Review Buffalo Linkstation 720 NAS With 2.5 gigabit Ethernet No Frills Storage

hey everybody it’s lan seidman we’re taking a look today at the buffalo linkstation 720. this is a no-frills network attached storage device that is ready to go out of the box it has all of its disks installed everything is set up you plug it in you do a little bit of software configuration for passwords and you’ve got a bunch of storage that’s available on your network for your family to use and we’re going to take a closer look at what this is all about in just a second but i do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that this came in free of charge from buffalo however all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own no one is paying for this review nor has anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this nas is all about now this starts at 349 dollars with two two terabyte drives installed they call this a four terabyte unit but it’s spread across two drives and by default one drive is mirroring to the other for redundancy so when you buy the four terabyte unit two terabytes is usable if you buy the eight terabyte unit four terabytes is usable because again it is mirroring one drive to the other now you can configure this in a way that you can get the aggregate storage but you’ll lose the redundancy and if you lose one drive the whole thing falls apart so my recommendation always on network attached storage is do the mirroring in case you lose a drive because you can pull out the bad one and put in a new one now before we go too much further here we do have to address who this product is for this is not for enthusiasts because you cannot install any software on here there’s no app store there are no apps there’s no terminal access via ssh it is locked down tight for a reason because they’re aiming this at consumers who are likely not going to manage their device all that much after they set it up so it is off the internet by default when you plug it in and get your password set up you’ll be able to find its storage on windows and mac right through your file explorer or the finder and you can start moving files back and forth and there’s a few other things that you can do beyond that but most of it is centered around storing files and making them accessible to the local network if you want more than that this is not for you additionally because this is a consumer-driven device they have lower-cost hard drives installed these are seagate barracudas and these are typically found in pcs not in network attached

storage and i did reach out to buffalo to ask them why they chose a desktop drive versus a drive design for nas and they said that it’s more of a consumer device it’s not going to be used in their mind as heavily as a more robust network attached storage device would be used and that’s why they went with a desktop hard drive that said this does have a two year warranty so it is i think well supported by the company but again this is just not robust here this is bare bones basics and if you’re looking for that and you don’t want to have to fuss around with hardware configuration and software configuration and installation this is probably something that i think would be very appealing but if you’re not into that certainly look elsewhere price wise this is a little bit more than the entry level synology when factoring in the cost of the same hard drives but again i think there’s a market for this drive that is different than synology and if you’re looking at synology this is probably not something that i would say is comparable so that said let’s dive into the product and see how it works because i do think there is some value for a certain segment of the market let’s take a look at the hardware first now inside of this is a little arm processor running at 1.3 gigahertz buffalo says it’s a hexa core cpu but they did not disclose what model of cpu it has it has two gigabytes of ram on board and i think it’s adequate for what this thing does now on the front we have a usb 3 port along with a button because what you can do is plug in a card reader or a usb stick and transfer data to the nas with a button push you can also get at data on external devices inside of their control panel likewise you can also plug in

external hard drives for backing up the unit itself so there are some features that we’ve seen on some of the other nasa’s here you do have a kensington lock here for locking it down on your desk and keeping it from walking away and that actually goes inside of the case and not just on the removable flap there on the front on the back you’ve got a little cooling fan it does make a little bit of noise what will happen is especially when you’re doing a lot of data transfer back and forth is that it will heat up a little bit and the fan will start running so it’s not a silent running device and the fan is definitely louder than the hard drives inside so i would recommend probably putting this thing somewhere away from your desk if you get distracted by fan noise there is a physical power switch here on the back and what’s neat about this is that when you turn it off it actually properly shuts down the nas versus just cutting power to it so you can just easily turn it on and off with a physical switch you’ve got another usb 3 port here in the back i would probably use this one for your backup and the front one for transferring data off of cards and other things here you’ve got your ethernet jack and this supports 2.5 gigabit ethernet it doesn’t take advantage of all of the performance though that this speed of network provides and we’ll get into that in a little bit as well and then you have a slower usb 2.0 port here and that usb 2 port is probably best suited for connecting to a ups one of those

backup power supplies because there are many ups’s out there that will actually send data to the nas to tell the nas to shut itself down before the ups battery goes dead in the event of a power outage so that’s something we’ve seen on a lot of these devices as well all in it’s pretty simple and we’re going to boot it up here in a second and get going with it by the way if you don’t have a two and a half gigabit network don’t worry this will work on regular gigabit ethernet as well but it doesn’t support wi-fi’s you’re going to want to plug this in to your router or to an open network port somewhere on your local network so let’s get this thing plugged in and see what it can do all right so we’ve got it booted up now and operating i do have it plugged into this network switch that supports two and a half gigabit networks here so this black cable is going into the buffalo and this blue one is connected to my mac and we’ll look at some performance tests that we did on this in a little bit now sitting idle here with the drive spinning it’s consuming about 9 to 10 watts it’ll go down a little bit when it puts the drives to sleep if there’s no activity if you’re really hitting it hard i’m seeing it go up to about 14 watts or so give or take so it doesn’t consume all that much power and if you’re running a pc 24 7 just to serve files to your network this will be consuming far less power than that computer will because again it is really designed as a single purpose device now the setup process on this was very simple because they have the hard drives installed they also have the raid array set up and the file share ready to go so they have you download some software that finds the device here on your network you go in and set your password up and then you’re pretty

