Buffalo Technology – Linkstation Pro Duo review

Media server and Network Attached Storage
Photo of Buffalo Technology – Linkstation Pro Duo
£210 for 2TB model

CDs, DVDs and USB memory drives are all handy ways to move your data around – but if you need to swap files regularly, it pays to use a storage device that can be permanently shared between several PCs. That’s where Network Attached Storage (NAS) comes in. NAS devices incorporate one or more hard disks, and can be hooked up to a network so that each computer on the Local Area Network (LAN) can access them as a network drive. Of course not all NAS devices are created equal – but Buffalo makes the whole business particularly easy with its LinkStation Pro Duo.

The LinkStation Pro Duo is Network Attached Storage (NAS) with added media server facilities. It comes with twin drives installed as standard, with a total capacity of either 2TB or 4TB. You can use each of the drives independently, or in a RAID configuration.

RAID for speed or security
For those unfamiliar with a ”Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks’, it’s a technique used to harness two or more drives together, either for extra speed (Raid 0) or extra security (RAID 1).

Using a RAID 1 array, both drives inside the neat black case hold the same data – so if one drive dies, you won’t lose any of your precious information. Simply pull out the quick-change dead drive, slot in a replacement, and all the data is automatically copied to the new one to maintain the dual storage. The down side is that your 2TB drive will hold just 1TB of data, or your 4TB model will hold just 2TB. As supplied, the device is set up with RAID 0 – apparently in response to customers complaining that they could only see a capacity of 1TB on a 2TB product.

Supplied software
For setup and everyday maintenance, Buffalo provides a control program called NAS Navigator. Trouble is, it’s not the most intuitive of apps to use. Also supplied is NovaStor, a comprehensive backup application which handles scheduling as well as customised backup sets. There’s nothing specifically geared to media playback, but the device is seen as a standard drive, so your favourite player should work fine.

The device supports Mac as well as PC, and can handle Time Machine backups and iTunes track stores. You can also access media stored on the drive directly over the Internet and play back your stored media from any Web browser – assuming you have a fast enough broadband connection.

Performance
We copied 4.7GB of data from a PC to the LinkSation Pro Duo using 10/100 Ethernet, and the newer, faster gigabit Ethernet connections. The transfer times reduced from around nine and a half minutes to just over two, so if you have a gigabit network, you’ll see a real difference.

The improved speed is partly down to a faster processor in the LinkStation Pro Duo, compared to Buffalo’s earlier LinkStation Duo. Even so, the LinkStation Pro Duo still provides only average performance for the price.

Company: Buffalo Technology

Website: http://www.amazon.co.uk


Verdict
This is a well-designed, practical network storage system that can be used for backup, as a media server, or both. It's easy to use - but speeds, although decent enough, aren't outstanding. As it stands, it's hard to justify the drive's current price.