This article first appeared in HWM Jun 2011.
Jack of all trades, master of none: Getting more features and functions for your money must mean good value. Drobo is begging to differ, with the DroboPro FS, an 8-bay business storage solution that is designed to do but one thing, and that is to protect your data.
BeyondRAID technology works beautifully for the DroboPro FS, being able to accommodate hard drives of varying capacities at any one time, while also enabling users to upgrade to larger capacities (or to replace faulty drives) simply by pulling the old one out, and inserting a new drive; all without having to power down or disrupt regular business operations, as the DroboPro FS continues to serve data while rebuilding the disk array quietly in the background.
With the DroboPro FS, you won’t find a fancy list of features. No e-mail, print or web server, no surveillance camera support. Nothing except the ability to protect data, recover quickly from faulty hard disk drives and fuss-free file-sharing. You can extend the Drobo’s functionality through third-party apps downloaded from the Drobo Apps website, though this is a rather complicated affair involving Linux commands and much tinkering.
Connectivity to the DroboPro FS is limited to gigabit Ethernet, two ports in fact, with no USB nor eSATA ports to speak of. While this obviously limits what you can do with it, simplifying to this extent does make administration much easier. It’s also important to note that while there are two gigabit LAN ports, you get connection failover ability (but no link aggregation), and you can backup the data on your DroboPro FS in a secure manner to another Drobo box in a remote location via the Drobo Sync feature.
In terms of performance-wise, the DroboPro FS performed reasonably well in our Intel NAS Performance Toolkit benchmarks. HD Video playback and record scored 20.5MB/s and 21MB/s respectively, while content creation and office productivity scored 2.7MB/s and 16.5MB/s each. File copies to and from the DroboPro FS also averaged 12.2MB/s and 9.6MB/s respectively, while directory copies to and fro averaged 5.6MB/s and 6.1MB/s respectively.
Overall, the DroboPro FS does one thing, secure your data, and it does that really well. Our only beef with it is the relatively steep asking price, which can be a bit hard to swallow given the lack of features and the average file transfer performance. On the other hand, if you factor in the ease of administration and the ability to hit the ground running out of the box, the DroboPro FS is certainly worth the investment.