Recently I decided to purchase a Drobo FS. In the past my storage has been multiple Western Digital external hard drives. While they have worked great an external drive provides no data redundancy or protection. So when I do something awesome like pull it off the back of my desk, I’m out of luck and I’ve lost lots of data. This is where the Drobo comes in handy. The model I purchased, the Drobo FS (stands for file share), is connected to my network so I can access it from anywhere in my house. If I choose to setup accounts my brother and parents can access it too. There are also other models that include USB or firewire which might be preferred in some situations. A Drobo provides you with RAID 5 redundancy out of the box which means when a hard drive fails due to a mechanical error the extra drive kicks in to allowing you time to pop in a new drive and rebuild the array.
Well, Drobo promises that my data will be safe and it looks great sitting on top of my entertainment cabinet. Was it really worth the cost?
The Drobo comes wrapped in a nice soft cloth surrounded by lots of foam to prevent any shipping damage. It includes an instruction manual, software, cat 6 cable, power cord, and of coarse the Drobo.
I already had the latest software installed from Drobo’s website so I’m not sure what version was included on my disk. I set the Drobo on top of my TV stand and plugged it into my network. After flipping the power switch it started going through its POST checkup and shortly after was detected by the Drobo Dashboard.
After that I was alerted that new firmware was available so I went ahead and updated it. A reboot later and I was ready to add drives. I purchased one 2TB drive to put in along with my pre-existing external drives. The Drobo told me almost immediately that I had 2TB of storage available but it also warned me that my data was not protected. The second hard drive light lit up Red indicating I needed to add a drive.
Ignoring the error I setup email alerts and a few file shares that I would add my data to. Using my Gmail account and Google’s SMTP server my Drobo alerted me again that my data was not protected. In my opinion this is a fantastic feature since emails come to my phone I’ll know if something is going haywire almost instantly.
So far my Drobo experience has been great but how will it perform?
With one hard drive I started copying my data over. Things went pretty quickly and I was seeing speeds around 12MBps. I was a little disappointed by this but later found out I had a crappy network cable which was only giving me 100Mbps speeds. So sadly I don’t have a good speed test before all of the drive bays were full.
Once my fifth drive was in, I threw my junk cable away and replaced it with a new one to get up to gigabit speeds. After this I was seeing a 27MBps write speed over to the Drobo which was about what I was expecting.
While copying files over I was still able to stream a 720p movie to my home theater PC.
I’ve owned my Drobo for a couple weeks now and have to say it’s been great for my needs. Redundant storage that can hold everything and be accessible around the house. While there are other, possibly cheaper, alternatives the Drobo made everything very easy to setup and use.
It was fast enough to transfer my data painlessly and can stream 1080p without a hiccup. There are also some DroboApps available which I plan on playing with soon. At the moment there are a few things like an Apache server, bit torrent client, and ftp server. Hopefully someday Dropbox will create their own app for it!
Best prices I found were at Amazon: