Pros Fast and Simple to Use
Cons It's the best desktop array I've tried
Summary I've no idea what this reviewer was doing. Just in simple drag and drop tests I'm getting around 50MB/s (400Mb/s) on FW800 which is about the best I'm seeing for a desktop array (obviously a little less than a single disk drive but that's normal for any RAID array from any vendor although it's not clear to the reviewer). It's also tricky to know what he means by finicky. I just plugged it in and it's worked fine ever since. On windows you need to ensure you have the right drivers to get good FW800 performance. My guess is that the reviewer had something set up wrong? Also true that every RAID array has a proprietary format and this isn't something unique to Drobo although apparently also unknown to the reviewer.
Pros Firewire800 really improves the usefulness of the Drobo. I can now use it as the primary storage in doing my photoshop work.
Cons A network option would be nice.
Summary My experience with this second generation Drobo has been much different then this reviewer's. I have had a first generation Drobo for over 9 months. I really liked the 'simplicity' of management of the storage array. I have grown from 500 GB to almost 2TB with its brain-dead handling of inserting of new drives. This is by far the easist RAID array I have ever used.
The one draw back was it was rather slow on USB on my iMac and Vista systems. So, I purchased a DroboShare back in Feb and that has worked out well for backups.
Now I have just gotten my 2nd gen Drobo and on the iMac (Fw800) it just screams! I can open a raw photo in photoshop in 1/3 the time of the USB Drobo. It is fast enough to use for all my editing. I only have FW400 on my Vista box, but using IOmeter, I was still seeing read speeds of 44 MB/sec and write speeds of 32MB/sec.
This is a great improvement from Data Robotics!
Pros Looks good.
Cons Does not behave as advertised and so far is not reliable.
Support folks are trying but struggling.
Summary Mine is unstable (1) spontaneous uncommanded shutdowns (2) often refuses to go into standby mode which is required for safe power down (3) speeds never exceed 12-13 MB/s with USB2 and usually drop over time with a large transfers,
DRI support folks have a positive attitude, but seem to struggle. (1) the firmware downloads and Dashboard downloads from the site are hit and mis - sometimes they just don't work (2) a number of links they have sent me were to things other than what was being referred to (3) they just don't sound surprised that it is flaky.
I bought this (at a premium to competetive products) because it was to be easy and reliable. So far it has been neither. I'll give DRI the rest of this week to sort it out, but running as it is I cannot justify keeping it because (1) it is a pain right now and (2) I don't trust it.
Pros Fast, Quiet, No-Brainer
Cons would like an activity light + activity alert in the Drobo Dashboard (DataRobotics... if you're listening...?)
Summary I wrote this review in the Drobo 4tb section... but have moved it here.
I pre-ordered the Drobo II in Zurich a couple weeks ago, and paid about $650 for it. I was nervous... actually very nervous.... because the reviews for the 1st Gen Drobo were a bit Hit-or-Miss.... and the reviews for the 2nd Gen were spotty as well. I read and re-read the CNET review.... hoping there would be a third iteration to it that said, "despite our 1st and 2nd attempts with the Drobo... our 3rd attempt reveals that it is the most amazing, lightning-fast, whisper-quiet, energy-efficient, super-secure piece of hardware we have ever tested".
That review never came.... and I was constantly bothered that they hadn't reviewed the Drobo with a Mac / OS X.
I am a storage junkie, and so this is my Drobo experience (thus far) in so many words:
With iMac 2.8Ghz, 4gb RAM, OS X 10.5.5 - ONLY TESTED FIREWIRE 800 - Drobo II with 4tb (4 x 1tb) Seagate Barracuda ES.2
Transfer speeds are not lightning-fast..... but they are certainly AS Fast - if not faster - than the CNET tests. I transfered 100gb of small data files and music, with an average transfer/write speed of 260Mbps. I then transfered 1tb of larger files with an average write speed of 310Mbps. I can't be certain why there is such a significant difference here... but I think it has to do with the file structures.
In Comparison.... I have a 2Tb WD drive that runs at roughly the same speed.
Frankly... to me... this is fast enough. And, the Drobo feels more stable than the WD, as it doesn't go to sleep after 5 minutes, and then completely freeze my operations for the 3 minutes it requires to wake itself up.
I have bad ears from a childhood and adult/childhood spent on/in/around motorcycles. But, I swear.... I cannot here the Drobo from 2ft away. In comparison, I can hear my WD 2tb from up-to 10 feet away. The Drobo is Whisper Quiet.
Took a total of about 7 minutes, once I had inserted the drives (literally, like CNET says... "just like putting a CD into a CD-ROM drive"..... there are no cartridges to assemble!!!) and installed the Drobo Dashboard. The Software tells you that it needs to "initialize" the drives, and then within a couple minutes (maybe 3-4), you have the Drobo sitting on the left of your finder window. Really Easy.
I have moved my iTunes folder over to the Drobo, and I am streaming from my iMac in the den (where the Drobo resides), to my AppleTV in the living room. Strage is currently at 1.9tb. No hiccups... perfect stream.
This is the only area where I believe some of the other manufacturers get higher marks for "Quality". The Drobo looks sweet...!! Don't get me wrong... it looks awesome sitting next to my computer and speakers, and if I could upload a photo to this review, I would. But, my only complaint is the general fit+finish doesn't quite have the same feel as the Netgear, or Lacie..... probably more on par with Western Digital. The drive "trays" feel thin and plastiquey...... and the front panel is a little lightweight. Not a Deal-Breaker.
I don't know how it works. I don't really wanna know how it works. In fact... I don't really care how it works. But, it does.... and it works well. Its fast enough that I would never have any complaints... quiet enough that I can't hear it.... and smart enough that I know not to ask questions. I realize its not RAID..... but it still feels safe, and frankly, it should after eating 1.3 of my Terabytes with its backup function.
Great Product, Highly Recommended for media freaks and storage geeks who aren't geeky enough to know better.
"reliable and fast"on by strentman
Pros Fast, super easy to manage, grows as your storage needs grow.
Cons no integrated backup
Summary My experience with the generation2 drobo has been wonderful. The unit is perfect for managing today's endless growth of media storage we all require today. I started out with two 500GB hard drives and just added two more. As I was moving some home movie files to the unit one of the slots started blinking red. That means the disk in that slot has gone bad!! The drobo stopped using that drive and all my data was still available. I returned that drive for a refund and replace it with no data loss. What a great tool! I now have nearly 2TB of capacity and can feel good about the fact that the drobo will protect me from shoddy drives. Nothing short of brilliant.
And performance is great. I did some stop watch comparisons with a single disk iomega firewire drive I was using previously and the drobo is actually faster when reading data from it. About the same when writing. I am also able to do movie editing directly with files on the drobo, so it can work as a primary storage device. Nice!
My only knock is that it would be nice if the drobo management application had an integrated backup capability built in. However, I am using a filesync app I downloaded from the web and it works well with the drobo.
In summary, I find the drobo fast, reliable and the ability to increase (or decrease) your storage pool on the fly is great for managing day to day storage needs. Sweet product.