One of the best ways of creating regular backups is with an external hard disk or network-attached storage device. The LinkStation Pro fits into the latter category. It's not as capacious as the mind-boggling Buffalo Terastation, but if you're looking for a device that helps you share your files between several computers at home or abroad, it's definitely worth a look
The LinkStation Pro is a network-attached storage device with a built-in 250GB hard drive. Unlike standard USB-attached hard disks, this gives the LinkStation Pro the ability to be used by more than one PC on a network, and removes the need to have any particular PC switched on to access files stored on the LinkStation Pro's hard drive.
Unlike the standard LinkStation, the LinkStation Pro has the ability to connect to Gigabit Ethernet networks, which can transfer files up to ten times faster than a standard 10/100 Ethernet network. This has the benefit of reducing the amount of time it takes to transfer files from a PC to the device. Whereas the standard LinkStation can theoretically transfer around 750MB of data per minute, the LinkStation Pro can theoretically transfer 7.3GB in the same amount of time, making it better for backups where time is of the essence.
Setting up the LinkStation is fairly straightforward. No drivers are required, but you will need to install the accompanying software and connect it to your PC or router via a LAN cable.
The LinkStation Pro has a pair of USB2 ports at the rear, to which you can connect USB storage devices for adhoc transfers, scheduled file backups or simply to expand the LinkStation Pro's storage capacity. Interestingly, you can even use two LinkStation Pros on the same network, with one creating backups of the other.
Memeo backup software is included in the package. We found it easy enough to use, and liked the fact that you could select entire disks or just specific types of files (eg only Word documents) to backup. The software automatically searches your computer for all relevant files so you don't have to hunt them down manually.
One major advantage the LinkStation Pro has over a standard external hard drive is the fact that it lets users access their files via the Internet. Provided the device is connected to a broadband router, you can connect to it via a Web browser and transfer files from a remote PC.
The LinkStation Pro can't be used as a print server so you can't share a printer with multiple PCs without having the master PC switched on. The device is also incapable of acting as a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) server -- so you can't use it to stream audio or video files over your network.
Though it is far faster than the standard 10/100Mbps LinkStation, the LinkStation Pro doesn't live up to its full 1,000Mbps billing. In practice, we achieved approximately 420Mbps of sustained throughput, but your own mileage will vary depending on your specific motherboard, network adaptor and router.
Perhaps the biggest question mark over the LinkStation Pro is its price. The 250GB version costs in the region of £140, which is around twice as much as an ordinary external USB hard disk.
On the whole, the LinkStation Pro is a worthy purchase, but only for those who are willing to take advantage of its advanced features. If you're simply looking for an external storage device you should opt for a basic USB hard drive.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield