Awesome posted by

Drobo – hands-on with the world’s first data storage robot


Drobo Storage Robot. There’s one immutable truth in technology, you can never have enough data storage space. No matter how big that mega hard disk you bought this afternoon, sometime soon you’re going to need to delete stuff to free up space. It’s like death and taxes, right? The problem is getting worse too, as we take advantage of the net to download more music, more video, and take more photos with ever growing megapixel file sizes.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got a couple of external hard drives doing service as backup and storage areas, hung off USB or Firewire, and you’ve probably upgraded at least a couple of times in the past few years – which is generally not a fun exercise.

With all that in mind, I was pretty excited to hear about a new product called Drobo, which is being billed as the world’s first zero hassle data storage system for PCs and Macs. So excited that I emailed the manufacturer – Data Robotics – to ask for a unit to test out. Well it arrived and I’ve been trying it out for a while and it’s definitely one of the most impressive pieces of technology I’ve seen in a long time.

The basic premise behind Drobo is that users don’t want, or need, complex RAID, NAS or other geek heritage storage solutions. What they really want is a super simple ‘plug in and forget’ disk system which gives them totally safe storage which can be upgraded instantly in seconds. The corporate marketing blurb emphasizes this ease of use over everything. All the high power tech is hidden from view, all the customer sees is a system which protects their data no matter what.


The idea is that you don’t need to understand how to format drives, configure disk arrays, set up partitions or worry about any aspect of the system. Just plug it in and it works. Similarly when you need to add more storage you just unplug a drive and slot in a larger one, or add another disk to a spare slot or whatever. It’s a superb concept and something that has been sorely missing from the market up to now.

 Drobo1 (1 of 1)

First Impressions. Nice box. Sleek black, natty cover, no complicated controls, buttons, ports, geek-i-ness. The kind of peripheral that your granny would love. Drobo ships without any drives, just four slots into which you can install any make, model or capacity of 3.5 inch SATA disk drives. I started with four drives, Western Digital 500GB, 250GB and 80GB units and one Seagate 160GB. A total of 922GB of physical disk space.


The Drobo package includes the device, power supply, USB 2.0 cable, dashboard control software on CD, and a slim but complete manual. The install? Er…unpack, slot in your chosen quantity and capacity of hard disks, insert USB cable into PC and power up the box. Total time? 2 minutes. Install and fire up the Drobo software dashboard program, press OK to format and go make a cup of tea. Five minutes later, all done, no drivers to install, nothing. You now have a shed load of self-configuring, infinitely updateable storage ready to use.


Continue Reading… 1 2 3 4 [View All]


  • Very nice, but really only suitable for home users. Corect me if I am wrong but I could not not see any options for RAID, which is very important in terms of speed and redundancy for business.

    On top of that capacity is quite small in my opinion.

  • Paul, the whole point of this box is redundancy but done more efficiently than RAID. The capacity is determined by the size of the disks you use, so if you have 4 x 1TB drives in the slots you will get 2.7 TB of useable space (the rest being for the mirroring of the data etc). See this forum post for more information.

  • Dang that’s pretty nifty, I’ve been looking for something similar for our place. The only problem I see is that’s only has a USB interface and can only be used if the PC is connected. I wonder if they’ll do a NAS version?

    Although the laptop hang that you had seems to indicate that it will kick on regardless of whether a PC is attached or not, you just need the PC to access the files.

  • Red,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I do realise that the whole point of the box is redundancy, but my point was that having no option to change the RAID type is not great.

    For example, some people may want to do striping as well as mirroring, or RAID 0+1 (see ) . As it is , this product cannot do that as 5 discs would be required for this setup.

    In addition, a network connection ideally gigabit , would have been nice. I see from the spec that it is USB…

  • I have a feeling that Drobo is designed for people who don’t want to worry about RAID configurations and just want a simple backup/storage device, Paul. Different target markets? :-)

  • Hi Red,

    Yeah I do agree that it is designed for a different target market. But still it would have been nice for the manufactor to include a basic interface as well as an expert interface for the clients that would want this functionality.

    Have you also heard of a free open source solution for people who would like to make their own NAS (provided they have a spare computer and a few hard drives)

    Here is one :

  • Now that is one great machine! I loved the thing. But tis a tad bit too expensive for me. Les c what happens in the near future.

  • Get the DROBO Share if you want to use it as NAS. You are not limited to USB or FW-A.

comments powered by Disqus

Side Advert

Write For Us


Managing Editor:
Nigel Powell

Associate Editor:
Caitlyn Muncy
Associate Editor:
Dan Ferris
Ecological Editor:
Debra Atlas
Technology Editor:
Fritz Effenberger
Asian Editor:
Hu Ping
Reviews Editor:
Kevin Evans

FB Like Box