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Saturday | December 10, 2016
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Buffalo LinkStation 520 Review (LS520D NAS)

Buffalo LinkStation 520 Review (LS520D NAS)

In todays review we take a dip into that ever expanding market, network storage. With a compact form factor, low power use and simple setup this NAS is designed to make storing of our important data locally as easy as possible. Welcome to our Buffalo LinkStation 520 Review.

Buffalo LinkStation 520 Review – Packaging and Bundle

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The LinkStation 520 arrives in a reasonably compact box which gives plenty of information about the key features of the NAS. inside the bundled extras are separated into their own area of the bcx and the device is suspended in foam and wrapped in protective plastic to ensure it arrives in perfect condition. The items we receive with it are a network cable, international plugs and a PSU along with the product documentation.

Buffalo Linkstation 520 Review – The LS520D NAS

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The LinkStation 520 uses an all plastic chassis built around a metal frame. The surface is matt black with a red trim along the top/front edge. Branding is minimal, just a logo on the side and sticker on the front and down the right/front edge are two status LEDs for power/activity. The dimensions of the unit are 82x126x205mm and it weighs approximately 2.5kg.

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Flipping the machine over we find four rubber feet which keep it steady on our surface and all of our connectivity is found at the rear. This starts with power input and beside that a GB LAN port. There is one USB 3.0 port for attaching additional storage to transfer files too. Also present here are an exhaust output for the built in cooling fan, power/reset switches and a kensington lock slot.

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The LinkStation 520 is available in various configurations from 2TB (2x1TB) up to 8TB (2X4TB). It runs on a Realtek RTD1195N Dual core 1.1GHz CPU and contains 256MB of DDR3. The drives in our model were Western Digital branded.

Buffalo LinkStation 520 Review – Setup

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After powering on the NAS with a network cable attached the quick start guide suggests we head over to the Buffalo site to Download NAS Navigator 2. That allows us to connect to the LinkStation, view its basic details and then launch the setup wizard in our browser with the first step being setup of user/admin accounts.

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With our initial user details in place we decide on the RAID configuration for the NAS, essentially choosing speed/capacity vs backup/redundancy and then set the time zone. A quick reboot later and the NAS is good to go.

As far as managing the NAS from our devices goes, we have Navigator 2 (shown above) for Mac/PC as well as Android and iOS equivalents and the LinkStation is compatible with Time Machine for Apple backups. The PC solution being NovaBackup from Novastor.

Buffalo LinkStation 520 Review – Operating System

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With the LinkStation 520 Buffalo have gone for a very simple OS. It is very straightforward to use. We login and are presented with a fairly standard desktop environment. Shortcuts on the left/right, main menu button top left and info/notifications top right.

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Clicking the settings cog opens up the main options for the NAS, allowing us to configure our preferences for items such as Power Management and FTP/web access as well as viewing info on the NAS properties. Opening any of the folders on the desktop launches a standard file explorer window.

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Setup of the more advanced functions on this NAS is fairly simple, just click an option such as Media Server and we are presented with the ability to set a name that will appear on our network as well as the folder for the shares. The OS checks for updates and prompts us to apply them, support for sharing via SAMBA and iTunes are present and if needed we can reconfigure our RAID or reset to factory defaults at any time.

Buffalo LinkStation 520 Review – Conclusion

There are quite a number of NAS devices out there which go nuts as far as enhanced apps, design and features go … in fact some that we have reviewed are essentially mini-PCs including the ability to output to a screen, surf the net and use mouse/keyboard plugged directly into the unit but with the LinkStation 520 Buffalo are looking at a different market. The consumer who wants a box to sit in the corner, store (and stream their content) with minimal fuss or need to do anything else.

The compact form factor used here is ideal for that sort of user as is the minimalist design. The matt finish is exactly what we like to see on a NAS as glossy really shows up the dust that can collect on a device like this too. It might have been nice to have the single USB port located on the front for easy access but other than that, the design/layout is good. Access to the inside is also easy, just pull off the front cover and slide out the drives which can be upgraded at a later date if we wish.

Setup was super easy, essentially the LinkStation 520 is ready to go out of the box with just a few options needing configured. User login, time, and how we want the storage configured. It could be beneficial for Buffalo to simplify the language used on the drive screen given the target audience but that’s about the only significant change we would make. After a quick reboot the OS is ready to use and it immediately checks for any updates and allows us to apply them, a task which takes only a couple of minutes from start to finish. From there on we can essentially leave the NAS to do its thing, dragging and dropping files to/from it as required.

In terms of performance we noted no issues. Transfers hit the 100MB/s that Buffalo state in their specifications and power use was around 11w when idle and 19w in use…again just as Buffalo note. Responsiveness was also good with the dual core CPU and 256MB of RAM more than enough to handle the features offered on this unit (which include HD streaming).

Sometimes at this stage in the review we get a bit concerned that a manufacturer will overprice a unit and really kill its potential but we are also pleased to report that the LinkStation 520 is very competitively priced. In fact it was cheaper than we expected. Bonus!

Summary: A simple, easy to set-up and use NAS which is well priced. No frills, no fuss… does exactly what many consumers will need from local storage.

Value Award

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Buffalo Linkstation 520 (LS520D)
Author Rating
4

About Author

Stuart Davidson

1 Comment

  1. Did you get WebAccess running on this thing? I found the instructions to be APPALLING and about 5 years out of date (only much older versions were covered. A firmware update was necessary to enable WebAccess on my unit and even then it failed to connect to BuffaloNAS.com. Their support seems quite responsive, but I was seriously disappointed by the lack of useful information to get started.The materials take so much for granted and explain nothing about what you actually need to know.

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