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Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC External Hard Drive with High Security

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    As we know, storage capacity of mobile phone, tablet PC, and even computer is limited so that these devices are easy to run out of space. To free up local space, we have to transfer a part of materials to external hard drive. However, since more and more attention are paid to the security of materials and privacy, a lot of people would want to purchase a safe enough mobile HDD. For this case, Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external drive might be a good choice.

    Price and Specifications for Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC External Drive

    Buffalo Americas, a leading provider of external hard drive, recently announced the availability of its new MiniStation Extreme NFC portable hard drive, including 1TB and 2TB size.

    Price/capacity 1TB: $129.99 2TB: $199.99
    USB Interface Connector Type: USB 3.0 Micro-B
    Standards Compliance: USB 3.0 / USB 2.0
    Data Transfer Rates: Max 5 Gbps (USB 3.0) Max 480 Mbps (USB 2.0)
    Dimensions (W x H x D inch) 3.54 x 5.55 x 0.83
    Weight (lbs) 0.66
    Power Supply DC 5 V (USB powered)
    Power Consumption (Watts) Max 2.5 W
    Included Software TurboPC EX2, Backup Utility, Disk Formatter2, Lock and Go for NFC (defining)
    *All software must be downloaded from Buffalo Americas website
    Windows® support only
    Client OS Support Windows® 8.1, Windows® 8, Windows® 7, Windows Vista® (32-bit/64-bit), Windows® RT8.1, Windows® RT, Mac OS® X 10.10, 10.9, 10.8
    Warranty 3 years

    Why Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC Is Secure

    1.Employ NFC Technology

    Just as its name implies, Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external drive employs NFC technology which allows users to unlock and access files saved on their Buffalo hard drive without having to remember a password. Well then, what is NFC technology?

    NFC, namely Near field communication, is a set of ideas and technology that enables smart phones and other devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching the devices together or bringing them into proximity to a distance of typically 10 cm (3.9 inch) or less.

    There is a smart card included in Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive suite, which is designed by taking NFC technology. As long as users touch the smart card and the Buffalo NFC hard drive together after the drive has been connected with computer via the integrated 18cm USB 3.0 cable, they can access files saved in this drive without typing password. That is to say without the smart card, anybody (including yourself) cannot access saved files unless you have set password during setup and he knows your password.

    Actually, apart from the smart card, we can also use a portable device (like smart phone) which supports NFC to register as the key to unlocking the drive. Tip: only one NFC device can be registered as the key at a time.

    Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive 1

    But unfortunately, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus cannot play such a role though they are configured with NFC, because NFC feature of iPhone can only be used for Apple Pay.

    However, though owning a smart card or NFC device makes it convenient for us to access files, it brings a big hidden trouble at the same time. To be specific, if someone with bad intention gets your smart card or registered device, they can easily access and steal the private or confidential information. Therefore, to stop important files from being seen by others, we had better keep the hard drive and smart card or registered device separately.

    In addition, we have said once the smart card or NFC device is missing, users will be unable to visit files saved in this drive unless they have set and remember the password designated during setup. Next, let’s see the second measure Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC drive employs to protect data – the optional encryption. If your data are extremely important, make the 256-bit AES hardware encryption.

    2.256-bit AES Encryption

    There is a pre-loaded program named ModeChanger in Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive, which is mainly in charge of changing the drive from “Safe Mode” to “Open Mode” and vice versa. Under Safe mode, users are able to make 256-bit AES Encryption for the full disk. Once a password is set, we have to type the password every time we want to access the hard drive, which is good for protecting data from unauthorized access. When we plug the NFC device to computer for the first time, we can only see a small partition called Utilities. Open this partition, launch the program “Open HS”, and type password. Then, the main partition will emerge.

    Tip: switching the external hard drive from Safe Mode to Open mode or from Open to Safe requires formatting the entire hard drive, so please backup files in advance. For Detailed steps to make a backup for all files, please see Copy Disk.

    3.Other Designs for Data Security

    Military spec shock protection: Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC features U.S. Military Standard shock protection, and a ruggedized chassis as well as the specialized bumpers which are designed to absorb and transfer shock away from the hard disk due to accidental bumps can help the drive survive drops from up to 1.2 meters (4 feet). 

    IPX3 standard water resistance: it offers protection from a spray of water in any direction when the device is rotated up to 60° angle any direction from vertical for at least 5 minutes, and there should be no harmful effect.

    IP5X standard dust resistance: it means that a device continues to function as usual and its safety is maintained after being agitated in a device containing dust of 75 μm or smaller in diameter for 8 hours, and then removed from the device. With this design, the hard drive cannot be penetrated by dust that could interfere with normal operation, which means the drive is almost dust-proof.

    Therefore, high security is the biggest reason for recommending this newly released external hard drive. Actually, apart from security, Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external drive has some other features worth mentioning. There is a flex connect USB cable which neatly wraps around and attaches to the chassis for an all-in-one solution. When you want to use it, pull it out. After use, restore it to its original place. That’s so convenient. In addition, it features Super-Speed USB 3.0 with interface speeds up to 5 Gbps and is fully backwards compatible with USB 2.0. Just plug the device into any available USB port on your computer like using any other USB device, and then capacity of the external drive will be added instantly since the preformatted hard drive requires no driver or software installation and is ready for immediate use.

