Considering Pulling the Trigger on a DROBO… Should I?

After seeing this offer I’m wondering if there’s any reason now not to buy a DROBO? My file server is constantly at 95% full and being able to buy the DROBO unit, and the drives, at about the price I had figured for the 4 x 1TB drives alone ($500+ savings?!?!?!?!)


  • Comes with full size drives…. if I were go to with the 2TB version it would be 2 x 1TB drives, not 4 x 500G, restricting upgrades later.
  • Would be able to downsize the case that naked is in from a 10 drive bay monster to something much smaller.
  • Would no longer be terrified of rebooting the file server for fear that the EVMS/LVM/RAID multi-disk hodge-podge stops working.
  • The drives in the current system are ooooooold, and are no doubt approaching the time to be replaced anyway.
  • Quadruple my current disk space, meaning lots of headroom.
  • The magic-disk-swapping-we-don’t-care-about-drive-size technology.


  • What happens if the next size up of drive over 1TB isn’t SATA, but some other connection that’s not compatible?
  • The tests on engaget show less than stellar data transfer rates (will have to compare that against copying to/from my current fileserver).
  • Would have to still get the $200 NAS (Network Attached Storage) unit to share files on the network directly instead of going through my server.
  • Are the included drives going to be really crappy quality due to the cheaper price?
  • Is the magic-disk-swapping-we-don’t-care-about-drive-size going to be a frequent enough activity to justify having that ability? Especially with 4TB of space?
  • Is it really 4TB of space, or is that theoretical due to the data-protection magic?

So am I crazy, or should I just do it.

6 Comments on “Considering Pulling the Trigger on a DROBO… Should I?”

  1. I’m in the same boat. Through MacBreak Weekly you can also get $50 off ( , plus these other offers. I like the idea of Gigabit Ethernet access through the DroboShare, but I believe it still connects to the Drobo via USB2 so there’s the bottle neck.
    I’m holding out that they will soon offer a version with either FireWire 400/800 or eSATA, then it would make sense to me.

  2. You’re crazy. Don’t do it. I looked at it too, but the price is outrageous, especially considering the lack of Ethernet support without the add-on.
    I actually just built a new file server on a budget of $USD 600. For that, I bought a motherboard with 4 SATA 3.0 connections, a CPU, 1GB ram and 4x500GB drives. As a result, I now have 1.4TB of RAID5 (software), with GigE access, plus it’s running Linux, so I can use it for other stuff too.
    Compare with this thing, which.. for the 2TB model, you’re looking at $750+$200 for network.. and that’s all it does.
    I admit the “add drive space as needed” thing is kinda attractive.. but speaking personally.. I went from a 120GB file server to a 1.4TB file server. I don’t foresee needing more space than that any time soon, especially since the previous 120GB lasted me a good 5 years.
    Since I built my machine, drive prices have dropped further, and you could undoubtedly build a machine with far greater capacity for not much more money.. and if you’ve got a spare motherboard with SATA connections hanging around, even less.. (or a spare motherboard into which you can put a PCIE SATA controller, etc)
    It’s a cool looking toy.. but wouldn’t you rather have personal control over how it works? And pay less too?

  3. @James – Ugh, yet another computer to cable, power, maintain, and have running on the floor? Bleah! Basically I have what you describe as my file server now (though with more aged specs). The point of the DROBO for me is so I don’t have to manage stuff…. I have enough computers to tweak and fix and twiddle, the attraction of this is just plugging it in and going, and upgrading disk by just unplugging and plugging in (vs fighting with Linux filesystems and non-equal drive space and symlink farms to connect one drive to another). And as for 1.4TB being enough to last forever, I have a bridge to sell you 🙂 I used to think the 700G I have as being way more than I could ever use, now I’m fighting to figure what to keep or delete, or move to another usb drive hanging off another box.
    One of the other options I looked at was just buying 4x1TB and a SATA card, but then I’m in the same position I was when I got my RAID5 of 3×250 and thought that’d be all I ever need 🙂
    At this point the idea of a plug and go box vs another computer to setup and tweak is a selling point. The cost is high for sure, but if drives are included and without the share module (just hanging it off the file server I have now and sharing it out from there) it’s getting there.
    @Darren – yea, I could wait till I can get my CPU in $speed + 1 too, and wait forever 😉 The points made by many proponents is that this isn’t supposed to be a SAN, it’s a solid backup system, not the fastest, but aimed at being easy to use and easy to upgrade.
    Course, it doesn’t seem that this deal is either available, or has made it to Canada yet, so at this point it’s a moot point!

  4. Yeah, I see your point.. I had a similar thought, but the price was just so absurdly high. This offer they have now certainly makes it more attractive.. but I dunno.. I’m a control freak.. I still wouldn’t go with it, I don’t think..

  5. If you have the funds to throw at Drobo definately do it. I have been using one at work for a month or so and love it. No server overhead to maintain, easy peasy RAIDish, less power consumption, less noise.