Small Dog Electronics was recently lucky enough to receive a visit from a representative from Data Robotics touting their Drobo product line.

We now carry their product called Drobo, and an optional device called Droboshare.

The Drobo itself is a four bay drive housing which accommodates any raw 3.5 inch SATA Hard Drive. You can add one at a time, or populate all the bays, no matching of capacities necessary. This box has a USB 2.0 interface, and they plan to try to develop it with additional interface options in the future. For now, just USB 2.0. Each bay recognizes of to 2TB of data (‘cause those mechanisms are not too far off!).

The proprietary programming built into the firmware of the Drobo allows the device to recognize and prepare any added drive on the fly, automatically. It’s not exactly like a Raid system per se, but mimics some of the traditional Raid functions with regards to redundancy without having to manually set up the drives chosen for installation.

The demonstration included a simulated drive failure, (we manually ejected a drive while in use) and it was very impressive in that no data was lost, the Drobo unit brought up the appropriate warning about needing more disk space, and the status of the “failed” drive on the screen. We never lost a single frame of a Quicktime movie playing from a file on the Drobo at the time. We were able to add a new drive, and monitor how it automatically sets up the new device, and start integrating it into protected data space. There’s nothing like instant automatic redundancy! You see, Drobo does not require any drivers or software configuration at all.

Droboshare, the optional device than can be paired with it, connects to the USB port of the Drobo enclosure, and allows the data to be accessed from any network connection at up to Gigabit Ethernet speeds. You can set up your whole office to back up to the Drobo like any regular external storage drive can be, but over the local network. No need to spend money on a server to host your massive piles of data.

There’s also the flexibility to be able to take the raw drives out of the Drobo for offsite back up protection at any time, taking advantage of the socketed design of the SATA mechanisms.

The Drobo is a cross platform device that works with Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. The Drobo WILL work with Leopard’s Time Machine feature via USB 2.0, but not over the ethernet network just yet (it appears that Apple is withholding some technologies so that they sell more Time Capsule units).

We are excited about the Drobo, the world’s first automated storage robot. We hope you want to learn more about the product by using this link too.

Let us know what you think!!


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