Published on August 1st, 2013 | by Greg0
Buffalo LinkStation 420: Upgrade Your Data Backup
We all know someone who has lost important data- whether we forgot to back it up ourselves or have a friend who lost their pictures, thesis, or presentation when they had a computer issue. It doesn’t have to be this way! Sure, cloud services like Dropbox and iCloud have made safe off-site storage easier and less expensive, but they won’t work for your large file collection, and are fairly slow. If you have a lot of data that you want to save, and especially share across multiple computers, then you need a network-attached storage device, or NAS.
Buffalo’s LinkStation 420 (technically, model LS420D) comes in a few versions, as you can choose from either 2TB, 4TB, 6TB or even 8TB of included storage. While many NAS devices, like the recently-reviewed QNAP and Synology models, require you to add your own hard drives or use ones you already have on-hand, Buffalo includes them for easy setup. All three of them are dual-bay, with space for two different drives. This gives not only the ability to support far more capacity compared with a single-bay model, but also the ability to run the drives in a RAID configuration, ensuring that even if one drive fails that everything will be safe and sound on the other one. Simpler models like the wireless Seagate Central are great for storing and sharing media, but for serious backup of important data, we recommend a dual-bay, RAID-capable NAS device.
We’ve been impressed with Buffalo gear in the past, like their excellent Thunderbolt Ministation, and their surprisingly zippy routers and network bridges. The LinkStation line has been around for years, but this update adds a 1.2GHZ ARM processor and 512 MB of DDR3 RAM. The footprint and overall design of the unit is fairly similar to other NAS devices- we miss a front-accessible USB port, and should note that the rear port is only USB 2.0 rather than the much faster USB 3 available on a few models like the QNAP. As with competitors, you can expect transfer speeds of up to 100 MB/s, though real-world transfers will vary widely- we found numbers closer to half those for larger bulk transfers, both on read and writes, though did see up to 80 MB/s occasionally. All major NAS devices offer software compatible with both PCs and Mac OSX operating systems, and this one is no different.
Tests for both DLNA media streaming and iTunes library sharing were great- you can stream from a PS3 or Xbox 360. And it’s fairly easy to use the LinkStation 420 as your BitTorrent client and storage system, saving you money on electricity bills and capable of peer-to-peer transfers around-the-clock. As the hardware tends to be fairly similar across models, a key differentiation is the software, and here Buffalo doesn’t quite get to the standards of support set by Synology. They don’t offer, for instance, quite the surveillance suite for those who use IP cameras, and the library management tools are more limited. On the other hand, the interface is easier to use in many ways- less slick, but simple and very straightforward. In other words, if you just need a way to store files and playback media, the LinkStation 420 is a fast, effective NAS that is priced aggressively. At any capacity, the prices seem to be a bargain, and the 2TB version is only $260- an easy recommendation for anyone who wants 4TB of backup space, instantly.