It’s testament to the simplicity of the LinkStation that it took me a matter of minutes to reconfigure the storage to a RAID 1 array, without having to refer to any documentation. Once I’d rebuilt the RAID array I was left with roughly 458GB of storage space – this is because RAID 1 writes the same data to both volumes, so that if one disk fails, all of your data is still completely intact on the second drive. I can understand that it may be tempting to stick with RAID 0 and have all that extra space, but if your data is important to you, the capacity sacrifice is a small price to pay for peace of mind that RAID 1 offers.
Buffalo has done a pretty good job with the design of the LinkStation Mini, so much so that it’s a very unobtrusive bit of kit, that gives no hint of its potential. Finished in matte black, with vents on both edges, the LinkStation Mini can be stood up or laid flat during operation. The LinkStation logo glows blue when the device is powered on, while the access light flickers green during use.
At the rear of the unit you’ll find the Ethernet port, which supports both 10/100 and Gigabit standards. Above this is the power socket for the supplied external power brick – said power supply is usefully small and light, so as not to negate the small dimensions of the LinkStation Mini itself. Next along is a sliding power switch with three positions – off, on and auto – the first two are self explanatory, and I’ll explain the third a little later. Finally at the rear is a USB port that brings a whole host of extra functionality to the party, some of it quite surprising considering the diminutive size of this particular NAS.
The USB port allows the LinkStation Mini to be used as a print server, thus sharing any USB enabled printer with everyone on your network. Considering that printer manufacturers often charge a hefty premium for network enabled printers, this is a real bonus for home and small business users. For anyone who has multiple computers connected to their network, this is a great feature and should do away with the need for multiple desktop printers.
You can also connect an external USB hard drive to the USB port, essentially turning it into a second NAS box. This is a really simple way to augment the storage inside the LinkStation Mini, although it’s worth remembering that if you’re running a mirrored RAID 1 array on the LinkStation Mini, as I am, then any data on an external USB drive is subject to loss if the volume fails.
Of course if you’re really paranoid about the safety of your data, you can configure the LinkStation Mini as a RAID 1 array, then attach an external hard disk to the USB port and regularly backup the data to it. You can configure the LinkStation Mini to regularly backup its entire contents, or specific files and folders to an external drive, thus pretty much guaranteeing the safety of your data – you’d have to be monumentally unlucky for three disks to fail at once!
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