The External Hard Drive souk isn’t really short of storage solutions, yet the latest product from Buffalo Technology has a nice addition to make to the ever-growing lineup of 3.0 USB storage solutions. Buffalo has unveiled two new models namely the MiniStation Extreme (the disk in discussion today) and the other being DriveStation Axis Velocity. Both of these drives support USB 3.0 that allows for faster transfer rates, that is if your PC supports USB 3.0 ports. Both the models pack a 256-bit AES hardware encryption, which allegedly meets the security standards of the US government. As the name suggests, the MiniStation Extreme has been crafted more for a rugged use and supposedly withstands bumps and knocks, thanks to the shock protection elements and rubberised base that also meets the shock protection standards of the US military.
Now, it would be pertinent here to bring to the notice of users about the growing issue of demand in hard disks particularly with the current yo-yoing prices, the reason being the 2011 floods that hit Thailand during last monsoon. This has brought down the production of hard disks by more than 50% as majority of the manufacturers have their factories in Thailand. Now scarcity is directly proportional to price hike right? If you are waiting for a dip in prices before you decide on your purchase, well that is not gonna happen anytime in the future. So, the fury of nature aside, the need for an external hard drive only keeps increasing by the day to backup all of those important files and your cherished moments by way of videos and photos. Delaying your purchase now might only cost you dearly, god forbid, if your PC bumps into some natural disaster of its own while you impatiently wait for the price to descend.
Buffalo MiniStation Extreme Quick Specs
- Interface Type – SuperSpeed USB 3.0
- OS Required – Microsoft Windows XP, Apple MacOS X 10.5 or later, Microsoft
- Available capacities: 500GB and 1TB
- Available colours: Piano Black, Silver and Red
- Power Source – USB bus
- Manufacturer Warranty – 2 years warranty
- Dimensions (WxDxH) – 8.9 cm x 12.8 cm x 1.8 cm
- Weight – 230 g
- Data Transfer Rate – 5.0 Gbps (SuperSpeed USB)
- Required OS – Microsoft windows XP, Apple MacOS X 10.5 or later, Microsft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 7
- Highly shock resistant that meets the protection standards of US Military
- Sleek and compact
- Compatible with Mac and Windows PC
- Flex Connect USB Cable
- USB powered
- Compatible with both USB 2.0 and 3.0
- Hardware Disk Encryption
- Super Speed USB 3.0 with TurboPC EX
- Connect & Go
- Backs up your data/files
- Buffalo Tools
- Compatible with Time Machine
- eco Manager
Design and Feel
Featuring an enhanced motif over its predecessor, the MiniStation Stealth, the piano-black Buffalo MiniStation Extreme portable hard drive looks much similar to a small notebook or a datebook. Even as it comes in a case-glossy plastic, that looks kind of cheap, on one side and a rubberized textured rubber on the other side, it sure does prove to far better than the bland squarish look of the Stealth, together with an inclusion of a rounded corner towards the upper right. It is at this corner where the USB cable gets folded into the drive, thus eliminating the hassles of cables that need to be carried separately and also making the Extreme so much more portable. Measuring 89×128 x18 mm and weighing about 230g, the hard drive looks to be much sleeker that the Rugged Mini, but not quite as light or slim as the Seagate GoFlex Turbo. Again, the rugged chassis, mentioned above, that it comes enclosed in, packs a nifty array of highly shock-protecting elements with 4 different kinds of rubber that has gone into the making of the same, each crafted to help in absorbing shock in individual areas of the drive and thus shielding it from accidental bumps. Additionally, it also meets the protection standards of the U.S. Military (as already mentioned) Procedure IV Standard MIL-STD-810F 516.5 along with getting past couple of free fall tests with the drops being as high as 2.3 meters and almost all those daily bumps and knocks. By comparison, the MiniStation Extreme beats the Rugged Mini that is also shock resistant and can take a height of only 1.2 meters, nevertheless it boasts of enduring as much as 1 ton of pressure together with being rain resistant. Well, no worries here as your drive runs reliably along with staying safe
The drive boasts of a LED lighting at the front that comes in handy in telling you into which port have you plugged in the drive – illuminating Blue for the USB 3.0 and green for the USB 2.0. It also flickers while the data gets accessed. The hard drive is devoid of any power switch, so will only to have manually unlatch it from your PC if you are looking at turning it off. Together with supporting Buffalo’s TurboPC EX and the latest USB 3.0, the hard drive is capable of delivering theoretical data transfer rates (brutto) of 5Gbps. The MiniStation Extreme comes in 500GB and 1TB capacities with a 256-bit AES FDE and is priced at £74 for the former and £134 for the latter with the available colours being Silver, Piano-black or Red. There is also an incorporated USB 3.0 cable that is tucked in snugly at the sides. Well, there is a hitch to it though – the cable is actually kind of short, so Buffalo has gone ahead and included a cable extension, which is kind of hideous, making it a cumbersome and an uninviting solution for connecting it to a PC. Looking at the brighter side, the drive doesn’t really require hefty adaptors as it is USB powered. Again, there are some quality issues with the cable design too by way of getting the cable unclipped from the top of the drive which makes it almost impossible to reattach the same. Also the delicate metal plate poses to be a concern which kind of sits too close to the USB port which over time could shift slightly and thus not allow the cable to attach.
