Buffalo TeraStation review
Buffalo blasts into the SME NAS market with a compact appliance offering a big helping of storage and useful backup features for an amazing price.
Review Date: 17 May 2005
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: exc VAT
Buffalo Technology has been very busy recently, muscling in on the entry-level NAS market. The company started at the end of 2004 with a range of affordable desktop appliances. These impressed us sufficiently for the LinkStation HD-H120LAN to take a well-deserved Recommended award. With the TeraStation, Buffalo sets its sights somewhat higher and now comes into direct competition with the likes of Iomega and, in particular, its NAS 200d.
The biggest surprise is the TeraStation's price: less than half that of the 200d. To help achieve this, Buffalo offers a lower hardware specification, so you get a lowly 266MHz PowerPC processor as opposed to the Iomega's 2GHz Celeron. The memory contingent is the same, but Buffalo has opted for a quartet of lower-cost 250GB ATA/100 drives, whereas the 200d uses a trio of 164GB SATA/150 models. You're getting a lot more storage for your money, although the most significant difference is with the OS. The TeraStation uses a basic Linux kernel, whereas Iomega offers a full version of Windows Storage Server 2003, making its device far more versatile.
The TeraStation looks smart, and the sleek front panel offers plenty of status LEDs for general operations and disk status. It will also tell you when a disk or RAID array has failed and when a disk is getting full. When it comes to disk replacement, you'll need to get busy with the screwdriver. To replace a failed unit, you must remove the four rubber feet, the main cover, the front panel, the internal chassis side panel, the disk cage mounting screws, and all power and interface cables. Only then can you pull out the disk cage and remove the required disk. The 200d, on the other hand, includes hot-swap bays.
Installation is on a par with the Iomega. Buffalo provides its TeraNavigator utility, which takes you through the process of discovering the appliance and setting it up. At this stage, you need to decide how you want to use the disks. You can choose between a JBOD, a single 1TB stripe, dual 250GB mirrors or a triple-disk RAID5 array, with the fourth storing parity data. The supplied client utility can then be used to search for TeraStations, view shares, change the IP addressing scheme and directly access the web browser management interface.
Client support is more limited, as the appliance supports only CIFS/SMB and AFP. This allows Windows and Macintosh systems to use the TeraStation, but it can also function as an FTP server. The browser management interface is a tidy affair, offering easy access to network settings, disk management, and user and group creation. You can create access restrictions on your network shares and decide which client types may use them, but quotas aren't supported. Four USB ports are useful extras, as you're able to share external drives and network USB printers as well. Data backup features are good too. Up to eight full or differential jobs may 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.
NAS appliances are often criticised for being unnecessarily expensive, but the TeraStation bucks the trend by delivering an affordable 1TB of network storage. Features are more limited than the NAS 200d, but the TeraStation aims for both capacity and value.
Author: Dave Mitchell
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