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


el marabu said...

Thank's for the guide. This is ok for a Buffalo Terastation TS-RX8.0TL/R5.


Unknown said...

Thank you for this great help!
I had same problem with no partition and impossible to upgrade.
The debug mode helped me to format and installing a new Buffalo 421DE + 2HD WD RED 3TB WD30EFRX.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this. My LS Pro bricked after I tried to upgrade firmware..I tried the tftp method and the whole nine yards...No avail..Came across this searching the net and this worked fine..! Many kudo's...

FiZ said...


Anonymous said...

I found this page and the one you reference after suddenly having troubles booting my LS Pro Duo LS-WVL/R1 series.

Before I came here, I had backed up everything off the one drive I had in my Linkstation, using a program called UFS Explorer Professional Recovery (but note there are other solutions for accessing Linkstation formatted HDDs.) Then I had wiped all the partitions on that drive, which got me to the point where my LS was going into Emergency mod (with the Function LED showing solid red within a minute of trying to boot the LS.)

So, I just want to say thanks so much to the original poster of this solution, Andreas Herzig, and also you Will - especially since you helped get me past the confusion about the System Menu (I just had no idea what that menu was called!)

However, I'd like to report some points of interest from my experience.

I think I accidentally discovered that the partition table rebuild and firmware update can be done in one shot, at least with a

It's difficult to confirm, because the Debug Mode menu settings are not persistent after you quit LSUpdater, but I believe I actually might have had all four settings in the Update section enabled, and under Config everything was enabled EXCEPT "Delete user data partition."

After setting whatever settings I did set in the Debug Mode menu, when I clicked "Update" in LSUpdater, I got formatting messages, then saw messages about the firmware being copied over, and after rebooting, it went into firmware update mode according to the Info/Error LED flashing code, and finally came up on the network, as seen in NAS Navigator.

I was a pleasantly surprised (and a bit shocked) to all of my Linkstation settings completely preserved. Getting the Linkstation up and running was simplified by the fact that I didn't have to go through my entire setup again - I just needed to copy the files back to it.

Vladislav Staroselskiy said...

Thanks a lot for the guide, just recovered my newly arrived LS421DE, which was in EM mode right from the beginning. The LSUpdater could not even report the existing version (the "Firmware version" field had dashes in it). Obviously, the lack of QA. I don't know how many returns they have from not-so-technically-savvy people...

Richard Murray said...

These instructions were helpful and helped my resolve the problem with my Linkstation QVL. Thank you.

Will Belden said...

Glad that this post is helping folks out! Yay, Internet!

Anonymous said...

flippin' awesome! saved me considerable headache after slapping two brand new 3TB drives into my 421DE and getting the dreaded emergency mode...

Daniel Jackson said...

Great post! Solved my problem!!

Unknown said...

helped me too with my newly arrived system in em mode... nice qa buffalo!?!

Thijs said...

Very useful, thanx for sharing this information! it's running again!

Unknown said...

Unfortunately this isn't working for me... when I follow the first set of steps to reformat/rebuild partitions, it goes through the format and then says it failed at the end, and from there I'm unable to get the firmware to update as it just errors out after transferring the main fw file (the 268MB one) over with an "ACP_STATE_FAILURE". Anyone have any thoughts? I'm tech savvy but have never had a NAS before, so I'm a little out of my element. My next thought was to pull the HDDs out and reformat them using my computer (my thinking is that maybe the whole MBR is messed up and the NAS doesn't know how to fix it?) and then putting them back in the NAS and letting it reformat them again.

Will Belden said...

@Richard : I wish I could offer some assistance. Like you, this is my first NAS. And kinda like stacking blocks, I "got it right" and then hollered "don't touch it!" to avoid any further problems. I'm no NAS expert! You might, however, try to contact the author of the original post I got a lot of this information from:

If that doesn't help, try this Google search, which leads to some Buffalo forum posts that might assist.

Good luck with it.

lev400 said...

Thanks very much! Just got a second hand BUFFALO TS-XL/R5XL/R5. Before doing anything I took out the 4x 3TB drives and wiped the partitions in Windows. Put them back in and expected it all to be find and ask me to install/setup from fresh or like Netgear ReadyNAS to download the firmware from the net... but no.. just Red lights & EM mode! You should be able to put blank disks into a NAS and get the NAS up and working without problems but with this NAS putting blank disks in means bricking it!

Will Belden said...

Glad to hear it, Lev! Really, really glad this post is helping so many folks out!

Bruce Christensen said...

Thanks for posting this information. Your notes were the final steps I needed to expand my LS-WV4.0TL/R1 from 2Tb drives to 3Tb drives.

Will Belden said...

Awesome, Bruce. This post has seemed to help a lot of folks! (You'd think Buffalo might take note! Heh.)

Padg said...

