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Customer Review

on 5 October 2009
I brought this product purely for data backup as I have a number of PC's with different user accounts, and a Mac, and I wanted all data on them backed up centrally.

Summary: Overall it's a very good product. I have a number of minor (ish) gripes which if you are looking to do what I wanted to do, you will find annoying.

So, plus points:
It's nice and quiet
Basic operations simple to set up
It has lots of nice features such as web access and FTP
It works out of the box with no fuss. I did update the firmware as soon as I got it though just to ensure I had the latest
The in-built print server (works great with a Canon i865)
The concept behind Memeo's backup software (which comes with it) is really neat. See below though

So what I don't like:
The web admin is rather clunky. It does the job, but isn't pretty and is painfully slow to navigate around it
The only browsers supported today are IE and Firefox. I learnt the hard way using Google Chrome that some vital options simply don't work under Chrome. For example you cannot change read only access to read write/access with it
The idea of being able to access files via a browser appealed. The web access is really really basic and not nice to use. Again, it works, but lacks any kind of polish. Really silly things like no Logout button on the web access once you are authenticated. If you the close the browser down, and then re-start another it simply logs you back in with no authentication. Not good if you want to use on a public browser.
I have not been able to change the admin port of the buffalo off port 80. That means to access your data via the web you need to add a port number (e.g. 9000) which isn't nice if you are trying to tell a non technical person a URL over a phone. You can get around this if your router supports port redirection but my Netgear doesn't. (Most home Netgear's only do port forwarding.)
There have been lots of comments about the speed of these devices. Transfer speed wasn't a key priority for me as it was being used as a backup device. I had approx. 130Gb of data in 74,000 files that I needed to backup on one PC (hard-wired device). Using Memeo (which comes with the device) on a PC it took just over 96 hours to complete it's first backup, and that was as a foreground task. Others were right, it was a very slow device. Because of some limitations of Memeo I installed GFI Languard free home edition backup. That took around 7 hours for the same full backup. Not so bad after all. Not the fastest disk, but OK as a backup device. In my experience the slowness is down to the software used to backup. GFI by the way, at the time of writing has a major issue with incremental backups and actually does a separate full backup each time the backup task runs, and doesn't have the same neat feature as Memeo.

What I liked about this is there are versions for the Mac and PC. I loved the concept of their "life agent" too. What this does is eliminate the need for scheduled backups. Once the first full backup is completed it simply sits in the background and as soon as a file has been updated, quietly in the background it pushes a copy of the file to the backup device. This happens straight away. You specify how many versions you want to keep on the backup device so for documents that you have updated a few times you can always roll back to an older one if you need. If you are not updating an item such as an MP3 you only have one copy on your backup device. With a PC with multiple users, theoretically, the agent will run for each user that is logged in and as they update files, the background task pushes those to the backup device. This means there is no scheduled task which kills your PC / Mac while it scans the disks to decide which files have been changed and therefore need backing up again. Also, if I am away, the wife never leaves the PC on long enough for a scheduled task to complete so nothing ever gets backed up.

Problem is....for some reason (on the PC) it ends up duplicating a lot of user data on the backup disk. I have a ticket logged with Memeo about it as I write.** (See footnote) It also has a snag on things like your email files. As these update each time you receive / send an email it is always sending the whole file to the backup device. Yes, you can exclude files / directories from the backup but I want my email backed up!
The GUI for this is annoying as you cannot re-size the window and need to continually scroll around to see stuff you need. Be aware Memeo for a Mac need OS X 4.8 or above.
Again, great concept just needs polishing off, and speeding up a bit on the first full backup.

Since I wrote this Memeo support have responded. The version included with the Buffalo disk is out of date (even though if you ask it to check for updates, it says there are none!) and I have since installed the latest from Memeo. Nearly all the issues above have been ironed out or improved. Initial backup is still slow (36 hours now) but all in all a much better product. No solution for the mail file issue however. (I use Thunderbird) Rating for the device is now 4.5

Would I buy the product again. Yes. Am I still looking for some better backup software. Yes. Am I aware of a better product out there. No, and I have looked hard!
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