Welcome to Drobo 2.0 — Two Times Faster and Now Offering Firewire Support

Hot Donkey, There's a New Drobo Out! Welcome to Drobo 2.0

Yesterday I had lunch with Tom Loverro, Drobo’s Director of Product Marketing, where he briefed me on the next big thing coming out of Data Robotics, the second generation Digital Data Robot aka Drobo — what I’m calling Drobo 2.0.

Beginning today people can now begin placing orders for Data Robotic’s second generation Drobo storage device. Drobo 2.0 will cost $499, the same price as the previous model. For a limited time (until they clear their shelves of the old units) Drobo will be selling their first generation Drobos for $349. I blogged about Drobo’s first generation device about a year ago here, but this new device is even better — pure white hot donkey awesomeness.

Boasting new and improved Firewire 400/800 support, the Drobo 2.0 is now twice as fast as the old Drobo, according to Tom. The core processor in the unit has been upgraded to improve speed and performance and a new fan has also been installed in the unit to make it quieter as well. Personally I’ve never had a problem with the noise on my Drobos except on very hot days when the fan seems to kick on in my 110 degree attic. Tom told me that they actually bake their drobos in an oven when testing them to make sure that they can withstand super high amounts of heat.

Drobo Version 2, back

Additional enhancements and modifications have been made to the Drobo Dashboard software that will also help boost speed and performance under the hood. A new version of the Dashboard software will also be released shortly for existing Drobo owners who will be able to benefit from software based speed increases as well.

Drobo 2.0, Twice as Fast as the last Drobo

So how much faster is the new Drobo than the old one? Like I mentioned before, about twice as fast. According to benchmarking statistics provided by Drobo (see above), The second generation Drobo can now read about 52MB per second and write about 35MB per second.

So why should you buy one of these things? Simple. Because Drobo represents the easiest to use, most economical, way that you can back up and store your digital photographs today. I’m blown away when I talk with photographers about their back up strategies and hear that so many photographers simply have no back up strategy. I’ve met some truly amazing photographers who simply have all of their photos on a hard drive and are hoping that it won’t fail. It will fail. All hard drives fail. It’s not a matter of “if” it’s a matter of when.

Drobo allows you to put up to four internal hard drives into your unit (internal hard drives are cheaper than external hard drives so you get some of your money back there). Your photos are then spread across these four drives and if one drive fails you simply pull the old failed drive out and swap a new working drive in and you’ve lost no photos. The system heals itself with the new drive and it’s like you never had a drive failure at all. Your data is replicated across all of the drives in a pooled sort of environment.

Because you can use your Drobos as primary storage you don’t have to remember to institute daily back up strategies. And because replication doesn’t require 1:1 drive space, (four 750GB hard drives in a Drobo gives you effectively 2TB of replicated storage) you can save money by not having to buy additional back up hard drives.

Drobo's Cost Vs Other Replicated Storage Options

The beauty of the Drobo most of all though is that it is super easy to use. You simply slide your hard drives into the Drobo’s bay, plug in the power supply, plug in the USB or now Firewire cable and your Mac or PC reads your Drobo as a single drive. It’s that simple. There are no raid arrays to configure or servers to set up or networking devices that need to be added. It’s simple plug and play.

You should remember that just because you have a Drobo though that your back up strategy should not end here. As good as Drobos are at protecting photographers from disk failures, they still can’t protect against things like fire or theft. One solution here though is buy two Drobos and put them in different parts of the country or world and back up your files periodically on both machines.

It should be disclosed that Drobo has supplied me with one of their new units to test out. I’ve also purchased two other Drobos in the past on my own.

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  1. --rj says:

    Another backup alternative is multiple 5-GB accounts on Microsoft’s Skydrive.Live.com.

    Of course the question here is Skydrive’s permanence. So far, I don’t see a viable business model for this free service.


  2. Phi says:

    Suggesting that people can save money by using RAID as primary storage, and NOT having a backup plan is just plain irresponsible. RAID arrays can become corrupt, a heat or power induced failure can affect multiple drives, or the logic unit in the Drobo can fail – and then you have no data.

