Review: Drobo DAS with BeyondRAID

Old 3 Comments on Review: Drobo DAS with BeyondRAID 205

This week Drobo loaned me one of their basic 4 Bay Desktop Units and to make a long story short I’ll be ordering one for myself next week.  Drobo uses something called BeyondRAID to make storage of large amounts of data an incredibly easy process.

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Basically with Drobo units you get a Storage Array that you add your own disks to.  They have versions for USB 3, Thunderbot, iSCSI NAS and even portable models.  What makes the Drobo special is Beyond RAID.

BeyondRAID combines your multiple disks into one logical disk automatically.  You don’t have to configure it, or do any manual process when a drive fails other than swap out the drive.  You simply install the drives and it goes to work. If a drive fails you pull it out, plug the new one in, and then go have a cup of coffee.  Better still if you need to increase the size of the array all you do is pull out the smallest drive, plug in a bigger drive, and again go have a cup of coffee.  In an hour or so the array will be bigger and there’s nothing that you could screw up in the process. On top of BeyndRAID they use Thin Provisioning so that you don’t have to resize your Partition when you increase the size of the array.

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Being that it so easy to use the question I had was how good would the throughput be. The downside to Drobos that I had heard was that throughput was “miserable”.  I added 4 Western Digital 7200RPM Black Drives to the unit I was loaned and performed the standard Blackmagic Design Disk Speed Test.  I was surprised to see the results come in at around 200MB/s Write and over 220MB/s Read.  This is more than fast enough for anything I’d use attached storage for.

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Beyond this the higher level models of Drobo use mSATA SSD for caching so you could get much better performance for files you are working on if you paid a bit more and went that route.

The other good feature Drobo now has is the ability to take your drives from one Drobo and put them in another one if you are migrating to a better model.  So you could start with a cheaper model, and then if your business grew go to a larger, faster, one.  I wasn’t;t able to test this, but was told that it’s essentially a plug and play process.

For testing I’ve had the Drobo for a week and have pulled and swapped drives many times.  It’s just sat on my desk and I’ll pull a drive and see what the rebuild time is.  During the week having done this countless times I lost no data and the array did not become corrupt or crash.  Rebuild time seems a bit “slow” at around an hour, but I had 2 1TB drives and 2 2TB drives in the unit so I suppose “slow” might be a bit harsh.

The best way to put my thoughts on the Drobo is “I’m sold”.  I’ll be buying one next week.  My thought is to connect it to my Mac Pro and then sync it up with Google Drive.  This will provide both local storage and backup functionality.  I’ll be going for the Drobo 5D with Thunderbolt Connectivity for around $630.  It’s pricey, BUT it’s worth it to make storage fairly simple.

If you’re interested in BeyondRAID and Drobo’s just go to http://www.Drobo.com

 

FCC Compliance: The unit I reviewed was a loaner and will be shipped back to Drobo.  Supposedly there is a discount program for media and I can get $100 off the purchase price to buy one. Please note that still means I’m willing to pay $500+ for it…

Author

Eli Etherton

I am Eli "the Computer Guy" and have been in the tech industry for approx. 20 years doing all kinds of odd projects. I started as an electronics tech in the US Army, worked in corporate IT during the IT Boom, was an individual consultant and grew my tech shop to have numerous full time employees and supported small business clients with computer repair/ server maintenance/ web development/ surveillance systems/ telephone systems until the great recession. After that I started creating video training on all the topics I know and now have a YouTube Channel with over 500K subscribers. I am the founder of GeekBrainDump.com and my plan is to create a tech "news" site that I would actually find useful if I was still in the server room.

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3 Comments

  1. Jeff Newman August 29, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    My experience with upsizing a disk in a Drobo or Synology NAS, which offers the same capability, is you swap in the bigger drive and, as you said, go have a cup of coffee — in a foreign country, over the weekend.

    Based on what you’ve said, they’ve improved rebuild times dramatically.

    Does Drobo now offer a software bundle like Synology, QNAP, Thecus, etc.?

  2. Dana Simison August 30, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Is there a limit to the size of the drives that you can install?

    DS

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