Recently I bought a network-attached hard drive to store my movies, music, and TV shows on and share throughout my home network. Normally, a simple shared folder on a low-energy computer would do, but I was curious to see how well a dedicated, non-computer solution would work. Ideally, the device should be available at a moment’s notice, be able to store large files, and provide fast and reliable transfers.
After looking at dozens of expensive solutions, I found an affordable home or office use networked hard drive made by Buffalo (makers of one of the only AirPort range-extension compatible WiFi base stations). I ordered the 250 GB version to try it out, although capacities of up to 400 GB are available. Much to my delight, the Buffalo LinkStation fit my needs well, offering Gigabit Ethernet, backup options, and (arguably most important) an affordable price tag.
Having created a shared folder for movies, music, TV, and general storage, I configured Xbox Media Center to default to my Movies share where XviD versions of all my DVDs are stored. I also added the TV and Music shares to XBMC’s configuration file so all my media is accessible in from one place.
iTunes can also play music off the LinkStation after being told to not copy files into its own folder. Mac OS X is smart enough to remember network shares even after they’re disconnected, so double-clicking a song in iTunes automatically connects to the share and plays just as you’d expect.
Storing all your important files in one place makes for a great media hub, but also allows for everything to disappear should the built-in hard drive fail. Luckily, Buffalo allows two forms of automatic backup. Two LinkStations can be mirrored across the network to provide redundancy, or a USB 2.0 port is also available for external hard drive backup.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with my purchase and would recommend it to anyone looking for fast, spacious, and always-available storage.