Drobo 5N update: hot swapping is trivial

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I always like the idea of these, until I price them out. Then popping all my leftover HDDs in an old case filled with leftover parts, forming a cobble of cobbles, makes more sense.


Can someone link me to a compare/contrast between this and other solutions like Synology?

I’m considering making a purchase eventually for a RAW photo backup platform, and I feel like I have no idea what’s going on anymore in this field.

I dunno about this for the price. I run a D-link DNS-320 NAS device, which I really like.

The management UI is a bit clunky, but support for Funplug has let me do stuff that really makes it worth it. Namely, loading the NAS device version of Twonky DLNA server. (The stock one is rubbish)

Now, if only sftp were easier to configure over NAT on most routers…


This is what I mean, I understood about a third of that.

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Start here:


Feature-wise, higher RAID level is better. Allows more drives, and better recovery (contingent on number of bays, in any case).

Other major stuff to look for:

FTP/SFTP server
DLNA Server
HDMI Port (useful for some)
Number of drive bays/Capacity
CPU Speed (faster means faster RAID rebuilds, better media transcoding)
Extensibility (does it run linux? can you get root?)
Does it come with backup software, or do you have to bring your own?
Reliability (i.e. check reviews)

Price-wise, mine ran me $100 without disks, which is a pretty good deal even today. It did require some DIY to get it where I wanted it. If it comes with a disk (or 2) I don’t think $300 or more is out of the ballpark for home use.


Uh, stay away from RAID 5, if you ask me, unless you enjoy waiting for a week for the RAID to rebuild. RAID10 is the way to go.


I have three of Western Digital’s MyBook Duo network connected drives (before MyCloud devices went USB only) and two of their MyCloud Mirror drives (the network-connected successor.) I highly recommend them.

All of these have dual drives which can be set up as one large volume or mirrored as RAID 1. I’ve only had one drive fail. As in jlw’s case I never noticed the red light (they’re in another room with my main server), but the dashboard app on my PC notified me. Swapping drives was easy, and the re-mirroring was done automatically.

While they’re Ethernet connected, they have USB ports for added storage or to make backups using the web interface. (This means that you can back up 4TB of data without tying up your PC.)

The web interface also lets you set up users and shares, and control the DLNA and FTP servers. (The DLNA server does an excellent job of streaming movies to my iPad.) The MyCloud devices can host WordPress, a BitTorrent client and other apps on the appliance itself.

On-line reviews often declare them to be slow. But they’re comparing them to USB drives; USB is faster than Ethernet. On my old 100MB Ethernet network they were plenty fast enough for 1080p streaming. Now that I’ve upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet, I get USB speeds.

You can also tell them to connect to Western Digital’s site so that you can access them over the internet. I’ve left that feature turned off. (And like other IoT devices, I’ve set up my firewall appliance to block them from communicating to the internet except when I want to update them.)

One other thing to look at if you’re running a higher-speed internal network is the actual network speed it can use. I have an older Synology NAS that technically has a 1Gb/s port, but in reality it can only transfer at about 80Mb/s. It’s still not bad, but it does make some file transfers feel like they’re taking forever… and if I ever get around to making a backup of what’s on it, it’s going to be a major undertaking.

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How easy is it to set up all your other devices to access the media?

  • Various computers to see the photos
  • Access the videos on your Roku
  • Access the music via something connected to your sound system

Is it all some variation of “set up a Plex server on an unused computer?”

Plex is a matter of 2-3 clicks to set up.

So does the Drobo act as a server? Or do you need to have another computer running?

Sorry, obviously I am asking questions I can look up, but I’m just trying to get a first-person sense of what it’s actually like to use one of these things, and how integrated it is with your life. The simple act of putting your files in a place isn’t that interesting to me — I trust the online services well-enough for that — but if it’s easy enough to revolutionize my access to my existing media (my videos streaming onto my phone while I’m on the train?), then it’s much more interesting.

Speaking of DLNA servers, does anyone have one that will stream channels off an ATSC tuner card?

I don’t have a link, but when I went through the process, the more I read, the more arrows pointed to synology. I dug around again last year and that still seems to be the case.

Yes, you can do it cheaper building and maintaining your own box. Yes, RAID5 (or drobo/synology proprietary RAID 5 equivalent) is still sorta risky.

I bought a 5 bay synology and have been happy with it. I’ve had one drive die and hot swapped with no issues. I’ve been running it with single disk redundancy. With the increase in drive size I am looking to save to put in bigger drives that so that I can switch to two disk failure protection.

Plex and many other “apps” run natively on Drobo. You just click to turn it on, it downloads and runs. configuration may happen inside drobo, maybe just via a webclient.

I run Plex, Transmission and a few other apps.


I think the issue with Plex is just what amount of transcoding Plex will be doing for you (based on the size/format of your stored content and device outputs) and if the NAS you buy has the memory and computing power to handle it. Some NAS are more plug and play storage, and some have a wider range of proprietary or third party apps which can do all sorts of stuff.

If you are more “streaming” without the heavy transcoding it seems like even some of the older NASs can handle it ok.

ETA: I’d like to be able to run Plex and host a minecraft server on my NAS. Is it possible, yes. Will it work well, I think my NAS is old enough that it doesn’t have quite enough memory or computing power to handle those tasks. So do you want a NAS to do general purpose computing for you, or as suggested by others, do you want to build a general purpose computer that can handle your storage/server duties.

sftp or ftps? the first one is normally really easy behind a NATing router as it needs only one port (tcp/22 [ssh])

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The large selling point for drobo is how you replace disks. While synology will allow you to replace a dead disk it can not grow the storage size one disk at a time. To grow a synology you need to replace all of the disks with larger ones, and they all need to be the same disk, the process is tricky.
Drobo to increase capacity you simply yank out the smallest drive and shove in a larger one, drobo will figure everything else out and grow your array one drive at a time. Very handy if you need more space but only have the cash to buy one larger drive.

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Your 80 Mb/s is about right. I think the best case scenario for a Gigabit network is about 125Mb/s, add in some overhead and a bit of noise into the transmission and you’re down to what you’re getting now.

Erm, what? Are you getting bits confused with Bytes?

You can definitely get a heck of a lot more out of a 1Gb/s than 125Mb/s, trust me (or 80Mb/s, for that matter). :smiley:

80Mb/s is close to the maximum you’ll usually get out of a 100Mb/s link, though under ideal circumstances (or, if you’re a script kiddie blasting tiny meaningless packets) you can squeeze a bit more out.