Still helping! Thanks for this post, it just saved my NAS drive. Happy Christmas!

Unknown said...

Thanks for doing what crappy Buffalo support couldn't do - unbricked my TS-RX2.0TL/R5 after performing a firmware update!

Only suggestion: TURN OFF "WINDOWS FIREWALL" from Control Panel. Or else 'debug' mode is generally a failure.

Will Belden said...

@Wes-T So glad it helped. I know *I* scour the Internet for help on issues, and felt like this was a good one to contribute back. Still, though, heavy kudos to the original helper at page:

Unknown said...

I am using Buffalo LinkStation 441e (LS441DE). I had the same problem. The device was in EM-Mode (Emergency). I could not update the firmware, no partitions were found.

After following the instruction on this blog, the issue was resolved. The firmware was updated successfully.

Thanks to the author for posting this online; it was a big help! I mean “BIG HELP!”

Anonymous said...

I found this post while trying to unbrick my new LS-QVLE. I had (without researching capacity limitations) originally installed four, 6TB drives and tried to setup a RAID array. Upon learning this unit has a 3TB drive capacity maximum, I installed 3TB drives only to discover the Linkstation was now bricked. While trying to fix it using the instructions in this post, I receive the following error, "Format failed. Update aborted." I am at a loss for what to do further and would appreciate any insights to fix this contraption.

Will Belden said...

@anonymous sorry, been working great since my initial install no further info.

mkelley1961 said...

Thank you, these instructions enabled me to unbrick by brand-new Buffalo Linkstation LS220D device...!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting - Worked a treat!

Anonymous said...

I was able to rebuild a terastation with 4 new disks after the #1 disk failed and the cost of replacing it was more than the company would pay. Buffalo wiki mentions "use debug mode" when replacing all disks, inadequate info from them. Good post helped me out. Thanks ;)

Anonymous said...

Been trying to resurrect an LS-QV4 but with no luck.

Followed this procedure with blank disks - the function light flashes blue and then the power starts flashing blue it is never visible on the network and it finishes with the 6 red flashes.

saw on another site a suggestion to create a bootable 1GB partition and copy in the two boot files uImage.buffalo and intrd.buffalo. This time the the power light went solid blue and LSupdate found it and went through a process of building and copying - but after about 10 mins it reported it had lost connection and we were back to the 6 red flashes.

Anyone any suggestions or does this not work with this model of linkstation


Will Belden said...

@Anonymous: Regarding the LS-QV4, I can't really speak to that. I just have the model I have, and this whole post was mostly a re-hash of the one I sourced, along with additional comments.

Wish I could help. I'm no expert on these things, in fact, this is my first NAS.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Thank you for making this available - and easy to find. Worked perfectly and as described step by step for my LS441D series. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! This helped me recover a brand new 421DE when I powered it up fresh out of the box without any drives in it. I wanted to see the interface before doing any setup but powering up with no drives puts it immediately into EM. Adding drives didn't fix it, but your steps worked wonders! Working fine now.

Thank you!

Unknown said...

I hope someone can help me. A couple days ago there was some flickering of the lights and we then lost power. When the power came back on, my LS421 with 2 3TB drives was in emergency mode. Is there any way to get the system out of EM without reformatting the drives and losing the data that was on them?

Will Belden said...

@STAPEL Would love to help, but all I know is what I've listed here. I actually upgraded to a Drobo. I actually sold the Buffalo, but the buyer was unable to reset the firmware and I had to buy it back. Based on my experience I would never buy another Buffalo.

However, since this is a "was working and now it's not" problem, you probably are in the same position that I was and why I decided to upgrade: One of the drives has failed. If you have it mirrored, you should be able to put in a new drive for the one that failed. (Don't ask me how to check which failed, I don't know. You'll have to research that.) However, if you had them in "striped" RAID, I don't know that you can recover from a striped RAID with only two drives. It's not a redundant setup, I don't think.

micromark said...

Thank you Will! Great help

Anonymous said...

Still useful, fixed my 441e! Thanks!

Jason Brainerd said...

Worked perfect on a TS-WRX2. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this ... was up against a deadline and nowhere to go ... !

Unknown said...

Whew! Thanks! I was about ready to pitch my LS-VL into the trash. I really don't understand why this has to be so...arcane. Finally got it to work after turning off my antivirus.

Anonymous said...

I had given up fixing my LS-WVL/E. Even purshased a new NAS (a Synology by the way). THen I decided to make one more effort to fix the Buffalo and ran across this article using Google. It WORKED. NAS is back up an running. Now all I have to do is figure out how to replace the Chinese menu with English. Thanks very much.

Don Krell

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the guide.

This works for a LS441DE.

Anonymous said...

Recently acquired an empty Terastation TS-RX8.0TL/R5 four-slot rackmount NAS.