much good to go if you don’t want to do anything more than that what i did because i don’t like downloading software all the time was i found the ip address that my router assigned to the nas and i was able to log in through my web browser and go through that initial setup phase but it’s pretty easy because again it’s just ready to go out of the box and once you get your password set up it will show up on your network and if you’re on a windows machine you’ll see it through your file explorer here on the mac it’s available on the network section of my finder and for some reason the mac doesn’t have an icon for it so it puts up a big question mark here but if i click on it i can get into that file share and these are all the files that i currently have on that nas and i can play media back and all that good stuff so it’s pretty much ready to go out of the box but there are some things that you can do after the initial installation to customize how it works let’s have a look at that so this is the web-based control panel for the buffalo nas there’s a lot of stuff to look at here we’re not going to cover everything but we will cover the basics of the feature set so you can get an idea as to what you can and can’t do with this thing so let’s start off by setting up a file share so that you could set up a separate file space for every member of your family and what’s cool about how this works is that i could give my daughter her own folder but not allow my daughter into anyone else’s folders but me as the dad can get access to everything so we’re going to jump back to the control panel here and go over to file sharing and we’re going to create a user for my oldest daughter so we’re going to go to users and click on the gear icon here i’m going to click on create user i’m going to give it a name kira which is her name and i’m just going to type in a password here now

you’ll note that you can put in some other things like a user id number and an email but that’s all optional you also have the option of enabling a quota which limits how much data they can transfer into the nas if you want to control that we’re going to leave that disabled for now and you’ll see here the primary group she gets added to is a users group called hd users which is fine you could add her to the administrator group if you wanted to but we want to limit what she can do on the device here so we’re going to click on ok and this is going to build a new user on the nas for us i have found that when you add users or make any changes to things it is a little sluggish and that’s probably due to the processor they have on board here but it’ll take you know about 20 or 30 seconds or so to get the user set up and now that we have that user established i’m going to give her her own file share that she can use by herself without her sister getting into the mix so i’m going to click on the gear icon here under folder setup and what you’ll see in here is that we currently have one called share and if i jump back to my finder here and i click into my nas device you can see that share is right here and then i’ve got files and folders inside of that file share so we’re going to give kira her own share next to the main one so what i’m going to do here is create new folder this will take a second for it to load up here we’re going to type in cura and we’re going to keep it super simple i am going to make it accessible to windows and mac pcs on the network we can also enable this for backup and web access and this is important because if you do want to access this from a mobile phone you have to have this web access clicked on in order to do that we’re going to look at web access in a few minutes

likewise if you want to be able to back it up you also have to select backup to get that going and then we’re going to go over here to access restrictions and what i can do by default is make it available to everybody but i might just want to limit it to just kira and me so i’m going to click on me and kira here with read write access i could also give her sister read-only access to the folder which means she could read and copy the files but not write back to them and you can see how you can kind of set up things where the parent can monitor what the child is doing but the siblings can’t get in and mess up each other’s stuff and it’s nice to see that you have that flexibility here so i’m just going to click ok this will take a couple of seconds and once it’s done we should have another file share so let’s wait for it to finish and we’ll take a look at that all right so it’s done creating that file share and if i click on our nas now you can see that we’ve got one for kira and one for me and only the people that we allow into keira’s folder can get access to it and then of course we can repeat this and create another one for her sister and my wife and everybody else that we want to have access on here now i was expecting a little bit better performance out of this given that it is a two and a half gigabit device so when you start writing to it you’ll see that your writes typically go above 100 megabytes per second and then

kind of drop back down now by comparison your typical gigabit nas device pretty much maxes out at around 100 megabytes per second so for writing to the device the speeds writing are not any better than they would be on a gigabit nas however we did see in some of our testing much better read speeds about what i would expect out of a two and a half gigabit device so as you can see here we’re writing at 100 megabytes per second but we are able to read the data back here once that test recycles at around megabytes per second or so and that is definitely making use of the faster network speed but i have found that the performance is not always consistent and if you’ve got some of the other features of the nas running in the background like the backup or the cloud syncing which we’ll show you in a few minutes those things might impact your performance a bit so it performs okay but i was expecting better write performance especially given that this is a two and a half gigabit device now one of the challenges of network attached storage is that it’s very difficult to get access to your data when you’re not at home and every nas manufacturer comes up with some different way to get at your data remotely and what they’ve done with this one is set up something called web access it’s not great but it does allow you to get at your data when you’re not at home i would suggest and this is a whole other video setting up a vpn many routers now have vpn servers built in and what you can do is vpn into your home router and then access the nas device like you would if you were sitting on your network physically and i think that’s the best way to go this is i don’t know not so

great so we’re going to go into the gear icon here to take a look at what this web access is all about now you saw a little bit earlier when we set up the file shares you can assign web access to a share so we’ve done that already with one of my shares and i’m going to click on edit here to show you what your options are so what they let you do is go through their buffalonas.

