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A terabyte in the palm of your hand: Buffalo's LinkStation Mini

Doctor Who would love this drive -- it's small on the outside and spacious on the inside

By Bill O'Brien
October 23, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Size doesn't matter, or so the old adage goes. Yet obviously it does matter -- or else we wouldn't have both towering desktop PCs and petite portable netbooks. But how about something like a network-attached storage (NAS) device, which is basically a box that sits on a shelf or a desk and never travels, never moves -- does size matter there?

Buffalo Technology thinks so. It recently introduced its tiny LinkStation Mini, which is 1.6 by 3.2 by 5.3 inches and weighs in at a hair over 1 pound, easily meeting Buffalo's boast that it can put 1TB of storage in the palm of your hand. (It can also fit nicely on an overcrowded shelf.)

The dual-drive NAS box (two 250GB or two 500GB 2.5-in. drives in RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration) has a 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN port so it can attach to a speedy router. Because Buffalo uses 2.5-in. 5400rpm drives, the unit is fanless -- but that also means you can't replace the existing drives with faster 7200rpm versions that would generate more heat. The drive sips lightly at your wall outlet to the tune of just 10 watts.

Buffalo's 1TB LinkStation Mini
Buffalo's 1TB LinkStation Mini

Managing the LinkStation Mini means installing the included Buffalo NAS Navigator software. It's a painless installation -- a prompted series of options guide you through the process. When it's done, the Mini is added to your desktop and migrated into your network lineup.

Buffalo includes Memeo backup software with the drive. Memeo is one of a seemingly endless lineup of manual/automated backup applications that ignore the fact that most of us simply don't care about backing up our data and just want more -- and shareable -- storage. If you're in that group, you'll find that Memeo is very intrusive if not downright annoying. It pops up and asks to be configured every time you boot until you do configure it. (Better idea: If backing up your data isn't why you bought the LinkStation Mini, uncheck Memeo from the list of automatically installed applications.) On the other hand, if you like backups, and you really should, you'll appreciate that Memeo has quite a comprehensive list of backup options.

There's also software in the box that allows you to access your files remotely over the Internet. Personally, I'm guided by two points of view: I don't want my data put at risk through external accessibility and, if I load up the LinkStation Mini with videos or music (it has a built-in DLNA certified media server for streaming audio and visual content to any DLNA player or PC), I can easily visualize the MPAA or RIAA breaking down my door waving subpoenas in their grubby hands.



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