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Computer data storage
|Founded||San Jose, California, U.S. (May 2005 )|
|Headquarters||San Jose, California, U.S.|
|Mihir H. Shah, CEO|
Drobo is the name of a series of products classified as external storage devices for computers. They are made of different types including DAS, SAN, and NAS appliances made by Connected Data, Inc. Current Drobo devices can house up to four, five, eight, or twelve 3.5" or 2.5" Serial ATA or Serial Attached SCSI hard disk drives and connect with a computer or network via USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire 800, eSATA, Gigabit Ethernet or Thunderbolt. Drobo devices are primarily designed to allow installation and removal of hard disk drives without requiring manual data migration, and also for increasing storage capacity of the unit without downtime. The company Drobo, Inc. changed its name from Data Robotics in 2011 since the familiarity with the Drobo name (which until then had only been the name of their product line) far exceeded the Data Robotics name. Drobo, Inc. merged with Connected Data, Inc. in June 2013, with the new company taking the Connected Data name. In May 2015, Drobo was acquired by an investment group composed of seasoned tech executives and changed the company name to Drobo, Inc. 
- 1 Products
- 2 Features
- 3 Criticism, customer support issues with Drobo
- 4 Competitors and alternatives
- 5 References
- 6 External links
|Drobo (1st)||Drobo (2nd)||Drobo (3rd)||Drobo 5C||Drobo S||Drobo S (2nd)||Drobo 5D||Drobo 5Dt||Drobo FS||Drobo 5N||Drobo Mini|
|Release Date||5 June 2007||8 July 2008||28 May 2014||4 October 2016||23 November 2009||16 November 2010||2 November 2012||21 June 2016||6 April 2010||13 December 2012||26 October 2012|
|Redundancy||Single drive||Single drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive|
|Hosts||Single||Single||Single||Single||Single||Single||Single||Single||Up to 10 users||Single|
|USB||2.0||2.0||3.0||3.0 (Type C)||2.0||3.0||3.0||3.0||No||No||3.0|
|Gigabit Ethernet||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||1x (AFP and CIFS/SMB)||1x (AFP and CIFS/SMB)||No|
- * Plus one mSATA SSD slot for Data-Aware Tiering
- **Plus one 128GB mSATA SSD card for Data-Aware Tiering
|Release Date||7 April 2009||5 October 2010||8 February 2011||25 October 2015||23 November 2009||8 February 2011||23 February 2016||8 February 2011|
|Redundancy||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive||Single or dual drive|
|Hosts||Single||Up to 25 users||Up to 100 users||Up to 100 users||Up to 16||Up to 8||Up to 24|
|USB||2.0||No||No||No||2.0, Admin only||2.0, Admin only||No||No|
|Gigabit Ethernet||1x (iSCSI)||2x (AFP and CIFS/SMB)||2x (AFP and CIFS/SMB)||2x (AFP and CIFS/SMB)||2x (iSCSI)||2x (iSCSI)||2x (iSCSI) and 1x (Management)||3x (iSCSI) and 1x (Management)|
In July 2008, Drobo announced a 2nd generation model,  which offered a faster core processor, optimized firmware, better USB 2.0 performance and a pair of FireWire 800 ports, which are compatible with FireWire 400-to-800 cables and adapters.
Firmware is available to support drives in excess of 3TB (firmware v1.4.0.).
