Drobo: Your Personal Data “Robot”

Robots are supposed to make life easier for human. On that score, Data Robotics' Drobo is a huge success in meeting the data storage needs of power users. No matter that the Drobo isn't a mechanical robot- it's a “logical robot” that has the smarts to arrange data among several external drives so that the data always remains secure and backed up.

The Drobo is a chassis with slots to hold up to four SATA hard drives. No need to worry about settings; just pop in two or more drives and the Drobo’s AI software takes care of the rest. It will even warn you, with colored light, when a drive is nearly full or about to fail. Should a drive be failing, or should you simply want to upgrade your capacity, you can just pop in a new d rive, cartridge-style. The Drobo will take any 3.5-inch drive with a standard SATA interface; SATA 150, SATA 300; 3-Gbps-compliant; 4,200-rpm, 5,400-rpm, 10,000-rpm; 8OGB, 12OGB, or ITB. Unlike competitors, such as the RDX cartridge system or anything removable you remember from Iomega, the Drobo uses bare, straight-out-of-the-box hard drives. You don't need carriages, sliding trays, or outer hulls. You don't even need to screw guide screws into the drives. The Drobo chassis has a neat retaining mechanism that doubles as an eject button.

There are a few caveats. For one, the actual hard drives are "extra," since the $500 covers only the chassis and the technology behind the Drobo. You have to pay for the drives separately when you buy the Drobo from or from online retailers such as Also, compared with multidrive RAID units, you pay more per gigabyte for the Drobo after you’ve equipped the chassis with additional drives.

The Drobo isn't cheap, and you must add the cost of the drives. But if you work with a lot of data and need to keep it securely backed up, this “data robot" is worth the investment. It's ready to step in and take control of your data storage needs.

Drobo: $499 direct


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