    A Drobo is great as EITHER a backup OR a primary storage volume, but you still need both to be secure.

    And if you really depend on your data for your livelihood, you better be taking periodic copies of that data offsite, to guard against fire, flood, theft, etc.

  3. Tom K says:

    A better “cloud” alternative to Skydrive is Amazon’s S3 service. No 5 GB limit, it does cost something but it’s very cheap, and you can get any number of applications like JungleDisk to stream data up to it and treat it like a remote drive.

  4. BWJones says:

    Thanks Thomas. Just ordered myself one for home and will be placing orders for Drobos for work as well.

  5. hitors says:

    i was reading, that the network connection does not work fine on the v.1, have you tried via rj45?

  6. latoga says:

    I don’t see the comparison of the Drobo to any NAS as apples to apples. The Drobo must be attached to only one computer at a time. A NAS is an entirely different value proposition where you can access the data from any computer over the network (even the internet if you so configure it). (disclaimer: I own a ReadyNAS and have a love/hate relationship with it)

    Comparing the Drobo to external hard drives is a much closer apples to apple comparison. It all depends on what your requirements are. The added cost of the ReadyNAS is worth benefit it provides to me.

  7. I JUST bought the original, grr. No biggie, i’m protected and that is all that matters.

  8. *sigh*

    They blew it again. When on earth are they gonna figure out that people don’t want these things to be DAS (Direct Attached Storage) but rather NAS (Network Attached Storage)? Or at least they should offer both flavors?

    I’d buy so many of these…. 🙁

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Thomas! I just ordered a Drobo 1.0, then saw your article and had enough time to cancel and order the Drobo 2.0. Good thing too.. I plan on streaming video from it. Even though I plan on using WHS to manage my house storage, Drobo’s are just too good to pass up, and will be great for backing up WHS machine.

  10. Glad to see you like it – I was just about to write about my experiences moving to Media Center w/ all of my content (1.3TB) on a Drobo as primary storage. A little sluggish and this new announcement is a welcome one.
    Tom, can you swap your 4 drives from a Drobo 1.0 into a Drobo 2.0 and retain all the data? Swapping data into the new device would be a bear…

  11. Erich says:

    I was sliding my CC out of my wallet as I click on your twitter link Thomas, only to find out there’s still no Drobo model with integrated ethernet.

    I really want a Drobo, but I’m going to hold out with my little D-link NAS until they offer a model with integrated ethernet.

    I actually can’t figure out why they haven’t done this yet. My only guess is that right now that type of model would be so costly that it would kill the Drobo’s price advantage.

  12. Dossy says:

    I wanted to get a Drobo, but didn’t. Two reasons:

    1) What format is the data stored in on the drives? Some open format, or proprietary? i.e., if the Drobo hardware (not the drives) fails, can I pull the drives out and slam them into a regular machine and bring them online with off-the-shelf RAID? Or, am I held prisoner to their hardware/firmware? This is a show-stopper for me.

    2) Upgrades–I expected them to come out with a “Drobo 2.0” but there’s still no mention of whether drives can be taken out of a 1.0 and put into a 2.0 as-is and have the data carry over. Do I need to buy a whole new set of hard drives for the Drobo 2.0, then copy the data over from the old 1.0? Ouch.

    Overall, the product is a great solution for the amateur/casual computer user, but for any serious application, it just won’t do.

  13. Alexis says:

    Is there anything to stop you from sharing the drobo over the network as an AppleFile Share or SMB Share? At home my media center (OSXBMC/Plex machine is connected to my main machine over firewire internet sharing). I realize this would not be as ideal as having the drobo connected directly to the network but it might be a decent solution until one can purchase the DroboShare.

  14. Aaron says:

    Wow, for about the same price you can get a HP MediaSmart box running Windows Home Server which is superior IMO.

    It’s a network-attached headless backup and sharing server with hot-swappable drives, infinitely more functionality, imaged backups, and the list goes on. It’s about3 inches taller, but since it’s NAS you can put it anywhere.

