The Drobo RAID storage system has been getting rave reviews ever since the first model was launched back in 2008 – it even won a Macworld Award in 2009 for best consumer storage device. Now the Drobo S is aimed at small businesses as well as creative users who need additional performance and reliability.
Like previous models, the Drobo S uses Data Robotics’ ingenious BeyondRAID technology, which makes it much more versatile than conventional RAID drives. It allows you to mix and match drive units of different sizes and easily replace or upgrade drives, without spending hours reformatting the system.
It also adds a number of important new features aimed at the professional users. In addition to FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 ports, the Drobo S includes an eSATA interface to provide extra performance for demanding tasks such as video editing. It’s larger than its predecessors too, enabling you to install five separate hard drives, rather than the four used in previous models. The five drive bays can provide a total of 10TB storage capacity, but the Drobo S is sold without any pre-installed drives, so it’s up to you to buy drives in whatever size or combination you require.
The Drobo S is as easy to use as its predecessors. Inserting or replacing drives is a simple matter of popping off the front panel and sliding the drives into place. There’s a series of indicator lights on the front that indicate the amount of storage you’ve used and problems with any of the drives.
The Dashboard software provided with the Drobo S makes it easy to configure the various RAID options, including a new ‘dual-redundancy’ option that can protect against the simultaneous failure of two drives.
The £600 price tag is quite a leap from the £293 of the standard four-bay Drobo, so people on a tight budget might prefer to stick with that less expensive model. However, businesses or creative users who need a storage system that provides maximum performance and reliability will find the new Drobo S hard to beat.