Meeting Drobo – NAS Made Simple

Real World Testing Experience

In our data transfer testing, we were able to saturate the 125MB/s Gigabit Ethernet connection on occasion but we came very close (~115MB/s) on a regular basis. This raises 2 questions
1. Is there really much value in the mSATA cache drive that can be installed?
2. Should Drobo have included a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports on the Drobo 5N for more bandwidth?
We probably wouldn’t bother with the mSATA given the performance we saw for what we would consider typical NAS usage but it is nice to have the option of an SSD cache.

Had Drobo added another Ethernet port it would likely have increased the price of the already not-so-cheap device.

We ran the Drobo on a desk for the first month of testing and then moved it to a closed comms cabinet in a cupboard to see how it went with minimal ventilation. We have seen a few unanswered forum posts about doing this and thought we’d go Mythbusters on the concept. After 5 weeks in the cupboard, we haven’t seen anything untoward.


The small comms cabinet has a cable modem, Asus Router and 24 port Gigabit switch all sharing the confined space with the Drobo 5N. Not only does all the kit fit in there but it doesn’t get hot either. We will be monitoring this in the warmer months and posting an update so watch this space but so far it has been great to have the Drobo locked away safe and sound.

The Drobo was also able to survive an unplanned power disruption due to the built in battery.

Plex was able to find our media, catalog it correctly and play it to both an iPad and Samsung Television simultaneously but it should be noted that this only worked well when he Drobo didn’t need to do any transcoding. When transcoding was required, the Drobo CPU appeared to struggle and we saw some buffering. Besides transcoding, the Plex setup and viewing experience was the same as running Plex Server on a Windows PC.

Speaking of grunt, we also ran up a Minecraft server using the Java application. It was a little fiddly to get it going but we did have a server running and we could log into it but the ticker count timed out shortly after we logged into the world and started exploring. To be honest, I was both surprised and impressed that the Drobo ran Minecraft Server at all. It goes to show that the Java Runtime environment is legit but be mindful of your expectations – this is a storage device, not a server.

In order to test the WordPress application, we ran the same setup on a hosted test domain and locally on the Drobo finding the process and responsiveness to be the same. Whilst I wouldn’t host a production site from Drobo for anything too serious, it makes for a great test environment or training setup.

The MySQL functionality also lived up to expectation and we were able to create and query our test databases without any issues.



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