I was pretty intrigued by the short bit Scoble wrote about Drobo today after Gizmodo posted their story. Data Robotics has come up with an almost idiot-proof external storage array. To hit the highlights, it connects to a Mac or PC with USB 2.0 (480 Mbps theoretical maximum) and requires no special software – Drobo manages the storage all by itself – so it just looks like a big USB drive to your computer.
There are a few features that I really appreciate about their solution…
- There are simple LED indicator lights that tell you if the drives are healthy and if the array is getting full.
- SATA drives are added through the front of a very slick tool-less chassis. The drive chassis may be the coolest feature I’ve seen – I’d like to have that setup in my server case.
- Drobo makes sure that your data is protected.
- You can expand the size of the array at any time by adding additional drives (there are four slots) or swapping out smaller drivers for larger drives.
- It supports both Mac and PC hosts
- The external case has a cool design that I wouldn’t mind seeing on my desk.
It might not be ideal for everyone. It’s still an external drive enclosure so it requires a host computer and cannot be connected to ethernet directly as Network Attached Storage (NAS). I’m not sure how quiet it is either, which would be important for a HTPC media storage application. That said, it could be a great solution for the photographer or graphic artist that needs a large storage solution that can protect her data and still grow over time.
If you want to see what I’m talking about, I highly recommend the demonstration video on the Drobo site.
About the only thing that I don’t like about Drobo is the grammatical error in their tagline, “Drobo – whose minding the storage.”
For those looking for a NAS, this newish solution from Promise looks interesting. Of course, I like my personal budget server (based on Solaris), but it doesn’t have the convenience of these stand-alone solutions, even if it does cost a lot less and have more flexibility and capabilities.