Articles: Networking

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Hi-tech product lines are often updated in response to emerging technologies. Cloud services, being one of the latest trends, have already come to network attached storage devices. Unfortunately, NAS makers are a little vague as to what benefits they bring about and what new usage scenarios they make possible.

So, we are going to see what Buffalo Technology offers in the way of cloud services by checking out its CloudStation Pro Duo. Last fall we already tested a dual-disk LinkStation from the same maker and were pleased with its low price, reliable platform and functional firmware. Judging by the exterior design and specifications, the new model is different from its software aspect only. The CloudStation series consists of three models varying in the number and capacity of preinstalled HDDs.

Package and Accessories

Like its predecessor, the CloudStation Pro Duo is shipped in an eye-catching box that is going to be attractive on a shop shelf. You can see product photos, specs and connection variants on the sides of the packaging. Some information is not quite correct, like the claim that BitTorrent and a high-performance processor are a prerogative of Buffalo NASes.

The box contents are almost the same as those of the LinkStation Pro Duo. Besides the NAS, we can see an external 12V/4A power adapter, a white flat LAN cable, a not-very-comprehensible installation guide and a warranty coupon. There is no CD in the box, but you get a wire that is to be inserted between the NAS and the power adapter for power management.

The installation guide is somewhat odd as it only tells you to visit a Pogoplug service website for registration and a Buffalo site for downloading an electronic user manual, NASNavigator2 and Pogoplug Drive (for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux). You can also download firmware (a 200MB file) and another version of NASNavigator2 from Buffalo's official website.

You should be aware that there is cardboard stuffed into the NAS back at the factory. This must be a safety measure for the preinstalled HDDs. However, the user manuals do not warn you that you need to remove that cardboard for the HDDs to be cooled properly. It takes some effort to take that stuff out, by the way.

The NASNavigator2 utility helps you find your NAS on the network, check out its status, change its network address and connect network disks. You don't have to install this tool to be able to use the NAS, though.

Exterior Design

The single visual difference from the LinkStation model is the “cloudstation” sticker in the top left of the front panel. The CloudStation Pro Duo has a practical case with the exterior panels made of black matte plastic. The only glossy element is the indicator block in the right part of the front panel. Being not very bright, the LED indicators are unobtrusive but also not very informative. The preinstalled HDDs can be accessed from the front panel after you turn the NAS off and remove the cover. Installed without fasteners, they are held in place by plastic locks.

At the back panel we can see a fan grid, a LAN connector, a mains connector, a USB 2.0 port and a power switch. The Function button is used to copy data from an external USB disk as well as for maintenance purposes. There are inconspicuous operation indicators next to the LAN and power connectors.

The 50mm cooling fan takes fresh air through the front panel and the vent slits in the sides of the NAS and exhausts it through the back panel. It can be easily taken out for cleaning or replacing without your having to take the whole NAS apart.

Hardware Configuration

The internals of the CloudStation Pro Duo are identical to those of its predecessor. The small PCB houses a Marvell 6282 processor, 256 megabytes of system memory and a network controller. The same platform is employed in many other midrange NASes, the processor providing the required minimum of interfaces: two SATA, one USB and one LAN port. The Marvell 6282 has ARM architecture and a clock rate of 1.6 GHz. It lacks any heatsink.

Our CloudStation Pro Duo comes with two Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 disks, each with a capacity of 1 terabyte. The HDDs are preformatted and the firmware is already preinstalled on the system partition.

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