So where to from here?
There are still a few things that we want to test out and we have a series of follow up articles planned.
First up, we want to add a 5th WD Red 6TB drive once the current pool is running low on capacity. We’ll help that along with some duplicate files and we have another drive ready to go but the key things we will be looking for are the time taken to expand the array, the level of user interaction required and any difference in speed afterwards.
Once we are using 5 drives, we will be testing the SSD cache function and testing the impact with some speed tests.
There are several useful apps available for the Drobo 5N so we plan to have a deeper look at those in the near future as well.
Finally, we will be cutting the umbilical cord and moving our production storage for the website to the Drobo and monitoring both the Drobo and the WD Red drives for any longevity issues over an extended period of time.
As usual, if you have any questions about the Drobo 5N, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below and we will answer it.
Let’s get the price out of the way – a Drobo 5N will set you back $850 without any hard drives. The cost to set up a NAS is never cheap and Drobo is no exception. The value of Drobo is that you can use drives that you have lying around. Be careful with older and ‘green’ drives as they may work and they might be compatible but green drives are best for cold storage and older drives are more prone to fail depending on their age and how they were treated before going into your Drobo.
The administration of the Drobo can seem limited at times but for the most part the interface is very streamlined and logical. The term “point and shoot” comes to mind – there isn’t much chance to really go wrong. Drobo is going to suit people that just want to setup a file store and get on with other things.
When buying a hard drive, do your research and resist the temptation to buy based on price per gigabyte alone. Look at the speed of the drive, the consumer feedback on sites like Newegg and tech forums. Consider how long you want the drive to last for and when you think you will be replacing or upgrading it – is the capacity going to be enough?
Our obvious preference for Western Digital isn’t because other manufacturers have bad products – it is because we haven’t had any reason not to continue using their drives. We have used WD drives in most of our builds for the past 5 years and to date, we haven’t had a single failure. This gives us a certain level of confidence and natural desire to work with WD on projects like this. WD Red drives are a logical choice for a Drobo as they have been specifically designed to operate in a NAS and be always powered on.
The support experience with Drobo was good and we couldn’t have asked for a more helpful consultant.
Whilst we can arrive at a conclusion pretty quickly for a motherboard, graphics card or peripheral, something like a NAS is a bit different as it takes more time to really ‘earn’ our trust. This is the first part of the journey for us switching to a Western Digital powered Drobo and so far it has been a stable experience that we would happily recommend to anyone. Whilst we would like to reserve judgment, our provisional choice is the “Highly Recommended” award due primarily to the Drobo 5N’s ease of use and flexibility.
|Drobo 5N NAS|
|Extremely easy to use
Good technical support
Good software and multi-platform support
Can manage drives of different speeds and sizes the same pool
|Not cheap @ $850
Limited configuration for power users