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Features

From the Buffalo website, here is the list of LinkStation features. The list can be confusing because not all features on the list are on all LinkStations. For example, I could not find sleep timers or web server with PHP and MySQL support on the 420.

Network and Storage

  • Gigabit Ethernet LAN
  • SMB / CIFS, NFS, AFP network file systems
  • User and group level accounts
  • Active Directory
  • DFS
  • RAID 0, 1, JBOD
  • Scheduled and on-demand backup to attached USB drive

Backup

  • Direct copy from USB device to NAS
  • Scheduled and on-demand network backup to other Buffalo NASes only w/ optional encryption and compression
  • 5 licenses of NovaBACKUP Pro (Windows only)
  • Apple Time Machine target support

Media

  • DLNA / UPnP AV server with PS3 and Xbox 360 support
  • iTunes server
  • BitTorrent downloader

Other

  • Print server
  • USB storage sharing
  • Email alerts w/ immediate trouble notification and daily reports
  • UPS sync

Hands On

The LinkStation NAS System doesn't have the ability to expand its features via loading optional modules. On previous Buffalo NASes, people have installed ipkg and installed third-party packages that way. But this definitely falls under the "do at your own risk" category.

While messing around in the admin interface and copying data to the NAS, I decided to pull one of the drives of the RAID 1 configuration I had set up to see what brand they were. The manual, which I was only able to find within the admin interface of the NAS once I actually logged in, mentioned the Linkstation should be shut down before swapping drives, but I pulled it anyway. As expected the Power/Status LED on the front started flashing. It appeared to be a code, so I went to the manual to figure it out.

Some of the Buffalo LinkStation 420 Error codes

Some of the Buffalo LinkStation 420 Error codes

Whoa! On the one hand, kudos to Buffalo for actually giving their consumers access to this information. It's frustrating as a consumer to have a code and not know how to interpret it. On the complete opposite hand, yikes. Having started my IT career working technical support for a major computer manufacturer, it brought back nightmares of interpretting BIOS beep codes with users who weren't sure where the "any" key was.

I've had a handful of non-IT friends ask for NAS suggestions over the years and selfishly I always give them the suggestion according to what would be easiest for me to support in case they have troubles. I could not imagine my parents interpreting a 0.5 sec or 1 sec blink code. Luckily, the drive blink code message appeared to have a corresponding status message in the interface.

As for my data, it was fine. The RAID volume dropped offline for a few minutes while the second drive was being added back in. But once it came back, my data was there, even though I pulled a drive while running, something the user manual explicitly says not to do.

RAID builds and rebuilds take a long time. In the image below, you can see I'm 13.8% done syncing my RAID 1 volume I created, with 460 mins to go. This means it will take about 9 hours to completely sync a 2 x 1 TB RAID 1 volume.

I formatted both drives before creating the array, so when I took this screenshot there was no data to synch. The RAID is available during this time, although Buffalo mentions it may be slower.

Buffalo LinkStation RAID 1 build time

Buffalo LinkStation RAID 1 build time

The Advanced Settings screen for the LinkStation is the more familiar default screen that the TeraStation offers. You can really dig into the heart of what the Buffalo has to offer via this screen. But you might find the options a little limited if you've worked with Synology or QNAP NASes before.

Buffalo LinkStation Advanced Settings page

Buffalo LinkStation Advanced Settings page

For a look at a few more admin interface features, check out the gallery below.

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