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GCN Lab reviews: When you need a terabyte or less of extra storage, external hard drives answer the call! By Greg Crowe
THE DRIVESTATION COMBO4 FROM BUFFALO TECHNOLOGY is all about flexibility. With more connection options than any other drive in the review, the DriveStation would work in any office configuration.
At 3 pounds, 3 ounces, Buffalo’s offering is heavier than most of the other drives in this roundup. But that also makes it seem quite sturdy with a 1/16-inch thick metal casing and a foot-bracket affixed by screws. The Combo4 measures 2.75 inches by 8.75 inches, about average in this review.
In addition to the USB 2.0 port, the Combo4 has an eSATA port, FireWire 400 port and two FireWire 800 ports, which is as many data ports as you are ever likely to need. Only one other drive in the review has as many.
We were pleased to see that the DriveStation came with a full version of Memeo Autobackup software. This backup-and-recovery tool is easy to use, allowing practically any user to schedule and perform periodic backups and retrieve files that may have gotten lost or damaged.
We also liked the fact that the Combo4 came with Buffalo’s Secure- LockWare, which uses a 256-bit encryption to protect sensitive data.
The DriveStation achieved only 174 megabits/sec in our transfer tests when sending data to the hard drive over the USB port, making it one of the slowest in that category. However, it was one of the fastest when we pulled files from the drive, excelling at 243 megabits/sec. The Combo4 also has a power switch, as only about half of the drives do. This is definitely an added convenience because otherwise we would have to unplug it to power down.
The list price is $349, which is higher than we would have liked for a 1T drive, even one with this many ports. However, if you need the flexibility of connecting to different port types on various computers, the DriveStation Combo4 is just the thing.