Buffalo MiniStation Extreme External HDD Uses NFC

Texas-based Buffalo Americas has launched a new ruggedized, external hard drive that packs Military Standard shock protection, water resistance and dust resistance. Called the MiniStation Extreme NFC, this storage solution also includes NFC connectivity for unlocking and accessing files with just a tap. The drive is offered in 1 TB ($129.99) and 2 TB ($199.99) capacities.

The new MiniStation Extreme NFC drive includes a smart card, allowing the user to tap the drive with the card to unlock its contents. There's no Wi-Fi involved, so owners will be required to use the built-in wrap-around USB 3.0 cable to grab what they need off the device. Using NFC means customers won't be required to memorize a password, but that also means customers could easily lose the card. What then?

The company provided an example of how NFC could be used, stating that customers could load up the drive with sensitive information and ship the drive using FedEX or UPS. The receiving party won't be able to access the data until the smart card arrives in the mail the next day. This would be good for health facilities, lawyers, local officials and more.

"We designed the MiniStation Extreme NFC to be the most complete rugged portable drive on the market, including features that not only protect against the elements, but also support the latest hardware encryption technology and NFC secure access functionality," said Matt Dargis, COO, Buffalo Americas, Inc.

The drive is meant to handle harsh environments by utilizing a rugged chassis and special internal bumpers that will absorb the shock and transfer it away from the delicate components inside if the device is dropped. Buffalo said that the MiniStation Extreme NFC can withstand falls up to 1.2 meters, and it also adheres to the IPX3 standard (water) and the IPX5 standard (dust).

Finally, the new rugged drive provides automatic 256-bit AES Full Data Encryption, protecting the files from unauthorized eyes. That means if the drive is lost, the data will be unobtainable unless it's accessed by the original owner. Presumably, if both the drive and the smart card are lost, that could spell trouble for your sensitive files.

In addition to providing a built-in USB 3.0 cable, the drive also has free access to Windows-based TurboPC EX2, Backup Utility, Disk Formatter2, and Lock and Go for NFC software. These titles must be downloaded from the Buffalo Americas website after purchase.

We wonder if having NFC capabilities is actually a good thing. Sure, it's a neat idea, but perhaps the best route would have been to rely on the NFC capabilities of a smartphone. Not all phones have NFC capabilities, we know, and that's what the card is all about. Buffalo is going after every consumer, not just the ones with NFC-equipped phones.

We've reached out to the company to find out what consumers can do if they lose the NFC smart card.

Update, 4/21/15, 2:00pm EST: Here's what a Buffalo representative told Tom's Hardware about losing the NFC card: "If the NFC card is lost, the user can still access the stored files by entering a password that they designated during setup, assuming they had set a password. The user does have the option to allow access to the hard drive through the smart card exclusively."

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  • Goodspike
    I'm not following this. I would assume you'd need to have the NFC tag attached to create and then verify a backup. If so, that would mean that the only time the device would be secure would be when you removed the tag or had the device removed from the system and stored away somewhere separate from the tag. Doesn't seem that useful when you consider you don't really need to create unique passwords for all of your files.