Just how much disk storage space do you actually need? One possible answer, perhaps with more than a touch of tongue in cheek, might well be the retort of “the same again that I already have please”. Or to put in another way – we will never have enough storage space to satisfy the needs of our constantly growing amount of personal data. The reason for my asking the question, while totally ignoring what the Cloud might have to offer, is the arrival, from Buffalo, of a new NAS box aimed at small businesses and home office environments. This product is the LinkStation 441 NAS 4-bay desktop unit which can provide up to 16TB of local storage and is compatible with Windows, Mac Android and iOS systems.
While Buffalo tends to prefer offering its NAS boxes fully populated, this product is available either populated or diskless. My review unit was of the former type and came with four 1TB drives firmly in position. Also found in the packaging are power leads for two and three pin connections, Ethernet cable, a pair of keys for unlocking the front of the NAS box to gain access to the drives, software CD and various pieces of documentation including a brief Quick Setup Guide.
The black NAS box has dimensions of 230 x 170 x 215mm (D x W x H). Weighing 7.5kg, the box is reassuring solid and sturdy thus giving the impression it could withstand some accidental knocks. I am not suggesting that you could drop the box onto a concrete floor, far from it and I certainly would not want this NAS to be dropping on my toe but it does make you feel that your valuable data will be safe and secure from damage.
As mentioned earlier, the unit’s front panel can be unlocked, allowing access to the four drives within their bays and revealing one of the USB3 ports available with this product. Arranged above this access doorway is an LCD panel displaying feedback information with LED lights indicating Info, Error and LAN issues. There are also buttons for power and function options with the latter allowing you to switch between tasks that include direct copy, dismounting USB devices and rebuilding RAID arrays with support for 0/1/5/10 modes.
Both the supplied power lead and Ethernet cable connect to appropriate sockets at the rear of the box as you link to a power source and a router. The rear panel also features ports for USB2 and USB3 for use by external hard drives plus a connection for linking the NAS to a UPS.
Setting up this Buffalo box is a relatively straightforward process once an initial 3 to 4 minutes is taken as automatic housekeeping tasks are carried out and you have installed the supplied NAS Navigator 2 software which will give you access to the storage space and functionality available to your network. Along with the Navigator software, Buffalo has bundled some additional items that include TurboPC EX for faster data transfer speeds and NovaBackup. You are also supplied with a link to the online based User Manual in PDF and HTML formats.
The Ethernet connection used by the NAS box adds the device to your network. The Navigator 2 software lets you access the storage space. With this application you can add data to the NAS box and access it as you would from your normal desktop. Options are available to make this data for your eyes only or shared with others. Instructions in the User Manual are provided if you need to make content available via the Internet using features such as a Bittorrent app (Android only) and Twonky Beam. You also have the ability to create groups of users with access rights and set up a Recycle Bin feature as an extra layer of protection against the accidental deletion of files.
Using the basic Ethernet connection, I ran some tests to judge the write speed of the device with different types of files on my home network. The first test involved the NovaBackup application which supports features such as full/incremental backup, a choice of destinations, automatic scheduling and user-designated targeted folders. A backup of 4.36GB of documents made up of 2204 files took 5 minutes 29 seconds. Switching to the old faithful copy & paste method, 59.1GB of video files was copied in 27 minutes 30 seconds while 31GB of music files required 15 minutes 18 seconds.
As you have the facility to attach an external hard drive, I opted to try this approach. After attaching a USB2 hard drive to the NAS box, I used copy & paste to add 59.1GB to the NAS box. This time the task took 41 minutes 43 seconds which clearly indicated that my home network speed was superior to that offered by USB2.
With the available storage capacity, RAID functionality and general ease of use, this Buffalo NAS box is well worth consideration. Based on price per TB capacity, the LinkStation 4 x 3TB appears to be the option to go for if the product is in your price range.
DescriptionCodePrice inc VAT
|LinkStation 4 bays unpopulated||4981254019825||£169.99|
|LinkStation 4 x 1TB||4981254019788||£349.99|
|LinkStation 4 x 2TB||4981254019795||£489.99|
|LinkStation 4 x 3TB||4981254019801||£569.99|
|LinkStation 4 x 4TB||4981254019818||£759.99|
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