Features & Extras
While the shock-resistant chassis and rubberised parts aid in branding the MiniStation Extreme one of the robust MiniStation until date, looks like Buffalo has not forgotten about the equally important constraint – data security. Supporting 256-bit AES encryption (but for the Windows server and Mac OS) that also keeps the US government’s security standard in mind, now it is absolute peace of mind for globetrotters in keeping their password-encrypted data away from prying eyes. Besides, the fixed hard drive of the MiniStation Extreme also means it is fairly evident to note if it has been tampered with.
FDE (full disk encryption) that is hardware-based is on offer by almost all vendors with the core of the technology being symmetric encryption key. As this is maintained independently from the CPU, it eradicates the threat of the computer memory being a potential attack factor. The advantage here would be the transparency to users with the drive operating similar to any other drive with no compromise in performance. So it is free of performance overhead or complications, in contrast to disk encryption software, as all encryption is obscured from both the OS and the processor of the host PC.
Now the encrypted MiniStation Extreme USB 3.0 External Hard Drive is perceived by a computer in the form of a virtual CD at startup. On attempting to access it, a window pops up demanding the preset password. Now if you forget your password, you can bid farewell to your data for good, as the drive has to be restored using factory settings that ends up erasing all your passwords and data.
Well, this complicated discussion of encryption shouldn’t really deter the technophobes out there as the Extreme is a fairly easy to use hard drive that has been preformatted for instant use with Windows HFS+ and NTFS support and Mac. All you need to do is to stick the drive into the available port and the OS takes care of the rest.
The hard drive also packs the “Buffalo Tools” a neat Windows software suite that allows for backup of more than one PC with just a single hard drive. It also helps with conserving energy by regulating the hard drive’s power usage. The Extreme doesn’t disappoint Mac users as well by being perfectly compatible with Mac’s Time Machine as well.
The only gripe is the host of programs that the Extreme comes with similar to any other Buffalo devices. Well, these programs aren’t of much help and only prove to be a pain while attempting to uninstall them, scattering folders all over PC’s hard drive. The hard disk works perfectly fine even without these programs and we would only advise not installing them.
Getting to the performance of the MiniStation Extreme, upon being plugged into a conventional USB 2.0 port, the read and write speeds of the disk ranges to around 30MB/s. Nevertheless, when plugged in a USB 3.0 port, the write and read speeds soar away to 85.73MB/s and amazing 94.87MB/s respectively. Now before you stick it in the USB 3.0 port, you might want to ensure that you have the latest drivers for the USB 3.0 installed in your motherboard, as it sure does prove to be a faster and better USB port.
The Extreme shines extremely well in the area that matters the most – raging read and write speeds. Looks like the hard drive has taken full advantage of the TurboPC technology and the USB 3.0 interface using the system’s RAM to augment the transfer rates. It almost gives all of its competitors a good run for their money and beats them hands down. For instance, it takes roughly about a minute and 10 seconds to write 5GB of mixed multimedia files at the rate of 74.2Mbps. Again, it proves to be too good when it comes to reading the same file by taking an average of 59 secs at the rate of 86.6Mbps. It beats the Seagate GoFlex and LaCie Rugged Mini mercilessly in both read and write speeds with only the Iomega eGo offering comparable speeds and yet pales down when compared to the blazing speed of the Extreme. Again, the MiniStation Extreme breaks no sweat while trying to transfer a single 3GB file and writes the file in an average of 31secs at the rate of 99.1Mbps thrashing out both the Seagate and LaCie hard drives at 71.4 Mbps and breaking into a tie with the eGo.
Warranty & Service
The manufacturer offers a 2-year warranty on this Buffalo MiniStation Extreme USB 3.0 Hard drive.
Bufallo seems to have gotten all their basics right with the MiniStation Extreme – a rugged design, amazing transfer speeds, more importantly a competitive price tag. Though it isn’t imperishable it is actually nice to see something sturdy in comparison to some of the other critically flimsy hard drives that have hit the market thus far. Well, you will have to ignore the totally uncalled for programs that tag along with the drive. Its unmatched transfer speeds and reasonable pricing sure does seem impressive, particularly for globetrotters with a requirement of a portable, at the same time a robust drive and the MiniStation Extreme sure does seem to be their best bet.
Buffalo MiniStation Extreme Portable Hard Drive – Detailed Specification Table
|Model Name||Ministation Extreme|
|Colours available||Black, Red, Silver|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||128 x 89 x 18 mm|
|Internal Hard Drives||HDD interface: SATA
Capacities: 500GB, 1TB
Number of Drives: 1
|Interface||Standard Compliance: USB 3.0
Number of ports: 1
Connector type: Micro-B
Data transfer rates (brutto)
5Gbps USB 3.0480Mbps USB 2.0
|Data Transfer Rate||480 Mbps (Hi-Speed USB) / 800 Mbps (FireWire 800)|
|Operating Environment||5º to 35ºC, 20 to 80% (non-condensing)|
|Power Supply||DC 5V (USB powered)|
|Power Consumption||Max 3.1w|
|Client OS Support||7 (32-bit/64-bit), Windows Vista® (32-bit/64-bit),
Windows® XP, Mac OS® X 10.5 or later
|In the Box||Ministation Extreme HD-PZU3
USB 3.0 Cable
USB 3.0 Extension Cable
Quick Setup Guide