Buffalo TeraStation diagnostics
Buffalo has been producing small business NAS devices for many years.
This compact four-bay unit is an interesting mix of traditional NAS options (like needing desktop software to configure the device) and new features like USB boot and iSCSI support (you can use it either as traditional network storage or directly attached to a server. It can be included as part of a storage fabric using tools such as Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012).
We like the a handy screen on the front that shows you startup and diagnostic information, reminds you if you haven't plugged in an Ethernet cable and displays useful information like the IP address and link speed.
Twin Gigabit Ethernet ports and four USB ports give you link aggregation for improving performance and reasonable expansion options; two of the ports are USB 3 for speed, but you don't get the older high-speed eSATA expansion. On the other hand, there are UPS ports on the front and the back of the case.
Plenty of ports at the back
Although you can take out the four drive cages without tools, you will need a screwdriver to remove or fit drives into the cages; many competitors have switched to more convenient tool-free mountings. The only cloud option is backing up to Amazon S3 and you don't get sync tools to run on your PC or Mac to keep files up to date when you're travelling. However, as well as the Apple Time Machine compatibility offered by many small business NAS devices these days you get ten licences for NovaBACKUP Business Essentials 14 that you can use to back up your office PCs. WebAccess means you can connect from any device with a decent browser, so you're not limited to Android and iOS (although there are mobile applications for those as well as Windows Phone). You can also use it as an FTP server for file access.
For many businesses, these simpler options will actually work out better. And while Buffalo suggests you install the TeraNavigator software to set up your TeraStation, if you type the IP address from the display on the front into your browser, you can log in to the NAS and configure it through the web interface instead. Sensibly, this prompts you to change the admin password straight away (and it helpfully gives you the device name to look for in Explorer as well).
This gives you the same interface as TeraNavigator, with the choice of the full admin control panel, which opens by default, or the Easy Admin interface which walks you through setting up WebAccess, backing the NAS up to an external USB drive or another TeraStation, search indexing, user and group management, RAID settings and changing the main password with helpful wizards.
If you're experienced at managing network storage you can jump straight in; if you don't know the difference between RAID 0, 1, 5 (the default if you have all four drives fitted) and 6, you get a good explanation to help you decide whether to stick with the defaults. You can even use the Easy Admin interface to join the TeraStation to your Active Directory so you don't have to set up users and groups all over again.
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