When it comes to backups a lot of photographers are at risk, backups are often overlooked. I take backups very seriously, and while I have all my images on my computer, I also use a NAS (Network-attached storage) where all my work gets backed up right away. When looking for a NAS, there are a few key things I look for, the amount of HDD that it can take, how user-friendly it is, and how reliable it is.
2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports
Drives and Expansion
Up to five (5) 3.5″ SATA II/III hard disk drives or solid state drives (sold separately).
One (1) mSATA solid state drive in the Drobo Accelerator Bay for increased performance (sold separately).
Mixed Drive Size Utilization
Automatic Protection Levels
Single – or Dual-Disk Redundancy
Virtual Hot Spare
64TB filesystem support
Drive bay indicator lights, capacity gauge, status lights
Drobo Dashboard version 2.6 or later
Carrier-less Drive Bays
Power Fail Protection
Kensington Lock Port for Security (lock not included)
Additional Software Features
Hot Data Caching
Maximum System Capacity: 64TB
Drive Spin Down
OS X Time Machine Support
OS X / macOS Time Machine Support
Two (2) year warranty
Size and Weight
Desktop Form Factor
Width: 5.9 in (150.3 mm)
Height: 7.3 in (185.4 mm)
Depth: 10.3 in (262.3 mm)
Weight: 8.5 lb (3.9 kg) without hard drives, power supply, or packaging
Power and Cooling
External Power Supply:
AC Input – 100-240VAC~2A, 50-60Hz
DC Output – 12V, 7A, 84W
Dual, fixed, variable speed cooling fans
2x 6 ft (1.8 m) Ethernet cables
6 ft (1.8 m) power cord with power supply
Quick Start Card
While I don’t care much about design many people do, depending on the place you will place your NAS it can be important. Ideally, I would have a NAS in a different room in my house (In case of fire) and another in my desk. I like that you can see the status of your drives just by looking at the NAS, that is very important. The magnetic front cover works very well and is super easy to place, inside the front cover you have information about lights status of the Drobo. The only downside for me of the front cover is the glossy finish, while looks great when clean, you have to clean almost every time you open it up but then again that shouldn’t happen often.
How easy it is to install?
I could be going on and on how easy it is to install the drives and how everything works on the Drobo, but I recommend you going to the Drobo website and check it yourself this guide is very well done and I wouldn’t be able to explain any better than this.
I plugged in the Drobo, installed the Drobo dashboard and a new drive appeared on my screen right away, super easy to use, with that being said the panel looks a bit outdated, and you can’t even use it in full screen, in case you want to see all the apps that you can install. But it is also something you won’t be using it a lot, and once you do all your configurations, you won’t be using this panel a lot.
The status is pretty self-explanatory, and you can see the health of your HDD, and as you can see I had all different HDD sizes I still had 5.73TB available to use, other brands struggle to give you so much free space in such a situation, this is something I liked on this NAS. Also, the benefit of having the dashboard installed instead of a web app is that you will get a warning in case of disk failure.
The Apps, nowadays, many NAS are not only for storage but for many other things. I usually use my NAS as my media server, and the Drobo is no different, with Plex server installed you can stream your movies/series to your TV without any issues, I did try plex, and it works as expected. My favorite app was the DroboPix app. I installed it on my phone and now every time I get home my photos are automatically transferred to the NAS, the organization is excellent, it goes from your phone model to the year to the month. I tried with multiple phones, and it works very well, I just wished you could do more with the app, also you need to geotag your home or else the app won’t update automatically.
Without getting too technical the Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology is known for is an exciting concept, while in a standard RAID you would lose a significant amount of storage with BeyondRaid you don’t, you are not limited to your smallest drive, and you can swap a drive when you need more storage. It does take some time to rebuild when you swap a drive, but that is to be expected, you can find more information about this here in Drobo website HERE.
Now this is something that is a must in any NAS, the Drobo includes a battery backup system that protects all data in memory or cache, this means you don’t need an external UPS battery attached to the NAS. I tried a few times to power off the Drobo while moving files and to my surprise, they files moved over, and the Drobo safely power itself down, this gives me the peace of mind I need for such an important device.
If you are looking for a five-bay NAS without breaking the bank, this Drobo is for you, at this price point is hard to find a better NAS in the market. If you are not computer savvy and like to have devices that are user-friendly and easy to use this ticks all the boxes, the word NAS no longer needs to feel like a complicated device that only IT people use. But the main selling point when it comes to price is the ability to expand gradually, thus saving time buying new units or being forced to buy a lot of storage in one go. I prefer to buy a system with my future needs in mind rather than my immediate needs, and having a five-bay NAS will give you a lot of flexibility. I did this review with my photography needs in mind, so keep that in mind, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Drobo has not requested or paid me to do this review, but they did loan me the NAS to test, this review is solely my own, and I used my own words and experience with this product.