While SSDs and external hard drives are all the rage, we're big fans of some networked storage. Today, we're comparing the Buffalo LinkStation 520 and WD My Cloud Expert Series EX2 to find the best NAS drives for every budget.
For the uninitiated, Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives are some of the most flexible, powerful, and useful forms of storage available today. Rather than having to plug in the drive (whether internally to your PC components or externally via USB), NAS connects directly to your network, offering lightning fast access.
NAS drives are perfect for hosting a large content library and accessing it from multiple devices, backing up your systems, hosting cloud services, and more besides. You can access the storage even when your computer is off, thanks to the built-in processors.
Today, we're comparing two excellent entry-level NAS drives from Buffalo and Western Digital, two companies with long pedigrees in making storage. Without further ado, let's jump into the guide.
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Buffalo LinkStation 520 vs. WD My Cloud EX2: Features
Given that these are two entry-level NAS options, their specs in raw terms are fairly low-end. If you already run a complex NAS system, this might feel a little basic but everyone has got to start somewhere and you could do a lot worse than Buffalo and WD's offerings.
Both the 520 and EX2 come with two storage bays, meaning you can fit two hard drives into the units and connect those to your network. Buffalo's tops out at 8TB and WD's at 28TB for the Ultra model.
The Buffalo 520 has 256MB of RAM and a dual-core 1GHz processor while the EX2 has 1GB of RAM and a dual-core 1.3GHz processor. Raw specs likely aren't painting a full picture, however, especially for the Buffalo model.
In our testing, everything ran swimmingly and smoothly on both setups; we never experienced any lag or slow days when accessing even large amounts of data.
Both devices include USB ports – one on the Buffalo, two on the WD – and support for all major operating systems across PC and mobile, including very useful iOS and Android apps for easy setup.
Buffalo LinkStation 520 vs. WD My Cloud EX2: Design
Whether you care about the design very much depends on where you plan on placing the Buffalo and WD drives. For some, this will mean hiding them away under a desk or in a (hopefully well-ventilated) cupboard; for others, the NAS drives will sit proudly alongside desktops and other hardware.
For our money, we prefer the look of the WD model: the smoothed-off edges are nicer and fit better with in a room. While the Buffalo isn't bad looking by any stretch, if you care about the physical design of your NAS drive then the WD is the one.
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Buffalo LinkStation 520 vs. WD My Cloud EX2: Which is best?
If you're looking for a great entry-level NAS drive, then either of these two options will work. Both have two drives, similarly powerful processors, easy setup and maintenance, and attractive if simple designs.
But if we had to choose between the two – and the format of the article says we do – then the WD My Cloud EX2 is our choice. The design is more stylish, the software suite is really easy to use, and you can configure the Ultra model with up to 28TB, far exceeding the Buffalo's (quite ample) 8TB.
If you're looking to start your NAS drive setup today, the WD My Cloud EX2 is an excellent choice.