com server and if you set this up properly you can hit an address that you always know and it will let you get into your nas via a web browser or a mobile app which i’ll show you in a minute now in order for this to work you do need to open up a port on your router port 9000 is what it defaults to i would urge you to learn port forwarding if you really want to access this system and not use upnp which they offer as an easier way to do this and the reason is is that upnp when enabled on your router allows anything on your local network to just open itself up to the world and it’s a very risky thing to have enabled these days so my advice to you would be to learn how to forward ports on your router and go this route as opposed to clicking on the easier option which represents some significant security issues and once you get this set up unfortunately this isn’t that great of an experience it basically gives you this web page that you can see here when you’re on a computer and you can get at all your files but you can’t open them up the same way you would on your local network you’re not going to have that folder sitting on the finder or in the windows explorer you have to download the file edit it and then re-upload it it’s just not a great way to go

about it so if you are willing to learn something new i think setting up a vpn in your home is the best way to go because that allows you to dial in remotely essentially in a much more secure way and be able to access the nas like it was sitting on your local network it’s going to be a lot better than this web page thing that they offer as an alternative now there’s also a mobile app which i have running on my phone right now let me back up and show you what it looks like here and so it kind of works like the web browser version does except it’s just a little bit prettier so as you can see we logged into the nas i can jump into my files here and view videos and stuff and if you’re just viewing things it’s fine but you can’t really edit anything here because you have to download the file first and on the ios platform at least their app doesn’t hook into the apple file system so you can’t open a document up in pages for example and edit it and save it back to the nas so there’s a lot of limitations here on remote access and as such i’m recommending this really for local network use only because the external functionality is pretty limited but that might actually be a good thing because the limitation means that there’s less that hackers can do to

you but again there are some issues related to convenience of accessing files so my advice is learn a vpn get it set up and i think you’ll be able to be much happier with that scenario versus this web access thing now another alternative is using a cloud storage provider they do have a synchronization feature built in it only works though with dropbox microsoft azure and microsoft onedrive but what it lets you do is define a folder on one of your shares that you can synchronize so that you could edit a file on the road using onedrive for example and when you’re on the road and save that file on one drive it’ll sync to one drive from your laptop and then the nas will sync with onedrive as well so you’ll have the file on your nas when you get back and that might be the simplest way to get things set up and that will also of course provide a decent amount of security now i’ve got this running already and we’ll let this thing load up here for a second and what i did when i set it up was i have a folder in my share file here called sync and i’ll show you what that looks like on the finder here click on sync and you can see i’ve got a couple of files in here just some videos and images and stuff and if i go back over to my onedrive here on my web browser you can see that all of those same files are here and then i could edit this file on the road and then i again would get synced back with the nas so this could work as a backup but it could also be a much easier way to get at your files and change and edit them when you’re on the road and of course onedrive is much more friendly with mobile platforms than their built-in web access is

now as i mentioned there are no applications that you can install on this however there is a dlna media server that’s built in and you can use this little server to play back video and other media files on tvs and other devices that support the dlna standard dlna has been around forever so even some of the oldest smart tvs will work with it and what i’ve done is created a folder on my nas called media and it looks in that folder for sharing things i’m going to jump over to my roku here and roku has an app called media player that works with dlna devices on your network and as you can see we’ve got the link station media server here i can jump into video i can scroll down here to all videos and play back one of the media files that’s stored on my nas and as you can see it comes up and plays pretty quickly here now as i mentioned it does support external storage either on the front or the back usb port here it’ll work with windows and mac file formats including exfat ntfs fat32 and hfs plus it also supports linux formats ext3 and xfs now if you’re going to use a drive for backup you do have to format the drive on the nas control panel first for a compatible linux file system and then you can set up a task that will back up the folders that you specify on a scheduled basis you can do it nightly or weekly however you want to do it you can set it up inside of the control panel for that so overall a very basic nas device one of the first nas boxes i ever bought was a buffalo many years ago and this feels very similar to that it doesn’t have a lot of features and that’s either a good thing or a bad thing depending on

how you’re coming at it it definitely is priced a little higher with the drives installed than the entry-level synology that i mentioned earlier so if you’re looking for more features this analogy is definitely where you want to go but you have to get your drive separately and configure everything if you’d rather just get the thing up and running quickly and you don’t want to deal with any extra features this might be something worth looking at but it is a bit difficult to access it when you’re not in your home or office and i would say the easiest way to go is the cloud syncing but you could also maybe set up a vpn which would give you an equal amount of connectivity and the external access problem is nothing unique to this device every manufacturer approaches it in different ways but this is definitely limited and there are more robust options available that’s going to do it for now until next time this is lon simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the london tv supporters including gold level supporters hot sauce and video games brian parker chris allegretta tom albrecht thomas anfang jim tannis and handheld obsession if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lawn dot tv support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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