- Marvell 500 MHz System-on-a-chip (SOC) processor (Marvell 88F5281-D0)
- Includes support for PCI-X, PCI Express, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0, DDR2 32bit 200mhz
- Based on Marvell Feroceon RISC core (ARMv5TE)
- Same processor used in the Apple Time Capsule and in several other NAS devices
- Marvell PCI-X 4-Port SATA-II Controller (Marvell 88SX6042-BCZ1)
- 1 GB RAM (2x Hynix H5PS5162FFR 512Mb DDR2 SDRAM 2-5-5-5)
- 128 Mb NOR flash memory (Spansion GL128P90FFIR2 90 nm, 25ns page access, 90ns random access)
- 64 Macrocell PLD (Programmable Logic Device - XILINX XC2C64A
- 3 Port Firewire 800 (1394b) controller (TI XIO2213AZAY - PCI Express)
- 45 mAh Manganese rechargeable lithium NVRAM battery (ML2020 - 3V)
- DC cooling fan (2-wire brushless)
In early 2009, Drobo announced a new model called the DroboPro which is physically larger than the Drobo and offers the option of being mounted in a 19-inch rack. The DroboPro has the increased capacity of 8 drive bays rather than 4 in the original model, giving a 32 TB theoretical maximum with the current 4 TB drives. It also adds "Dual Disk Redundancy" akin to RAID 6. iSCSI via Gigabit Ethernet has been added alongside existing USB and FireWire 800/400 interfaces. However, the iSCSI implementation currently only supports connection to a single server and unlike the Drobo FS, the Ethernet interface cannot be used for other networking protocols such as NFS, FTP, or SMB.
On 23 November 2009, Drobo added a new model to its product line, called DroboElite. Its main difference versus the DroboPro is that it allows simultaneous access for up to 16 hosts, via two iSCSI ports. The Elite version also supports up to 255 volumes (vs. 16 in the Pro version).
Drobo FS launched at Tech Field Day in May 2010. The key difference with the 'S' models as well as the 'first' and 'second' generation models is the LAN port i.e. Ethernet RJ45 (without the requirement of a Drobo network interface).
5 HDD slots available.
It provides up to 10.89TB of storage when using 5 HDDs of 3TB. This is less than the sum of the drives because of fault tolerance.
Dual disk redundancy will reduce the possible storage capacity to 8.17TB.
Larger capacity drives greater than 2TB are automatically supported as they become available.
Processor : ARM926EJ-S rev 0 (v5l) MemTotal : 189028 kB
Drobo 800fs, 810n, 800i, 810i, 1200i
On February 23, 2016 – Drobo launched the Drobo B810i, an 8 Bay iSCSI SAN Array with data-aware tiering.
On October 20, 2015, Drobo launched the B810n hybrid storage system today, a 64TB NAS with Data Aware Tiering.
On February 8, 2011, Drobo updated its business hardware suite, discontinuing older models for three new ones: 800fs, 800i, and 1200i. The latter two are storage-area networks, with 8 bays for the 800i and 12 bays for the 1200i, respectively. The lower-case i stands for iSCSI.
Shortly after updating their business hardware suite, Drobo also updated their professional hardware suite. Designed for mobile photographers, Drobo Mini was made available on October 12, 2012. The Mini retained many features of earlier Drobo models, including single and dual-drive redundancy, while introducing several new features, such as Thunderbolt ports.
Released shortly after the Drobo Mini, the Drobo 5D continued Drobo's attempted capture of the professional photographer market.
Kernel :Linux Drobo-FS 18.104.22.168
BusyBox v1.14.2 (2009-07-29 17:47:47 PDT) multi-call binary
Current DroboApps on the official website:
|Apache HTTP Server||1.3.41_1|
|Dropbear||0.52_1 but D/L file is _2|
|Firefly Media Server||0.2.4.2_2|
Perl is the underlying programming language for the DroboApps.
All apps are specific for each type of Drobo.
- Data protection for all drives, as Drobo controls any access to the data.
- Recognizes and utilizes newly added storage devices on the fly.
- Hard drives do not need to be matched in terms of capacity, speed, or manufacturer.
- The drives appear as one unified drive to the host operating system without requiring the installation of the management software on the host.
- Supported file systems: HFS Plus, NTFS, ext3 and FAT32 (DDR3A31 only supports HFS+ and NTFS, according to data sheet.)
- File system redundancy is managed by a virtualization layer which lays data out in a proprietary Drobo format.
