Today we start off a series of reviews showcasing several 2-Drive NAS (network attached storage) options available on the market. These units offer fast setup, easy to use interfaces and offer many features that enhance storage capabilities for your home or small business. The first unit we will take a look at is the Buffalo LS220D 2-Drive NAS. The LS220D can backup your systems and offers media sharing and a personal cloud so you can access your files anywhere over the Internet.
With drive capacities reaching 8TB+ simple RAID 1 mirrors provide enough storage for many SMB and home NAS needs. The Buffalo LS220D is a low power unit that allows one to get two drives online inexpensively.
Buffalo LS220D 2-Drive NAS Specifications
- CPU: Marvell ARMADA 370 Processor 800MHz
- RAM: 256MB DDR3
- Number of Drives: 2
- Drive Interface: SATA 2, 3 Gbps
- Hard Drive Capacity Supported: 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB
- Supported RAID: 0/1/JBOD (Individual Disks)
- Data Transfer Rates: 10/100/1000 Mbps
- Dimensions: (L x W x H) 8.07 x 3.42 x 5.02 in
- Weight: 5.5 lbs with drives – 1.92 lbs empty
- Power Consumption: Max 48W
- Power Supply: External AC 100-240V Universal, 50/60Hz
With only SATA II 3.0gbps support this is intended solely at hard drives. SATA II is fast enough for most of today’s hard drives and with a single 1GbE network port the network side will be the bottleneck in this system.
Buffalo LS220D 2-Drive NAS Overview
After receiving our unit, we find a solid package with all necessary marking and specifications clearly marked on the retail box.
The front and back of the retail box show features available on the LD220D and even gives a rough estimate on the storage capabilities of this NAS.
Accessories included with the LS220D include
- Linkstation LD220D empty enclosure
- Setup CD-ROM
- Quick Setup Guide
- Ethernet Cable
- AC Adapter
- Small bag of hard drive mounting screws
We had already setup our unit when we took this photo so the mounting screws are not shown.
Buffalo LS220D 2-Drive NAS Installation
Removing the empty LS220D from the retail box we can see there are only four pieces we have to work with.
The front cover plate simply unsnaps and flips off and then we can pull out the empty drive trays.
After removing the empty drive trays we can see the back plane that our hard drives will plug into. These backplanes are usually simple pieces of PCB that deliver power and data signals to the drives. We did like that the PCB was marked Buffalo showing that the company did custom design this piece instead of simply using an off-the-shelf PCB.
Looking at the back of the LS220D we see a Red function button, power switch, USB 2.0 port, LAN port and power connector. As we will see, in this segment this is a typical layout.
After we have pulled out the drive trays its time to mount the hard drives.
The tray itself is made of plastic and can flex around a bit. Once you get the first mounting screw in place the other three screws install fairly easy. There are no rubber gaskets to help with vibrations but the plastic tray should absorb vibrations fairly well.
Once the drives are mounted on the trays they simply slide into case. Some attention to the tray slots is needed to orient the drives correctly but over all its fairly simple to do. Then simply snap the front cover back on and the LS220D is all set to go. The physical setup took a matter of minutes and was very simple for even a novice user.
Now let us take a look at getting the LS220D up and running from a network/ software perspective.
Buffalo LS220D 2-Drive NAS Management
On your computer insert the supplied CD (if you have one) to start installing the LS220D software.
After the CD has finished loading you will be presented with a window that allows you to start installing the software. The software will scan your network for Buffalo devices.
When that is finished you will end up with two icons on your desktop, one for the management interface and the other for the LS220D. Double-Click on the Buffalo NAS Navigator to start setting up the NAS.
Right click on the NAS Icon and drop down to the Settings menu selection.
The next step is to setup a Administrator user name and password.
After clicking next we are presented with Shared Folder Setup. The LS220D starts out with the unit set to JBOD for drive configuration which is two separate drives, this is why we see two shared folders. If this is how you want the unit to be configured there is nothing else to do. We feel that most users will likely want to use the unit with RAID 1 to provide redundancy.
When you click Apply you move to the main administration window.
We would like to see how we can setup different drive configurations so click on Advanced Settings.
