Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

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Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:44 pm

I will never, ever, buy a Buffalo product again. I tell this story as a warning, and perhaps as help to anyone who owns one who experiences what I have. May you fare better than me.

I have a 1TB Buffalo Linkstation that I use for backups. Have never liked the thing - it's slow, the interface is a pain, but I always figured what the heck it's a backup drive.

Anyway, tonight I was tinkering with my wife's new laptop and I noticed that the drive that was mapped to it wasn't available. I blamed Windows 8 - who can blame me? So I walk over to my main workstation and, oddly enough it's showing the big red X on mine as well. So I bring up NASNavigator2 to see what's going on... instead of the normal LS-whatever name I see some gobbledygook characters and a big red "EM Mode" warning. Emergency mode.

So just reset the thing, right? Wrong. I try to reset the thing and it asks for my password. Now, I am absolutely sure of my password because I always use this password for this sort of account, precisely so I don't forget it. Doesn't work. Jump on Google to find out howto do a reset - you're supposed to turn the switch to off, hold down a button and turn the power back on again...

The power switch doesn't work. No, really - I turned it to "off" and nothing. Lights are still on, drive is still humming. Finally, I pulled the power, held down the button and plugged it back in... that seems to have done... something. It didn't reset my password, but now I can see my drive and my files. Problem solv... er, no. I can't actually open anything or copy anything; when I try I get an error saying it can't find the drive.

But at least now there is a new error. Says I need to flash the firmware. Okay, so I head to Buffalo's website and download a copy of the firmware updater. I run that, it finds my NAS, I click update and it wants the password. I try the default password, no go. I try the password I know I used - it lags long enough that it appears to be the right password, still no go. Error about how it can't connect to the drive, and now in the updater program the NAS has the gobbledygook name.

So I call Buffalo's support line. Not expecting much. I get through a few menu options and am on hold to talk to an agent. Then, after holding for a few minutes, I am told by a recording that (and I paraphrase) if I am using a LinkStation NAS with NAS Navigator 2 (which I am) I may see spurious error messages because Navigator 2 isn't correctly reading a message about an available firmware update, and that I should update NAS Navigator 2 and my firmware.

Obviously in my case, the error is not spurious. I can't access my drive.

But, what the hell. I download the new NAS Navigator 2 program and install that. I can see my drive! It still has the gobbledygook name, but I can see my files... and copy them! I immediately copy the stuff I think I need to my Passport drive. Which I am glad I did because as I am writing this, I just got a popup saying that there was a "message" from the drive and now it appears to be inaccessible again.

tl;dr - If you have a Buffalo NAS and you start seeing messages about it being unavailable, I would strongly suggest copying off anything that is important to you ASAP. Because despite what Buffalo says, the message isn't necessarily spurious - at least in my case it wasn't. Apparently this issue is caused by some sort of firmware update, and occurs whenever your Navigator software receives an update notification.

My plan tomorrow is to go and buy a new NAS - one not made by Buffalo. Suggestions would be appreciated.
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:23 pm

I don't own a Buffalo NAS device but I'm fairly certain when I say that not everybody is going to experience the exact same thing you have leading them to disavow all faith in Buffalo products.
Similarly the argument can be had for Hard Drive manufacturers. I know people that swear to their graves that they will never buy from Western Digital, Seagate or Fujitsu. But I also know plenty more that have never experienced catastrophic problems with devices from the same manufacturers.

It really all depends on your unique use of the device. I've seen people complain about all kinds of hardware failure and then I see the shoddy environment they run their equipment in ie, dirty and never cleaned area leading to major dust build up, constantly bumping the table where the device sits or they handle the device without due care as if it's a kitchen utensil.

I can provide recommendations for Synology devices but I won't because if you read their forums it's full of people experiencing issues....but what you're seeing is only that percentage of people experiencing issues, it could be a minority. There's probably a greater percentage not experiencing any problems. Similarly with Buffalo NAS's or any manufacturers devices. I personally use two Dlink DNS-323's and have not experienced any problems with them. But you wouldn't believe me if you read the DNS-323 forums.

