Tag Archive | hard drive

Drobo Review (USB 2.0+Firewire 800)

Rating 4 outta 5 stars !

Super easy tool-less setup
Use any S-ATA drive

Price, and no networking without droboshare or similar device

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About 1 month ago my Lacie Big Ethernet disk died (days after the warranty expired)… and I lost ~1Tb of data. So I started looking for a better solution… and thankfully Xmas was coming and my wife was happy to have that be my present. Raid solutions were too complicated and time consuming to setup and maintain. Also I wanted something that was compatible with Timemachine, and allowed easy expansion in the future.

The only solution I found was a Drobo.

Fortunately the drives from the Lacie were still useable (just the controller card broke) and I had another 300Gb sata disk lying around so I was able to set the thing up without a huge upfront cost.

Tech Spec’s

SATA I or SATA II hard disk drives

* Full or half-height, no carriers required

* Choose the drive manufacturer, capacity (mixed capacities ok), and

spindle speed or cache that fits your current storage needs

* FireWire 800

* USB 2.0

File System Options

Windows: NTFS

Mac OS X: HFS+

Cross-Platform: FAT32

Linux: EXT3


Idle system (standby, drives off) = 5 watts

Typical idle system – idle, drive spin down mode (one drive) = 12 watts

Typical busy system (four drives) = 40 watts


Normal operation: 20.9dB (negligible) to 24.2 dB**

Drobo’s Size: 

Width 152.4 mm (6.3″)

Height 160 mm (6.3″)

Length 271.8 mm (10.7″)


* Its very very easy to setup. I had mine up and running in less than 10 min, from un-boxing to coping over data.

* No tools are needed, just slide any S-ATA hard drive in and bob’s your uncle

* No software needed but included drobodashboard is quite useful

* USB or Firewire 800

* Can be formated in HFS+ and thus works with timemachine

* Nice LED indicators give all useful info at a glance

* Fully automated data redundancy, you don’t need to do anything, and it shuts itself down too.

* Hot-swappable drives

* Amazingly small footprint for a 4 bay enclosure

* Quiet

* Operates just like any other usb/firewire external hardrive. You can partition it with disk utility etc.

* Additional drives don’t need formatting, just buy them and slide them in. Drobo takes care of the rest.


* Its a bit pricey and if you have to buy drives then the cost maybe too much for some.

* You have to pay extra to network it (via droboshare)

* The largest drive is used for redundancy, thus in my case adding a 1.5Tb drive gives no extra useable space over just adding a 500Gb drive.. until I upgrade the 300Gb drive (see images below).

Other Issues:

The main issues I had was trying to transfer my old Timemachine to the Drobo. I tried Superduper and Disk Utility… following the many guides out there on the internet,.. but it would continually fail to copy about half way thru. So I gave up, and started a fresh. My old 500Gb drive was a P-ata drive anyways so I couldn’t use it in the Drobo, so it now sits in a cupboard just incase.

It is now working very well with Timemachine, I chose to set the drobo up as a 1Tb partition, this is more than enough space for backing up the two Macbook’s in the house. When I add another drive, a new 1Tb partition will be made automatically and I will use this for other files. NB: with Drobo you have to specify the size 1,2,4 or up 16 Tb as the partition size of the drive even if you don’t have that much actual space. This allows you to expand with easy. This can cause problems with Timemachine as if I had set this thing up as the standard 2Tb size, TM would try and use up all that 2Tb. But the reality is that I only currently have ~1Gb of useable space and thus TM & Drobo would chuck a fit when it try’s to copy extra data past 1Tb.

Eventually I will network this thing, probably via a airport extreme or mac mini so that I can have Timemachine work wirelessly. NB: The Droboshare add-on does not currently support TM.


All in all, I am very happy with how well and simple it is. It will provide future proof data security and hopefully I won’t loose 1Tb of Data again !

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