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Drobo 5N2 NAS Review

Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology really does make the setting up and maintenance of the 5N2 so much easier than the conventional RAID systems used in other NAS devices. It literally is just a matter of loading up the device with any drives you have to hand, downloading the software and installing it.

It’s just as easy maintaining it. Adding capacity to the 5N2 is just a matter of adding a drive to an empty drive bay or if there is no empty bay, just remove the lowest capacity drive and fit the larger one in. All on the fly.

Want to change from Single Disk Redundancy to Dual Disk? not a problem – its done with a simple mouse click. All of these actions can also be done on the fly, without unloading any data or for that matter even switching the unit off – you don’t even have to stop using the data stored on it! Try doing that with a conventional RAID setup.

The uprated processor in the 5N2 does improve the outright performance of the NAS compared to the 5N. The speed of the 5 x 6TB WD Red hard drive performance in 5N topped out at 106MB/s for reads and 100MB/s for writes in the ATTO benchmark. In the 5N2 this rises to 116MB/s for reads with writes getting a slightly better boost at 118MB/s.

Having a separate bay for the or the mSATA cache drive to help boost random reads is a good design feature as it leaves all the main drive bays free to use for storage.

The Drobo Dashboard may not be a complex or as graphically rich 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.

The one puzzling missing feature of the 5N2 as with the original 5N is the lack of any external ports to backup data to. Yes, you can use the Drobo DR to make sure you have a copy of the data but many small business owners like the idea of the extra security offered by being able to drop data directly onto an external device to be carried away and stored off-site, especially ones that don’t trust any form of Cloud storage.

One feature that the Drobo 5N2 does have, is a built-in UPS of sorts. If the unit suffers a power failure, the onboard rechargeable battery provides enough power for any data in the memory or cache to be written to disk.

We found the 5N2 on sale for £523.20 (inc VAT) at Span.com HERE

Pros

  • BeyondRAID technology.
  • Ease of use.
  • On board UPS.

Cons

  • No ports for external devices.

Kitguru says:  Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology makes the 5N2 one of the simplest NAS devices around to install and maintain without any of the usual complications associated with standard RAID setups, especially when it comes to adding capacity.

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Rating: 8.5.

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