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Buffalo TeraStation 5600 Six-Bay Windows Storage Server Review

Buffalo TeraStation 5600 Six-Bay Windows Storage Server Review

Buffalo's TeraStation is more than just a NAS - it's a Windows Storage Server with loads of features. Read on as we take a look at the 5600 WSS.

@TylerBernath
Published Mon, May 5 2014 9:05 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Buffalo

Introduction & Pricing, Availability and Specifications

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Buffalo has a long history in consumer level storage solutions market. From the DriveStation to the LinkStation, they build many solutions to fit users' needs, and while simple NAS storage solutions can fit the bill for anyone looking to store their personal data, there may come a time when you want a full blown storage server in a box.

The TeraStation from Buffalo is their top-of-the-line network storage solution fit for prosumers and businesses that want the flexibility of Windows and unlimited user scaling. The TeraStation 5600 features a six-bay hot swappable design with the Intel Atom D2700 at its core and 4GB of RAM supporting.

Being a Windows Storage Server, the TeraStation 5600WSS comes with Storage Server 2012 R2 Standard installed on your selection of disks ranging in capacity from 2TB up to 4TB, which is preconfigured in a RAID 1 for the OS and RAID 5 for the storage pool. For additional connectivity, the TeraStation houses dual USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports on the rear of the unit along with dual Gigabit NICs.

Pricing, Availability and Specifications

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MSRP for the 12TB TeraStation 5600 WSS is listed at $2,699.99, while the 24TB model can be had for $4,199.99. Warranty is listed at three years, with an optional five-year enhanced warranty available as well.

PRICING: You can find the Buffalo TeraStation 5600 WSS for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Buffalo TeraStation 5600 WSS retails for $2,402.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The Buffalo TeraStation 5600 WSS retails for CDN$2,699.99 at Amazon Canada.

Buffalo TeraStation 5600 WSS

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The packaging for the TeraStation 5600 is similar to what we find with other enterprise solutions. Here we have a plain box with a label carrying capacity information along with branding.

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Scope of delivery includes the setup guide, power cable, Ethernet cable, and Server 2012 R2 restore on a microSD card.

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The TeraStation features a slightly glossy front panel with an LCD at the top. Buttons to the right allow you to cycle through options on the screen.

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Opening the front panel, we find all the drive trays numbered with adjacent markings on the chassis itself. To the right, we have a VGA port for first time setup.

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Internally, our unit housed six 2TB WD Green drives. These are the WD20EZRX variant with 64MB cache.

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The back of the TeraStation has two 92mm fans to pull heat out of the unit. Over to the left, we find the I/O panel with dual gigabit LAN, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0.

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The motherboard for the unit houses two PCIe slots for the backplane. Over to the right, we have the Intel Atom and chipset hiding under the black heat sink. The memory, found under the heat sink, looks like it may be upgradeable.

Test System Setup and Server Management

Test System Setup and NAS Management

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Our Consumer NAS test 'system' is setup similar to what you have at home. Here we have the base as a GIGABYTE Z77X UP5 TH, which is housing an Intel Core i5-3570K with 16GB of RAM supporting. Our Operating System of choice is Windows 8 x64 Enterprise, with all available updates and patches installed, on a Corsair Neutron 256GB SSD. On the networking side, we utilized the HotLava Vesuvius 6 Port Server Adapter with a direct connection to each NAS appliance. This eliminates the need for a switch, and any bottlenecks that may occur.

The TeraStation 5600 WSS ships preconfigured in RAID 5, and it should stay there. RAID 5 uses fewer system resources than RAID 6, and at the same time, it still keeps your data in a redundant environment. The system supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and JBOD. Optionally, you can configure Windows Storage Pools to allow a two-way parity.

Server Management

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The system information screen for the 5600 WSS shows us a little more about the server itself. Here we can see we are running an x64 copy of Storage Server 2012 R2 fully activated out of the box.

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Moving on, we opened up the device manager to take a peek. Here we can see all six drives ready to go, dual NICs, and of course, the four cores on the Intel Atom D2701.

