29 Comments

Summary:

I was recently introduced to the Drobo box. If you’re not familiar with it, simply put, it’s the ultimate home backup server. For $400, you get a BeyondRAID array that can support up to 4 simultaneous drives, and caps at 16TB. Even cooler is the ability […]

drobo

I was recently introduced to the Drobo box. If you’re not familiar with it, simply put, it’s the ultimate home backup server.

For $400, you get a BeyondRAID array that can support up to 4 simultaneous drives, and caps at 16TB. Even cooler is the ability to swap out your drives with a single push of a button. Drobo will backup your files across each drive, so if one fails, your files are still safely stored on the others.

Backing Up

Drobo makes it apparent how easily it integrates with Time Machine right from the start. You can set the limit to how much Time Machine will backup on your Drobo drives, and with FireWire 800, or via your network, it’s hassle free backup just like Time Capsule.

iTunes Streaming

To add a little envy to the product, DroboApps features an iTunes Media extension that allows you to share your iTunes library across your network. Keep in mind it costs extra for the FireWire and Network support as it’s a separate attachment. So not only will it back up your data, but now it can stream your iTunes content to your Apple TV or computers across your network.

The Competition

Drobo may offer redundancy and media sharing,  but let’s look at some other viable options. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you were to hook up a secondary drive to your Apple Time Capsule as a NAS drive, wouldn’t it be the same thing? One drive for back up, and one for sharing media across your network?

I question Drobo, only because from the people I know who have experienced it, and based on Drobo’s Amazon customer reviews, the device doesn’t seem 100 percent reliable. However their customer service record looks to make up for it.

Also considering other alternatives, such as HP’s Media Smart Server, I’m left wondering which is the most effective, but ultimately cost effective device for my home. I guess it really comes down to what matters most to you. If you’ve had experience with any or all of these devices, please share in the comments.

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  1. I hate to be nit-picky but “So not only will it back up your data, but now it can stream your iTunes content to your Apple TV or computers across your network.” is a little misleading, as it will only stream music, and not video. AFAIK there is no way to stream video to an Apple TV other than having an actual instance of iTunes running.

    Looks pretty cool though.

  2. It looks ugly to me with all these bright flashing indicator lights. There is a lot of alternative to this. I would recomend to take a look at ReadyNas NV+ which I had for 2 years and it does the same job. Works great with Mac and PC. Has Ethernet and USB Sync options and even more.

    1. The lights DON’T blink! The green indicate there is a drive present and the blue lights are a capacity status indicator.

      How can you slam when you don’t even know what you are talking about?

  3. A NAS attached to a Time Capsule is not the same thing as a Drobo. Does a NAS allow you to put in 4 SATA drives? Can you swap the drives while retaining your data while the NAS is on? Does a NAS do RAID? And as far as I know, you cannot use a NAS with Time Machine without a little hacking.

  4. Just wonder how good the Apple TV support is. Does the streaming works really only works for music? Especially the video section would be highly interesting because of the huge available space on the Drobo. Does the whole thing work with all these DRM goodies? Anybody has more experience in this area?

  5. I’ve owned both a Drobo and an HP Media Smart Server.

    My vote is for the latest iteration of the WHS from HP. It has a bunch of Mac-specific features and it just works.

    The Drobo was nice, but never quite felt supremely reliable to me. Had quite a few issues with mine in the 4 months of ownership.

  6. I’ve bought a Drobo recently – and am more than happy with it!

    It’s really a set-it-and-forgert-it device. Everything worked smoothly right from the start…

    I’ve added 2TB of hard disks, formated them to 16TB (a drobo can do that and will inform you if you need to increase physical space to support the size the formatted), and – voila – everything was fine. I used this little script (http://backmyfruitup.googlecode.com/files/CreateBackupVolume.zip) to gernerate a size limited timemachine drive that I copied to the drobo and hooked it up to my AEBS. Works like a charme.

    So – from my part – no complaints at all. I am happy! And the best of it all: I can buy whatever drive I want to extend my Drobo in the future and don’t have to think about if they have the same size like the ones I bought now.

    Jupp – I would give it a five star rating and recommend it to my mom, best friend and whoever needs secure space for his/her data.

  7. I wonder if #5 David owned one of these new Drobos or one of their older models? And would there be a reliability difference between the two?

  8. G4 mac mini… with a bunch of firewire drives hanging off of it… cheaper… can be set-it-and-forget-it… no compatibility concerns w/AppleTV’s etc… and you get the luxury of a capable extra computer with a real, flexible OS if the need arises… as it’s got a full version of iTunes as it’s ‘media server software’

    just my $0.02

  9. Jonathan Rider Friday, February 13, 2009

    Awfully expensive… I agree with Albanyco …. get a couple of external drives, take some care and your there too …
    Drobo is a lot of marketing hype (Leolaporte/scottwhathisnameTWIP)

  10. I am very pleased with my Windows Home Server. It’s Very easy to use and very powerful. There are a bunch of pligins and it comes with network capability, allowing remote access and automatic off-site backups.

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