Buffalo TeraStation Pro 1TB

Price
£499

It seems that there is never enough storage available to users. Extending their local machines is no longer acceptable so storage has to be added in the network. If you are a large organisation with a lot of spare bandwidth, this is no great deal. But what if you are a smaller organisation, a branch office or need to add storage to a department or workgroup for a specific project?

The Buffalo TeraStation Pro range of storage enclosures comes in three sizes, 1TB, 1.6TB and 2TB. Not surprisingly the size is dictated by the disks that are inside. The unit is small. Just 170x235x310mm. It's so quiet that if it were not for the lights on the front you wouldn't know it was running. It houses four SATA II drives in a range of sizes, 250GB, 400GB and 500GB.

You also get a small booklet describing how to use the unit, a CD with drivers and utility software, power and network cables. As this is a standalone unit, it's not designed for installation into a rack.

The TeraStation comes with its own backup software that allows you to backup two different TeraStations. As we only had a single TeraStation we were unable to see how well this performed.

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The TeraStation Pro comes out of the box, almost ready to go. To get started you simply plug in the power cable, attach the network cable and press the switch on the front. It takes just over a minute to power up and complete its self check.

Take the CD and install the Client utility. This allows you to find the TeraStation Pro and begin configuration. Start by choosing Browser Configuration and setting the IP Address and subnet of the TeraStation. You'll need the default password in order to make the change.

Once this is done and saved, you can connect to the TeraStation Pro from a standard browser. From here you can configure the TeraStation Pro onto your network. Most of the configuration is self explanatory and the menu system takes a steady progression through the features.

Setting up a RAID array is very simple and the TeraStation offers you three options, RAID 0, 1 and 5. In most cases you are going to set this up as a RAID 5 box and that will take some time. When you first create the RAID array it has to go through the disks and check that they are valid. With 4 x 250GB drives, this took just over 6hrs. Compared to other storage devices out there, this is longer than we would have expected.

Adding the TeraStation Pro to your network is relatively simple. You will need to add it as a computer into your domain before you begin. It supports Windows NT Domains, SMB Servers and Microsoft's Active Directory. You can also choose to create local users and groups using the built in authentication system. This is where things get a little tricky.

If you add it to Windows NT or Windows AD, you can import users but not groups. You have to create groups locally. However, you cannot add domain users to the local groups. As a result, this works well when you have a very limited set of users to give access to. Otherwise you will need to import your entire directory list and then select the users who will have access to data.

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Space is exposed on the disk by creating shares that users can either map as network drives or browse to. This should pose no problem for the majority of users.

There is a real missed opportunity by Buffalo here and that is with the backup software. While you can always copy files to the TeraStation, making it a backup candidate would have been interesting. More importantly, allowing user to backup the TeraStation to the network using the supplied software would make it ideal for departmental projects where data can be returned to the data centre overnight.

The documentation is something that needs a complete overhaul. It fails to tell you how to solve problems and the web site, due for a refresh soon, is appalling weak when it comes to help and advice.

Good performance, let down by weak documentation and poor network integration.

Verdict

This is a nice solution when you need to add point storage to the network in a hurry. It's lack of user import and management features don't do it justice. It needs to deal with network integration better and the time taken to configure an array is unimpressive.

LAN Interface Interface: IEEE802.3/IEEE802.3u Standard (100 BASE-TX/10 BASE-T) Transmission Speed: 10/100/1000 Mbps Transmission Encoding Method: 1000 BASE-T: 8B1Q4, PAM5 Access Method: CSMA/CD Port/Connector:RJ-45 Cable Compatibility: 1000 BASE-T: Category 5, 4 UTP 100 BASE-TX: Category 5, 2 4 UTP 10 BASE-T: Category 3, 4, 5 2 UTP Ports: 1 Maximum Transmission Distance: 100 Meters

Drives Number of Drives: 4 (250GB each, 7,200rpm)

USB Interface Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, Full-Speed, Low-Speed Connector Type: USB Series A Number of Ports: 2 Data Transmission Speed: 480 Mbps (HS Mode), 12 Mbps (FS Mode)

Protocol Support TCP/IP: Windows Communication SMB: Linux and Unix Variant Communications FTP: Internal/External Access UPS: UPS Compatible (Serial Port)

Others Dimensions: 170 x 235 x 310 mm Weight: 7.16 kg Operating Environment: 0-35 C Setup Utility OS Support: Windows Operating Systems Client OS Support: Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98 SE

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