- Second FireWire port allows a user to daisy-chain multiple Drobos up to a computer. Each Drobo mounts as a separate system on the computer.
- With the addition of the Drobo FS network-attached storage (NAS) add-on, functionality can be added via open-source software. Examples are iTunes music server functionality, UPnP/DLNA support, and FTP access.
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Drobo, Inc. implements a storage technology that they call BeyondRAID in their Drobo storage devices. While not a true RAID ISO spec extension, it does provide for using up to 12 SATA hard drives in the devices and consolidating them into one big pool of storage. It has the advantage of being able to use multiple disk sizes at once, much like a spanned volume/volume set or the Synology Hybrid RAID, while providing redundancy for all disks and allowing a hot-swap upgrade at any time. Internally it uses a mix of techniques similar to RAID 1 and RAID 5. Depending on the amount of data stored on the unit in relation to the installed capacity, it may be able to survive up to 3 drive failures, if the "array" can be restored onto the remaining good disks before another drive fails. The amount of usable storage in a Drobo unit can be approximated by adding up the capacities of all the disks and subtracting the capacity of the largest disk. For example, if a 5, 4, 2, and 1 TB drive were installed, the approximate usable capacity would be 5+4+2+1-(5)=7 TB of usable space. Internally the data would be distributed in two RAID 5-like arrays and one RAID 1-like set:
Drives | 1 TB | 2 TB | 4 TB | 5 TB | ---------- | x | unusable space (1 TB) ---------- ------------------- | A1 | A1 | RAID 1 set (2× 1 TB) ------------------- ------------------- | B1 | B1 | RAID 1 set (2× 1 TB) ------------------- ---------------------------- | C1 | C2 | Cp | RAID 5 array (3× 1 TB) ---------------------------- ------------------------------------- | D1 | D2 | D3 | Dp | RAID 5 array (4× 1 TB) -------------------------------------
With the introduction of the DroboPro, a RAID6 like feature was also introduced. BeyondRAID also has the ability to perform hash-based compression using 160-bit SHA1 hashes to maximize storage efficiency.
Detailed technical information about BeyondRAID, including how it handles adding and removing drives, can be found in the patent application at the US Patent Office, US Patent Application No. 20070266037 .
Criticism, customer support issues with Drobo
The Drobo was initially criticized for lacking an Ethernet port, preventing it from being used as a self-contained NAS appliance. These complaints have been addressed with the release of the DroboShare physical add-on, and the release of the Drobo FS and DroboPro FS, Drobo 5N dedicated NAS versions.
One criticism stands even with the latest generation of Drobos. The "Drobo death spiral" shows that the Drobo itself is the single point of failure for customers owning only a single unit. Its disks use the proprietary Drobo format and hence cannot be mounted or read on any other system. In contrast, other vendors might use data on disk via mdadm and the ext2 / ext3 / ext4 file system formats, which might be accessed on any other Linux system.
Like all hardware RAID systems, Drobo units format disks in a proprietary way that cannot be mounted or read on any other system, though data recovery is possible from a professional data recovery service. Users with failed Drobo units can recover saved data using another Drobo, as Drobo maintains backwards compatibility with different versions of their proprietary format.
Competitors and alternatives
Other companies, for example QNAP, Netgear, Seagate, ioSafe and Synology, offer similar virtualised redundancy features under different brand names. Microsoft Windows 8 and Server 2012 includes similar functionality built-in with Storage Spaces.
Netgear's X-RAID, Lacie's SimplyRAID and Synology's Hybrid RAID allow the user to expand their storage using hard drives of different capacities and without reformatting the whole array in the process.
There are also software RAID systems available for most operating systems. These can be used to pool storage from many disks while providing fault tolerance and redundancy. Because low-level disk access happens on the computer, software RAID has some CPU overhead. However, software RAID makes data recovery much easier and does not need an extra device.
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