Buffalo TeraStation 5200 Antivirus NAS review

Pros

  • Built-in antivirus
  • Decent performance
  • Long list of features
  • USB 3.0 ports for extra storage

Cons

  • High price
  • Software lacks sophistication

The Buffalo TeraStation 5200 Antivirus is an ambitious NAS device, aimed squarely at the small and medium business market.

This dual-bay model comes loaded with two 2TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 drives, however the 5200 is set to RAID 1 (mirrored) so the total unformatted capacity of the array is 2TB or 1.83TB formatted. If you switch to RAID 0 (striped) or JBOD you can increase the capacity to 4TB, however those options are pretty much unthinkable if you wish to ensure the integrity of your company's data.

If you want more capacity than 4TB nominal/2TB actual you might be interested to hear that Buffalo also lists an 8TB TS5400D model with four drive bays. This use of 2TB drives might seem a touch restrictive in this era of 4TB desktop drives and we agree, especially when you consider the two-bay TeraStation 5200 is available in an 8TB version.

While we are on the subject of the drives, it's worth noting that the Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 drives used here have a SATA 6Gbps interface, but the NAS only has a SATA 3Gbps interface so there is scope for a future improvement in this model.

The headline feature of this TeraStation 5200 is the Trend Micro antivirus software, which I'll come to shortly, but first let's take a tour around the chassis.

Design and features

On the rear, there is a Serial port to connect a UPS, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports for external devices. You can use one of these ports to connect a single printer to your LAN. On the network side of things there is a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports. The first network port is used to connect the NAS to your network while the second can be configured to switch in a second TeraStation as a failover device. You can either connect this back-up NAS somewhere else on your network or daisy chain it directly to the primary NAS.

On the front panel there are four status lights above a two-row LCD display that cycles through the Ethernet speed, IP address, date and time, the model of NAS and the firmware version. You can control this function with the 'Display' button. The LCD display is very handy, not least because it gives you an instant note of the IP address that you use to to configure the TeraStation in your browser. If you encounter a problem the LCD screen will spell out the error message and will also let you know what is going on when the NAS is formatting a drive or rebuilding an array.

The Function button that is located next to the display is a strange item that would be better named 'Configuration' as it is used to dismount USB devices, rebuild RAID arrays and configure failover. Personally speaking I feel you are best advised to handle the more advanced jobs in a proper browser configuration screen rather than using the LCD display.

The lower half of the front panel is covered by a lockable door that covers the two drive bays. The door is made of plastic and the lock is the sort of thing you use to secure a piggy bank so this isn't the sort of hardware that will protect your hard drives from theft. It will, however, prevent you accidentally ejecting a drive from one of the hot swap bays.

If you're interested in keeping your drives secure you should probably use the option to include 128-bit AES encryption during formatting which will lock the drive to that specific TeraStation.

There is nothing much else to see behind the front cover apart from an activity LED for each drive and a factory service port.

Setup

On number-crunching duty is a dual-core Intel Atom D2550 processor that runs at 1.86GHz and which is backed up by 2GB of DDR3 memory. This follows a common trend in high-end NAS units that have stacks more processing power than cheaper consumer units that rely on ARM technology or Marvell System On Chip.

Setting up the Buffalo is a simple job that is made even easier by the TeraNavigator installation wizard. We ignored the optical media with v1.20 and downloaded v1.40 from the Buffalo website. Once we had worked through the wizard (connect the network cable, turn on the power and wait for the flashing lights to change to a steady state) we installed Buffalo's NAS Navigator2, which maps the NAS units on your network. This, you will understand, is a rapid process when you only have a single TeraStation connected to your router.

I also downloaded firmware v2.30 from the Buffalo website but that was the same version as the one already installed so no further steps were required on that front.

There are two more pieces of software that might be of interest. Buffalo iSCSI Connection Tool, as the name suggests, adds iSCSI devices to your Buffalo network. TurboPC EX speeds up the Windows file copying process by caching files in system memory.

