Buffalo LinkStation LS420

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Buffalo LinkStation LS420DBack in 2006 I purchased my first NAS, the 250gb Buffalo LinkStation. Three years later I quadrupled my NAS space by replacing the LinkStation with the 1TB Buffalo LinkStation Live. It’s now been five years since my last NAS upgrade and this time I decided to finally go with RAID. Sticking with Buffalo (I have yet to have a problem with Buffalo storage devices), I selected the LinkStation 420.

The LS420 comes in several flavors: 2, 4, 6, and 8TB, and a diskless version (which also includes a USB 3.0 port). I selected the 6TB model (which came with two Samsung 3TB drives installed) and planned on running it in a RAID-1 configuration to give me triple the storage space I had before.

Buffalo pre-configures the unit as JBOD, however (to give you the full 6TB capacity) so the first order of business (once I had it up on the network and upgraded to the latest firmware) was to switch to RAID-1. This triggered a rebuild that took over 24 hours! Considering the drives were empty, this seemed overly excessive and meant I couldn’t actually use my new NAS until a day or so later. Then I was finally able to set up the folders on the new NAS and start copying my near 1TB of data from the old one.

It’s hard to find a NAS nowadays that doesn’t have a bunch of extra stuff built-in. These boxes are really just little Linux servers so I guess the manufacturers think they are adding value by adding features. In some cases that’s true, but I won’t use a lot of extra bells and whistles on the LS420.

I did decide to give the iTunes server a try, which should make it easier to share my music library with other devices in the house. I also turned on DLNA and played around with it in OpenElec on my Raspberry Pi. I was pleased that the built-in bittorrent client finally supports magnet links and proxies (like TorGuard). But other features like the print server (my printers are already on the network), web access (I use other cloud services for file access), Time Machine (no Macs in the house), and backups (I use SpiderOak for automatic offsite backups) will remain disabled and unused. I wish I could use the UPS feature, which allows the NAS to shut down gracefully in case of a power outage, but this requires the UPS to be directly connected (via USB) to the NAS. My UPS is connected to the Linux server and monitored by NUT, so it could send a shutdown signal to the NAS, but that would require shell access to the LinkStation and I haven’t decided to hack it just yet.

So far I’m pleased with the Buffalo LinkStation 420. I’ve got three times the storage I had before and the peace-of-mind that I can have one hard drive crash and not lose any data thanks to RAID-1.

UPDATE (04/08/2014): After two weeks, I’ve decided to return the LS420 and can no longer recommend it. The NAS kept crashing (dropping off the network, or hanging altogether) 9 out of 10 times when I tried to copy files to it. The bittorrent client would also crash and hang the unit. I tried contacting Buffalo tech support via e-mail and also started some threads on their support forums (here and here) and after 5 days still hadn’t received a single reply (other than a boilerplate “we received your inquiry and will be in touch”). This was very disappointing as I’ve been very happy with my Buffalo equipment in the past (routers and NASes) but I can’t have a NAS be as unreliable as the LS420 has been right out of the box. So it’s going back and I’m going to try the Synology DS214 instead.

4 Comments

  1. I’m starting to have some recurring issues with the LS420D.

    Twice now, all of my settings in the bittorrent client have been reset and I’ve had to go through and fill in all the fields again (proxy, authentication, queue numbers, etc.). Also, web access to the bittorrent manager on the Linkstation seems to crash a lot. Sometimes restarting the Bittorrent client through the web interface will work, other times only rebooting the NAS will fix this. When it does happen, the bittorrent client web client is unreachable on port 9090.

    Also, quite a few times during big copy operations the SMB shares on the LS420D have just disappeared, causing copy operations from my Windows 7 desktop to hang and fail. Usually the Linkstation is still pingable, and I can get into the web interface just fine, it’s just the shares. Restarting the SMB service sometimes works, but other times I’ve had to hard power-down the NAS and reboot it. Once I couldn’t even get into the web interface because it kept rejecting my password! This is a little troubling since copying large files to the NAS from my PC is mostly what I do!

    I’ve posted on the Buffalo tech support forums and sent an e-mail directly to support. I’ve yet to receive a reply to either method.

  2. FYI, I also have an LS420… and over the course of owning it for about a year and a half have figured out (painfully) that something’s not quite right… it seems to drop network connection (perhaps it sleeps?), and has even lost the whole mapped logical unit across the two disks. I came to this site seeing if anyone else has issues. I was thinking of pulling the drives, or reformatting, or something… anything to remedy this product’s issue. I would say the LS420 has been a failure. While I “technically” have been able to pull my backup files off the NAS (read below), it frequently hangs, stops copying, resets, etc. I would have initially said that it’s solely the fault of the unit, but I’m sure (network? etc)

    You mentioned losing a day: it’s taken me over a month to keep the little LS420 up while pulling my images off of it. While copying, it will just hang, for no reason or even time frame.

    I keep two backup copies of my photographic files, so this was one set of two… but I treated this fiasco as if they were my originals… taking painstaking time to ensure that every single folder and file on the unit was carefuly backed off. That’s taken over a month… so now I’m wondering whether to reformat this puppy, pull the drives, reinstall a new OS, or what. Thank you.

    • I’m not sure what to tell you … the drives are probably fine so you could pull those, format them, and put them into a new NAS enclosure like the Synology I have. Sorry you dealt with those problems so long. It only took me two weeks of frustration before I decided to return the LS420. And I love my DiskStation.

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