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Installed on the TeraStation, you will find the Dashboard; from here, you can get a quick look at what's going on with the system, and if you happen to have a few TeraStations set up at your business, you can beep the machine, and it will play a jingle reminiscent of the old Zelda tune.

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Additionally, we have RAID builder from Buffalo that allows quick setup of RAID arrays if you don't want to muck about in disk manager or fiddle with Storage Spaces.

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Buffalo also added an interesting application that will allow us to tweak the settings of the front mounted LCD screen.

Benchmarks - Sequential Workloads

Benchmarks -Sequential Workloads

For random and sequential workloads, we setup an iSCSI share, 100GB in capacity. We then connect to it and mount it as a drive on our test system.

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Sequential read seemed to peek out at around QD16 at 112.5 MB/s, while QD32 was right with it at 111.6 MB/s.

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Sequential write topped out at around 64 MB/s at QD32.

Benchmarks - Enterprise Workloads and Latency

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OLTP peaked out at 323.7 IOPS at QD32 over our single gigabit connection.

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Average response time for the OLTP workload reached 98.6ms at QD32, almost doubling results from QD16.

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The file server workload was able to top 400 IOPS at QD32.

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Response time for the file server scaled quite well through QD16, with QD32 resting at 77.6ms.

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Next we have the email server, where the TeraStation peaked at 249.4 IOPS.

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Email server response time again scaled quite well up to QD8; we then have a slightly higher rise in response time eventually peaking at 126.7ms at QD32.

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The web server showed the TeraStation coming in at 712.7 IOPS peak.

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Web server response time was a bit erratic, as you can see. Here we have 16.1ms at QD2; then, the server actually gains performance at QD4.

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Our workstation testing has the Buffalo topping 400 IOPS, again at QD32.

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Workstation response times showed similar results to what we have seen throughout testing. Here we have a good amount of scaling through QD16 and then a large increase at QD32.

Final Thoughts

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Windows Storage Servers are typically not for the modest home user, but in this day and age, I could definitely see where they could become useful, especially if you're one that knows a bit about networking and storage and wants to have a go at setting up a full blown server instead of a NAS.

The big difference between a NAS like a Qnap, Thecus, or Synology and a true storage server is usually found in the underlying hardware; storage servers usually have ECC RAM and high-end enterprise class processors. Buffalo has sort of broken that mold with the TeraStation 5600. Here we have an Intel Atom quad-core CPU and 4GB of DDR3 RAM making this server a low-power, high-availability storage server.

Of course, having Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 on the TeraStation is a big help in what the server can do, but Buffalo has attempted to make things slightly easier with their dashboard application and RAID builder. For those that know or have used Windows Server before, then all the high-end options are lying in wait for you to use as needed.

Build quality of the TeraStation 5600 WSS was quite good; the entire chassis, apart from the front panel, is made of a decent thickness steel, giving this unit with drives installed quite a bit of weight. It was like a storage tank of sorts. Additionally, the front mounted LCD screen scrolls information about the server like what drives are in use and the IP addresses of both NICs. If a drive happens to fail, you will know that as well because the front of the server will light up red with a loud blaring alarm that you can silence by hitting a button to the right of the screen. The drive trays are not tool less, but I do like the inclusion of a numbering system to keep your drives in order.

Performance of the TeraStation was quite good. In our sequential testing, we were able to touch 112 MB/s read, while write speeds were around 70 MB/s, typical of RAID 5. Our enterprise workloads put the TeraStation through its paces. We even managed to get the internal fan to spin up a bit during testing. Throughout testing, one thing really stuck in my mind, and that is how solid this unit really is. Typically, when I start testing NAS appliances, I have a few tests that lock up the device, whether it's from too much load on the machine or the underlying being unable to process the requests fast enough.

With the Buffalo TeraStation 5600 WSS, I had none of that; apart from the 27 hours of RAID 5 synchronization, testing went flawless.

PRICING: You can find the Buffalo TeraStation 5600 WSS for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Buffalo TeraStation 5600 WSS retails for $2,402.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The Buffalo TeraStation 5600 WSS retails for CDN$2,699.99 at Amazon Canada.

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Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

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