Review: Buffalo TeraStation PRO WSS

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We’ve looked at Buffalo’s consumer storage devices before and been impressed with both their build quality and supplied software. The TeraStation Pro WSS is part of their professional range but we think may have some application in the high-end consumer space. What is particularly interesting about this device is it is the first NAS box we have seen from Buffalo running a version of Windows (in this case Windows Storage Server 2008.) Couple this with the really good connection ability this box has, and you have a very interesting prospect for the high end hobbyist. In particular if you have TV tuners that have 64bit Windows drivers then coupling this box with DVBLogic’s DVBLink could make a great TV Tuner server. In many ways it is a shame that Buffalo don’t do a Windows Home Server version as this box would be excellent for that.  One thing to note this is the Windows Storage Server 2008 is the R2 Workgroup variety rather than the R2 Essentials version of say Tranquil’s  Leo Storage Server edition.  (Andrew Edney’s  Using Windows Home Server site has some information and links on Windows Storage Server here )

 

Specification

Intel® Atom™ 1.66GHz Dual Core / 2GB RAM

• Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Workgroup Edition

• iSCSI Target and Initiator

• Active Directory support

• Disk quota (soft quota) support prevents users/groups from consuming too much disk space

• Scheduled shut down eliminates unnecessary access and reduces energy costs

• DFS (Distributed File System), Namespace & Replication support

• Hot swap hard drive trays behind the front panel for easy drive access and replacement

• Improved CPU speed enables faster data transfer

• 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet with Jumbo Frame

• Two Ethernet ports for port trunking and load balancing

• Works with VMware and Hyper-V (SAN Storage for Virtual Machines)

• Supported RAID levels: 0, 1, 5, JBOD (Individual Disks)

• BitLocker AES-256 bit hard drive encryption

• Large silent fan cools the hard drive efficiently

• Advanced ventilation design reduces internal heat

• LCD Display shows important TeraStation™ information and disk status

• Windows Server 2008 Server Manager Utility for easy deployment and configuration

• Internet Information Services (IIS) support

• 2 USB 3.0 ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports for external drive, printer and UPS connectivity

• 10 licenses of NovaBACKUP® Business Essentials v12 Included: Back up 10 Windows PCs, Windows Servers, Exchange or MS SQL databases

3-Year Limited Warranty

The one thing I would disagree with on this spec sheet from the Buffalo site is silent fan. The fan is certainly quiet but I wouldn’t want to say put it in a bedroom environment (This is probably a little unfair as it is certainly quiet enough for business use)

The TeraStation PRO WSS comes in many configurations the one we are looking at is the Quad 4TB.

The box comes with all the cables you need to get set up including both UK and European power cables.

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The setup software is supplied on a MicroSD card and a really neat MicroSD to USB adaptor.

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As you can see from my hand the unit isn’t too big being about the same dimensions as an HP MicroServer

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Connectivity is good with both USB3 and 2 as well as two gigabit Ethernet ports.  Having two ports adds a lot of potential. This could make an amazing Super Router/Firewall.

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The license warning for Windows  is across the power socket

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The drive bays are behind the lockable front door and our review unit came with 4 Samsung 1 terabyte drives.

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So the hardware looks good – what about the software? As usual with Buffalo it is really clear and easy to follow and certainly not your standard Microsoft installation. Putting the supplied MicroSD adaptor into a PC on the same network as the TeraStation gives the following:

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Once you have followed these instructions the TeraStation’s very informative LCD will show the boot status.

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On your pc the software will continue installing.

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The NovaBackup software which comes with the Terastation has had good reviews and seemed to work really well. The initial install seems to take a really long time so be patient

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The manual is installed quite late in the process and we think this is probably not the best idea. It would be good to have access to the manual before installing anything else.

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Once you have finished all this you will have  NasNavigator on your desktop.

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Interesting to see how the four 1 TB drives in the TeraStation have been structured to give 2704.5 GB of storage.

The most important options are hidden in the right click menu. Well the I’m Here option might not be the most important but is interesting if you have multiple TeraStations. What it does is play a short tune on the selected TeraStation allowing you to physically locate it.

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The most interesting option is Open Remote Desktop. Clicking this gives…

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The default user and password are listed in the quick start guide. Logging in gives us the Windows Storage Server welcome window with some initial configuration options.

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Underneath it is Windows Server. Here you can see how the storage has been configured in a raid environment.

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Despite this being an Atom based system it feels really snappy. Disk access and network access seem to have been really well optimised and I was able to copy a really large file to a share on this server in just under half the time it took to copy to my HP MediaSmart server. I can see people using this as a really good movie server.

Our  only query is value for money the lowest we’ve seen this unit retail in the UK for won’t leave you much change from a thousand pound which is probably down to the Windows Storage Server license. This may bring it outside the average enthusiasts price range but I have also seen it around 679 imported from the US – if they could get it down around there in the UK it would be tempting.

In conclusion this is a well thought out NAS box with Buffalo’s usual build quality and easy to use software coupled with good performance the benefit of being Windows based which adds some interesting possibilities but at a price.

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