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A link to the future

The LinkStation from Buffalo Technology is the latest example of a home/SOHO implementation of a business networking technology.

The LinkStation from Buffalo Technology is the latest example of a home/SOHO implementation of a business networking technology–here, the network server (or network-attached storage, in current parlance). The LinkStation’s four models have hard-drive capacities of 120, 160, 250 and 300GB, and street prices from about $230 to $410. Little larger than an external hard drive, it’s nearly silent, even with its small fan. Besides its RJ-45 Ethernet port, the LinkStation provides two USB 2.0 ports. One is for connecting an external drive, which can be accessed as a separate volume and/or used to back up the internal drive (very basic backup software is included). The other can connect to a USB printer, which the LinkStation’s print server makes available to any network user.

Setup is relatively straightforward for Windows users, with a wizard to guide the process. With a few fits and starts (and download of the latest user manual) I was also able to set up and access an external drive and network printer. Unfortunately, Mac users get neither a wizard nor any instructions. A call to tech support yielded a simple initial setup and a complicated printer configuration procedure, along with the information that they no longer formally support the Mac. After initial setup, the LinkStation’s plethora of functions can be managed mostly from any PC or Mac web browser. The LinkStation appears as a drive–automatically in Windows and after a network login on Macs.

I’m a photographer, and between the LinkStation and an attached 250GB external drive, I now have half a terabyte to do uncompressed backups of my PC and three Macs, making my images and other files easily accessible from any computer on my network.

Not resting on its laurels, Buffalo recently announced the TeraStation, a terabyte of storage in a four-drive RAID array, along with wired/wireless versions of the LinkStation and the LinkTheater, an HDTV media server designed to work with their storage systems. Networked home theater, anyone?

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