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For well over year now Buffalo’s LinkStation has been its main offering to consumers looking for a low-cost NAS appliance with a decent range of features. The latest LinkStation Pro takes this concept as its foundation but builds on it with the aim of targeting small businesses that also want a simple network storage and backup appliance.
The main differences between the two LinkStation families are in the storage department with maximum capacity going through the roof as the top of the range model employs the very latest 750GB SATA hard disks. There are no changes for connectivity as the unit also sports Gigabit Ethernet plus a pair of USB 2.0 ports but has a faster 400MHz Marvel Orion Media Vault processor – the older LinkStations use a 200MHz variety.
Buffalo supplied us with the base 250GB model which came equipped with a Western Digital WD2500JS SATA/3Gbit/sec hard disk. The LinkStation Pro is well built and designed and we did notice on power up that it’s a lot quieter that previous models. Usefully, the appliance incorporates an internal power supply so you don’t have to worry about bulky transformers.
Installation is a smooth process as Buffalo’s client utility allows users to search for appliances, view shares, change their IP address and access the web management interface. The appliance runs virtually the same firmware as the TeraStation Pro so features are more extensive and with an identical web interface it’s just as easy to use. Businesses will approve of the additional access controls as along with local users and groups the appliance also supports NT domain authentication and Active Directory (AD) integration which allows an AD domain server to deal with user authentication. Support for the CIFS/SMB and AFP file sharing protocols means that Windows, Linux and Macintosh clients can access the appliance and shared folders can also be used for FTP services. Each service can be enabled or disabled individually and read only or full access granted globally or down to specific users and groups if required.
When you connect a USB storage device the appliance automatically shares the contents of the drive on insertion. However, if it hasn’t been formatted from the web interface then it will be set to read only mode. We tested this using a 300GB Maxtor OneTouch external drive but to make it writeable it needed complete reformatting. The appliance will work with USB flash memory sticks but Buffalo doesn’t recommend using them as it can’t guarantee that all will work on the appliance. We did test this with a couple of sticks from different manufacturers and found that one couldn’t be recognised.