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The Drobo Review - For the Forums Folks


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The folks at Drobo have given me great amounts of freedom in reviewing their product. In fact, the reviews won't end with the classic Drobo. I have bigger and faster stuff still coming. Just hang with me. If you want to write it off after that, I would say that’s a fair deal. But please don't rush to conclusions. My commitment is to be as fair and as honest as I can be about the units I am reviewing.


Remember, I get nothing from Drobo for this. All units are being returned and I keep nothing.


Here is a living list of what is coming in some future reviews. May not be in this order and could be influence by your questions, so it's a start. Here is what I have coming.


How do things improve when I switch over the the Firewire port that is also standard on the unit? What happens with I test the unit that has USB 3.0?


More thoughts and testing around using it to Replace DE. What happens when drives fail? How can I increase the storage and what is a realistic experience?


What are the different formatting of volumes options? Is one better than the other on the Home Server?


What will it actually look like on the next version of WHS? We still don't really know what that OS is going to look like.


How do you handle power on/off issues? Since it is a separate box, how can this be handled.


What if I wanted to use a drobo without the WHS? What does that look like? Could this be the solution for the "Average User" that we are all looking for to give to our friends and family? How well does that work with Windows 7?


What other software options are coming from Drobo? Do that have anything in the works that might help us on this journey?


What if I do need blazing speed? Are there other options.


So hang with me, this and much more are yet to come. It's not over yet!

Edited by jcollison
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I am one of those that will not be getting a Drobo, not because I don't think it is a good product, but because of the price.


However, I do look forward to your review because even if it is not for me, it may work for a friend or co-worker. I can keep an open mind about the product from a tech standpoint removing my prejudice about the cost. Heck, my open mind is what makes me keep giving Linux a try as much as it makes me want to bash my head against the wall sometimes.

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From what I have heard from my online photographer friends, the Drobo is a nice piece of hardware and I think it would be a decent fit for some family and friends. Therefore I look forward to your review and learning more about the product.


As for me personally, I have several issues (yea, I know these probably only apply to me):


1. Price. I would want the 8 drive unit and there is no way I am spending that much on a driveless system


2. Pre-built unit. This is one of those crazy idiosyncrasies (like how I always try and make the gas pump end with a price divisible by $0.25). But outside of a laptop, I have never bought a pre-built computer. My first build was an Intel 286 back in the 80's and I have been building my machines ever since. People often ask me what computer they should buy and I have no clue since I have no interest in purchasing a pre-built machine and therefore never pay attention to anything about them.


3. Closed forums. I am sure they will come up with some reason why this is needed, but no matter what the reason, this is a huge red flag for me. What do they not want me to see?


4. Beyondraid. What do we really know about this system and why do we think it is better than other solutions (unRAID, etc)? I would love to hear more about this, like what happens if you lose two drives? Is the array down while adding a new drive, if so, for how long? Does the system spin down the drives?


5. Speed. Well this one is not as big a concern for me as it might be for others. My question on speed is can it stream two high def movies at the same time without a problem? If it can, then it is fast enough for me.


6. Misc. Can the system be used as a NFS server and could therefore be used to host VM drives from another system?


6. Reliability. Not sure how you can test this in small amount of time you will have with each unit, but there have been reports of data corruption with some of the units.



OK, that's it for now, need to head into the office.

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Just thought of another question:


Can you remove a drive from Drobo and read it in a regular PC (Windows or Linux)?

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Do they have any plans to add their configuration tool as a WHS add-in?


That would be a good questions for Mario. I'll let him answer that.


As an update, I just got two 1.5 TB WD15EARS drives in the mail today. Will use them in the post I am putting together for the weekend. More to come...

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