Pros Cost effective network storage addition with a print server !!!
Cons Average networked home / home office beware if you need help and it's not a Buffalo hardware problem !!!!
Summary I selected the LinkStation 160 for price and feature / function for my home / home office network needs. The systems on my network all run MS XP or XP Pro and I have some wired and some wireless devices on the "g" network. So the LinkStation is the perfect place for music, videos and even backup data with the advantage of the print server, etc via the USB connections.
I purchased through CompUPlus and they are great to work with. Note: read or ask about warranty coverage and responsibilities form reseller and manufacturer BEFORE you buy.
The first problem was gaining access through the various PCs firewalls the second was resolving the assigned name of the LinkStation ( part of the setup procedure ). The real problem was that Buffalo support immediately said it wasn't their product problem ,go away... They were right but unless I am unique this product is going to be used in this kind of home environment and folks should be aware that they will be on their own to resolve these kinds of problems without the help of the manufacturer. Not a friendly environment for the average "user".
Pros Nice design, responsive customer support
Cons Backup feature does not work properly, Clunky confusing interface
Summary The Linkstation looks cool and somewhat iBook-like and network storage for all your mp3's and photos sounds like a great idea... but its web based interface is clunky and it does not perform "overwrite" backups as advertised so what's the point? Buffalo Tech support acknowledges this glitch and, unfortunately, their boilerplate answer to this problem is "go buy a 3rd party backup solution."
Not a big deal until you realize that backing up over a 10/100 Ethernet connection and controlling the whole process through software run software run on a networked computer is a really, really bad idea. A measly 80 GB backup using retrospect express (that came with my second usb2 drive) took 36 hours with error correction turned on. The same size backup from the Linkstation directly to a secondary attached usb2 drive takes a mere 3 hours. Too bad you can only do that once before the secondary drive is full (unless you just happen to have lots of spare 200 plus Gigabyte usb2 drives lying around). The only way to get the linkstation to perform another successful backup is to reformat the secondary drive (wiping out all data with an interface that leaves significant doubt as to whether you are or are not reformatting the linkstation itself...a frightening thought if all your music is on there).
Tech support is knowledgeable and the wait times are low, but Buffalo sold a product with the express intention of it being able to back up data over usb2 to another drive and it does not work in the way it was advertised. What good is a storage device if you can't back up the data stored on it reliably and quickly?
Until they fix the firmware issues and the clunky interface, you are better off just getting a stripped down 300 dollar bottom of the line pc with a decent hard drive for network storage and stick it in a closet or something. At least the backups would be reliable.
Pros Good initial configuration, simple security options, automatic backup, print server
Cons Instructions over complicated, security options too basic and inflexible, automatic backup facilities limited, USB can be trouble
Summary Overall I like this product. I like the fact that it really is a fileserver not just an external hard disk. No driver software is needed to access the linkstation from a Windows XP PC, though I can't comment on Mac compatibility.
I didn't need to set up much to make it available, as it picked up an IP address via DHCP and once that happened it could be accessed by name and configured via a web browser.
I like the facility to schedule a backup to an external USB hard disk. The backup options are limited but the "incremental" backup (actually a dated full backup) works.
The USB print server is usefull. The print server successfully shared a parallel printer via a USB to parallel converter cable.
On the downside I feel the documentation and supporting software lets it down somewhat. Thankfully it was rarely nessecery to use the configuration tools supplied. This is a good thing as the supplied software has a slightly unprofessional feel to it.
The file sharing and security options are a bit inflexible. It is important to realise that creating a "share" also creates an empty folder to be shared, and deleting a share deletes the folder AND ALL ITS CONTENTS.
The printer sharing isn't perfect. Initially a few print jobs vanished without trace but this was fixed by changing the PC setup so the printer share was listed as a "local port".
The management options are a bit quirky. I was never able to get NTP running properly with British Summer Time so I gave up. The disk formatter makes it a little too easy to reformat the server when you meant to reformat an external drive and both the formatter and disc scan cause the server to go inaccessable for the duration of the operation. It doesn't even report progress.
Pros Simple to store files (when it works)
Cons Only works if you power recycle!
Summary Great marketing idea. Lousy implementation and support. Support page on website has ONE article in the knowledgebase.
I can "net view" my unit only after I power down and up. Leave it alone for a few hours and it's gone. All other XP machines on my SOHO network are always available. Perhaps I have a firewall problem, or DNS problem or Netbios problem that only affects the Linkstation. But Buffalo support don't reply. So very poor review. Sorry, but I can't recommend that anyone buys Buffalo products until they address their major support issues.Updated
After much frustration with the HD 160, I've finally figured out why it keeps crashing. Poor shielding. Calls to/from my Cingular cell phone caused the LinkStation to lock up and disappear from the network. A bit of cardboard, some alumninium foil and 1 week without a crash. My original review score of "1" still stands because this type of fault should NOT occur. I'm only posting this to help other people who might have the same frustrating problem.
Pros It's concept
Cons It's implementation
Summary Not much of a review here but more of a hacky tip. If you really need the Linkstation to power up after a power outage then keep the power button pressed in at all times by holding it down with tape or something creative. It has been working for me with my HD-H250LAN. Good Luck.
KME Software Solutions, Inc.