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Review: Drobo – Peace of Mind Computer and Data Backup Solution


Admittedly, I have been a long time Windows Home Server User but as my hardware comes close to its life cycle and a recent catastrophic data corruption issue that left me without my backup archives, luckily my data remained safe, it is time to start looking for a replacement.  Simplicity, ease, expandability, and redundancy are all important when considering any backup solution — Don’t get me wrong, Windows Home Server is great, and despite the criticism from the current user group over the loss of Drive Extender with Windows Home Server 2011 (Vail), I still believe it is an excellent Backup and Data Solution.  However, for some time, the “Beyond Raid” technology that powers the Drobo series file share and data storage devices by Data Robotics, Inc has caught my attention and become a key contender as the new home and home office backup and data storage device.

With that said, I still need to get my hands on a Drobo but thought it deserved a few words of encouragement and Kudos  for what is a great product.  Once I have my Drobo FS up and running I will be sure to write a more detailed blog.

No matter if you are a Creative Professional, Educator, Small or Medium-Sized Business or simply a home or home office user, Drobo has a storage solution to meet your needs.

But what is Drobo?

Drobo is best described as an expandable network storage solution that is as simple as plug and play for both your Windows and Mac systems.  Sitting here typing on my Windows 7 Ultimate box and the MacBook Pro chugging away beside me, the duel compatibility is a definite plus.  Drobo is labelled as a “hard drive that is NEVER FULL AND NEVER FAILS”.  We all know that Hard Drives get full, the get old and eventually they fail.  Powered by up to 16TB in from four to eight drive bays using any combination of 3.5″ SATA drives the Drobo’s array of connection options from FireWire, USB, eSATA, Ethernet, and iSCSI allow for connectivity options for any users.

One of the best features of Drobo is its Expandability

With Drobo, buy just the storage you need now and change it as your data grows. Mix and match drive brands, capacities, and speeds. Replace your smallest drive with a larger one and immediately use the new capacity in a matter of seconds, not hours! It’s a simple as inserting the new drive into the slot. Expand up to 16 TB on a single volume as larger drive sizes become available. Drobo creates one large storage pool. Dive in and eliminate the need for multiple external storage drives and devices.

Plug-In Peace of Mind, Plug-In Simplicity

Just plug in Drobo and your data protection is all set up  — that’s it!  Add disks at any time for additional protected capacity.   In addition, keep informed about your data.  Lights on the front tell you what’s happening—if you can read a traffic light, you’re already a Drobo expert.

Take a look at how the lights on the front work on a four-bay Drobo and they work the same way on all Drobo models.

Small Foot Print, We do not need a server room

So just how big is a Drobo?  As a replacement to my Windows Home Server, I have had my eye on the Drobo FS (File Sharing) for about a year.  Remote Access to your files, DLNA Compliant, Seamless Integration with Apple Time Machine.  The list is endless — and with a footprint that is hard to beat.   Weighing in at 8 lbs, the Drobo’s 7 X 10-inch figure will fit on anyone’s crowded desk or neatly in a corner.


  Width Height Length
Inches 5.9 7.3 10.3
mm 150.3 185.4 262.3


  1. Mark,

    I’m currently using SAMBA on my all in one server box. It makes me a bit nervous. If anything on the OS gets corrupted I could quickly go from all in one to none in one, How does Drobo work. Can it be connected to my network via IEEE802.11 g? Does it support authentication?



    • Hey Scott:

      I have not tried DROBO with Linux however, Drobo has the following to say on their website related to their similier driect connect units (Drobo / Drobo S) over their Network configured Servers (Drobo FS and newer Drobo 5D). THat being said, drobo offer both networkable and direct connect units with WiFi connectivity – although for speed, I would always connect them directly to my switch..

      Officially DROBO does not offer or support Linux, howev er does provided the following link related to linux connectivity: http://support.drobo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/165/kw/linux

      Drobo, Inc. does not offer – or support – any Linux-compatible Drobo Dashboard: nor does Drobo, Inc. support or “endorse” use of such utlities as “droboview”.

      One is advised to use the Linux command-line along with the relevant partitioning (e.g. fdisk or parted) and formatting commands (i.e. mkfs.ext3).

      The Linux kernel-version should be at least 2.6.31 (run uname -a)

      Currently, Drobos do not support use of the ext4 file system.

      This being said, the Drobo will simply be seen as a SCSI drive (e.g. /dev/sdf) and so when it comes to partitioning, formattng and mounting, can be treated as a regular drive.

      Thus, all basic Linux commands used to partition, format and mount driives, also apply to the Drobo.


      1. Assume device number for a Drobo S is “/dev/sdd” (or device “d”)

      2. To make a partiton on this Drobo S, one would use the normal “fdisk” command: fdisk-u /dev/sdd

      3. To format this partition, one would use the following command: mkfs.ext3 /dev/sdd1 (sdd1 is the partition on the “main” drive “sdd”.)

      Please note the following information:
      •Volume sizes for 1st and 2nd Generation Drobos cannot exceed 2TB
      •Drobos do not currently support use of the ext4 file system
      •For best results, first connect the Drobo to any Mac or Windows host and use Drobo Dashboard to create the 1TB, 2TB volumes on the Drobo
      •GPT partitioning (e.g. parted /dev/sdx) must be used for volume sizes greater than 2TB: make sure that your kernel has GPT support
      •It is best to use a 64-bit Linux host with a kernel-version no older than 2.6.31.
      •We recommend use of the lsscsi command which lists all SCSI devices rather straightforwardly (you might need to install it with apt-get lsscsi or yum install lsscsi).
      •In order to use the Elite with distros such as RedHat/CentOS, one must download/install the iscsi-initiator-utils RPM package and possibly open-iscsi
      •For useful info on using iSCSI arrays with Linux click here. (No need to use CHAP, usernames, passwords, etc.)
      •When logging in to the Elite do not login to the management LUN.
      •In the context of speed (of formatting) and, worst case, data recovery, it is recomended that LUN sizes not exceed 2TB.
      •If one wishes to use the Firewire interface on a Drobo S or DroboPro – and the Drobo volume is larger than 2TB, then the Linux kernel version must be at least 2.6.31.

      As you are relying primarily on SAMBA, the DROBO would serve as a secondary backup to your server so a direct connected, and less expensive, until may be helpful wether is it DROBO or some other redudency device.

      DROBO’s are not cheap, but seem to be the best bang for your buck that I have come across and in line with other semi-professional / professional quality storage devices. And to be honest, the alternative is a dedicated desktop much like we both have, with multiple HD’s, RAID or similar, and external backup so you are paying a similar price of admission. Where I think we are all looking is that despite the redundency built into our servers – how can i further protect our data!?!?

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