• United States

Product test: Buffalo Technology debuts SOHO NAS

Feb 09, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsSmall and Medium Business

LinkStation Network Storage Center provides 120G bytes of storage, USB expandability

Buffalo Technology, Japan’s leading PC peripheral maker and best-known here for its wireless network gear, recently debuted a network-attached storage device for home and small offices. The LinkStation Network Storage Center includes a 120G-byte hard disk drive for storing files accessible from PCs on the network, an Ethernet port for connecting to a wireless access point and two USB 2.0 ports for adding a printer and back-up drive.

Like a paperback book, the unit stands on its side and fits easily into a small space. Once the LinkStation is connected, PCs on the network will recognize the box as a new drive. The USB ports are located on the front and back, with the on/off switch in front for easy access. A set of clearly labeled LEDs provides a quick view of the unit’s status including Power, Link, Disk Full and Diagnostics. Oddly, when we ran the disk scanner utility, the Disk Full light flashed.

Buffalo knows most small business people aren’t network experts, so products need to provide a smooth setup. The LinkStation quick-start guide is clearly written, with easy-to-follow color illustrations. There’s also a set-up CD that walks you through the process and helps make easy work of mapping the box to a network drive.

The product includes a well-designed firmware configuration utility you access from Internet Explorer. Here, you set up the LinkStation on the network, configure security, connect a USB network printer or USB back-up device, and handle disk formatting and scanning, and configure data backup. While you can’t partition the drive in a traditional sense, you can divide the storage into smaller chunks by creating custom folders and subfolders that you map to network drives.

We experienced only one wrinkle during setup: When we mapped network drives to custom folders, we couldn’t view them. But after a quick call (with zero wait time) to technical support, we resolved the problem – which stemmed from confusion over how to map drives to folders – easily. The LinkStation does include a color PDF manual that shows you how to handle the process, but it could stand more detail for less-technical users.

Buffalo Technology LinkStation Network Storage Center
Company: Buffalo Technology Cost: $299 Pros: Easy configuration, smart design, includes Windows and Macintosh support Cons: Manual needs more detail for less technical users.
Manageability:25%  4
Features: 20%  4
Documentation:25%  3
Ease of Setup: 30%  5
Scoring Key: 5: Exceptional; 4: Very good; 3: Average; 2: Below average; 1: Consistently subpar