Almost six years after the second-generation Drobo, Connected Data today unveiled the third generation of the once much-talked-about storage system.
The new Drobo is very similar to the previous model, but now has improved hardware and USB 3.0, promising to be much faster. Considering the old model used USB 2.0 and FireWire 800, chances are the latest model will indeed be faster. Judging from previous generations, however, how the Drobo Gen 3 actually performs remains to be seen.
Unlike other four-bay storage devices that support standard RAID configurations, such as RAID 1, RAID 0, RAID 5 or RAID 6, the Drobo uses a propitiatory RAID called Beyond RAID. This is the heart of a Drobo system.
Beyond RAID allows for using hard drives of different capacities. You can also upgrade the device's storage space at any time by replacing their internal hard drive, one after another. With Beyond RAID, you can choose to guard data in case where one internal hard drive fails (similar to RAID 5) or when two internal hard drives fail at the same time (similar to RAID 1).
On top of that, in the event of a hard drive failure Connected Data claims that the system is smart enough to, when applicable, start backing up data on the available space of other drives, as soon as one drive fails. Also, when the available storage space is large enough, you can quickly switch between protecting against one or two simultaneous drive failures with just one click.
No Thunderbolt, enhanced Time Machine backup
While designed to work with both Windows computers and Macs, Connected Data says the new Drobo is great for Mac users, especially if you want to use the system to both store data and Time Machine backups. The device comes with software that helps users easily create a separate volume only for Time Machine, separate from the one used for data. While this can be done with any other direct attached storage device using Mac OS's Disk Utility, Data Connected says its method is much more user-friendly.
There's no support for Thunderbolt, unfortunately. This is a disappointing considering the Drobo Mini has this feature. However, this is the reason the new Drobo is now more affordable compared with previous generations.
Affordable, especially for existing customers
The new Drobo is available at just $349 with no storage included. Connected Data says existing customer of the Drobo first and second generation can take $50 off the price, (if you pre-order one now through June 9th), and can actually upgrade to the new Drobo by moving the hard drives over from their old unit.
The device is also available in 4TB, 8TB and 16TB capacities that costs $599, $749 and $1449, respectively. It starts shipping at the end of April.