Drobo over other RAID choices -

Hello -

I’ve been a Drobo user since the beginning - still using a second gen unit. Although it has performed admirably over the years, there have been some occasional quirks that I posed questions about here from time to time.

After a recent problem trying to swap a HDD for a larger drive, I started thinking about alternatives to Drobo. I remember when I first choose Drobo, I did so since I knew nothing about RAID and this was a nice effortless system to get me into the technology.

But now, there are other alternatives and RAID seems simpler to deal with, at least to me.

So I ask: what do you all think are the primary advantages of Drobo over the alternatives?

Don’t think I’ll be changing any time soon, but I’m kind of curious - Thanks!


Simplicity. Drobo still has the edge in “set it and forget it”. No thinking about RAID layouts, drive trays, etc. You put drives in. When it fills up, you put more drives in. When that fills up, you replace a drive. You start out on dual disk redundancy because you have lots of space. You switch to single disk redundancy because you need some of that space. You expand and go back to dual disk.

And it all just works and you focus on the things you need to do, not managing your storage. At least that’s been my experience.

I agree. In real life, I’ve supported HP SMARTArray and Dell PERC RAID storage, software RAID on Solaris, Linux, Windows, and BSD, and the occasional network filesystem. I bought a Drobo because I wanted storage I could just use, not something else to manage.
In particular, traditional (block-based) RAID is a serious PitA to expand.

edit: Other RAID options I would consider include FreeNAS, UnRAID, or some appliance from Synology or QNAP. Like Drobo, each of those has particular qualities that differentiate them. For traditional RAID, it’s not difficult to hack a cheap PERC card to work in a regular motherboard.

Yes, I mostly went with Drobo initially because of its simplicity.

Are the newer units any better in terms of speed and reliability? As I mentioned before, my unit is quirky every time I swap out a HDD - always works eventually, but not without some drama. And the speed on transfers from the device during file recovery are often painfully slow (I use FW800).

Thanks -

I’m in the simplicity camp as well. I know how to set up a RAID, I’ve built a few servers in my time, but at the end of the day, I just got tired of being the only one who could diagnose and maintain it. Drobo is simple enough that I can walk my wife through things over the phone if I need to. Granted, my wife has become quite techy, but still… :slight_smile:

What kind of “drama” have you been encountering?

Speed, most definitely - the FS and even S were somewhat poky, but the 5N and 5D are very, very fast. Reliability is a bit harder to gauge. Obviously there are folks who have had major problems, but that’s exactly what you see in any support forum. I can say my own experience with the 5N and FS has been excellent, although my feelings about the Drobo Dashboard are less glowing.

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btw when you say this:
“And the speed on transfers from the device during file recovery are often painfully slow (I use FW800).”

do you mean things are slow to access (while it’s doing a rebuild)?
if so, i can imagine that all efforts are made to focus on the rebuild (which is probably what i’d prefer) but in a video they pulled out a drive or added more drives in while playing a video which didnt skip a frame, (so not quite sure)

i think usb is the most stable connection (and that some operations or flashing via firewire have had problems), but maybe the slowness was due to the drobo being above it’s full threshold at the time?

To get a meaningful answer, you would have to narrow your “alternatives”.
The RAID offer is now MUCH larger than the sole Drobo offer.
Depending on what you value (yes, I know, you reversed that question ;)), there may be better alternatives… or not.

Personally, I choose the Drobo (Gen2) when it was more or less the only “prosumer” offer, with flexibility (mixed disks sizes, progressive disks upgrades) unknown at that time from alternatives suppliers.
But Drobo decided to focus mostly on higher end offers, and basically deserted its original market with ever increasing entry price points.
In the same time, original high end NAS suppliers incorporated most of Drobo innovations (see for instance Synology DS413) at lower price points.

So any choice is now much more open and for sure old Drobo users disappointed by Drobo products evolution (Dashboard !! encrypted logs !!) will also look elsewhere, often profitably.

ironically i’ve now gone back to drobo as being the best “value” as the 5N was the cheapest (branded) 5 disk raid unit i could find!

(i’ve still got 24 disks in synology’s tho… this was just for my next “little” expansion)

hi docchris, heres some info for you which might be useful:

it would be nice if hitachi just hurried up with the helium drives

My media finally outgrew 2 4 bay RAIDs, a Drobo S, and Drobo FS. I built a Win 7 machine and using snapRAID on it.

yes, but if drive breaks while using it, the helium will escape and you end up with a squeeky voice :smiley:

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