Product reviews usually start with a quick summary of the hardware or software under scrutiny. In the case of the Buffalo LinkStation Pro that summary runs as follows: it’s quick, easy to use, very useful and I liked it.
For those not in the know, the device in question is a single disk NAS (Network Attached Storage) server. It’s based on the very popular LinkStation but with a much faster SATA (Serial ATA) hard disk, plus a Gigabit Ethernet interface and other enhancements to suit the Pro to small business as well as home use.
The model Buffalo supplied was the base LS-250GL which, as you might have guessed, has a 250GB (Western Digital) disk, but others are also available up to a maximum 750GB. All are housed in a compact case, small enough to hold in one hand, but more usually stood on a desk or shelf.
To install it, just plug the LinkStation Pro into the network and turn it on using the large silver on/off button at the front. The power supply is built in and it’s extremely quiet, much quieter than the ordinary LinkStation, so you hardly realise it’s there.
A Windows-based utility is used to locate the Pro on the network with the now almost-compulsory Web interface for management. And although not the fastest interface around, nor the prettiest, it does the job with straightforward menus to change the network and file-sharing settings.
Windows sharing using SMB/CIFS is assumed, with local or Windows Domain authentication, including Active Directory if required. Support for Apple Mac networks can also be enabled with a built-in FTP server too, should you, again, need it.
You also get a couple of USB ports into which you can plug external hard disks, although this storage can’t be shared. Instead it’s used solely for backups. Plus, if you buy two LinkStation Pros, you can take backups from one to the other over the LAN with a built-in scheduler. Note, though, that the USB ports can’t be used to share printers as on some NAS appliances.
As I said at the start, the LinkStation Pro is quick, the SATA disk and Gigabit Ethernet interface giving transfer rates of 20-30Mbytes/sec on my read/write tests. You can also turn on support for Jumbo Ethernet frames to accelerate the transfer of large files even further. However, I couldn’t find a PC or server with an adapter to match the frame sizes used by the Buffalo hardware. Indeed a general lack of standards and an inconsistent approach to this technology reduces its usefulness considerably.
That apart, the LinkStation Pro proved its worth as a server on my network and I particularly liked the Memeo backup software, included in the price, which allows you to continuously backup a PC without having to think too much about it.
Indeed, there’s a lot to be said for products like this; devices that simply get on and do what they’re supposed to. Which is why, having reviewed the new LinkStation Pro, I went out and bought one.
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