Buffalo LinkStation Mini: small backup drive with big capacity, remote media streaming

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.

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