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What are Drobos?

Drobos are a product line of external storage devices made by Drobo, Inc. The company manufactures direct-attached storage (DAS) like hard drives, storage area networks (SANs), which are a network specifically made for storage, and network attached storage (NAS) servers that attached to a network and provide storage to all connected devices. Recently Drobo, Inc. has even started making solid state drives (SSDs) to compete with the likes of Sansung, Vertex, SanDisk, and Corsair, which are the big players in the SSD market. All Drobo products try to provide an easy and reliable way to store and access data.

Drobo storage products automate the backup and duplication process so amateurs can reliably backup data. They also use their own proprietary RAID technology called BeyondRAID. With BeyondRAID, even if one or two drives fail, no data is lost, and you can still use the Drobo even after you pop in new hard drives and the Drobo starts to duplicate your data again. Traditionally setting up a RAID configuration is tedious and requires specialized knowledge. Drobos make it easy and don’t have a lot of the traditional problems that RAIDs have. For instance, all the hard drives don’t have to be the same size. Also, you can add a hard drive at any time and don’t have to reconfigure the entire RAID.

Drobos are expensive so only professionals that make their living on the computer or businesses should consider them. The cheapest, the Drobo Mini, is USD $649! Many small and medium sized businesses (SMB) choose to use Drobos because they are much cheaper and less difficult to use than building their own safe storage solution. Very large companies with data centers or thousands of employees most likely will opt for other commercial products suited for large businesses or build their own solution.

Many newer Drobos can support multiple types of drives. Traditional hard drives are 3.5 inches, but newer Drobos can also fit 2.5-inch hard drives. In addition, some Drobos, like the Drobo Mini, can take four 2.5-inch hard drives and one SSD drive to speed up performance. Another Drobo feature that speeds up the entire backup process is that they support Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt is a data transfer interface developed by Intel and Apple that is faster than USB.

Drobo makes a line of file servers specifically meant for businesses. Since the storage is shared via a network, multiple devices can access them. The larger file server can hold up to 12 hard drives and have multiple gigabit Ethernet ports for high bandwidth throughput.

Drobos also come with their own proprietary software application called the Drobo Dashboard. It is cross-platform and works on Windows and Mac. Through the Drobo Dashboard, you can provision and manage all of the hard drives, and set the IP addresses of the different ports. One great feature is that Drobo Dashboard can send emails out when certain events happen, like a hard drive failing. So, if a hard drive fails, the IT manager or systems administrator could get an email telling them so.


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