Drobo Unboxing

Those of you who have read my previous entries on backup configurations http://www.2fatdads.com/2010/05/storage-is-cheap/ and MacBook Pro Upgrade http://www.2fatdads.com/2010/06/upgrading-hard-drives/ know that I am a recent Drobo owner and rapidly becoming a huge fan.

The first thing I noticed was the size and weight of the box. The box was slightly larger than expected, but definitely heavier. I realised that I was going to enjoy getting to know the Drobo DR04DD10.When I opened the box, I was greated by a “Welcome to the World of… Drobo” message.

People who know me, know that I like products that use minimal packing, and pay attention to the customer’s enthusiasm. It costs next to nothing to welcome the customer to the world of Drobo, but it creates a bond between the customer and the brand.

The Welcome Box has a simple setup guide, software CD, user guide and AC power supply.

Once the lid removed, the Drobo can be spotted safely isolated by a pair of foam pads. These pads keep the Drobo floating in the centre of the box, keeping it safely guarded from impact and box punctures. The unit is wrapped in a woven Drobo bag, which can be reused and is not the typical clear plastic used in most products.

The Drobo is a clean design. The body is made of metal, and is solid. The front of the unit is semi-opaque plastic. When the unit is powered up, ten lights line the bottom, each representing 10% capacity usage. The four vertically aligned lights on the right indicate the drive health status for each disk. The front lid is magnetically attached. Once set, it holds firmly to the Drobo unit. Inside the lid is there is a legend describing the health status colours.

The Drobo is extremely well designed and requires no tools. The SATA drives slide in and only require a tab be pushed aside in order to seat the disk. Once the disks are installed, the Drobo dashboard will inform the user of the need to format the drive. Although many filesystems are supported, most people will opt for FAT32, NTFS or HFS+. I would recommend going with NTFS or HFS+, in order to take advantage of the 16 TB per volume limit. FAT32, although natively read/write capable with Mac and PC, is hindered by its file size limit of 4GB. I would recommend going with NTFS or HFS+, depending on your platform.

Drobo Supports USB2 and Firewire 800 connections. I’ve never used the USB connection on mine, and rely on my Firewire connection on account of the obvious benefits of this connection type (daisy chaining, dedicated bus, …).

All in all this is a great device, and provides the end user with the ability to store large amounts of data, with “better than RAID” technology that ensures that user data is redundant, without the headaches of managing a RAID array.