Drobo FS Review
The Good:Easiest NAS to use for someone who just wants some network attached storage
The Bad:Very slow network performance
If you are running out of space on your home computer, or you want to easily store files on a networked device that makes sharing them easy, a NAS may be the right option for you. The thing about NAS though is that they are not as simple as they once were. The choices are many and configuring some of these can make it somewhat of a daunting idea. This is where the line needs to be drawn between simple network attached storage and a feature rich solution that offers probably more than most people need. Drobo claims that their FS model is the best storage experience ever for simple file sharing and network backup for home and home office users.
Although the Drobo FS is a snap to configure and the Drobo Dashboard is a dream to use, the transfer speeds of the FS do fall short of that from competitive devices. However they are still fast enough to stream Blu-Ray movies to HTPC’s in your home. In benchmark testing, the Drobo fell short of the QNAP TS-419P+ and our custom in house server but there are some nuances with sustained transfers. While streaming movies from our custom server we had experienced a few hiccups during playback when the server would perform maintenance or backups but the Drobo and the QNAP were stutter free during playback, even while transferring large files to and from.
For testing the transfer speed of the Drobo FS we really didn’t do anything fancy. Our benchmark was transferring a 46.6GB Blu-Ray ISO (Avatar) from the Drobo FS to our workstation. We just initiated the file transfer and watched the networking tab in Windows Task Manager. We experienced around a 23 MB/s transfer for the duration of the test. Images below reflect the Drobo FS on the left and our in house server on the right.
Further testing with Intel’s NAS Performance Toolkit demonstrated that the Drobo’s transfer speeds lagged behind the two other contenders… way behind… way way behind.
The Drobo FS didn’t outperform the QNAP TS-419P+ in power consumption for normal mode, scoring 37.08 Watts used, but instead it blew it out of the water in power consumption used during heavy transfers, consuming only 42.56 Watts. This is less than Drobo’s claim of 56 watts for a typical busy system. Testing was conducted using a Kill A Watt EZ P4460 Power Meter and measurements were taken every minute for 10 minutes then averaged for the results. The results below will show a “0″ score for the Drobo FS in low power mode. This is due to the inability to spin down the disks after a specified elapsed time of inactivity. Even though there are configuration options in the Drobo Dashboard for Disk Drive Spin Down, it seems like the drives never actually spun down.
There is a response to spin down functionality on Drobo’s support site stating:
Your Drobo device performs routine background maintenance tasks, such as data compacting, on a regular basis. Although these processes are not obvious to the user, they keep your Drobo storage device in optimal condition. If you have a large amount of data, the maintenance tasks will be performed more frequently and could take longer to complete. This could cause your drives not to spin down as you might expect, even with the spin down option enabled (Drobo FS, Drobo S, DroboPro and DroboElite only).