It was about three years ago when we first reviewed the Buffalo TeraStation NAS appliance. Squeezing one terabyte of storage into a small box that could sit on your desk was quite an achievement, and Buffalo received an Editor's Choice award as a result. In fact I was so impressed with the TeraStation that I actually bought one for the TrustedReviews office and we're still using it today. What Buffalo did with the TeraStation was make high capacity NAS boxes simple - the device shipped with all the drives in place, and it was easy for the user to configure the storage using any number of RAID options.
Buffalo has since refined and improved the TeraStation, and the competition has also managed to bring similar products to the market, meaning that it's no longer the default choice for a simple NAS appliance, although it's still a very good one. But clearly Buffalo hasn't sat back on its laurels, and its engineers in Japan have been beavering away in their lab and come up with a new product that's every bit as impressive as the original TeraStation.
It's hard to believe that the LinkStation Mini has the same capacity as the original TeraStation. The tiny case measures 135 x 82 x 40mm (LxHxD), but it still manages to house a terabyte of data capacity! Buffalo has achieved this feat by using two 2.5in notebook drives, rather than traditional 3.5in desktop hard disks. Not only does the use of notebook hard drives make the LinkStation Mini very small and light (it weighs around 500g), but it also means that it can operate without internal cooling, making the device practically silent too.
There's definitely something undeniably cool about a 1TB NAS appliance that can sit in the palm of your hand. Most external USB hard disks offering this much capacity are far larger and heavier than the LinkStation Mini, and they don't offer anywhere near the functionality of this baby. The problem with the majority of external hard disks is that they're single volume units, so there's no option for redundancy. This means that you risk losing your data completely if the disk fails. The LinkStation Mini on the other hand offers far greater peace of mind for the user.
Because the LinkStation Mini has two independent disks inside it, you can create a RAID array across the volumes. When I took the device out of the box it was configured in a striped RAID 0 array, which gives you access to the full 1TB of storage. I'm not a big fan of RAID 0 though, since you're actually creating a second point of failure to your volume - basically if one disk fails you lose all the data stored on both of them. There is an argument for RAID 0 where I/O performance is paramount, but for networked storage that's not the case.