Buffalo Technology TeraStation TS5410RN Review

Buffalo may offer an impressive range of SMB NAS appliances but it’s been very slow to jump on the 10-Gigabit (10GbE) bandwagon. Its latest TeraStation 5010 series aims to remedy this as all they all come 10GbE ready out of the box.

Along with the TS5410RN 4-bay rack mount model on review here, the family includes 2-bay and 4-bay desktops all offered in a range of capacities. Note that diskless models aren’t available and if you have a drive failure, you must use a Buffalo OP-HDN series replacement drive.

Hardware choices are simplified as all members use the latest quad-core 1.7GHz Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-314 CPU partnered by 4GB of server-grade DDR3 memory and a 6Gb/sec disk controller. This is a big improvement over the older TS5400 models which suffered from a poor-performing Atom CPU, a paltry 2GB of memory and a pedestrian 3Gb/sec SATA disk controller.

The appliance’s single 10GbE port is the copper variety which adds even more value. Most other Annapurna Labs equipped appliances offer single or dual fibre 10GbE ports which require expensive transceivers.

TS5410RN rear

Easy installation

The appliance was supplied with a quartet of 2TB Seagate IronWolf NAS HDDs

The appliance was supplied with a quartet of 2TB Seagate IronWolf NAS HDDs

The appliance is solidly built and very quiet making it a good choice for a small office environment. Along with the fixed 10Gbase-T port, you get dual Gigabit and three USB 3 ports for adding external storage devices.

We were supplied with the 8TB model which came with a quartet of Seagate’s latest IronWolf 2TB NAS hard disks pre-installed. The drives are configured in a RAID5 array but you can delete this and go for RAID0, 1, 10 or 6 arrays instead.

Before serving up storage, we recommend familiarizing yourself with Buffalo’s LVM (logical volume manager) feature.

The appliance comes with LVM disabled allowing it to support NAS shares and file- or block-based iSCSI volumes. If you want multiple NAS volumes in your RAID array then you’ll need to turn on LVM but enabling it will delete all existing shares and targets.

You do get plenty of warning as the web console asks you to enter a four-digit code before proceeding. Similarly, if you disable LVM on the array later on this will also delete all shares and targets.

The web interface is well designed and the appliance provides good share access controls

The web interface is well designed and the appliance provides good share access controls

10GbE performance

For performance testing, we used a non-LVM array and mapped a share over a direct 10GbE connection to a Lenovo x3550 M5 Windows server. Raw NAS speeds are under-par with Iometer reporting read and write rates of 6.9Gbits and 4.6Gbits/sec.

Real world speeds were more impressive with our 25GB file copy returning average read and write speeds of 3.9Gbits/sec and 2.7Gbits/sec. The same tests run on Qnap’s Alpine-equipped TS-831X returned slightly lower read speeds of 3.5Gbits/sec and the same 2.7Gbits/sec write speed.

Alas, general backup performance was underwhelming with our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files secured to a share at only 1.1Gbits/sec. The TS-831X mustered a much faster 2Gbits/sec for the same test.

LVM and share features

LVM supports multiple NAS volumes which can be expanded into available space on the fly

LVM supports multiple NAS volumes which can be expanded into available space on the fly

Buffalo states that using LVM could have a negative impact of performance but we didn’t find this to be the case. Changing to an LVM-enabled volume and re-running our NAS tests saw very similar results across the board.

Before dishing out shares we needed to configure NAS volumes first from the LVM section of the web console.  Shares are then created within the selected NAS volume and a big advantage of LVM is you can increase a volume size on-demand into available space on the fly.

Regardless of the LVM mode selected, share access controls are impressive. We could designate them as read only or read/write, enable the recycle bin and decide whether they were accessible over CIFS, NFS, AFP and FTP.

A local user and group list can be applied to each share and the appliance will integrate with an Active Directory domain. Enable the WebAccess option and shares can be remotely accessed using Buffalo’s cloud portal for file uploads and downloads, sharing and sending them by email.

Backup and the cloud

Buffalo includes an excellent backup software bundle for protecting one server and ten workstations

Buffalo includes an excellent backup software bundle for protecting one server and ten workstations

Check the Backup tick box during share creation and it’ll make it available as a destination for Buffalo’s on-appliance backup utility. This allows you to secure local folders to another share using scheduled jobs or back them up to remote LinkStation and TeraStation appliances.

Replication to a remote appliance is available but this feature doesn’t support Rsync so it’ll only work with other Buffalo appliances. Failover to another TeraStation is supported although this only works if you have LVM, replication and iSCSI volumes disabled.

The appliance supports synchronisation between dedicated NAS shares and Amazon S3 accounts. It’s easy enough to set up but we found it will only work if LVM is disabled as it doesn’t recognise NAS volumes. However, Buffalo has added Dropbox support which we used to sync folders on different Dropbox accounts with selected folders on the appliance.

Buffalo generously bundles the NovaStor NovaBackup 18.5 software and includes one server and ten workstation licenses in the price. It made light work of scheduling backups of our Windows 10 clients to NAS shares and also supports image-based backups.

Conclusion

Increasing network backup demands means central storage appliances can no longer rely on slow Gigabit connections. Buffalo’s TS5410RN is an ideal solution and scores well for value as there are few competitors in the 4-bay rack NAS space that can provide 10GbE readiness and a heap of storage at a similar price.

It can’t match the likes of Synology or Qnap for features and cloud provider support but all essential NAS requirements are present and correct. 10GbE performance isn’t great either, but it’s good enough to make it suitable as a central backup vault for SMBs looking to secure multiple systems and made all the more compelling by Buffalo’s generous software bundle.

7.3 Total Score
Ideal Solution

Increasing network backup demands means central storage appliances can no longer rely on slow Gigabit connections. Buffalo’s TS5410RN is an ideal solution and scores well for value as there are few competitors in the 4-bay rack NAS space that can provide 10GbE readiness and a heap of storage at a similar price. It can’t match the likes of Synology or Qnap for features and cloud provider support but all essential NAS requirements are present and correct. 10GbE performance isn’t great either, but it’s good enough to make it suitable as a central backup vault for SMBs looking to secure multiple systems and made all the more compelling by Buffalo’s generous software bundle.

Performance
6.5
Feautres
6.5
Build quality
8
Usability
7
Value
8.5
PROS
  • Copper 10GbE port
  • Good Value
  • Generous backup software bundle
  • Supplied with Seagate IronWolf HDDs
  • Rack mount rails included
CONS
  • Average 10GbE performance
  • Limited cloud provider support
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