A network-attached storage (NAS) device such as the Buffalo TeraStation Quad WSS is actually a full computer, with a processor, memory and operating system. This is necessary for it to manage security and share files independently of any other computer on the network (as opposed to using a USB hard disk for backup).
With many consumer NAS devices, the OS is kept hidden from the user, and is administered via a web-based interface, or with software that runs on a separate computer. The Buffalo TeraStation Quad WSS is aimed at SOHO (small or home office) users though, and is a cut above any consumer NAS device, in terms of performance – and complexity.
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The Buffalo TeraStation Quad WSS has a dual-core Intel Atom D510 processor, running at 1.66GHz, along with 2GB of memory. As its name suggests, it comes with four hot-swappable hard disks, in either 4TB or 8TB configurations, which can be set to RAID 0, 1, 5 or JBOD (where each drive is used independently).
It runs Windows Storage Server 2008, making it straightforward to integrate the Buffalo TeraStation Quad WSS into an existing Microsoft business network or domain. Active Directory is naturally supported and allows you to apply the same local and group security configuration as you would with any other computer on your network.
It’s entirely controlled via Microsoft Remote Desktop on another Windows PC or Mac. You can install any software you like on it, such as a web server, although here it’s somewhat restricted by the slow performance from the low-powered Atom processor. The Buffalo TeraStation Quad WSS is housed in a robust metal chassis, unlike the plastic used on most consumer-level NAS devices. An LCD screen at the front clearly indicates what the NAS is doing, such as booting or recreating a RAID array.
The disks are held behind a lockable door, with a fan behind them, and are straightforward to replace. At the back of the Buffalo TeraStation Quad WSS are two gigabit ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports. As is typical with other types of networking equipment, these are used only for connecting additional storage or sharing printers.
Once our 4TB Buffalo TeraStation Quad WSS was set up in our preferred RAID 5 configuration, we were left with 2.75TB of usable space.
We created a shared folder on the server and transferred a 1.5GB file to and from the device. When reading, the TeraStation copied the file at 87MB/sec and while writing it managed 66MB/sec. We then copied a folder of small images and text files, and the write speed dropped to 44MB/sec. While not the fastest NAS we’ve ever seen, this is still very good performance.
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