Upgrading the hard drive in the Buffalo Linkstation LS-GL (LS-Pro) NAS

If you have one of the older Buffalo Linkstation Pro NAS drives (pictured below) and it is running out of space, you can simply upgrade the drive. It really isn’t that difficult if you are used to upgrading bits in your computer. Might be a little daunting if you have never opened your computer though. πŸ™‚

Photo of the Buffalo Linkstation LS-500GL-1 NAS

Picture of the back of the Buffalo Linkstation LS-500GL-1 NAS

I just upgraded the drive in my LS-500GL, replacing it with a 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green drive, which didn’t take very long at all (except for copying all the data across). What’s more … it is much quieter than the old 500GB Samsung drive that was in the Linkstation, which is a bonus!

What you need to do is to

  1. Backup the data from the Linkstation,
  2. Remove the drive,
  3. Clone the first two primary partitions from your old drive to your new one,
  4. Create an extended partition, with a swap partition, and a data partition in the new drive,
  5. Place the new drive in the Linkstation.

… and that’s it!

So, lets proceed …

Kit

To carry out the replacement you’ll need the following:

  • If you haven’t bought the replacement hard drive yet, make sure you get a SATA drive.
  • A USB, Firewire, or eSATA drive enclosure or drive dock. (unless you are connecting it directly to your computer’s motherboard.)
  • A standard cross-head (philips head) screw driver

Removing the hard drive

First of all, please note that there are exposed live electric parts exposed inside the box, so make sure it is not connected to the mains.

The following video shows how to open the case and remove the drive.

Cloning/Creating the Partitions

If you can connect both, the old drive and the new one to your computer, you can directly clone the partitions. Otherwise, you will need to save the partition image to your computer and then dump those onto the new drive. You will need 780MB of free space in your computer for the images.

The following screenshot shows the partitions in the old drive. Note that the partition labels may be different in your computer.

Screenshot of the partitions in a linkstation pro

Create Partition Images

Note: If you have connected both, the old drive, and the new drive to your computer, you need to skip this step.
If you can connect only one drive to your computer at a time, then connect the old drive and create the images of the first two partitions.

In windows, you will need something like Norton Ghost to do that. In linux, run the following (replacing ‘sdf1’ and ‘sdf2’ with the labels in use in your computer for the connected drive):

dd if=/dev/sdf1 of=~/part1.img
dd if=/dev/sdf2 of=~/part2.img

Once completed, detach the drive from the computer.

Partition your new drive

Connect the new blank drive to your computer and create the following partitions:

  1. 291MB primary partition of type ext3.
  2. 487MB primary partition of type xfs.
  3. Extended partition taking up the remaining space.
  4. A 134MB swap logical partition.
  5. An xfs logical partition using up the rest of the extended partition.

Clone the system partitions into your new drive from the old one or the images

If you are connecting only one drive to your computer at a time, then do the following:
This presumes, that the drive connected to your computer as /dev/sdf. You will need to replace sdf1 and sdf2 with the actual device labels used by the drive.

dd if=~/part1.img of=/dev/sdf1 bs=4096 conv=notrunc,noerror
dd if=~/part2.img of=/dev/sdf2 bs=4096 conv=notrunc,noerror

If you are connecting both drives to your computer, then do the following:
This presumes that /dev/sdf is the old drive and /dev/sdi is the new drive. You need to replace these labels with the ones in use by the two drives in your computer.

dd if=/dev/sdf1 of=/dev/sdi1 bs=4096 conv=notrunc,noerror
dd if=/dev/sdf2 of=/dev/sdi2 bs=4096 conv=notrunc,noerror

Finally …

When the above is completed, you can place the new drive in the linkstation, hook it back up to the mains and network, and you’re good to go!

Enjoy your “new” Linkstation, and smile since you saved a Β£100 by doing this instead of getting a new 2TB NAS drive! :p

You can find information on upgrading other models of linkstation devices as well as installing custom firmware at buffalo.nas-central.org.

Author: Musaul Karim

Software Engineer, Hobbyist Photographer, and a bit of a gadget geek.

30 thoughts on “Upgrading the hard drive in the Buffalo Linkstation LS-GL (LS-Pro) NAS”

  1. Any idea of how to replace the drive if i do not have the old one?

    The old drive is completely broken so I cannot get the partition files off it

    Thanks

  2. Thank you for the informative guide. I have cloned my ls-320gl to a new WD 1.5TB harddisk. Removed the xfs partition and created a new one with remaining space. But no luck the linkstation boots with 6 beeps, which doesn’t recognise my new harddisk.

  3. Did you clone the whole drive, or the partitions one by one? For my drive I created all the separate partitions myself, and then cloned the first two from the old drive overwriting the empty partitions I had just created.

    If you want to do it more safely (in case the system partition sizes are different), you could clone the first two partitions first, then create the extended partition followed by the swap and the xfs data partition.

  4. Fantastic guide. I now have a 2TB drive in my LS-500GL version 2.

    Only hiccup was I tried to be creative and put the linux_swap partition at the end and that didn’t work. Need to maintain the order of the partitions.

    Also, do not clone your data drive, it’s a pain, takes forever and ultimately did not work. I ended up copying the data back over from the backup once the system was up and running again.

  5. Great info but i just can’t get an extended group created for the swap & xfs. Any idea whats wrong?
    Extended is just greyed out, the only options i have are Primary, can’t even add any logical partitions either.

