AUGUST 6, 2007
Buffalo DriveStation Combo External Drive
Expands your horizons
The Buffalo DriveStation Combo external drive is a solid option for those of us who want to backup our existing files or just add more gigabytes to our current computer without opening the case and installing an internal drive. With only a 250 GB internal hard drive I have almost exhausted all available space so I do a little moving of files to external drives as well as backup my most valuable memories like digital photos and family vacation videos.
The DriveStation looks and feels very solid in its black and steel enclosure. My test unit was a 250 Gig drive. It can be used vertically or horizontally. Since I am a klutz I placed it flat on the floor. This option also allows stacking of multiple DrivesStations should you have the need. The Combo part of the name is due to its connecting capabilities. It will connect to USB or FireWire (IEEE1394).
On the back there are two Firewire connectors (6 pin and 4 Pin) and one USB connector. Other items on the back of the case are an ON/OFF switch, a plug for the Power adaptor, and a power mode switch that sets to Auto or Manual. I used Auto for this test as it works with the power save utility to automatically shut the unit on or off from the computer.
Although it is recommended by Buffalo that you should use the included setup disk the company also states in the short manual that no drivers are required unless you are using Windows 98SE. I inserted the CD into the Lenovo Thinkpad CD drive and opened the setup wizard. I also installed the Memeo AutoBackup software. A USB and a Firewire cable are included. They are much too short unless you can place the drive right next to your computer. After making all the connections I installed the Memeo AutoBackup software.
The included Memeo AutoBackup software is easy to install and set up. It takes longer if you want to select the files or folders to be backed up rather than using the preset file types/directories. Each time I started the backup software I was asked for a serial number that was supposed to be on the CD but it was not there. This is a 30 day trial version. You can download a full version for $29.95 or one with three computer licenses included for $69.95. I used the backup software twice to attempt to backup about 40 gigabytes but it stopped both times at 4 GIG. The manual does mention the drive comes formatted with FAT32 as many are sold to MAC users. I went to the Buffalo website and found in their FAQs that I needed to convert the FAT32 to NTFS. The instructions for doing so were concise and it took very little time. NOTE: The formatting program included on the CD is not to be used if you are moving to NTSF. After that I backed up two test sets of over 50 gigs each without a hitch.
There is a heat sync built into the drive chassis. The case was slightly warm to the touch but not as hot as others I have worked with. The Buffalo Drive Station Combo was quicker archiving files using the Firewire connection than with USB but not visibly. This drive is very quiet. There is no question it is plug and play. I was able to open the box, plug it in and, without using the included backup software program, was able to save, use, and delete files on the drive.
Mention of the need to move to NTFS formatting when working with a PC and simple instructions on how to do so in the printed PC User Guide that came in the box would have saved me, and no doubt others, some research. I know some of that information is in the documentation on the CD but who reads that unless they get in trouble.
The Buffalo DriveStation Combo worked very well during this test period of about 3 weeks. It has a rugged case, runs quietly, and is a valid choice for anyone looking for a well built external drive. It is a product I will hate to return after this review.
Available in 250, 320, 500, and 750 gigabyte versions. The 250 Gig combo drive sells from $115 to $130.00 on the internet.
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