Buffalo DriveStation Duo review:

Buffalo DriveStation Duo

Typical Price: £138.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good RAID capability; auto backups.

The Bad Looks; more expensive than ordinary USB hard disks; no media streaming.

The Bottom Line The DriveStation Duo offers a clever twist on the humble USB hard disk. Its twin hard drives will give you peace of mind if you're paranoid about disk failure, so all you have to tolerate is its atrocious looks

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7.5 Overall

The Buffalo DriveStation Duo is smarter than your average 500GB external hard drive. It contains two separate 250GB disks that can be used as one big drive, two independent disks, or in a RAID array, which lets it perform automatic data backups of itself. We reviewed the base 500GB model, which retails for around £150, but 800GB, 1TB and 1.5TB versions are also available.

The DriveStation Duo is an external storage device with a difference. Its main selling point is that it comes with two hard drives and has support for RAID 1. "What's this geeky-sounding nonsense?" you might ask. "Why not just use one 500GB drive?" Let us explain.

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) configurations are systems that employ two or more disks in combination for fault tolerance or improved performance. RAID 1, aka mirroring, allows the drive to create two separate copies of your data, one on each disk, in order to reduce the chance of data loss should one drive fail. Paranoid users will welcome its presence in the DriveStation Duo, particularly if they really, really don't want to lose their precious files.

Basic installation of the DriveStation Duo is straightforward. Connect it to an electrical outlet, then to your PC, then run the setup program on the installation CD. Once complete, a couple of icons will appear on your desktop, and a couple of new drives will be added to 'My Computer'.

Transferring data to and from the device is straightforward, too -- just drag and drop. It connects via four- or six-pin FireWire, or via USB, so it's capable of transferring data to and from a PC at 400Mbps or 480Mbps respectively. 

If you're buying a NAS drive, there's a strong chance you'll want to make backups of the data on your PC. Happily, Buffalo has included Memeo backup software, which can schedule automatic backups at times you specify.

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