Buffalo TeraStation £650
4th May 2005 | 23:00
Massive storage for all your needs
We're told that content is king. But, if you haven't got anywhere to store it, the boundless information ideal is nothing but a pipedream. This box sits on your network and acts as somewhere to store content. As its name suggests, it can hold a Terabyte of storage. Whack this shiny box behind your sofa and it really could be the centre of your entertainment world.
You can store thousands of video clips and tens of thousands of photos. But be warned; the TeraStation isn't quite the perfect home server - it really is just a massive storage device. It contains four 250GB hard drives to make 1,000GB and connects to your LAN via Gigabit Ethernet.
It's possible to wirelessenable the TeraStation by using a bridge, but it's more likely you'll want to double this up with a wired connection. Transferring huge chunks of data over Wi-Fi is still somewhat impractical, but it's good to have the flexibility.
The TeraStation is expandable, too; there are four USB ports should you want to add more storage, while it's also possible to share a printer using one of the ports.
Home-orientated solutions such as the TeraStation are rare and currently specialist. However, this will change as people continue to overstretch the capacity of their hard drives. As such, while the TeraStation is ideal for those with a lot of digital content in the home, it will also find a home in thousands of small business where a lot of information needs to be kept. And kept safely, too.
So far, you're probably interested in what the TeraStation can do for you, but are scared by the price on the left. Yep, it initially seems your 1,000GB comes at a premium - do you really need that much space? Only you can answer that, but £599 is a lot of money for something that's essentially four hard drives.
However, where the TeraStation excels is its ability to self-back-up and restore your data. It has several different modes of storing your data, each with varying degrees of safety.
Standard mode gives you four separate 250GB drives. These display on your PC or Mac as network drives. In Windows, you can then assign each of these a conventional drive letter. Spanning mode treats all the drives as one; a 1,000GB drive. This mode is what most users will prefer. However, although the other modes give you less space, you do get more security. Your call, of course.
Mirroring mode gives you a 500GB capacity. The second pair of drives is an autobackup of the first pair. You can also switch the drives into RAID-5 mode. This gives you 750GB of capacity in a single 'drive', but throws in complete data protection. If a drive fails, the data will be automatically recovered.
Contrary to expectations, the TeraStation isn't noisy. The fan is near silent, although there is some vibration. The unit also doesn't get amazingly hot - heat is drawn away from the device by the TeraStation's body.
Our review model used a beta version of the TeraStation configuration software. After an initial connection problem, we managed to set the device up fine. We did have to specify a static IP, although this won't be a problem with most routers.
If you want to store a lot of data and keep it protected, there's no doubting the TeraStation's ability to get the job done. Those prerequisites satisfied, your decision rests completely upon your ability to spend £599 on what is, essentially, a bigger hard drive.