What do you get if you take one of Buffalo’s excellent LinkStations and add PogoPlug  functionality – Why the Buffalo CloudStation of course. 

The model we are reviewing is the CloudStation Pro Duo. With 2 x 1TB drives which can be either configured for RAID or left as separate drives to allow you to use PogoPlug’s folder mirroring, this seems an excellent way of safely storing data and having it available on your travels as well.

For those unfamiliar with the technology PogoPlug allows you to effectively have your own cloud. Data is only stored on your own storage (in this case the CloudStation) and not on any remote servers (it should be noted that PogoPlug do now offer an option to back up to a server hosted by them) More information at www.PogoPlug.com

PogoPlug is pretty mature software and Buffalo in the main have just used it as is with most configuration being done through the standard PogoPlug web page. Buffalo  do also provide their own configuration page which offers other options such as setting up how you want the drives to be configured and what you want to do with the USB port. I have to say this two configuration page system is confusing and it would have been much better if they were combined or if like many other Buffalo products there had been wizard software to guide you through the process.

The storage unit itself is pretty well built although it is a plastic case. Some reviews have compared this build quality negatively with that say of a Synology device, I would argue that it is good enough for home use and costs significantly less than an equivalent Synology device.

There isn’t much to see on the back of the device with power socket, an Ethernet port, a switch which might confuse people who have not come across Buffalo product before and the aforementioned USB port. The switch is confusing because of just a simple on/off it has Auto/Manual and Off.

The Auto position is used in conjunction with PC installed with  Buffalos downloadable NAS Navigator software to power up the device only when that PC is powered up. I have to say as this only works on the local LAN it is not a lot of use for a device which is supposed to give your remote access.

The USB adds one nice bit of functionality as with a push of the control button on the front of the device all data from an attached USB device can be copied to a predefined folder on one of the CloudStation’s Drives.

One thing I did find surprisingly difficult was removing the transport packaging from the drive bays. I had to actually remove the drives to get it out. The drive removal system was a little interesting too. There are rings at the top of each bay you pull to release the drives but they are not actually attached to the drives. I spent many a happy minute trying to pull the drives out with these rings which was never going to happen!

If you have listened to the podcast lately you may have heard me muse on whether this device was good value with PogoPlug devices going reasonably cheaply and Buffalo having some excellent USB storage which would happily plug into one of these.  I have to say that the convenience of one device and one power supply is good and the extras that the CloudStation offers are useful but until recently I would still have to question the list price point.  What has changed is that with the recent shortage of drives coming out of Thailand most external USB devices seem to have shot up in price but so far on most retailers the CloudStation has kept it’s price and can in some cases be found way below list. This price shift makes it a way more enticing product.

One other thing I did notice where the CloudStation stood out from a traditional PogoPlug device was in performance. Copying files to and from the device seemed much quicker than last time I tried a PogoPlug. Now there are a lot of factors affecting this not least the fact that the PogoPlug is always using external drives from other manufacturers but it would seem that Buffalo have done there homework and optimised the PogoPlug experience.

In conclusion it has its quirks but for an integrated PogoPlug experience it can’t really be beaten if you can find it at the right price. I do have to say I will miss having it.

More details on Buffalo’s site at http://www.buffalo-technology.de/products/cloud-storage/cloudstation/cloudstation-pro-duo-cs-wv/

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