Opinions on small low power PC host like Dell Zino and etc?

I wanted a Drobo S but don’t want to dedicate a PC for it. Then the Drobo FS seem to solve that, but now I realized I want to run an app that DroboApp will probably never have: a backup client to an online backup service like Carbonite or Mozy.

Does anyone have experience with a low powered esata supporting computer? The Dell Zino comes to mind. I will only use the host PC for running the backup software and file sharing. Since I will be leaving it on all the time, I want it to be low powered. Perhaps also one of those ATOM based systems, but I’m not sure if they have esata.

And another benefit to having a full PC is that I can have software that will automatically moved to the recycle bin the files that network clients delete. This way, I can easily undo accidents. Some other NAS units support a network recycle bin but not the Drobo FS (yet).

But a big downside is having to worry about maintaining the OS and the harddrive it’s on, but I suppose if it completely fries, I can still attach the Drobo S directly to another computer.


I have my gen 2 Drobo connected to an Acer Aspire Revo R1600. It’s an Intel Atom N230. Mine is running Windows Home Server and it’s running quite happily.

We also have a Zino HD at the office connected to a Drobo Pro.

I like the look of the Zino HD, but the AspireRevo is much smaller because it doesn’t have an optical drive (or option for it). The Zino HD is a better machine, CPU and RAM-wise, though.

When you set up your undelete software, just make sure that you define a reasonable size for the protection. Most of them use a percentage of the drive, but with Drobo’s thin provisioning, your drive might appear much larger than your actual storage. In other words, if your Drobo looks like 16 TB, but only had 4 TB populated, 10% of 16 TB is 1.6TB, which would be almost half of your actual space.

Thanks for the tip about the volume size issue.

Yeah, I’m still deciding between the Zino and an Atom/ION nettop. Both support esata but I’m not sure if it’ll work properly with the Drobo S since DR mentions that the esata needs to support something like multiplexing for when there are multiple Drobo volumes.

Price-wise, the Atom/ION systems seem to offer more bang for the buck (can bought barebone but dell forces certain options like large harddrives, wireless, etc), but the Zino can be upgraded to have better performance.

Then again, if I plan to hide this in a cabinet, could I go cheaper with a normal size system?

The eSATA needs to support multiple LUNs, which usually means port multiplier support.

See if you can find the SATA controller part number (or in the case of NVIDIA ION, just check around if it supports port multiplier boxes - I don’t know offhand, never checked).

The single comment here doesn’t sound promising…

A desktop machine would work too - the advantage of the newer Zinos and Revos is the reduced power consumption. Compared to my old server tower, my tiny WHS machine uses less than half the power - closer to a quarter, actually.

The Zino’s motherboard is based on the AMD 780G chipset, but port multiplier support is hard to confirm. Some people say yes, some say no (it could be due to the OS being used (many times linux), and no confirmed user of Drobo S. With only 120,000 Drobos out there, I’m not even sure I will find someone with both. I may need to rethink this and perhaps get a slightly bigger box that can take in a few expansion cards but still be low powered.

My original plan was for a NAS / Drobo+Nettop and a separate PC for Media Center recordings, but maybe I can use a single PC for both Media Center and sharing the Drobo. The Media Center PC is only suppose to wake up from standby to record but obviously I need it always on if it’s going to serve as a NAS, so low power and low heat is key.

[quote=“badbob001, post:6, topic:1309”]… maybe I can use a single PC for both Media Center and sharing the Drobo. The Media Center PC is only suppose to wake up from standby to record but obviously I need it always on if it’s going to serve as a NAS, so low power and low heat is key.
If your NAS clients are mainly computers and you don’t mind a slight pause on first access, you could get them to Wake-on-LAN the server when needed. LightsOut for WHS can do this, so I could do this in my setup, but I leave my WHS machine (serving as NAS) always-on because I download my TiVo recordings to it.

My media playback machine is another tiny box (Acer AspireRevo 3610 - it’s a dual-core Atom 330) that sits alongside and wakes up when needed.

A small “cube” type PC like this Shuttle unit may work, as you could stick in a PCI eSATA card. Not sure on the acoustics, but my old Shuttle SS51G was pretty darn quiet.

I’ve given up on the Zino/Atom type box for the Drobo S due to the impossibility to workaround an esata incompatibility if it arises. Now looking to replace my Media Center box with a new one for the upcoming Cable Card tuners and thinking of using that to file server the Drobo S. I use to have my Media Center box automatically come in and out from standby but that would be too disruptive for a NAS. Now reading up on low power parts… and esata compatibility is still a possible issue but at least I can overcome that with an add-on card… assuming I have an available slot.

Up/down for a server is OK if and only if all the clients have a way to “wake up” the server.

Usually this is done via Wake-on-LAN. I use AutoExit WHS andLights-Out on my Windows Home Server. Both can wake the server when a client comes online (there’s some function overlap, but I use the non-overlapping stuff mostly).

I believe the “normal” AutoExit may also support the same “wake server when computer comes online” function, if so, you could have your server go to sleep after a reasonable amount of inactivity. Or if you don’t have broadcast packets running around your network you could have your server wake on any activity directed at it.

One important thing for Wake-on-LAN that I learned… Software firewalls can block WoL functionality entirely. I had a bear of a time trying to figure out why WoL wouldn’t work for me - until I uninstalled Symantec Endpoint Protection’s firewall part (it’s a PITA anyway) and switched back to the normal Windows firewall. The nasty thing was - disabling SEP’s firewall wasn’t enough. I had to completely uninstall it. I think the intermediate packet driver it installs to monitor traffic also blocks WoL as a side effect.