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Summary:

My personal experience with Apple’s Time Machine is hit or miss, mainly because I’ve been using it with an AirPort Extreme and external USB drive. Since we have PCs running Windows in the house, it really doesn’t make sense to grab a Time Capsule either. Om […]

BuffalolinkstationminiMy personal experience with Apple’s Time Machine is hit or miss, mainly because I’ve been using it with an AirPort Extreme and external USB drive. Since we have PCs running Windows in the house, it really doesn’t make sense to grab a Time Capsule either. Om is liking the LinkStation Mini from Buffalo and has me thinking about it as well since on paper, it should meet my needs without breaking the budget.

The small 1.6" x 3.2" x 5.3" drive comes in both 500 GB or 1 TB capacities and has both an Ethernet port and a USB interface; the Ethernet is used to connect the LinkStation Mini to your home network, while the USB port is for adding an additional drive. The device supports both Mac OS X (10.3.9 or better) and Microsoft Windows 2000, XP and Vista. Included is Mameo Zero-Touch Autobackup software, but I’d expect you could use whatever backup software you prefer.

Two of the nicest aspects of this network attached storage device is remote access to your files over the web and UPnP / DLNA media streaming support. Last week, Buffalo also announced a firmware upgrade for the LinkStation Mini to provide native iPhone support. Users concerned about data loss prevention will also appreciate the option for RAID-0 or RAID-1 storage: since there are two 2.5-inch drives, you can opt for maximum storage or you can mirror your data between the two drives. MSRPs for the two units are $299 and $599 for the 500 GB and 1 TB capacities. That’s the same price for a Time Capsule at $299, although the 1 TB offering from Apple is $499, or $100 less than the LinkStation Mini. Keep in mind that you can find the LinkStation Mini online at more reasonable prices however. I’ve seen the two models as low as $240 and $490, respectively. If you already have a solid 802.11n router and/or have both PCs and Macs in the house, this solution is worth researching.

  1. I’ve been using the LinkStation Live as my NAS. Basically the same as the Mini but not mini. Hopefully they’ll offer the iPhone interface via firmware upgrade to the Live too.

    Ran into a glitch that required reinstalling the firmware and some troubleshooting, but it’s been working smoothly since. Back-ups via Acronis True Image work fine, including incremental updates over 802.11g. Web access is quick, though I can’t get ftp access to work outside my home network. One fun thing I did was export my photos to HTML albums via Picasa and make them viewable on my LinkStation Live. It is quite a flexible storage solution.

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  2. Sumocat, good to hear a second positive experience with the product. If these Live and Mini are essentially the same, I would hope you would see the same iPhone interface in the near future. Looks like the last Firmware upgrade for your model was back in April. I wonder if the FTP access issue is firewall related on the router? The NAS should be running on TCP port 21.

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  3. Not Maemo. Memeo.

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  4. Port 21 is open and forwarding to the drive. Works fine at home even when I access via the external IP address (switches me over to 192.168.xxx.xxx:21 once I connect), so I know the ftp server software functions, but I get nothing from the outside. I’m assuming it’s a Comcast issue. Only thing I haven’t tried is putting the drive entirely outside the firewall, but I think I’d rather go without ftp than leave the whole drive in the open. :)

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  5. Thanks R. I had Linux on the brain this morning…

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  6. Sumocat: does the service require a static IP address? I’m thinking it does and that you wouldn’t be able to access it with a private IP in the 192.168.x.x range. Check the IP that Comcast is leasing you right now and see if you can connect to that IP from outside. That’s my best guess…

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  7. I didn’t sign up for a static IP, but it’s been the same for as long as I can remember. Oh, here’s another good piece of info on Buffalo – they offer DNS forwarding. Web access is enabled via http://www.buffalonas.com/username. Just fill that into any browser and you’ll be forwarded to your LinkStation’s web access interface. Static IP not needed.

    However, while that’s just for web access, it does show me the IP address of my LinkStation once connected. I’ve plugged that address into my ftp software any number of ways to no avail from the outside.

    Actually, I think I misremembered how my ftp works at home. When I go to the web access from home, it forwards me to the local address, but I now recall ftp just doesn’t work via the external IP at all. Works from 192.168.x.x, but I get nothing via the external.

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  8. I wonder how it really works in a mixed-OS environment? I had an earlier LinkStation that allowed me to store/see files from PC and Mac, but one of them couldn’t see the other’s files on the NAS. It also had a loud fan, though this Mini obviously has no fan. Mirroring option is very attractive… But I’m tired of the clutter and wonder if I should get a Time Capsule to replace my USB Maxtor.

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  9. How about windows mobile ? I wonder how one of these would work with an advantage ?

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  10. Two words – no eSata. Not all backup software supports backup/restore with NAS and getting the drive to work right on your network can be enough of a pain.

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