Buffalo TeraStation 5210DN review

A great NAS for business storage and backup, but limited elsewhere

Price
£527
  • Incredibly fast; VMware-certified; 10Gb Ethernet as standard
  • Complicated setup; Lacking in features

Make no mistake: this NAS means business. Relatively compact but impressively heavy, the 5210DN looks purpose-built for the corporate data centre, with the two drive bays concealed beneath a locking panel complete with tough hexagonal grill. There's an enormous 8cm fan at the back of the unit, and this kicks in when the appliance is turned on with a ferocious roar. It's much, much quieter in general operation, but still far from the most unobtrusive unit around. It's also one of the rare units that you can only buy with drives pre-installed, though you can replace the drives yourself if you need to.

It's not the easiest NAS to set up and configure. Forget automatic discovery; you have to browse to a device-specific URL and download Buffalo's NAS Navigator utility. You use this to discover your NAS and configure basic settings or map network shares, then use the web-based configuration panel for more in-depth work.

The UI isn't that user-friendly, either, but then again this isn't the kind of NAS that rewards any tinkering. There are no apps as such, just features to sync folders on the NAS with Dropbox folders, or back up files and folders to Amazon S3. Dropbox users definitely get the better deal, with options to encrypt files in transit, create share links and schedule synchronisation. And while the 5210DN was picked up as a media server by a Windows laptop and an Android phone running VLC, it doesn't actually have any media server capabilities as such. It's an appliance for centralised file storage, sharing and backup -- and that's about it.

Why bother with the 5210DN, then? Well, it's not alone in supporting iSCSI, Active Directory and virtualisation, but it's VMware certified and covered by a three-year warranty with 24-hour hard disk replacement. It's also one of the fewer NAS appliances with 10Gigabit Ethernet built-in, with a single 10GbE port alongside two Gigabit Ethernet ports with link aggregation. Most importantly, it's extremely fast.

While its scores in CrystalDiskMark were underwhelming, the 5210DN was brutally, consistently speedy in our file-transfer tests, both for sustained high-speed transfers of large media files, and when transferring large numbers of smaller files while streaming 4K video. It's not a versatile, do-it-all NAS, but as a plug-in business storage solution it makes a certain sense.

Verdict

The Buffalo TeraStation 5210DN isn't a versatile, do-it-all NAS, but as a plug-in business storage solution it makes a certain sense, thanks to a generous warranty, outstanding speeds and no-nonsense business sharing features.

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