You need to look at this from a 'common sense point of view' and not a 'my glasses aren't rose tinted anymore so my opinion must now change point of view'.
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:53 pm

Jon wrote:I don't own a Buffalo NAS device but I'm fairly certain when I say that not everybody is going to experience the exact same thing you have leading them to disavow all faith in Buffalo products.
Similarly the argument can be had for Hard Drive manufacturers. I know people that swear to their graves that they will never buy from Western Digital, Seagate or Fujitsu. But I also know plenty more that have never experienced catastrophic problems with devices from the same manufacturers.

It really all depends on your unique use of the device. I've seen people complain about all kinds of hardware failure and then I see the shoddy environment they run their equipment in ie, dirty and never cleaned area leading to major dust build up, constantly bumping the table where the device sits or they handle the device without due care as if it's a kitchen utensil.

I can provide recommendations for Synology devices but I won't because if you read their forums it's full of people experiencing issues....but what you're seeing is only that percentage of people experiencing issues, it could be a minority. There's probably a greater percentage not experiencing any problems. Similarly with Buffalo NAS's or any manufacturers devices. I personally use two Dlink DNS-323's and have not experienced any problems with them. But you wouldn't believe me if you read the DNS-323 forums.

You need to look at this from a 'common sense point of view' and not a 'my glasses aren't rose tinted anymore so my opinion must now change point of view'.


Sure, not everybody is going to have a problem with this or any other manufacturer.

However, I have had enough experience with their products and have heard enough other people bitching about Buffalo products with similar issues to conclude that their products aren't for me. And here's the thing... my drive was rendered unusable not by a firmware update, but by a notice about a firmware update. Apparently, their software checks periodically for these updates, and can't read the information about the latest one properly, and errors out. That's what crashed my drive. And I can't be the only one, or else they wouldn't have a recorded message on their support line about this exact problem.

And, as I also mentioned in my original post, I wasn't particularly pleased with the drive in the first place. Both the performance and the interface are poor. The on/off switch doesn't actually work. The factory reset doesn't work. This just happened to be the last straw. And in my opinion, having my drive rendered inaccessible because of a notification about a firmware update is a pretty damn big straw.

Since I first posted, I've pulled the plug on the thing about ten times. When I plug it back in, it works about half the time - that is, the Navigator can see it and I can browse it and copy files. After five to ten minutes - every time - I get a popup saying there is a "message" from the drive and it's unreadable again. I've tried it on another machine, same deal. This is the latest version of the software, on multiple computers and operating systems, that was updated AFTER they knew about the problem. This supposedly includes the "fix" to the inexcusable problem they allowed in the first place.

Finally, my main point in posting (aside from being a chance to vent) is to let folks know that if they see errors like I was seeing, it might be a good idea to start pulling data from the drive.
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:34 am

I work as a network technician (Read Sys Admin) for a company that does support work for small businesses in the area I live. A big client for us is over 30 users. We have maybe a dozen customers that either by our recommendation, or from a previous IT provider, have used or are using buffalo NAS'. They are consistently and universally terrible.

A good example is with their mid-range line (I'm not sure of the model numbers, they are no longer recommended or deployed in the field). It functions like you would expect a NAS to function, but once you start getting into it you discover that it is running a software raid using Windows Storage Server 2008 on an atom processor. I don't know if the person deploying the device was aware of it, but it's a horribly underpowered and painfully poorly configured device. A specific example of this is the device was configured with a 4 disk raid 5 (using disk Management Console in Windows Server). Which could be Ok. But, the kicker is Storage Server 2008 was installed on a separate Raid 1 partition spanning 2 of the 4 disks. This ate up 60 gigs of space, and left 60 gigs of unpartitioned space on the remaining 2 drives.

But to be fair to Buffalo, their networking gear (at least the home stuff I've used) is great. I believe they are even using dd-wrt (or a slightly customized version) as their stock firmware.

