Drobo finally gets networks

The Drobo storage robot grows up, from PC-attached to network-attached.

The Drobo storage device has always intrigued me as a backup server that is smarter and more flexible than the RAID box you would typically cobble together with an old PC. But without network ability it seemed like half a product: powerful storage logic shackled to lame connectivity. That's largely been fixed with the launch of DroboShare, a companion piece for the Drobo server that allows it to be network-attached.

The DroboShare mounted under a Drobo storage device.
The DroboShare mounted under a Drobo storage device Data Robotics Inc.

DroboShare is a pricey add-on at $199, but it has gigabit Ethernet and is compatible with NTFS, HFS+, EXT3, and FAT32 file architectures, the last a nice addition we lamented the absence of in our original review. Support for a maximum 8TB capacity can be accomplished today by using two separate Drobo units loaded with four 1TB drives each and connecting both to a single DroboShare.

DroboShare is almost there. For the price, it should have pre-n Wi-Fi built in, as well. I mean come on, this is basically a gigabit NIC, USB 2.0 chip and a little firmware to translate four drive formats. That ain't $200. And it should have a more elegant way to connect to the Drobo than a USB jumper cable. But like Apple, Sonos, and B&O, the Drobo folks are trying to harvest a cult, not a value-aware consumer.

If you are sophisticated enough to appreciate the qualities of Drobo architecture you should also crave networked storage, so I imagine DroboShare will be a hit. For now, my home-built RAID boxes are working very well.

About the author

Brian Cooley joined CNET in 1995 and always comes at technology from the real consumer's point of view. He brings his high energy, often skeptical style to all avenues of CNET coverage, with an emphasis on car tech. You'll also find him frequently on television, radio and the TV screens at Costco!

 

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