And yet another storage review from me :)
Just over 2 years ago, I decided I needed some serious storage, and not only that I needed a central place to store files, My Documents is ok for small bits and pieces, but if you have 3 pc's all accessing the same files, which computer stores them, you have to share the folders, you have to do all kinds of stuff and how does it gtet backed up.
So I wanted a storage server, but I didn;t want to spend £2000 on windows SBS and windows home server was not out then. Pop quiz.... what do I do????
Enter me flicking through a Misco catalogue and turn to the Buffalo TeraStation Home server. Now I needed to be careful, as any previous readers will know I have a Netgear SC101 SAN device and I am disappointed because they require drivers to be installed on each pc accessing it. This is somethign I didn;t want as it was vital any pc on the network could access it, with at most a Username and Password.
This device is a true NAS, no drivers needed it has 1TB of storage space over 4 hard drives, gigabit ethernet, you can create shared folders, no software licensing, essentially its like a computer and an OS all in one costing £400 and being quite a small box. I decided to go for the plunge and bought it.
Now I had 24 hours before delivery, to work out how I was going to plan my network folder structure, and how I would set up the hard drives, suddenly panic entered. Even though I have 3 or so PC's backups of data have never been a huge concern for me, although suddenly me having this device I was thinking backups were essential. either its because it could be done or because I was worried about new hardware I'd never used before.
Now this device allows you to set up the Hard Drives in various version of RAID, and this made me wonder what to do.
I could choose RAID 0, 1 or 5
RAID 0 would allow me to use all 4 hard drives having 1 TB of space, as these are IDE hard drives (slowish) it would mean they woudl be possibly nearly 4 times as fast, as the data is split over each hard drive, so 4 bits of data can be got quickly rather than 1 bit at a time. But the problem with this is, if 1 hard drive were to fail, PUFF all data on the other 3 hard drives would be lost. Nah not worth it.
RAID 1 Mirrors the data so in essence I actually have 2 usable hard drives as the other 2 mirror the work, meanign I suddenly only have 500GB of storage space, hmmm £400 is a lot to spend on 500GB of network storage afterall back then 500GB USB drives only cost £100 then. There is also no real speed benefit in fact could slow thigns down. This backup is only good if a hard drive fails physically as the other kicks ion. if i accidentally delete data or I get a virus, this will not protect my work.
The comes RAID 5 What this does is allow me to strip 3 hard drives together and use the 4th as a Parity check. This means I get a speed boost, but if one hard drive physically fails you can slot a blank one in and it can rebuild the lost data from the parity check info. (in essence a+b+c=z, if you loose 'c' you would get a+b+?=z the computer know the ? must be c as thats the only way to equal z) This allows me to have around 750GB of storage space.
So naturally I set this up as RAID 5. I could have left them as 4 sperate hard drives, but this would mean there was no backup for any data and there was no performance boost.
This device has 4 USB ports that can be used for printers (as there is an inbuilt print server) or as I use one of them to plug in an external hard drive to backup the data to (using the internal backup software). I do a backup that is done daily that gives me the differnte revisions, however you can do it so it just over writes, as well as a few other settings.
This is a very simple to use NAS drive, it has a web interface where you can set up the name (I follow Egyptian gods for my server names) and I have numerous folders set up, in fact with the abckup only some fodlers are done daily, a couple of others like my iTunes folder is done weekly and set as overwrite)
For secuirty this storage can link directly to your ActiveDirectory control if you have a Server setup, or you can set up your own access users and groups, so different people can access differnt folders with different access rights.
This also has PC Cast, which allows for multimedia files to be shared over the network, using DNLA however I haven;t used this much as I prefer direct acccess rather than having to replicate things in folders, I like my fodler set up.
The web interface also has maintenance bits too for checking the disk, rebooting software based (incase you hide it away in a difficult to access location, etc)
The drive keeps a low temp and is very quite (considering there are 4 hard drives and a fan to cool them) This plugs straight into a network, and gets an IP from your DHCP server (most likely a router for home users) and from that moment on you see it as if it was a PC in your My Network Places. It is also accessible from Linux and Mac systems.
The onylt hing that gets me is that for Excel files if you save them while they are stored on here Excel asks if you want to save a copy or overwrite. I think this is an Excel thing more than the device problem.
This is a very usefulk device, and with the newer Pro statiosn it gives you a lot of control. In fact if your looking for a lot of storage and the ability to use RAID then these devices are perfect. If your just looking foir a single hard drive NAS max of 1TB then use the LinkStation Live boxes (see review done prior for more detail on those)