Product Buffalo Linkstation Pro Quad (LSQV4.0TL/R5)
Specifications Four-bay NAS, 4 x 1TB SATA-300 drives, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet port, 2 x USB2 ports, RAID 0/1/5/10, SMB/CIFS/AFP/FTP, 149x154x233mm, 5.5kg
LONG GONE are the days when network attached storage was simply that, a hard disk hung off the end of an Ethernet cable. Whole systems on a single chip now mean that NAS devices can provide all manner of storage-related features and services. For example, the 1.6GHz Marvell 88F6282 used in this revised version of Buffalo's Linkstation Pro Quad NAS can handle all manner of advanced tasks that go way beyond just hosting your files. That is cheerfully emphasised by the riot of stickers and logos covering the box.
The original Linkstation Quad - named for its four-bay configuration - appeared in 2009, and the compact design of that model is unchanged for this later model. The front door covering the quick-release drive bays is still attached only by magnets and the bays aren't lockable, making the Kensington lock slot at the rear look a bit silly. A function button at the front activates the Direct Copy feature, which copies the contents of any USB storage device and also acts as an eject button for USB devices.
The Linkstation has a sort-of-handy auto power feature that turns off the unit when all attached PCs power off. It turns on again automatically on PC logon, but takes about five minutes to become usable. If there's only one PC connected, this behaviour is annoyingly also triggered by a PC reboot. Luckily, the auto mode is easily turned off by a small switch at the rear.
There are not that many major internal changes in this revision of the hardware. But there is a faster CPU and DDR3 memory, and a couple of services have been added. It's sold fully populated in either 4TB or 8TB versions, and we looked at the lower priced 4TB model. It arrived with four Seagate Barracuda ST31000528AS hard disk drives configured in a RAID-5 configuration with a single shared folder. Setup involved running through a fairly painless wizard that installs NASnavigator2 and, optionally, the other bundled software. A five-PC version of Novastor Novabackup Professional backup and recovery software is included, plus Buffalo's TurboPC and Turbocopy utilities.
The web interface is clunky, slow, and not that intuitive, but at least there's decent contextual help, albeit in a miniscule font. Backup of the NAS to another Linkstation can be setup here, as can all the various server features. There's a web server, a MySQL server, a Squeezebox server, a print server and a DLNA/UPnP media server.
Additionally, there's a very useful Network USB Service that lets you attach and share devices such as multifunction printers, scanners or webcams - we tried it with a scanner and it worked perfectly. Enabling this disables the print server, USB hard disks, Direct Copy and UPS monitoring services, however.
There are lots of other features that were also in the previous model. These include a Bittorrent client - µTorrent, no, no relation to The INQUIRER - and remote file management via the free buffalonas.com service. A free Android remote access app has been added to the existing IOS versions, too.