If the thought of trying to work out the intrigues of RAID in a multi-bay NAS was putting you off buying one then the Drobo 5n might be what you are looking for as BeyondRAID does away with all the foibles of traditional RAID arrays.
The BeyondRAID technology allows the Drobo 5n to be far more flexible in terms of capacity management than a conventional NAS using RAID 5 or 6 arrays. With conventional RAID adding another drive to enhance capacity is one that requires careful planning as any data has to be moved before the new drive is added and the array rebuilt, which can be a very time-consuming job running into days. With the Drobo 5n you just add a larger drive in a spare bay or replace the smallest capacity drive with the new drive and the software will integrate the drive in a matter of hours.
The Drobo Dashboard may not be a complex as some of its competitors but most of the basics are there and it’s easy to navigate through and use. One trick it does have up its sleeve however, is in the use of animations to display drive bay and drive status. Whatever the indicator lights on the Drobo itself are doing are mimicked by the software. Now you might well think this is a gimmick but if the drive is in a cupboard so the lights can’t be seen the software can show exactly where any problem is in a clear and easy to understand way.
In regards to performance it is not the fastest NAS we have looked at but it dealt all our tests comfortably and for the average home or small office user it is perfectly adequate. The one thing we did find with our review unit was that on occasion it did take a while to be found on the network.
Adding a separate drive bay for the mSATA cache drive to help boost random reads is a good idea as it leaves the main drive bays free to use for storage. During testing with an mSATA drive fitted we didn’t see that much of a boost in performance, but in certain real-life situations using programs such as Lightroom and Aperture may reap reward.
One puzzling aspect of the Drobo 5n is the lack of any external ports to cater for offline backup demands. The Drobo 5n has a small office environment in mind where data security is very important. The ability to be able to download data onto some form of external drive and taken off-site for extra protection is important to many a small business but the Drobo’s design negates any possibility of this being possible.
The Drobo 5n is on sale at Amazon for £353.18 inc vat HERE
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- BeyondRAID technology.
- Easy to setup and maintain.
- Not the fastest NAS around.
- No ports for external drives.
- Rear power button.
Kitguru says: Although it’s not the fastest NAS around, the ease in which capacity can be added to it and the straightforward disk management that the BeyondRAID technology provides makes it an interesting proposition.