Review: When is a NAS not a NAS? That's a question Buffalo Technology wants its prospective customers to ask before picking a storage solution for SMB and branch office networks. Buffalo Technology's TeraStation is designed to add up to more than the sum of its parts and deliver a storage device that goes beyond what one expects from the typical NAS.
Staying relevant in what is transforming into a commodity market is probably the biggest challenge for storage vendors today. It's a concept storage vendor Buffalo Technology is well aware of, especially in the highly competitive small and midsize business (SMB) and branch office network-attached storage (NAS) market. Maintaining relevance means vendors such as Buffalo Technology must combine elements of price, performance and reliability to deliver what is of critical importance today-value. Buffalo Technology aims for that value target with its TeraStation product line of NAS devices.
I recently had the opportunity to put a Buffalo TeraStation Pro Quad NAS unit through its paces. The model I tested, the TS-QVH4, offered 4TB of storage and was representative of the other models in the TeraStation Pro family of products, which also come with 8TB and 12TB capacities.
Buffalo has gone to great lengths to differentiate its NAS products from competitors, demonstrating why TeraStation Pro units are more than just typical NAS units. The design of the unit sports hot-swappable hard drives and USB 3.0/2.0 ports for expansion. It's powered by a dual core Intel Atom processor, which runs Buffalo's proprietary Linux-based operating system.
Other features include integrated support for Active Directory, Distributed File Systems, printer sharing, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) monitoring and external drives. Also included is NovaBackup Business Essentials, a backup product for Windows Servers and Clients. Buffalo throws in 10 client licenses for NovaBackup. Network connectivity is handled by a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports, which support trunking and offer jumbo frame communications to speed data transfers.
Notable is the device's support for replication, where multiple TeraStation units can be set up for data replication across LAN and WAN links, allowing branch offices to quickly set up a disaster-recovery scenario. Other features which border on the unique include an interactive scheduling application, which can be used to power up and power down the device on a schedule. This is an ideal capability for those looking to maximize power savings or just power up the device for scheduled backup duties.
I found a lot to like about TeraStation Pro. For example, the unit features a lockable faceplate, making it a bit more difficult to steal a hard drive. I also liked the included setup wizard, which really made installing the device and setting up shares foolproof. Other nice touches include silent fans (so the unit doesn't sound like a jet engine powering up) and an easy-to-remove-and-clean air filter.
An interactive LCD display on the front of the unit offers usable information at a glance, such as activity and space used/remaining, allowing an administrator to figure out the status in a matter of seconds. The LCD display also assists in troubleshooting the device and illustrates events and warnings, so problems can be dealt with before they become severe.
Resiliency is provided by the unit's multiple RAID configurations, including RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10. A three-year warranty and 24 /7 tech support round out the TeraStation Pro's features.
Overall, the unit offers substantial value. It provides speedy performance and easy setup, and the replication and RAID features instill peace of mind. The TeraStation Pro should prove to be an excellent addition to any small network or branch office that needs to add enterprise-size storage that is resilient and easy to deploy.
Perhaps the only down side to the TeraStation is price. A 4TB unit has a price tag of around $1,300, which seems a little steep for a NAS unit. However, since the TeraStation offers more than the typical NAS in the way of functionality, it may be a bargain for those who need more than a NAS.