I’ll need a few months of glitch-free operation before this is more than provisional, but it looks like the Drobo is a pretty good solution for off-site backup.
- Using bare drives is a real plus. There’s no time wasted bolting the drives into trays, and they take up the least room in the safe deposit box.
- Goes into standby mode by itself to save power. This might be a problem in some applications, but it’s great for backup.
- Easy setup. Default options are well-chosen.
- Supports USB 2 at full speed. Since it also supports 800 b/s Firewire, it would be surprise if it didn’t.
- You can have eight disks attached to your computer and only tie up two ports.
- Flaky dashboard software. Hung when I put a drive into standby. Fixed by not doing that anymore.
- Some firmware problems. Fixed by upgrading to Release 1.3.0.
- Disk errors transferring one file. Fixed by deleting the file and starting over.
- The drive activity light and the standby light are hidden when the cover is attached.
- Not very configurable. Non-redundant storage not available.
- If you’re not careful, the front cover can come off while you’re handling the unit (it’s attached with magnets), and you might drop the Drobo.
- You can’t put it into standby mode without either using the Dashboard or powering down your computer.
- I’m not a fan of hot swapping without special pin arrangements that make ground contact first, then power, then logic pins. I wouldn’t install or remove a drive unless the box is either in standby or, better yet, powered down.
Suggestions for future improvements:
- A switch on the front to put it into standby mode.
- An eight-bay version.
- Ability to group disks and set up RAID levels manually.
- Support for RAID 6 for large arrays.
- Support for JBOD.
- Faster computer interfaces. eSATA now, and USB 3 when it’s mature.
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