If you are looking for a really solid NAS go with Synology. Those are our current standard and are fantastic in nearly every way.
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:40 pm

I ended up with a WD MyBook 2TB and so far I am very pleased with it. It's much faster than the Buffalo was - probably about 2-3 times the throughput. The interface is also much more functional and easy to use, and a lot snappier.

The most impressive thing from my view is the media server... with the Buffalo NAS, I would experience a lot of lag when navigating the media server in my PS3 or especially with my television; in many cases the TV would lag so bad it was unusable. With the WD I have not experienced any lag at all. Also, with the Buffalo the songs would always be out of order; the WD appears to read the tags correctly.
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:53 pm

cphite wrote:WD MyBook 2TB
Would that would be the MyBook Live? Pretty sure the regular MyBook external HDD doesn't have a media server built in.
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:54 pm

I'm with Cphite. I've been a professional tech since 1976, have seen hundreds of Buffalo devices, and have yet to see one that isn't problematic. Yes, really. They're cheaply made, they come with crappy media installed, and the electronics are unstable at best. And then there's all those people posing as their tech support department who know nothing about their products...

To give a very recent example, I had a customer with a drive failure who took it upon himself to remove the drives while the unit was live, thinking they were hot-swappable, and popped both the drives' circuit boards. I called Buffalo tech support to see what might be the most time-efficient way of recovering before recommending to the customer that they replace it with something else, and the response was, so help me Jehoshaphat, was, "You have to go to a forum somewhere and download a TTSP file because the operating system was on the hard drives." And when I asked him to elaborate with a few basic details like, "what forum?" he had no clue, and was in fact putting his phone to his chest and barking questions to another "tech" who had no clue. No offer to escalate or anything. I insisted on being escalated to someone who actually knew something about the product and tomorrow will make a week that the call has gone unanswered.

So those of you who haven't used a Buffalo product but think you have an opinion of them might want to avoid being able to form an informed opinion by avoiding them.
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:58 pm

LaChupacabra wrote:I work as a network technician (Read Sys Admin) for a company that does support work for small businesses in the area I live. A big client for us is over 30 users. We have maybe a dozen customers that either by our recommendation, or from a previous IT provider, have used or are using buffalo NAS'. They are consistently and universally terrible.


Spot on. My biggest complaint with these devices is there is usually no good way to unbrick them. A lot of them have ways to do it, like putting in a thumb drive with firmware and doing a magic reset, but it rarely works. Actually, my biggest complaint with a lot of the NAS devices is that they stored their OS on the array. I don't know how they are now days but they used to be dumb enough to put part of the OS on the array OR a hidden part of one of the drives. The NAS OS IMO should entirely reside in flash and be fully functional without any drives in it at all. I had an EMC NAS at home years ago that suffered a single drive failure. Unfortunately it was the first drive in the array and EMC thought they would be smart and put the OS on a hidden part of the first drive. Now they were nice enough to put a low level OS in flash that could put it back to factory settings (with no data) if you replaced the first drive. The downside was that it would only accept specially formatted EMC drives. There was an acronis image floating around that you could use to image a stock drive with but after about a half a day screwing with it I put together my own NAS and never looked back.
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:36 am

cphite wrote:I have a 1TB Buffalo Linkstation that I use for backups. Have never liked the thing - it's slow, the interface is a pain, but I always figured what the heck it's a backup drive.


No comment on the whole owning a Buffalo thing but you might want to re-think what you call a backup drive. Loss of a backup device should mean nothing more than the inconvienence of having to redo a full backup. If a backup drive contains the sole copy of anything, it is not a backup drive.

--SS
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:17 pm

SecretSquirrel wrote:
cphite wrote:I have a 1TB Buffalo Linkstation that I use for backups. Have never liked the thing - it's slow, the interface is a pain, but I always figured what the heck it's a backup drive.


No comment on the whole owning a Buffalo thing but you might want to re-think what you call a backup drive. Loss of a backup device should mean nothing more than the inconvienence of having to redo a full backup. If a backup drive contains the sole copy of anything, it is not a backup drive.

--SS


Wow, thread necromancy...

