Buffalo TeraStation 5400R review
A high capacity at a low price, but inevitably you’re getting basic features and average performance
Buffalo's TeraStation 5400R certainly scores when it comes to value for money: despite our review model costing less than 900, it includes 12TB of raw storage. Business-class features aren't as advanced as the competition, but they do include support for NAS and IP SAN operations, plenty of RAID choices and IP camera surveillance.
What you're not getting is phenomenal speed. The 5400R lacks punch in the hardware department because it's endowed with an ageing 2.13GHz dual-core Atom D2700 and 2GB of DDR3 RAM, which can't be upgraded. You can't buy a diskless model, either, and have to buy replacement drives from Buffalo.
Installation took only two minutes: the appliance came out of the box with its four 3TB WD Red SATA drives preconfigured in a RAID5 array. Buffalo's NAS Navigator 2 utility worked fine on a Windows 10 desktop, where it provided quick access to the appliance's web interface and a handy drive-mapping service.
Before configuring storage, it pays to get acquainted with Buffalo's logical volume manager (LVM). The 5400R comes with LVM disabled on its RAID5 array, so it will support NAS shares or an IP SAN volume, but not both.
LVM allows multiple NAS and IP SAN volumes to exist in the same array, but all pre-existing shares will be deleted when it's enabled. Disabling LVM later on will also delete all current shares and IP SAN volumes.
Buffalo states that LVM has a negative impact on performance,but we saw no evidence of this happening during our tests. On a non-LVM volume, a 25GB file copy to a mapped NAS share saw sustained read and write speeds of 111MB/sec and 80MB/sec, while our 22.4GB backup test copy delivered 62MB/sec.
Creating an IP SAN on our non-LVM volume deleted all shares, but there are security measures in place to prevent rash changes: the TeraStation sensibly asked us to enter a four-digit code before it went ahead with the operation. Performance matched our expectations, with Iometer reporting equal raw sequential read and write speedsof 112MB/sec for our iSCSI target.
Swapping to an LVM-enabled volume allowed us to create NAS shares and IP SAN volumes without impacting performance. Our NAS file copies returned the same speeds as did Iometer when run on a new iSCSI target.
We were less impressed by Buffalo's Surveillance Server software, in part because it runs on a Windows host and only uses the appliance as a recording vault. It manages IP camera recording schedules and has a Video Manager tool for viewing them, but we had to load it on a Windows 7 system as it failed to run on Windows 10.
Backup features include one-way replication to other TeraStations for off-site storage. The 5400R can also manage scheduled jobs for copying data from local shares to other shares that have the Backup option enabled, which allows them to be used as destinations.
Buffalo's WebAccess let our users access permitted shares remotely via a web browser using Buffalo's cloud portal, but it's not as slick as the cloud services offered by Qnap and Synology. The 5400R also supports Amazon S3 accounts, but we found it only syncs the contents of a single share to one S3 bucket, and can't run scheduled backup tasks.
Whereas most of the competition provide built-in file syncing apps for workstation backup, Buffalo includes a ten-user copy of NovaBackup Business Essentials 14.5. We had no problem running scheduled backups of our Windows 10 desktops, and you can upgrade to the latest version 17 for a reduced fee of 35.
The TeraStation 5400R doesn't come close to Qnap or Synology for business features and performance but it is good value. SMBs looking for a big chunk of cheap network storage for simple file sharing and backup will find the TeraStation 5400R a worthy choice.
The TeraStation 5400R doesn’t come close to Qnap or Synology for business features and performance but it is good value. SMBs looking for a big chunk of cheap network storage for simple file sharing and backup will find the TeraStation 5400R a worthy choice.
2.13GHz Intel Atom D2700
2GB DDR3 RAM
4x 3TB WD Red SATA hot-swap hard disks
Supports RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBOD
2x Gigabit Ethernet
Buffalo Surveillance Server (1x camera licence) and NovaBackup Business Essentials 14.5 (10x licences)
3yr standard warranty