Should photographers buy Drobos?

Drobos are marketed as an efficient, flexible, easy to use file storage solution. They look good, but looks can be deceiving.

What’s a Drobo?

A Drobo is basically a combination of an external hard drive and a NAS – a network attached storage device. You attach it to your computer/network, and fill it with hard drives. Drobo’s software then fairly seamlessly builds a RAID – a redundant array of inexpensive devices – that you mount in your computer just like a ‘normal’ hard drive.

Drobo software uses this proprietary RAID to ‘protect’ your data by providing a local redundant backup for files stored on the Drobo – every file you save on the Drobo is backed up across the other hard drives in the Drobo, so if one of your hard-drives in the Drobo fails, you don’t lose any data.




I found my Drobo exceptionally frustrating to use and own. When it worked, the value added was limited, and when I wanted to make major changes to my setup (e.g. by adding significantly larger new hard drives) it took days for the Drobo to re-configure itself.

If you wanted to make significant changes, it was quicker to wipe the Drobo and then copy everything across to it – which is counter-intuitive, but which shows what a weak solution a Drobo is.

If you want redundant backup, build your own RAID or use an online backup service – preferably BOTH.

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