If RAID 1 mirroring isn’t enough to satisfy your paranoia, as I mentioned, you can configure the LinkStation Mini to automatically backup your files to an external drive at regular intervals. And if you have more than one LinkStation on your network, you can configure each of them to backup to the other, in a kind of paradoxical, continual backup infinite loop. For the seriously paranoid, you can even have the device email you to say that it has successfully run its backup for the day, while also keeping you informed if a disk should fail.
You may have guessed by know that the LinkStation Mini is a pretty impressive bit of kit, but it’s not without its problems. First up is the “Function” button that sits on the top of the device. I’d love to tell you what this button does, but there is absolutely nothing in the documentation about it, while Buffalo’s own website and data sheet on the LinkStation Mini neglects to even mention the existence of a function button. Obviously I tried pressing it, but nothing discernable seemed to happen. I had imagined that it may be a programmable button for, perhaps initiating backups, but I couldn’t say for sure.
The other issue relates to a potentially great feature – remote web access. The LinkStation Mini can be configured so that you can access all of it, or specific folders from anywhere in the world, via a web browser. The simplest way to do this is to use Buffalo’s forwarding service at www.buffalonas.com – at least it would have been simple, if I’d been able to get it to work. Basically you just think of a Username and Password for the buffalonas service, and assuming the Username isn’t already taken, the LiniStation Mini will save the details and make itself ready for remote access. As long as your router supports UPnP, you don’t even have to worry about port forwarding.
Unfortunately, no matter how many times I tried (well Hugo and I, since I needed someone at a remote location to try to access the device), I simply couldn’t get web access to work. Every time the connection just timed out before actually resolving. I even tried taking buffalonas.com out of the equation and going directly to my router’s external IP with the corresponding port for the LinkStation Mini, but to no avail. Even dumping the unit in a DMZ didn’t solve the problem. I will be following up with Buffalo to try to get to the bottom of this problem, because the remote web access really would be the icing on the cake for this little box of tricks.
The LinkStation Mini wil be available to buy in the UK within the next few weeks, and as such there’s no street pricing as yet. That said, even going with the SRP of around £282 including VAT, the LinkStation Mini looks good value, considering its design, feature set and unique nature.
Even the lack of documentation about the Function button, and the problems with remote web access can’t change the fact that Buffalo has created something very special with the LinkStation Mini. While most NAS appliance manufacturers are happy to develop boxes the size of a Shuttle PC, Buffalo has created a device with masses of storage, RAID functionality and a host of configuration features in a box that fits in the palm of your hand. Add to that the fact that the LinkStation Mini is practically silent, and it becomes an even more attractive proposition, especially for the consumer.
The LinkStation Mini may not be as fast as larger boxes sporting 3.5in hard disks (it took around one minute 30 seconds to write a 1GB file), and it may not offer quite as much RAID flexibility either. However, it does offer something that no other NAS appliance does – 1TB in a truly tiny chassis. It’s also reasonably priced, considering the amount of storage on offer, and that Buffalo has used 7,200rpm SATA notebook drives.
Anyone who has been put off the idea of a NAS box for home, will welcome the diminutive dimensions of the LinkStation Mini, while the silent running means that you could house it in any room of your house without it annoying visually or audibly. If I could have got the web access working, the LinkStation Mini could have walked away with 10/10 and an Editor’s Choice, but as it stands it still warrants a whole hearted Recommended.
Score in detail