Once you have identified the particular Buffalo NAS that you wish to configure, you can then work with the device's IP address in your browser and I predict you'll take a fair amount of time getting to grips with all of the features.

Some of the features are a natural fit for a business NAS. Turn to chapter 10 of the Buffalo user manual and you can find out about the Trend Micro Antivirus. I delved around in the configuration panel for the Trend Micro anti malware software and was surprised to see the dates on the components were antique. The Virus and spyware patterns were dated Feb 2010 while the Scan Engine harked back to November 2009. I used the 'Update now' function and could hear the NAS hard drive whirr into life as the update began. After 20 minutes the progress bar had reached 30 per cent and then it froze. I left the process running for about an hour by which time I was certain there was no activity and clicked the X to close the dialogue box, which revealed that the software update was, in fact, complete. The process wasn't the least bit difficult but it could have been more informative and quicker - there's little worse than seeing a static progress during setup...

Once the antivirus software has been registered the updates run automatically in the future and can effectively be forgotten. You might wonder why anyone would want to run antivirus and anti-malware software on their NAS and there are two reasons. One is the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) means that you cannot be sure about the integrity of the smartphones, tablets and laptops that connect to your network. By extension that means you cannot trust the files that travel across your network and while any malware might be trapped when it arrives at a PC, laptop or server you should also want to stamp it out at the storage level. In fact, I would argue that BYOD only brings this matter to a head as it has been a serious concern since the introduction of the USB flash drive.

The other reason for running security software on your corporate Buffalo NAS is that the TeraStation 5200 includes a BitTorrent client, which seems like a natural avenue for malware. In addition to BitTorrent, you can also use the NAS to run iTunes and Squeezebox servers and while you're at it, why not add a DLNA server to the mix?

Performance

The most basic task with a NAS is to create shared folders of files that are accessible across the network. I found that the TeraStation 5200 delivered impressive performance and was able to transfer a 3GB file to a shared folder in 38 seconds and had no problem watching the movie across the network in glorious full HD quality.

The TeraStation 5200 can also be used as a Surveillance server for IP cameras as it supports both RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) and VMS (Video Management Software).

Selecting the feature that you wish to configure in your browser screen isn't especially intuitive. You click on a diagonal arrow to expand each feature to reveal the options that you need to select and change. There isn't a helpful wizard in sight and you'll probably need to keep the user manual open on your screen as you work.

Verdict

Once you have the Buffalo TeraStation 5200 Antivirus NAS device working to your heart's content I have little doubt you will be happy with your purchase and doubtless you'll be impressed by the performance. There is, however, the question of cost as the Buffalo is rather pricy. For instance, at the time of writing this review you can buy a 4TB Iomega StorCenter ix4-300d for £525 or a diskless Synology DS713+ two-bay NAS plus a pair of those Seagate drives for around £550 all in. That's a long way shy of £720 for the Buffalo TeraStation 5200 Antivirus and Synology even has a McAfee Security download on offer in its Package Centre, which is an App Store for Synology NAS. This makes this NAS hard to recommend, but if the price were to fall, it's performance and long feature list will go a long way to make it desirable.

Specifications

Manufacturer and model

Buffalo TeraStation 5200 Antivirus (TS5200DV5)

Number of drive bays

2

Drive interface

SATA III

CPU

Intel Atom Dual-Core

Storage capacity (drives included)

2TB in RAID 1, 4TB in RAID 0 or JBOD

Protection

Trend Micro Antivirus

Networking

Dual Gigabit Ethernet

Ports

Two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0

Display

Two row, backlit

Size (W x H x D)

170 x 170 x 230mm

Weight

4.5kg (approx.)

File sharing protocols

SMB/CIFS, AFP, FTP/FTPS, SFTP, HTTP/HTTPS, NFS

OS Support

Windows 7 (32/64-bit); Vista (32/64-bit); XP; Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit); 2008 (32/64-bit); 2003 R2 (32-bit); 2003 (32-bit); Mac OS 10.4 or higher

Warranty

3 Years