Windows Home Server and Central Axis, Look Out: Drobo Broadens Network Media Server Category

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endee

We've owned a Drobo for about a month now. It holds four 750GB WD "green" drives configured into a 2TB partitition and a second tiny unused partition. Typically the 2TB partition is 70% full. So far the Drobo has been attached to a media server PC using the USB 2.0 connection; We haven't decided if the NAS addon is worth it yet.

The Good:

  1. The Drobo was easy to set up and configure and has been running 24/7 without problems since some initial thermal issues. 
  2. Though we haven't done this personally, we should be able to replace the current drives with higher capacity drives as needed without having to back up the existing files. Further, if the Drobo itself should fail, the drives can be moved to a new Drobo without losing data. As far as we know, no NAS running raid 5 can do that.
  3. The Drobo automatically defrags and monitors disk health. All we do is the occasional AV scan.
  4. The Drobo looks sharp and is farily compact, though a little deep.
  5. Data Robotics tech support is live and very knowledgeable.

The Bad:

  1. When we first setup the Drobo, it was placed inside an AV cabinet with good air flow. After running one or two hours, it would shut down indicating an overtemp condition. After a couple of days of this, the Drobo was moved to the top of the cabinet, where it's been running continuously without incident ever since. Data Robotics analyzed the log which indicated the unit was reaching 52 degrees C before shutting down.
  2. The reason we put the Drobo inside the cabinet was the fan; it noisy and runs continuously. We're looking at the expensive NAS add on so that the Drobo can be moved far from our media center.
  3. As mentioned in the article, the Drobo is slow. However, for most media streaming it's adequate. However, at least once a day, the data transfer rate drops to zero for a period that can last up to a minute. These breaks correspond to high disk activity inside the Drobo. To insure media files play back without interruption, we copy the file from the Drobo to our media center' PC's hard drive first.
  4. The status lights are bright and flashy, but not that informative. A status screen like on the D-link NAS DNS-343 would have been appreciated. The Drobo Dashboard software doesn't include a tool for reading the non-text logs.

We're currently on the fence concerning the Drobo: does the setup and upgrade convenience outweigh the data transfer interruptions, noisy fan, and expensive NAS add on?

 

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