We're all obsessed with downloading gigabytes of movies, music and TV -- the problem is where to put it all. You kit yourself out with a PC sporting a huge 250GB hard drive, but within weeks it's so full of movie trailers, MP3s and BitTorrented TV programmes that you need to offload some of your media. So you score an external USB drive, but before you know it that, too, is full. Then you discover that you want to watch all those movies on an older PC in another room but it simply doesn't have the space to hold your video library. What's your next move?
Thefrom Buffalo Technology is one answer. Available in various storage capacities, this little box of tricks is called a Network Attached Storage device (NAS for short). It's simply a hard drive that's smart enough to join your wired or wireless network, instead of needing to be hooked up to a computer. Leave it on all the time and any computer that has access to your network can get to the files on the NAS. You set it up using your Internet browser, it appears as a drive on your network, then just load it up with your media files and you're good to go.
Crave copied across a stack of files to test the LinkStation Pro. Both video and MP3 files played back flawlessly on a networked PC. We then connected wirelessly using an Apple MacBook and again played back the files with no glitches. Being able to store all our files centrally, without needing to leave a computer switched on, is rather lovely. It means you can finally get organised, moving all your files to the NAS and freeing up valuable real estate on your desktop.
Automatic backup is also available, so you can take that USB hard drive and let the LinkStation Pro backup your media files to it. If you run out of room there are more USB ports on the back, so you can add a cheaper USB hard drive to extend the LinkStation Pro's capacity.
Crave was putting the LS-320GL model through its paces, which offers 320GB of storage and is available for £155. This thing is whisper quiet (well almost, there is one small fan), and very impressive for the price. Other models range from 250GB to 750GB storage capacity. Our advice is: buy the biggest you can afford -- you can never be too thin, too rich or have too much storage. -DC