Thursday, March 4, 2010

#503. Product Review: Drobo

If you are already familiar with what a Drobo is and you are looking for an endorsement you need look no further: Drobo works as advertised and may actually be the "next best thing since sliced bread!"

Drobo is a product manufactured by Data Robotics. It is an expandable self-contained storage system with automated data protection. It's the little black box in the photo I posted today. It has, depending on the model you choose, 4, 5 or 8 docking bays for hard drives. I use the 4 bay model. You can buy the Drobo with or without the hard drives at many places on the Internet. [Review continued after the photo]

Title: "Product Review: Drobo"

I purchased my Drobo without any drives installed so that I had more flexibility about how I wanted to configure my hard drives (and about how much I wanted to spend). I bought two 1.5TD hard drives and I can add drives (any size) to one or both of the other drive bays anytime. The way Drobo works is that its software keeps a complete copy of any data you store on any drive on one or more of the other drives. This way if any one drive crashes the data is easily retrievable from the other hard drives. Simply remove the malfunctioning hard drive and replace it with a new one and Drobo will automatically restore all the data that was on the failed drive.

The hard drives are plug-and-play; just unpack them and slip them into an available drive bay and Drobo does the rest (trust me when I say that if I can do it you can do it).

I use the Drobo just like an internal hard drive. I save my files directly to it from my camera card and work directly from it with Photoshop and my other applications without any noticeable performance hit.

The lights you see on the front of the Drobo tell you everything you most often need to know at a glance. The green lights on the right indicate that an available bay is being used (a hard drive is installed) and the blue lights on the bottom let you keep up with your storage capacity. In the photo you can see from the green lights that I'm using two of my four available drive bays and that I am using about 30% (3 lights out of 10) of my available capacity. I should mention that storage capacity is something less than 50% of the total capacity of your installed drives because the Drobo software itself takes up some space. The 50% starting point is because, as previously explained, Drobo saves a full copy of everything so that one file takes up twice its file size on the Drobo (one file for the original and one for the copy). With my two 1.5TB drives I believe I have about 1.3TB of actual storage capacity. The amount of actual storage capacity from any particular configuration of hard drives can be obtained from the Drobo website.

The bottom line is that my experience to date is that Drobo met or exceeded all my expectations and I would highly recommend it to anyone needing some additional secure data storage capacity.