Yes, I understand the purpose of a backup drive. In my case, there was nothing important on the drive that I didn't have copies of someplace else... but, for example, I had my music collection organized the way I like it for streaming over my network. I had some project data that was backed up to various drives, but was organized on the NAS drive. Had the NAS been completely inaccessible, the only thing I would have actually lost would have been time... So it was a matter of convenience.

The point of my rant was mainly to vent my frustration that a relatively new piece of hardware was essentially bricked by a notice about an upgrade, has a power switch that doesn't actually do anything, and is supported by people who's knowledge of the product is apparently limited to what they can find on Google during a service call. And, to let others know that if they see the same sort of error, to take whatever action - if any - is appropriate for their situation.
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Tue Dec 30, 2014 10:33 am

cphite wrote:
SecretSquirrel wrote:
cphite wrote:I have a 1TB Buffalo Linkstation that I use for backups. Have never liked the thing - it's slow, the interface is a pain, but I always figured what the heck it's a backup drive.


No comment on the whole owning a Buffalo thing but you might want to re-think what you call a backup drive. Loss of a backup device should mean nothing more than the inconvienence of having to redo a full backup. If a backup drive contains the sole copy of anything, it is not a backup drive.

--SS


Wow, thread necromancy...

Yes, I understand the purpose of a backup drive. In my case, there was nothing important on the drive that I didn't have copies of someplace else... but, for example, I had my music collection organized the way I like it for streaming over my network. I had some project data that was backed up to various drives, but was organized on the NAS drive. Had the NAS been completely inaccessible, the only thing I would have actually lost would have been time... So it was a matter of convenience.

The point of my rant was mainly to vent my frustration that a relatively new piece of hardware was essentially bricked by a notice about an upgrade, has a power switch that doesn't actually do anything, and is supported by people who's knowledge of the product is apparently limited to what they can find on Google during a service call. And, to let others know that if they see the same sort of error, to take whatever action - if any - is appropriate for their situation.


Yep, at least I don't get the award for waking the zombie.... :)

As far as Buffalo products go, I generally stay away from them. Not just Buffalo, but in general, support of consumer grade computer hardware is pretty well non existent. Its expensive to have knowledgable people. In order to get cheap electronics, anything that costs money and can be removed from development and manufacturing must be. Testing, support, QA, all expendable. *sigh* Race to the bottom.

--SS
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Tue Dec 30, 2014 10:59 am

As long as it's back from the dead.....

SecretSquirrel wrote: Not just Buffalo, but in general, support of consumer grade computer hardware is pretty well non existent. Its expensive to have knowledgable people. In order to get cheap electronics, anything that costs money and can be removed from development and manufacturing must be. Testing, support, QA, all expendable. *sigh* Race to the bottom.


Totally agree, I'd rather pay a little more for companies that create reliable products and have good customer service, but it's so hard to figure out which companies and products are in that category.

And it's even products within the same company. For example, I've had awful luck with Netgear consumer products, and their support was obviously outsourced to the lowest bidder; took me 3 weeks to get them to RMA my dead router. But when I needed to replace one of their ProSafe switches, I immediately got an agent whose native language was English and had a replacement on the way after one 10-minute phone call.

And paying more doesn't help. You spend $300 on a router, you're just paying that much because it looks like an F-117A, not because they've put that money into QA and testing. Is there someone I can give my $300 to because they made a reliable product and back it with good support, and not because they're trying to extract money from supposed "enthusiasts" who spend more because, well, glitz and useless bullet-point features?

On the topic of NAS, after too many hours of research I went with Synology and I'm happy so far......
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Re: Buffalo NAS (LinkStation, etc) serious issue and warning

Postposted on Tue Dec 30, 2014 11:18 am

Yup, the "race to the bottom" is why I re-purpose older (but known good/reliable) PC hardware for home routers/servers these days. I seem to get 5-6 years out of the file servers (still only on the 2nd one in ~12 years, working on building its replacement now); and the router I built out of an old Socket 754 Athlon 64 has already outlasted the previous two consumer routers (one Netgear and one Linksys) combined.
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