Review: Buffalo Technology TeraStation

Setup & Admin - Disk Management

The TS comes with the four drives set in spanning mode so that they appear as one large drive. If you want to change this setup, you'll use the Disk Management menus. Figure 8 shows only part of the page, which scrolls down to show info for the RAID arrays, each of the four individual drives and up to four USB drives that you may have connected.

Figure 8: Disk Management settings
(click image to enlarge)

The RAID configuration screens (Figure 9) aren't entirely self-explanatory and the documentation isn't much help. But I managed to muddle my way through guided by the warnings issued by the TS when I didn't make the correct configuration selections. Be warned, however, that when configuring the TS to either RAID1 or 5 modes, you'll trigger a 3+ hour formatting process that can't be stopped, during which the TS will be unavailable.

Figure 9: RAID settings
(click image to enlarge)

I would have preferred to have seen a warning similar to the one I got before launching a disk check, which didn't take long at all (at least not on a drive with virtually nothing in it). Note that formatting, changing disk setup or running a disk check will make the TS unavailable while they are running and these processes can't be stopped either.

USB Drives

The four USB 2.0 ports on the TS can be used to connect a USB printer for print serving or USB 2.0 hard drives for backup or sharing. The good news is that the USB drives don't have to be formatted with XFS. The bad news is that: 1) the alternative formatting recognized is only FAT16 / 32 (instead of the more current NTFS); 2) only the first partition of multi-partioned drives is recognized; and 3) FAT 16 / 32 drives can only be used as backup targets and not shared. I suspect these limitations will limit the usefulness of this feature and hope Buffalo upgrades it at some point to fully support NTFS drives.

The other bummer is that only USB hard drives will be recognized - no Flash keys. So forget about being able to walk up to the TS, pop in a USB Flash key and copy its files to the TS.