Doesn't take up much room
Pick your own disks/capacity
iTunes server is limited
Slower transfers than expected
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Having a NAS (Network Attached Storage) and getting it installed and set up to keep your important files safe and sound has become easier and easier throughout the years. You no longer need to be an expert to set one up at home, or even have a dedicated IT department work on it in the office.
The Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE is Buffalo's latest consumer-friendly yet robust NAS device. Unlike products such as the Western Digital My Book Live Duo 4TB the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE doesn't come with hard drives preinstalled. Not only does this keep the initial cost of the NAS device down, it can offer you some other advantages.
You can choose the speed and size of the drives you want to use (the LS421DE supports up to 8TB over two drives), and if you have spare hard drives lying around then you can save a bit of money. If not, you can at least shop around for some competitively priced hard drives. It also means that it is easy to swap and replace hard drives for further data protection, or if a drive fails.
Whilst shipping without hard drives makes this slightly less user friendly than the My Passport range, it's still far more welcoming than some of the more purely business-orientated NAS devices such as the Synology DiskStation DS411 or the Iomega StorCenter ix2. The Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE's closest competitor is the D-Link DNS-320L, a well designed and user-friendly NAS device that combines ease of use with plenty of advanced features.
The body of the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE is compact, yet sturdy, with a sleek minimalist design which would look just as at home in the living room as in an office. Two LED lights keep you informed of the hard drive status, and a USB 3.0 port is a handy addition for quickly backing up to an external hard drive for added protection. At the back is another USB port (this time just USB 2.0) and a single Gigabit Ethernet port for connecting to your network.
There's also a Kensington lock hole for fastening your drives to a table or floor. It means that thieves can't just come and pick up the NAS device and walk away with it, though if they are targeting your data they will still be able to open up the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE and remove the drives – as there is no way to lock the drives. If you or your business holds data that is more valuable than any device it is stored on, then you'll want to look for a device with better security.
Installing and setting up the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE was very easy. The front of the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE is easily removed and the plastic holders for the drives slide out with ease. Once the drive were installed and the Synology DiskStation DS411 turned on, it detected and formatted the drives. We connected it to our test network, and used the included software to locate and configure the NAS. It was fairly easy and straightforward to set up both drives into a RAID 1 array, with information detail exactly what the process is, and the benefits. Overall the software and interface for configuring the drive was straightforward and user-friendly.
The Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE has a 1.2GHz Marvell Armada 370 processor and 512MB of DDR3 RAM. This might not be as powerful as more business-orientated devices like the Synology DiskStation DS411, but it still holds up well with fast data transfers. Averaging 107.90MB/s reads and 65MB/s write speeds. Not the fastest we've seen, but perfectly acceptable for backing up large files on a home network.
If you've got important files and want to back them up to a more secure solution than just an external hard drive, then the Buffalo LinkStation 421 Enclosure LS421DE is a very good choice. It offers plenty of features, including the ability to easily access your files from anywhere in the world through an app, and it is easy to configure and set up, even if you're not too familiar with technology. However, if your business demands a completely secure and fail-proof NAS device, you're going to need to spend money on a more professional product.
Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.