  6. Its ok figured it out, now have another problem. I just copied loads of my movie files over to the new disk and yesterday it died beeping noise from the Linkstation. Now i’m trying to recover the data but not succeeding very well :o(
    Partitions seem to be there and in GParted they are showing as i’ve set them up and the space is used (about 250gb) but can i get the files? no chance.

    getting sector errors from TestDisk and various other programs i’ve used. Any advice?
    Can i just type some command in and they’ll suddenly appear back on the drive? ;o))
    I have tried looking at the drive directly on my pc and on my mac but it just doesn’t mount.
    Cheers

  7. Dear Sirs,

    Today my LS-250GL HD just broken and total lost, may anyone kind enough to email their drive’s images of the first 2 partition to lam2008hk@yahoo.com.hk for helping me to recover the drive please? Many thanks & thanks for the kind assists!!

    Regards,

    Tannil from Hong Kong / 2-SEP-2010.

  8. @ masaaaaaaa:

    Which 2TB drive did you buy for your LS-500GLv2? Was looking at the WD WD20EARS, but not sure this will work as has unusual 4K sector format.

    For the benefit of other upgraders, the LS-500GL in question is already running an upgraded Samsung F2 1TB with no problems for over a year now.

    Cheers
    FragMonkey

  9. @masaaaaaaa:

    Which 2TB drive are you using for you LS-500GLv2? I’m looking at upgrading my LS-500GLv2 with a Western Digital WD20EARS 2TB drive, but concerned that the Linkstation might not cope with the unusual 4K sector format.

    For the benefit of other upgraders, I’ve been running a Samsung F2 1TB in my LS-500GLv2 for the past year with no problems.

    Thanks,
    FragMonkey

  10. 1. Please — can someone answer the question about whether the new WD Advanced Format drives are compatible to us IN a linkstation pro?

    2. What about in a USB HDD enclosure attached to a Linkstation Pro?

    ???

  11. Hi Musaul

    I am trying to do the same upgrade a linkstation Live 320GB to a 1TB Western Digital WD10EALS HD but I keep geting beeps after installing the new drive. I have cloned/imaged the first 2 original partitions Ext3 196.1mb and 486.3mb with Acronis True Image and then created a 133.3mb Linux Swap file. Next I created a logical partition with the remaining 930Gb of space in ext2. I created the Swap file and the extended partition with Partition Magic and Acronis Disk Director.
    Not sure what I am doing wrong. Can you please assit.
    Thanks

  12. Its simple to fit a new hd

    no cloning required
    look for
    TFTP Boot Recovery HS-DHGL.rar

    set your pc’s ip to 192.168.11.1
    and run the tft server
    turn the nas on
    when it starts beeping tap the button
    and it will grab em mode files via tftp
    you can then flash it with rebuild partitions ticked
    in debug of the updater

    @guy asking about wd 4k drives
    no stick to 512byte drives
    4k ones dont work

    1. I want to thank you for your simple but almost correct method of installing a new hdd in an LS-320GL. I have spent months reading all the info on various sites dedicated to this unit. No one seemed to have a method that worked but yours. The only thing is, when you say: “tap the button” you should clarify that to meaning the “reset” button vs. the “power” button. Once I tapped the correct button, ie; the reset button, it took off and created all the partitions for me! One more note, you should add that one has to put the computer doing the tftp-ing back to DHCP in order to do the flashing or at least the address the buffalo now has after the process.

  13. Its a lot easier to remove the hard drive, if you simply remove the front panel (one screw on the bottom of the front panel).

    Then you will see a green circuit board with two screws DO NOT touch them!.
    Remove the connector from the circuit board.

    Remove the screws behind the circuit board on the aluminum frame (it holds the hard drive in place.

    The hard drive can now be pulled straight out of the cabinet — with the circuit board attached.

    3 screws total to get the drive out. Two more connect the drive to the bracket.

  14. Hi,

    Just checking whether does anyone has a copy of the part1 & part 2.img files and kind enough to let me have it?
    As i am not able to clone it earlier and the TFTP does not work πŸ™

    thanking you in advance

  15. Is possible to install a 3tb disk on this NAS? I can’t find informations anywhere.
    Thank you anyway, if I don’t find some answer I will buy a 2tb disk.

    1. I tried with a Seagate ST3000DM001 (3TB) hard disk with a LinkStation LS-GL.
      I successfully installed the firmware with TFTP Boot Recovery tool. (thanks to the notes from Stevie!).
      However linkstation will only recognise 2TB space, but working fine with the 2TB space.
      So only 2TB hard disk is max for upgrade a vintage LS-GL.

  16. I did these steps on HS-DH250GL and installed a 1tb WD-Nas. Had to install xfsprogs package using sudo apt-get install xfsprogs on Ubuntu first. Then it will allow XFS partitions. Also make sure you Create the Partition table as MSDOS not GPT or you wont be able to do Extended partitions. Once I got that all sorted, the partitioning works. Last issue was once I rebooted the NAS it lost its Shares and the Navigator software wont detect it. So downloaded from buffalo the 2.10 firmware it has out there for this model and updated it. Once that was all set, all was working. Then the very last step is changing the URL access from Chinese to english.. there are posts out there for that too. Thought it would take shorter to do, but it took about 2 hours.

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