Not knowing if the TS was in working condition, I purchased *two* WD Red 2TB figuring to minimize cost if the TS was DOA. Installed the drives in bays 1 and 2, then followed your instructions with TSUpdater. Got an "unable to format" message from the TSUpdater.

Had a couple of small capacity SATA drives leftover from previous system upgrades, so I installed those in bays 3 and 4, and reran the update process. With drives in all four bays the format and subsequent update was successful.

Probably obvious to your more tech-mined readers, but I thought I'd mention that there has to be a drive in all the drive bays before the Buffalo Firmware Updater will create the necessary partitions.

Went ahead and ordered two more 2TB Red drives, and was able to replace the small capacity drives in bays 3 and 4 without issue. The TS-RX8.0TL/R5 is now up and running with four 2TB drives.

Thanks *very much* for your very helpful blog.

Anonymous said...

This process worked perfectly on a TS-RIXL (iSCSI model) as well. Replaced 4x2TB drives with 4x6TB drives and performed the debug mode restore and its up and running. I also only had to do one pass with TSUpdater v1.66. Unchecked all the "update" options and checked the three necessary "config" options and the updater did everything in one run. Took about 20 minutes total and the NAS restarted 2 or 3 times but it seems to be working well and sees all 24TB.

Awesome! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to pass on my thanks for this. I was having issues with my Terastation TS-WXL which was showing a hard drive error (E30) and a hard drive that was missing the ini file. I used this post to get the unit back up and running and then upgraded one of the hard drives. I've made sure to bookmark this page.

Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Thank you very much I was able to unbrick my ls-wv/le

Anonymous said...

Gracias, me ha ayudado en la instalación de mi TeraStation TS-WXL/R1. La compre usada y me vino sin información y sin el SW para usarla, en la WEB de Buffalo, no se menciona,(O no lo he leído), editar el archivo INI para entrar en modo Debug.
Una vez hecha la edición del fichero INI, funciona perfectamente y he podido poner en marcha, con dos HDU de 500Gb, mi TeraStation.
Jose Bernat

Unknown said...

I have 3 Buffalo NAS, 2 are the LS421 and 1 is the LS441. One of the LS421 bricked out. I followed your procedure after turning off the firewall. It works!
Thank you so much for posting

Anonymous said...

You are awesome. I did waste so many hours trying to find posts on the internet about TFTP, Linux boot, Partition Manager, etc etc. First part of your article I am able to format the drives and update the firmware. Thanks a lot for this post. This post should be sent to Buffalo support team.

Unknown said...

omg thanks so much, i just have 1 question in the future if i add another drive to this would i have to do the same process? i only have 3 out of my 4 slots filled right now, with 3TB drives total. so if i added a 4th what would happen?

Will Belden said...

Couldn't tell you. Glad it helped you.

I got rid of the Buffalo years ago, now. I replaced with an expensive Drobo 5N, but I no longer have issues. None.

Sometimes you truly get what you pay for. I went the less expensive route with the Buffalo, and it caused me nothing but issues. I highly suggest getting a real NAS. It will save you hours of time.

Unknown said...

ok thanks,

Anonymous said...

Worked for me on a TS5400.
It was without HDD/serial.
This blog saved the unit going to the trash, so thank you!

davethedyson said...

Just worked for me, thank you. LS-WXL781

JayMax said...

Thank you! You saved my bricked LS-WXLB04.
I hope this webpage stays up to help others in the future.

David Haworth said...

Very grateful for this as it gave me the final bit of the puzzle in rebuilding a second hand Linkstation 220D Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...


Hello, on your first image you have name of the NAS, but in my case i see only UNINSPECT-EM36, how can i unbrick my Buffalo?

Will Belden said...

Anonymous / Eurii:

I ditched this device a LONG time ago, in favor of a Drobo. I can't really answer your generic "how can I unbrick my Buffalo" question, unfortunately. What I've provided, in conjunction with the original (externally linked) post is all I have.

While this post might be helpful to many, it probably isn't helpful to everyone. You might be among the latter group.

Anonymous said...

Would need some advice, I am receiving error below.

Format failed.
Update aborted.

Thanks again.

Will Belden said...

Last @Anonymous : Unfortunately, you didn't leave any contact information. Not that it would matter much, if you'll see my comment from October 2015:

Would love to help, but all I know is what I've listed here. I actually upgraded to a Drobo. I actually sold the Buffalo, but the buyer was unable to reset the firmware and I had to buy it back. Based on my experience I would never buy another Buffalo.

Unknown said...

I know many years have past and you no longer have the product but do you know or remember if this process work on a drive with data on it? Will it rebuild the partition and leave the user data intact? I have some very precious files on it and do not want to chance erasing. Unluckily for me both my NAS and Backup have crashed in a power surge.

Anonymous said...

have error like this;

format failed.
update aborted