This device can be connected to networks and all the connected storages and other devices too. It can then be used for general storage or for backup. It’s similar to other NAS devices, also known as network hard disks.
Unlike those, this one is designed above all to be easy to use.
Network disks can be notoriously hard to set up, with requirements to tinker with network settings in order to make them work.
Like many such devices, the Drobo FS is supplied without any hard disks of its own – you need to add one or more Sata hard disks to make it work.
That’s where Drobo’s cleverness comes in – on other NAS devices, once you’ve added a disk or two, that’s it.
Changing the configuration is a huge hassle. They use a standard called Raid which, though common and reliable, can be inflexible. Drobo, on the other hand, uses its own proprietary storage system to automatically configure the disks.
There’s no need to match the types, sizes or models of disk as there is with some Raid installations.
Pop a disk into one of the Drobo FS’s five internal bays and close the front panel, and it will format it and assimilate its capacity into the total storage.
It also takes care of data integrity: if you use more than two disks it uses one of them for ‘redundancy’, allowing it to recover all the data even a disk fails entirely.
Five green lights on the front panel indicate disk health – if one goes red the disk must be changed.
Adding a new blank disk that’s the same size or larger than before will cause the Drobo FS to rebuild its storage arrangement so it all still works perfectly.
It also means it’s easy to add capacity by swapping a smaller disk for a larger one.
The network socket supports the fastest ‘gigabit’ network standards, but there is no USB socket, so copying files to the device was slow, taking several minutes per gigabyte.
However, it was fast enough to allow playback of large high-definition video files straight from the network.
It’s managed through the clear and pleasant Drobo Dashboard software, which shows the disk status at a glance and includes Drobo Copy.
This can be used for backups, though it’s not as flexible as a full backup program, which will work fine as the Drobo FS appears as a standard network disk in Windows.
The Drobo FS can also run ‘apps’ – small downloadable programs that can be installed on the device.
There aren’t many available so far but some useful ones can share a Drobo-stored music collection to computers, consoles and mobile devices or downloaded Bittorrent files without a computer being switched on.
Drobo FS is expensive but it’s the easiest-to-use network disk we’ve ever used. If you want a device that starts storing your files straighaway, the Drobo FS is ideal.