Buffalo LinkStation Mini Review

by SarahM Reads (19,138)

by Sarah Meyer

The Buffalo LinkStation Mini is a compact and convenient network storage solution for anyone who needs an independent storage drive that can be shared by multiple computers. This little file sharing solution supports SMB, FTP, and HTTPS access: allowing friends, family, and coworkers to access the same files even if they work on different computers. Is the LinkStation Mini as good as it sounds?

Build and Design

The LinkStation Mini lives up to its name when it comes to size; the device is small and compact:

  • Height: 3.2 in (81 mm)
  • Depth: 5.3 in (135 mm)
  • Width: 1.6 in (41 mm)
  • Weight: 1.1 lb (.498 kg)

The enclosure is all black and has a very simple design with the Buffalo logo on both sides.  The top, bottom and back of the dual hard drive enclosure has vents to keep the drives from overheating.  Also, on the top there is small Function button.


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The back of the enclosure has a USB slot, power button, DC plug and a LAN plug along with the vent.  There are two security locks slots on the enclosure; one is on the side, the other is located on the bottom along with the S/N, Mac address, series code, etc.

The LinkStation Mini does make it difficult for accessing the drives inside the enclosure; in fact you would need to break the enclosure to get inside, therefore voiding the warranty.


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Features

The main feature of the LinkStation Mini is that there is no additional software to be added in order to manage the hard drive.  The Mini’s main configurations are all accessed through a web browser by simply typing in the IP address.

Through web access, users can view all the shared content, add users/groups, and manage RAID settings, network settings, disk backup, etc. from anywhere on either a MAC or PC computer.

The LinkStation Mini supports RAID 1 mirroring and RAID 0 striping.  Switching between RAID 1 and RAID 0 was a simple process though it will delete whatever content you were sharing on the drive.  Buffalo helps prevent users from accidentally deleting all their information by adding in an extra security step.  The Mini requires the user to type in a four digit confirmation number before proceeding with RAID configurations.

The LinkStation Mini also has USB connectivity for setting up a print server or adding information directly from other devices.

Another feature worth mentioning is the low power consumption option on the LinkStation for users who want access 24/7; the average consumption is 10W during read/write and closer to 5W-6W while idle.

Performance and Benchmarks

The LinkStation drives are each 250GB separately but in RAID 0 give the user a combined total space of 500GB.

The LinkStation Mini is rated at a theoretical maximum of 1000Mb (megabits) transfer rate on a Gb network which equates to 125MB (megabytes) per second. 

Atto is one of the standard synthetic benchmarks we use to test the performance of a storage drive. Below you can see the average read and write times for the LinkStation Mini RAID 0 configurations. 

Standard network share over 1Gb network using Windows Vista – Seagate 7200.11 1TB Drive:


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RAID 0 network share over 1Gb network using Jumbo packets:


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RAID 0 network share over 1Gb network using Standard packets:


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In short, the main thing these benchmarks indicate is that there is a price to be paid for the convenience of small footprint network storage: speed. The Buffalo LinkStation Mini doesn’t have the raw processor power of a desktop with a networked drive and wireless access is just plain slow.

Of course, if you’re using a desktop computer as your network drive then that desktop (and the system resources) are being shared with multiple users and the desktop being used becomes slower as a result. The LinkStation Mini solves this problem by giving you a completely independent network storage solution … at the expense of read/write speeds.

Heat and Noise

The LinkStation Mini runs silently even when transferring files since it has no fan but can reach temperatures of 123 degrees Fahrenheit as a consequence.  Temperatures like these may present problems for long-term stability of the storage drives, but the LinkStation Mini performed as expected during the review period. A small fan that made a bit of noise might have been a more logical choice but this will sell to those users who despise a noisy drive.

Conclusion

At the end of the day the Buffalo LinkStation Mini is an excellent storage solution for some … but doesn’t make sense for everyone. While the LinkStation Mini gives you simple, stand-alone network storage, network storage isn’t the best solution for everyone and isn’t particularly easy for novices to setup.

Also, like almost any networked storage solution, the LinkStation Mini suffers from some degree of security vulnerability unless the network is well secured. In other words, if you just plug this drive into your unsecured wireless router at home just about anyone in range of your router will have access to your files.

Still, the Buffalo LinkStation Mini offers a remarkably compact footprint for a stand-alone network drive and gives you lower power consumption (less than 10W) than a full desktop running as a networked drive.

Pros:

  • RAID Manager software
  • Choice between secure backup or tons of storage
  • USB connectivity for more storage
  • Very quiet
  • Ultra compact

Cons:

  • Slow transfer rates
  • No access to drives inside enclosure
  • Expensive for amount of storage
  • Setup for network can be difficult – more detailed instructions necessary

Pricing and Availability

The Buffalo LinkStation Mini ($299.99 for 500GB, $599.99 for 1TB) is available for purchase on the Buffalo website or at many retail and online stores.




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