Buffalo DriveStation DDR Review

Updated March 31, 2014
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Buffalo DriveStation DDR
Bottom Line

The Buffalo DriveStation DDR external hard drive is very fast, offering USB 3.0 data transfer speeds that rival -- or even trump -- the fastest Thunderbolt drives, but at a much lower cost. However, it still costs more per gigabyte than our best-rated WD My Book (Est. $115 for 3 TB), and there's no 4-TB version. Also, user reviews indicate that drive failures are common and Buffalo's customer support leaves much to be desired.

Performance

In the top tier for speed. Experts agree that the Buffalo DriveStation DDR offers stellar performance, but they disagree over how it compares to rivals. CNET editor Dong Ngo says it's "by far the fastest single-volume external drive on the market," but in tests at PCMag.com, it's no faster than the less expensive WD My Book (Est. $115 for 3 TB). For top performance, you'll need a USB 3.0 port; USB 2.0 is supported, but transfer speeds are unremarkable. Setup is plug-and-play with Windows machines, but you'll need to reformat the drive for use with a Mac. The drive ships with several Windows-only utilities, but it also plays well with third-party software, such as Apple's Time Machine.

ProsVery fast data-transfer speeds, Easy to set up and useConsPoor reliability record, Many complaints about customer support, Not the best value

Reliability

Disappointing reliability record. Editors of The Wirecutter say the DriveStation DDR could have been a contender for the title of best external desktop drive, were it not for its poor reliability record. In their analysis of Amazon.com reviews, it had a higher failure rate than any other drive: "20 reports of failed drives out of 82 total reviews, or 24.89 percent." The number of Amazon.com reviews has since climbed to over 100, but reliability problems are still rampant. Users complain of poor customer support as well, saying that reps are unhelpful, unresponsive or just plain rude. The drive has a three-year warranty, but beware: You must pay $30 to ship it back to the manufacturer.

Value

The market catches up. A year ago, most experts considered the Buffalo DriveStation DDR an unbeatable value, offering top-shelf performance at a price no higher than other USB 3.0 desktop drives of similar capacity. However, technology has moved on since then. Other drives, like the WD My Book, can now rival the DriveStation DDR drive for speed at an even lower cost per gigabyte. Moreover, many external drives now come in capacities up to 4 TB, while the DriveStation DDR remains capped at 3 TB. So while it's still reasonably priced, this drive isn't the fantastic bargain it once was.

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WD 3TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBFJK0030HBK-NESN
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Our Sources

1. CNET

Buffalo DriveStation DDR Review: Simple, Affordable, and Unbelievably Fast, Dong Ngo, Updated March 7, 2014

CNET's Dong Ngo names the Buffalo DriveStation DDR an Editors' Choice with an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. He says it delivers "unprecedentedly superfast speeds" for a USB 3.0 drive, exceeding the speed of a Thunderbolt connection for far less money.

2. Laptop Magazine

Buffalo DriveStation DDR Review, Michael A. Prospero, May 7, 2013

Like CNET, Laptop magazine awards the Buffalo DriveStation DDR an Editors' Choice nod and 4.5 stars out of 5. Prospero says it's one of the most cost-effective drives available, offering performance to rival a solid-state drive (SSD) or a Thunderbolt drive at a much lower cost.

3. PCMag.com

Buffalo Drivestation DDR 2TB, Joel Santo Domingo, June 6, 2013

PCMag.com calls the Buffalo DriveStation DDR "a good middle ground between expensive high performance SSDs and more commoditized hard drives." Santo Domingo gives it 4 stars out of 5 but does not name it an Editors' Choice, waiting to see whether it "passes the reliability trials of time."

4. TheWirecutter.com

The Best External Desktop Hard Drive, Kimber Streams, March 16, 2014

The Wirecutter mentions the Buffalo DriveStation DDR as an also-ran in the contest for the title of Best External Desktop Hard Drive on the market. Kimber Streams reports that the drive is extremely fast, but its high failure rate (based on Amazon.com reviews) makes it a poor choice.

5. PC World

Review: Buffalo's DriveStation DDR Caches for Superfast Write Performance, Jon L. Jacobi, July 16, 2013

The Buffalo DriveStation DDR earns 4 stars out of 5 at PC World. Jacobi says it's much faster than most USB 3.0 drives, but also much pricier. However, it still costs considerably less per gigabyte than an external solid-state drive.

6. Amazon.com

Buffalo DriveStation DDR 2 TB Ultra Fast USB 3.0 Hard Drive with DDR3 RAM Cache, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2014

The 100-plus reviews for the Buffalo DriveStation DDR at Amazon.com are extremely mixed, with ratings averaging 3.4 stars out of 5. Owners say the drive is amazingly fast, but we found many complaints about drive failures and poor customer support.

7. StorageReview.com

Buffalo DriveStation DDR Review, Josh Shaman, May 22, 2013

In this review, Josh Shaman points out both strong points and shortcomings of the Buffalo DriveStation DDR. Analysis here features hands-on testing and may be a bit technical for the layman, but the bottom line is that this drive can be a good value "in the right environment."