The setup of the LinkStation Pro Duo is virtually identical to other LinkStation products. A simple four-step wizard guides you through connecting the NAS to your network and to power. The wizard also installs NAS Navigator, a simple utility that lets you change the address of the LinkStation, map drives, display shares, and connect your web browser to the management home page of the NAS.
With the exception of the RAID and the Web Access configuration menus, the user interface on the Pro Duo is identical to the one found in the LinkStation Pro. It has the same strengths, and yes, weaknesses we’ve previously identified. There’s still no way to log FTP sessions or web access sessions. Moreover, for the "green" crowd, you still can’t set drive activity spin down to conserve power.
Nor does the relatively limited email alerting support authenticated SMTP. It does, however send out status and backup alerts through SMTP servers that don’t require authentication. (Most likely, your ISP doesn’t require SMTP authentication for computers on their network.) Buffalo has added a timeout for administrative sessions, but we didn’t find a way to change the default setting. Since we’ve covered the Buffalo interface exhaustively in multiple previous reviews, we’ll only touch on the differences here.
As previously noted, the Duo supports both RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirroring). For users who really value their data, the RAID 1 capabilities of a two-drive system may justify the incremental price increase over a single-drive system. When using RAID 1, you’ll only be able to use half of the total capacity of the two drives because your data is being written to both drives simultaneously. Thus, the 1 TB Pro Duo actually yields the same usable capacity as a 500 GB single drive LinkStation.
More importantly, with RAID 1, your data is automatically mirrored on two drives without any user intervention. If one of the drives fails, you’ll still have access to all of your files. The web browser interface will let you know that you need to replace a drive and that you are operating in a degraded condition.
Figure 4: Disk Management RAID Setup
You really need to decide when you initially set up your NAS whether you want the maximum amount of storage (RAID 0) or the fault tolerance offered by mirroring the drives (RAID 1). In Figure 4, above, the Pro Duo is configured for RAID 0. In order to change to RAID 1, you can see that you receive a warning that all data will be deleted.
Web access is a relatively new feature for Buffalo. They rolled it out as a firmware upgrade on the LinkStation Live, but as noted in the introduction, it’s also included on the Pro Duo. With Web Access enabled, you can configure the Pro Duo to allow you remote access to files residing on the NAS. Since we haven’t covered this feature before, it’s probably worth exploring.
Figure 5: LinkStation Pro Duo Web Access Service Setup
First, you need to enable Web Access on the Service Setup menu (Figure 5). You have a choice of using either standard HTTP or secure HTTPS. If you do choose secure HTTPS, be aware that you’ll receive a certificate error when you remotely connect to your Pro Duo. Another challenge of connecting remotely is figuring out your network’s public IP address. Buffalo’s Web Access solves this by including a built-in DDNS (Dynamic Domain Name Service). Once you set up a BuffaloNAS username and key, their DDNS service will keep track of the public IP address where the Pro Duo resides.
Next, you have to set up port forwarding on your router so that traffic intended for your Pro Duo gets forwarded to the IP address of your Pro Duo. If your router has UPnP enabled, you can either let the LinkStation configure your router automatically, or you can configure port forwarding manually.