances, and Buffalo now steps in line with its latest TeraStation Pro II. This NAS appliance sports the same features as its popular desktop boxes but in a rack chassis.

The Rackmount doesn’t look as sophisticated or as compact as the PC Pro-Recommended Netgear ReadyNAS 1100. It accommodates only four hard disks yet the chassis stands at twice the height of the Netgear system and, at 42cm from front to back, it’s also around 10cm deeper.

And, despite this extra heft, it still doesn’t support hot-swap. Dubbed quick-swap drives, these are connected to the controller board with combined power/SATA cables, so the appliance must be powered down before they can be removed. (Buffalo informed us that it provides a next day replacement service for failed drives and will send out a new unit complete with carrier.)

The Rackmount can’t be purchased as a driveless chassis, as the Linux kernel boots from flash memory and is also spread across a 481MB protected partition on each drive.

Netgear claims the ReadyNAS rack chassis is energy efficient, consuming around 75W. Although Buffalo doesn’t make such a song and dance about it, the Rackmount is actually much greener: our in-line power meter showed it drew a mere 38W in idle and 43W when under load.

The Rackmount also delivers in the performance stakes, with the Iometer utility reporting a raw read speed of 39MB/sec. In our real-world tests, we saw FTP read-and-write transfers using the excellent FileZilla client panning out at 25.5MB/sec and 15MB/sec, while general file copies using large video clips returned 19.1MB/sec and 15.7MB/sec respectively.

Installation is the same as for the desktop boxes, where the bundled NAS Navigator utility discovers the appliance on the network and provides drive-mapping tools and quick access to its web interface, which we’ve always found easy enough to use.

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Array options look good, as you have support for RAID0, 1, 10, 5, disk spanning and JBODs. Two USB ports are provided, but placing them at the rear makes them harder to access in a rack cabinet – the ReadyNAS has one at the front. Access security extends from the local database to joining NT authentication domains and Active Directory.

The appliance can manage its own backup tasks and offers schedules for up to eight full or differential jobs for securing selected shares to any local storage device or to another TeraStation. For workstation backup you get Memeo’s AutoBackup.

However, with the Rackmount aimed more at businesses, the single-user licence is miserly. We prefer the five-user copy of EMC Retrospect Professional software that Netgear bundles with its ReadyNAS apps.

The Rackmount offers a great range of storage features at a competitive price. Performance across a range of tasks is comparatively good but, compared with the ReadyNAS alternative, Buffalo’s chassis construction and design leaves much to be desired.

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