Monday, January 06, 2014

Buffalo Linkstation - Partition not Found

Mostly putting up this content so I can find it again later, but it might help some folks that struggled to find an answer.  Original post was here:  (Never know when a page might no longer be alive!)

Now, this post refers to a "Buffalo Linkstation Duo".  Mine happens to be a Linkstation 421e (or 421ED), with installable drives of your choosing.

NOTE:  I performed these steps because I had placed new, unformatted drives in here.  Neither I nor the original article author can or will be held responsible for this content as applied to drives with existing data.  Please proceed at your own risk.

Notes:  I put this post up quite a while ago (back in 2014), and I'm amazed at how much traffic and comments we get here.  Thanks to all of you who have left a comment thanking me for the post.  I'm truly glad it helps someone out.  I just wanted to say, though, that I ditched the old LinkStation in favor of a new, far more redundant Drobo 5N.  It was a bit more expensive, and currently loaded with three WD Red 3TB drives...but completely worth it.  I feel far safer with three drives (plus CrashPlan, of course) than I ever did with the Buffalo. (I'm waiting, watching for price reductions so I can buy two more of the drives, increasing the capacity and redundancy.)

Still, if you're stuck with the LinkStation and having the problems I did, I hope the content below helps you out.  Happy Unbricking!


Unbricking of a Buffalo LinkStation Duo

  • Buffalo LinkStation DUO 1TB (LS-WXL/R1)
  • 2x Samsung 500 GB Drives


I removed the RAID0-array to rebuild as a RAID1-array. Because there were errors during the creation of the array, I tried rebooting the device. Unfortunately, now it would not want to boot anymore.

I tried resetting to factory defaults (hold FUNCTION while powering on, then release and press once), but to no avail.

NASNavigator2 reported the device as in EM-Mode (Emergency) and requested a firmware update or a service call.LS-Updater would not update the firmware since it could not find the partitions.

So I removed the drives and connected them to my Windows PC with a USB-to-SATA-adapter. After removing all partitions, I inserted them back into the device.

The Function LED glows permanent red and now it was seriously bricked, since it had no operating system and it would not boot via TFTP.



Edit LSUpdater.ini
VersionCheck = 0
NoFormatting = 1


Start LS-Updater, it should find the device in EM-Mode. Open System Menu and go to Debug-Options.  

[Editor note: If you don't know, the system menu is the menu that comes up when you click (in Windows, typically) the icon in the top left corner of the window. This is where things like "Maximize", "Minimize" can be found.  In Windows, this is usually also available by clicking CTRL+SPACE.).]

Deselect everything. Select Ignore Version, Rebuild table, Force Update.

Select Update.

This will recreate the disk structures. It will take a while and end with an error message which can be ignored. 

[Editor note:  The formatting took about 10 minutes or so for the 3TB drives I installed.]

Now back to the Debug-Options. Deselect Rebuild table, select everything in the left Update column.

Choose OK and then click "Update" on the main window.

Since we have partitions, the update process can install the firmware. This may take a while.

[Editor note:  I went through a very long time of two progress meters with the message "LinkStation booting...".  The top progress meter went through several iterations quickly and the bottom progress meter went a bit more slowly, but only needed to go about a third of the way before I received the message "LinkStation has been updated."]

And it ends with an error message:

[Editor note:  I did not receive this message.  I suspect the original author may have because of the "Use DHCP Client" checkbox, and after the device rebooted, it may have received a new IP address, but I'm not 100% sure of this.  It also may be because of the model differences between his Linkstation and my 421e.]

At this point, I was able to go into my configuration and do the changes I needed to do.  I purchased this LinkStation with the intention of using the 2x3TB drives in a RAID1 fashion (mirrored drives, not total storage).  My initial setup placed it in RAID0 where I would get ~6TB of space because of the RAID striping.  This needed to be reconfigured.

A reader wrote in (you can see the comment below) to suggest that: "there has to be a drive in all the drive bays before the Buffalo Firmware Updater will create the necessary partitions".  I no longer have this Linkstation (or any Buffalo storage product again, ever) so I cannot confirm but certainly sounds reasonable.

Thanks to the original author for his problem solving that got me up and running.

- Will Belden
January 6, 2014