    At this time, some users may think read and write speed of the external drive may be weakened since Buffalo paid most attention to designs on security. Next, let’s see a speed-related test which includes 11 external hard drives.

    Read/Write Speed Test for Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC and 10 Other External Drives

    External disk Write speed/MBps Write speed/MBps
    Seagate Expansion 125.2 127.93
    Toshiba Canvio 118.8 118.49
    WD My Passport Ultra 118.5 117.87
    Seagate Slim 110.4 111.49
     LaCie Christofle Sphere 105.5 111.43
    Seagate Backup Plus 90.94 110.1
    WD My Passport Slim 107.7 107.89
    WD Elements 96.7 102.15
    Silicon Power Armor A60 104.3 114.48
    IoSafe SoloPro G3 109.1 110.8
    Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC 110.3 118.82

    From the above comparison we know read and write speeds of Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC drive are similar to (faster than some products) other drives, which is amazing.

    However, though Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC is outstanding in security and read/write speed, it fails to satisfy every user.

    Limitations on Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC External Hard Drive

    Firstly, it is much more expensive and bulkier compared with other external hard drives. For example, a WD My Passport Ultra 1TB External USB 3.0 Hard Drive is sold $59.99 while we have to pay $130 for Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC 1TB external hard drive, and the former weights 0.34lbs while the latter is 0.66lbs.

    Secondly, included software like TurboPC EX2, Backup Utility, Disk Formatter2, Lock and Go for NFC, which have been simply mentioned at the beginning of the post, can only run under Windows platform.

    Thirdly, in Secure Mode Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external drive can only be used on Windows or Mac device. That is to say it does not function on PS, Xbox, and other machines. To use the drive on Mac device, we need to reformat it to HFS+ or exFAT since the drive was formatted to NTFS by default (Mac OS X does not recognize NTFS).

    Fourthly, switching from Safe Mode to Open Mode or from Open to Safe will delete all files on the drive so that users have to cost a lot of time to backup data in advance. Of course, if you choose this external drive due to its security, Safe or Secure Mode is the only mode you want, I believe.

    Fifthly, if the USB cable is broken due to accidents, which is a rare situation, users have to replace the hard drive.

    At last, when we are running programs like ModeChanger and Open HS on some old computers, we may meet errors. For example, running those programs on Dell Studio XPS 435T may cause system crash. And when we are unlocking hard drive via NFC device, the entire network may be useless.

    Summary: if users are strict with data security or have NFC device, Buffalo MiniStation Extreme  NFC External Hard Drive would be a good choice. However, if you just want to purchase an external hard drive to backup or transfer data, there are many other products with high cost performance.

    After purchasing a Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external drive, we need to make corresponding partition or disk management, which is good for enhancing disk performance and data security.

    Partitioning for Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC Mobile HDD

    Like any other hard disk (both external and internal), users need to do some partitioning on the Buffalo disk. For example, at the beginning of the time, there may be only one partition on the drive apart from the small utility volume. That is to say all files will be saved to this partition. Under this situation, it is highly suggested that users shrink the existing partition to release unallocated space, and then create new partitions in the unallocated space. When multiple partitions are made, they can save different types of data in different partitions, which is good for data management and can prevent all data from being lost or virus infected in one time. And these operations can be done in Windows snap-in Disk Management if you are running Windows OS not later than Windows Vista:
    Right click “Computer” icon, choose “Manage”, and select “Disk Management” to get the window below:

    Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive 2

    Then, right click an existing partition on Buffalo MiniStation drive, choose “Shrink Volume” feature, and shrink the selected volume to get an unallocated space:

    Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive 3

    Now create a new partition via the feature “New Simple Volume”.

    Apart from creating more partitions, users may need to do some advanced partitioning operations like copy disk and recover lost partition, and these operations had better be done in a third party partitioning tool since Windows built-in tools (disk management or diskpart) do not provide good solutions. Here, we take the freeware MiniTool Partition Wizard for example.

    Partitioning Solutions in MiniTool Partition Wizard

    Launch the program and we can see its main interface shown below:

    Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive 4

    Here, as long as we select the Buffalo disk, all performable functions for the entire disk will appear on the left side. Among these functions, Copy Disk, Surface Test, Partition Recovery, and Wipe Disk may be useful.

    Copy Disk: just now we suggested backing up all important data before changing the mode of Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive between Safe and Open, and the function “Copy Disk” can do you a great favor. It can help make a backup for all data saved on the disk in easy operations.

    Surface Test: when there is something wrong with the hard disk, for instance some programs collapse suddenly when running, Surface Test feature could help check the disk to see whether there is bad sector.

    Partition Recovery: if certain partition on the drive gets lost due to mistaken operation or virus attack, Partition Recovery helps recover lost partition in a few minutes.

    Wipe Disk: it helps erase data on the disk permanently to avoid privacy leakage.

    After selecting a partition on the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external disk, we can see all available functions for the selected partition:

    Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard drive 5

    With these functions, we can increase the size of the partition which is running out of space, make a backup for files saved in one partition, convert file system from FAT32 to NTFS or NTFS to FAT32, change the cluster size (allocation unit size), hide a partition to further protect data, and so on.

    If you have purchased a Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC external hard disk, download MiniTool Partition Wizard, and it may help you a lot. This program works to internal hard disk, too.

    At last, I hope this post gives you useful information to choose such a disk.