Drobo 5C REVIEW It is a Beast and First Self-Managing USB-C Storage Solution
As a tech reviewer, I have to stay neutral when it comes to reviewing products. I can’t allow myself to be a ‘fanboy’ but when it comes to Drobo, I have a hard time not showing it. After a massive loss of data years ago from a single backup drive, I never wanted to go through such a stomach-turning feeling like that again. That experience taught me to be more redundant with backups and because of it, I went on a search for a product that would keep me safe and I found the Drobo.
Drobo is a company that focuses on creating award-winning data storage products for individuals and businesses alike. I’ve been working with Drobo technology for several years now and I must say that they’ve never let me down. There are two major similarities that most Drobos share — the hardware style and the software that runs it. Out of the nine products in the current Drobo family, four of them share the same form factor. The 5-bay systems all have the same vertical design with LED status lights on the front side. These models are the ones most recommended for individual use while the larger systems (8 & 12 bay arrays) are considered for business use. All the members of the Drobo family share a common software system with the BeyondRAID technology.
BeyondRAID is built into every Drobo and it’s dubbed as the next-generation of redundant storage technology. This system adds a layer of virtualization that provides you with protection for your data at any given moment. You have the option to upgrade your hard drive sizes at any time without having to change RAID levels or purchase a new storage array. BeyondRAID even allows you to switch from single to dual disk redundancy through the Drobo Dashboard. If a drive fails, the Drobo will automatically layout the data onto the remaining functioning drives. It’s really a remarkable system and one that I think every office and even every household should have.
Drobo has been my go to backup device for any digital file I care about since the day I was introduced to them. Heck, I love this company and product so much I own multiple Drobos and use them all for different types of data I collect. When the new MacBook with USB-C dropped from Apple, Drobo didn’t stand back in the shadow; they came out with a USB-C Drobo — the Drobo 5C. This was a bit risky at the time because some computer manufacturers were just starting to add USB-C functionality and the MacBook was the only computer model from Apple with it. Now that more companies are using it as default, we are all looking for devices that don’t require a dongle to attach to your computer. Drobo makes some wonderful wireless storage options but sometimes you need a direct connect solution and that’s where the Drobo 5C comes into play.
As I mentioned, the Drobo 5C features connectivity through USB-C, which offers an average of 10 Gb/s transfer speed. This is twice as fast as USB 3.0, but about half the speed of Thunderbolt 2. Drobo 5C can house up to five 3.5″ SATA II/III hard drives. As an important note, the Drobo does not ship with the hard drives installed — they are sold separately. That said, there are no limitations on the type of drive, manufacturer, capacity, or spindle speed that can be used. One of the great things about the Drobo case is that no tools are required for drive installation. They just slide right into a bay and if you have to remove one, you simply push the release button and it pops out.
Some other features of Drobos include:
- Power Fail Protection — Each Drobo has an internal battery that provides enough power for the Drobo to shut down properly. Drobo moves any in-flight data to onboard flash in your Drobo so it will be protected and moved to your disk drives once power is restored.
- Kensington Lock Port — This is a really nice security measure since the 5-bay Drobos are very portable. A lock is not included, but you have the option to add one on so that someone doesn’t just walk off with your device.
- macOS Time Machine Support — You can actually use your Drobo as your Time Machine backup drive. To use it, you simply select the Drobo as the drive you want to to use when your Mac prompts you about Time Machine. To learn more about Drobo and Time Machine, click here.
- Drive Spin Down — While I love having access to my files at all times, I also want my drives to have a long life. Drobo provides a good answer for this with Drive Spin Down. This helps to save electricity and prolongs the life of your hard drives because they aren’t constantly running. You can adjust the time of your Drive Spin Down through the Drobo Dashboard as long as you are logged in as admin.
Drobo 5C has certainly filled a gap for me in my peripheral collection for my 2016 MacBook Pro. I have the Drobo connected directly to my MacBook Pro through one of the USB-C ports on the computer. I tested out the connection by transferring various sizes of files and file bundles. I found that I was getting the standard 10 Mb/s transfer rate that I should with a USB-C connection. I had hoped to maybe use this as a part of my video editing system, but the USB-C connection is not quite fast enough to sustain real-time HD video editing. It is, however, perfect for archiving projects when they are done.
I really love having a USB-C storage solution for my new MacBook Pro. I especially love that it’s a Drobo storage solution because I know by data will be safe.
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Originally published at macsources.com on March 11, 2017.