  15. needcaffeine says:

    drobo is a local mass storage device, I’ve had too many issues with RAID to accept RAID as ‘safe’ backup. But then again storage which I consider ‘crucial’ I make multiple copies (digital/paper). Taxes are most important, I’d rather not lose my images/mp3s, etc….but if ‘god forbid’ I lose them, I’m not subject to Audit if I lose them – it will piss me off, but I can live without.

  16. Anonymous says:

    i) It is possible to move a set of drives from an Gen 1 Drobo to a Gen 2 Drobo.

    ii) How many of you “Open Standard RAID is great” people have actually tried to place a set of drives from one RAID system into another?

    iii) Multiple hard drive failure is a pretty complex subject. For example, getting a 2-drive failure does not require 2 drives to fail. A failure can occur when one drive fails and another drive has suffered some data corruption. As with most manufactured items, batches of product made together tend to suffer from similar defects/tolerance errors. This can make it much more likely that two drives will fail together than the published MTBF might suggest. I have never seen any published data on this subject. I guess what I am trying to say is that while the figures published by the drive manufacturers are valid, they cannot be applied to a multiple drive system without consideration of a number of additional, poorly defined parameters.

  17. Ben Curtis says:

    The Drobo is a nice device if you want easy storage, but as others have said it is NOT in itself a backup. People need to understand this – like all RAID implementations this just protects you against a disk dying. If you accidentally trash your files, or they get corrupted, it’s not gonna help you one bit. As one previous commenter concisely pointed out “A Drobo is great as EITHER a backup OR a primary storage volume, but you still need both to be secure.”

    As for the Drobo vs other RAID devices, the main reasons why the Drobo is less appealing to me is that due to the proprietary nature, I have no way whatsoever of knowing what format the data on the drives is in, so if I ever need to recover the array, I am out of luck. Sorry, but that’s just a killer for me.

    Personally I prefer a RAID-1 device, plus 2nd copy, for archiving my photos – that way any drive can be pulled and accessed directly from any machine.
    I wrote a blog post on archiving for photographers a few weeks ago, some might find it useful:




  18. Lovely. That’s what I was looking for, but I’m also dreaming of a NAS version… Thnks Thomas!

  19. Danno says:

    I still think it does too little for $499. A hard drive enclosure that does nothing more than copy data amongst drives should not cost that much. As many people have already pointed out, the kind of people who need this kind of gadget are people who can afford a NAS or a home media server. What they are really selling here is the software that does the clever data moving. DR needs to stop trying to sell this as hardware and sell a software solution that could be integrated into any server. They would be bazillionaires overnight.

  20. Radiant says:

    I just picked up one of these drives at drobostore.com. I found this code on another review: ACNCHE

    it gave me $50 off my purchase. I am planning on picking up 2 1 TB drives and installing them but I called drobo and they said they just certified the 1.5 TB seagates so I may go with that.

    I must admit I am a bit scared with 3 TB going bad!! do you need to backup your drobo backup? I’ve heard some wierd stories.

  21. kasmador says:

    Other than the new firewire ports, what’s the spec difference between the old and new one. If I don’t care about the transfer speed, would the 2.0 be worth the extra cost?


  22. […] chiama Drobo e si trova qua, mentre Thomas Hawk ha già i dati della nuova versione. Lo fa Data Robotics. Salva o segnala il post come […]

  23. Andreas Guther says:

    A have a drobo for 6 weeks now and I am starting to see major problems. After adding a third drive drobo was suddenly not able to show folders and at some point windows was not able to recognize drobo as a drive. After three reboots (remove drives, unplug power, plug power, insert drives) drobo finally was able to show my folders with their files. That was yesterday. Today I was foolish enough to try to edit a file on drobo while importing photos into Lightroom which saves files on the drobo. It simply rebooted. I am loosing my trust in the device. I am also waiting for three days now for a response of their customer service. But after reading many reports on the slow (but very friendly!) service I am not surprised anymore.