Adventures in Drobo-land: upgrading to a Drobo 5N

I have been running my series-one Drobo (a home RAID-like storage device) since 2007 or 2008. Recently, one of the aged 7200 rpm HDDs finally decided to give up the ghost. Something I'd long put off, up-grading my home storage situation, was now an immediate need.

I considered the long, happy, simple, slow but completely trouble-free life I'd led with my pal Drobo for the last 6 or so years. I couldn't see any reason to change. Heck, I also just enjoy saying Drobo and have always felt it calls for a thick Russian accent. I checked the reviews of their latest models, compared it to a few of the other at home storage boxes and settled on the Drobo 5N, the gig-e version.

Upgrading the Drobo series-one took me almost 2 weeks. Swapping out 4 old 750GB Seagate Barracudas (all 4 were refurbs of a 2006 model, 3 are still running fine) with 2TB current model Barracudas was SLOW AND PAINFUL. One disk at a time, waiting, waiting, waiting. The old Drobo's CPU is insanely underpowered and really wasn't meant for those big drives. It did work exactly as billed, however.

The 5N was a breeze to set up. 5N uses the same dashboard software as the older Drobo and it showed right up after I followed the quickstart. I installed 5 4TB Seagate Barracudas, as I've had such luck with that drive. I opted to leave the SSD accelerator empty until a time when I feel the disk needs to move faster. I currently get 120Mb/s transfers off it via my home hodgepodge of 802.11N kit and couldn't be happier. I've got around 18TB of storage at-hand, moved the approximately 4TB of stuff from the old Drobo over and now my entire photo archive, movies and music are available all over the house.

Running the local Plex server on my Drobo 5N is also awesome. It took no time to turn it on and lets me connect to the Drobo direct from any of the Roku 3's I use for my TV viewing. There are a number of other 3rd party plug-ins like this for the 5N. I'm really thrilled!

I know there are "better" solutions that don't use some mystical proprietary RAID formula and I understand that maybe I could have a little more control and get into some really crazy RAID stacking schemes with other products. Drobo does what I need and what I want, and requires very little effort on my part to get there. I've had good luck with mine, though I know some folks have not. I am a fan.

Drobo 5N

Seagate Barracuda HDD