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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.