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NAS Reviews

Introduction

We have been reviewing Buffalo Technology’s TeraStation products for a long time. Recently, Buffalo announced the End of Life for the TeraStation Pro family of products. The Pro family is being replaced by a new TeraStation 5000 series. From Buffalo’s website, here’s a summary of the 5000 series TeraStations:

Buffalo TeraStation 5000 Series Family

Buffalo TeraStation 5000 Series Family

The screenshot below is a top level comparison of now terminated TeraStation Pro and the new TeraStation 5000's.

TeraStation Comparison

TeraStation Comparison

Tim recently reviewed the hardware and performance of the new TeraStation 5800. In that review, he indicated that like several other NAS makers, Buffalo has also refreshed their OS, adding some new features and polishing up the user interface. This review will focus Buffalo's new NAS OS, so let’s get started. Note that I used a TS5200 for this review.

The tested version of firmware was Version 2.31-1.14. Buffalo has indicated that a new version, 2.41, will be released soon that will include performance enhancements.

Setup

Very little, if anything, has changed with the setup of a TeraStation. Buffalo still points you to a CD-based setup process, which launches and / or installs programs. However, this is a no-no in today's world dominated by tablets, smartphones and ultra-light (and optical drive less) notebooks.

Fortunately, if you can follow the instructions on the printed quick start sheet to get the right cables plugged into the correct holes, you can bypass the CD and point your browser at the IP address of the NAS shown on the front panel screen (assuming your LAN has a DHCP server).

If you opt for the CD process, you run tsnavi. exe from the included CD, and have options of “Begin Installation” or “Install Nas Navigator 2”. The "Begin Installation" option launches a wizard which guides you though connecting cables and powering the NAS. At the end of the wizard, you can also install NAS Navigator 2.

Nas Navigator 2 discovers all LinkStations and TeraStations on your local network. If you right-click on one of the devices, you have the option of browsing shares, mapping shares, viewing properties and settings. Clicking on Settings takes you to landing page of the web UI.

There’s a default share named “Share”. The default administrator credentials are admin with password as the admin password.

Nas Navigator 2

Nas Navigator 2

Here’s a look at the landing page of the new UI. You have a choice of either “Easy Admin” or the Advanced UI. Buffalo chose to make the Advanced UI the default. The advanced UI gives you full access to all configuration options, whereas the Easy Admin contains a subset of options and has wizards to help you through some of the tasks.

TeraStation Easy Admin landing page

TeraStation Easy Admin landing page

I like that the login dialogue provides you with several options: First you can choose to stay logged in, or you can select automatic timeout after 10 minutes. You can also select a secure connection and choose the Easy Admin interface. Clicking OK takes you to the advanced UI. Optionally, users can log in with their user ID. Non admin user's configuration options are limited to changing their passwords.

TeraStation Login Options

TeraStation Login Options

Across the top of the screen, you’ll see three icons with drop down arrows. The “?” takes you either to context sensitive help or provides a link to the online manual. The “i” icon shows you a very basic status of your device. This icon changes to an orange flashing "!" to indicate an error condition. Finally, at the far right, the power icon lets you gracefully shutdown or restart the TeraStation.

TeraStation Advanced UI

TeraStation Advanced UI

The icons in the red bar in the advanced UI perform the following functions:

  • Settings icon with propeller (far left) – takes you to the easy admin interface
  • Music note - plays a tune on the TeraStation's speaker to help you locate it.
  • Name: displays the current name of the TeraStation. You can’t change it from here.
  • User icon – shows the currently logged in user
  • Language – lets you change the language for the user interface
  • Logout – log out of the administration interface.

My initial reaction to the advanced landing page was, “Where’s the status page?” Though I realize that might be a personal preference, many devices use the landing page to give you a top line, or in some cases, depending upon the manufacturer, a detailed status of the device. Compare Buffalo’s landing page with the new ReadyNAS landing page and you’ll see what I mean.

NETGEAR ReadyNAS Landing

NETGEAR ReadyNAS landing page shows a good summary of the device status

Some menu items make sensewhere they are, but others seem like they should located under different top level menus. For example, on the file sharing page, all of the items below "Group" are services, so you might expect to find them in the Services menu.

Still, looking at a screenshot (below) of the previous generationof TeraStation firmware, you can see that the new UI represents a significant improvement. The new UI features top-level menu items arranged in a vertical column with sub menus displayed to the right. On/off switches, such as you see for services such as SMB, AFP, etc make it easy to see the status for each. The black boxes with diagonal arrows take you to additional configuration options.

Prevoius generation TeraStation landing page

Prevoius generation TeraStation landing page

But as Tim pointed out, you do a fair amount of navigating and clicking to configure some options. It seems like every function you click on opens a small window where the real settings are located. This gets old after awhile.

The best way to get a feel for a new user interface is to see each of the menu options. In the gallery below, I've included screenshots for each of the top level menus for the advanced interface as well as some of the more interesting configuration options.

Image Gallery

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