Impregnable? Buffalo MiniStation USB 3.0 1TB review

Although hardware encryption was once a common feature in external hard drives it appears most drive vendors have largely abandoned it in lieu of software solutions. Not so Buffalo. Many of its external drives (including this one) come with integrated 256-bit AES full disk encryption.

If encryption is enabled the drive initially appears in Windows as a read-only device on which you’ll find a login application. Only after you enter the drive’s password does a full drive appear and you can access its contents. The result is that even if the drive is lost or stolen nobody can access its contents. On the downside it requires that you log in every time you use it and non-Windows/non-Mac devices won’t be able to access it at all. However you can choose not to enable encryption in which case the drive functions like any other.

At the time of writing 1TB was the largest size that Buffalo offered and the performance of the drive wasn’t quite up to the impressive speeds of the other portable drives on the market. Its small file write speeds were a particular problem.

Buffalo bundles the drive with a veritable host of apps but you shouldn’t be expecting much. A number of these are otherwise available for free and those that are unique to Buffalo aren’t much worth using. The backup utility simply isn’t that good and we fail to see why anybody would use it in lieu of Windows Backup. The TurboPC software that Buffalo claims can increase transfer speeds had virtually no effect in our testing; we tested both with and without the software and the results were well within any margin of error.

Available from Buffalo retailing for $139.
APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)