From the Advanced control window click Drives.
In the Drives window click on the icon at the far right of the RAID line (3rd option down) to bring up the RAID configuration window.
It shows that we have no Raid setup, the unit is in JBOD configuration. To configure RAID click on Array1.
Here we see what RAID options we can use, RAID 0 or RAID 1. Select which RAID you want to use then make sure both drives are selected. We are using a RAID 0 (striped) array but most users will opt for a RAID 1 array to provide redundancy.
When finished click on Create Raid Array at the bottom of the window.
A conformation window will appear, enter the code shown and click OK. This confirmation is a nice feature since one could easily cause data loss by changing array configurations.
The last thing to do is enter a Shared Folder name.
The LS220D can also be controlled through your Android or iOS devices with an app that can be found in your devices app store.
Especially in the home/ SMB segment the ability to configure via a mobile app is a useful feature.
Now we have configured our Buffalo LS220D, let’s move on to performance testing.
Buffalo LS220D 2-Drive NAS Performance
Our Buffalo LS220D can be setup to run in three different configurations, JBOD, Raid 0 and Raid 1. For our testing we will configure the LS220D in each configuration and run our tests.
The performance benchmarks we will use are Intel NAS Performance Toolkit and ATTO Disk Benchmark. We are not going to focus on higher-end NAS metrics such as 4K random read/ write workloads since these NAS units are not intended for markets where that is important.
Our network consists of a Quanta LB4M 10GB Uplink Switch that connects our LS220D to our workstation. For hard drives we will be using two Western Digital 4TB Red NAS drives.
Intel NAS Performance Toolkit
The Intel NAS Performance Toolkit (Intel NASPT) is a file system exerciser and analysis tool designed to enable performance comparisons between network-attached storage (NAS) devices.
In each of the three different Raid configurations we see moderate performance but should serve files and media with out issues to a few users.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark identifies performance in hard drives, solid state drives, RAID arrays as well as the host connection to attached storage.
Here we see the ATTO Disk Benchmark results for Raid 1:
Overall performance is around 55MB/s write and 50-95MB/s write. On high-end NAS units we would expect to see around 120-125MB/s.
Here we see the ATTO Disk Benchmark results for RAID 0:
Speeds were moderately impacted by moving to RAID 0. With the Buffalo LS220D RAID 0 seems to be more of an expanded capacity option rather than a performance oriented option.
Looking at JBOD results, we see a similar pattern and perhaps slightly better read performance.
It does seem like the bottleneck is in either the CPU or the NIC.
Since these NAS units are focused on SMB/ home environments, they are likely next to a desk rather than in an equipment closet/ rack. We use a Digital Level Sound Meter to measure how loud our LS220D is in operation.
Our measurement was made while the LD220D was being tested at full loads. As you can see it is very quiet and can hardly be heard.
We use a digital temperature meter to measure fan air exhaust temperature from the back of the LD220D during operation.
Under full testing loads the LD220D does exhaust warm air out the back at 91.5F. That is warm but not uncomfortable for a home/ office setup.
For our power testing needs we use a Yokogawa WT310 power meter which can feed its data through a USB cable to another machine where we can capture the test results.
The LS220D idles at around 12.413 watts and under max load during our tests we saw a peak of 15.424 watts.
To say we are pleased with the Buffalo LS220D would be an understatement, low entry cost and good performance with ease of setup really makes this NAS shine.
It only took us a few minutes to get the LS220D up and running, it registered through our network with no issues. Configuration of the unit is about as simple as it gets, swapping RAID types on the unit was also very straightforward.
The LS220D performance was fairly zippy when transferring files back and forth. Of course your choice of drives will affect this. We found the WD 4TB Red NAS drives to be a great choice for this unit, in Raid 0 this gives you 8TB unformatted storage capacity and half that for RAID 1 which offers data protection.
We did connect the LS220D to our main network and streamed a Blu Ray ISO movie through our wireless router to a laptop using CyberLink software on our laptop to watch a Blu Ray movie and found it to be perfectly smooth playback.
With reasonable performance and cost the Buffalo LS220D is a hard unit to beat.