Drobo FS Review, part 1

April 23, 2010 at 11:08 pm 2 comments

My Drobo FS arrived this evening.  As I opened it up, I saw the influence of Apple’s packaging on Data Robotics.  Upon opening it, I was greeted with an accessories box with the words “Welcome to the World of…” printed across the top.  If you open the accessories box, a smaller black flap inside has “Drobo” in white letters, finishing the sentence.  If you skipped opening the accessories box (as I did), and simply removed it, you don’t escape their message, as the word “Drobo” is also printed upon the black cloth-like dust cover the Drobo chassis is enclosed in, very similar to the material enclosing an Apple monitor or an iMac.

Inside the accessory box was the Drobo Resource CD, a nice quality CAT5 cable, and the power cable and power brick.

I inserted the Resource CD and got to work hooking up the power to the Drobo.  Once finished, I was surprised NOT to see a mounted image.  I then realized that my Windows VM had grabbed the CD.  I disconnected the CD from the VM, and it mounted on my Mac automatically.

It was then that I noticed the level of detail Data Robotics appears to take with their software.  The initial installation screen looked almost exactly the same on my Windows VM as my Mac.  It wasn’t a typical Windows installation screen, but it looked more like a window you’d get when you mount a .dmg file on a Mac.  It includes an icon to start the Drobo Dashboard installer, an icon to Register your Drobo, a Support icon, and a Drobo User Guide icon.  Plus, below the text of each section is what I can only guess is the same words in various other languages.

Following the simple instructions printed on the inside of the accessory box flap, I completed the software installation, rebooted my Mac (as instructed) and inserted my three 1 TB Hitachi Deskstar drives.  It proceeded to automatically set itself up.

It automatically prompted me to download and install the latest firmware, so I let it do it’s thing.  After the Drobo rebooted, it prompted me to download and install the latest version of the Drobo Dashboard software.  Another reboot later, and I was ready to go.

On the initial Drobo Dashboard screen, a link asks for you to set an Admin user and password.  Select this first.  You’ll find yourself on the Admin tab of the Drobo FS Settings screen.  Set your username and password here, but do NOT select the “Enable DroboApps” checkbox right now.  When I initially set mine up, I made my way to this screen by way of the “Advanced Controls” button on the initial Drobo Dashboard screen.  I set my username and password, and hit the Enable DroboApps checkbox, then hit “OK”.  I’m not sure how this happened, but I had trouble getting it to accept my username, but I ended up with two “DroboApps” shares.  Being unfamiliar with Drobo, I fixed this the easiest way I knew how…  Under Advanced Controls, I selected “Reset” and did a factory reset on the Drobo.  My second time through, I didn’t have issues with a 2nd phantom “DroboApps” share.

Looking around as the rest of the tabs, it’s pretty self-explanatory.  The first tab allows you to enable Dual Disk Redundancy (allowing 2 drives to fail, while maintaining full data integrity), set the drive spin-down time, and dim the lights on the Drobo.  The second tab sets your Drobo’s name, workgroup, IP addressing, and MTU size.  The third tab is where you set your admin username, password, and enable DroboApps.  The fourth tab allows you to set up shares and users, and select which users have access to which share.  The last tab allows you to set up email alerts… Although, the screen was entirely disabled for some reason, not letting me enable alerts…

Looking through the menu, I found a “Drobo Dashboard – E-mail Settings” screen, which did allow me to enable email alerts.  An option also exists via the menu that lets you have files copied on the schedule you set.

I’ve installed the Rsync DroboApp, and I’m planning to try to backup my ReadyNAS to it, so I can set my ReadyNAS back to factory defaults…

I’ll continue this review later, hopefully with some performance numbers.


Entry filed under: Networking.

A Better RAID? Drobo FS info

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bartgoossens  |  March 19, 2011 at 6:51 am

    I’d love to know if you managed to set up rsync on the drobo. Can you make an incremental backup between the two NAS’s, without intervention of a pc/mac?

    • 2. ptaylor  |  April 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm

      I never got back to trying that… The ReadyNas has a feature allowing scheduled Rsyncs, but I had issues with it as well, so it wasn’t just an issue on the Drobo.


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