The Buffalo TeraStation Pro II Rackmount comprises four disks, RAID, enjoys good management and okay software, and it all comes at a bargain price.

The world is awash with entry-level network-attached storage (NAS) devices, some of which on a bad day can look rather like a cheap PC gone wrong. But is the new fashion of shoehorning the low-cost box-of-drives concept into a rack-mounted server not taking things too far? Are there any compromises users need to know about?

Buffalo Technology’s latest NAS embraces the idea head on, slotting four 7,200RPM SATA hard drives into a 2U server that’ll screw nicely into a rack cabinet for a professional storage look. Into the back can plug a Gigabit Ethernet connection, with a single PSU for power. Capacities range through 1TB (250GB per drive), 2TB (500GB per drive) and 4TB (1TB per drive), although the lower capacities could look like a false economy when the day arrives to upgrade.

Daft and obvious point number one – this model is for small businesses with 19 inch racks to put it in. If you don’t have such a thing, then you can get the same features by buying the TeraStation Pro II in its PC server form . If you don’t have a rack but suspect you should invest in such a thing, the official arguments in favour have to do with the efficient use of space, cooling, and security. The unofficial argument is that it makes the IT admin look as if he or she knows what they’re doing, but we digress.

The Buffalo TeraStation Pro II Rackmount's drives are accessible by unclipping the front panel (it locks), with each drive accessible in seconds by sliding it out from its dedicated chassis housing. The power and data cables need manual removal from the rear of each drive so there is no slot-in interface as would be found on more expensive models. That’s an economy, but a more than bearable one. The cooling required on PC-based NAS models can make them noisy – this one is barely hums.

The Buffalo TeraStation Pro II Rackmount system boots up in a matter of minutes, offering status on a number of variables such as link speed, RAID status (0,1, 5 and 10 supported), and assigned IP address, which can be customised through the comprehensive web-management utility. Talking of which, this has come on a way since its earliest incarnations, and is now a highly usable way of keeping an eye on the unit from day to day.

It offers a comprehensive set of disk, backup and management options, and is extremely easy to use – including managing several TeraStations at once, as is likely to be the case.

It’s probably possible to set up the Buffalo TeraStation Pro II Rackmount as desired, creating a web of scheduled backup jobs between different units and then get on with other tasks. The system allows for an admin to be emailed with a hard drive status report (including disk failure), system alerts, fan failure, UPS error, and report son the backups completed.

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