There are advantages to being a blogger. The main one is that people give you Free Stuff because you’re part of the media—and when you’re not actually a journalist, you don’t need to have any qualms about keeping said Free Stuff.
Last night I got to meet my BFF Jay Pechek (the man who sent me the free hard drives in ’06 and ’07) in person, along with his new boss at Buffalo Technologies. When your favorite tech PR guy changes jobs, it means new toys to play with.
Enter the charmingly petite LinkStation Mini. It’s a fraction of the size of my Maxtor Shared Storage II, and does the same thing. Admittedly, the one I got is only a 500 GB model, but there is a 1 TB model with just as much storage capacity as the MSS-II, which is approximately the size and weight of a cinderblock. You can see the two side by side for comparison here:
That’s the difference between starting with two 3.5” drives and starting with two 2.5” drives. And then there’s the fan, or rather the lack of one. Notebook drives rarely get as hot as desktop drives, because they don’t spin as fast. (These are 5400 RPM drives.) Instead of putting a fan into the LinkStation Mini’s case, Buffalo’s engineers designed the housing with a heat sink between the drives and plenty of ventilation on the sides and back.
Not having a fan means the LS Mini is quiet, and also that there’s nothing drawing dust and cat hair through those nice big ventilation grilles. (Theoretically. In actuality, nothing is proof against cat hair unless it’s airtight, and possibly not even then.)
The normal reason for using 2.5” hard drives is to allow for portability. It’s unlikely, however, that even I would pack a NAS drive along on my trips. However, I could fit six of the LS Mini into the space occupied by the MSS-II. That means people who don’t have room for a cinderblock on their desks can still use network storage.
I have seen Apple’s Time Capsule. (My stepmother has one.) It’s got that sleek white Apple look to it, and it doubles as a wireless router, which is a neat trick. But while more elegant than the MSS-II, it’s still substantially larger than the LinkStation Mini.
Buffalo hasn’t quite mastered idiot-proof simplicity the way Apple does. Basic setup of the LinkStation Mini is easy enough—plug it in, connect it to the router, turn the power switch to “on,” and insert the setup CD. But despite the fact that it told me it had installed the Memeo backup software, it didn’t; I had to go into the CD and manually install that. And I’m still working out the Web Access setup. (Heck, I’m still recovering from going out with the Buffalo PR team—and I don’t even drink.)
This was my first encounter with Memeo’s backup software. One thing I noticed right away was wide array of specific backup destinations, including iPods, USB keys, and Memeo’s own online backup service. In this case, I wanted my new network drive, L, and had no trouble choosing it as a destination.
Having a new NAS drive gives me the opportunity to back up my D drive: the second internal hard drive on my laptop, the one which contains recent backups of business files and a number of other things as well, like fonts, icons, and sound effects. While drives other than “C” are normally excluded from backups, it was easy enough to remove the exclusion and set up a backup from D to L. Backing that drive up is something I’ve done manually when I’ve done it at all, so this will be a good thing to have.
The initial backup of this nearly-full 80 GB drive is taking a long time, in part because it’s running in the background and in part because there are a lot of small files in there, and nothing slows down a network like hundreds of small files. (Except thousands of small files, I guess.) Plus, while the LinkStation Mini is equipped for gigabit network connections, I don’t have a gigabit network card in my laptop, so I’m restricted to ordinary 10/100 transfer speeds (slower than USB hi-speed).
And speaking of things that run in the background, my system tray is getting ridiculously crowded with all these assorted backup drives and utilities: NASNavigator, Memeo, Mozy, FreeAgent Launcher, and Maxtor Status Icon. It’s got to be safe to shut some of these down when backups aren’t actually running, though the biggest drain on functionality seems to come from AVG Free version 8, which puts tentacles into places previous versions kept themselves out of, like Firefox.
Stay tuned for future explorations of some of the more advanced features of the LinkStation Mini.