Drobo DroboShare review: Drobo DroboShare

Setting up your Drobo to share over a LAN with DroboShare is a simple, four-step process that the Drobo Dashboard walks you through. The first screen will check for software updates, and then the second screen asks you to choose a file type (NTFS for Windows machines, HFS+ for Macs, FAT32 for mixed networks, as well as EXT3 for Linux users). The third screen asks you which size volumes you'd like on Drobo (2TB is the default and the max supported by USB on Windows XP machines), and the fourth and last screen asks you to assign a drive letter to your Drobo volume. From start to finish, it took us less than 5 minutes--and we were taking notes along the way. If there's an easier network setup, this reviewer hasn't seen it.

The tools tab of the Drobo Dashboard lets you reformat your Drobo, password protect it, manually assign an IP address, and put it in standby mode to switch from a networked connection to a direct USB connection.

DroboShare makes setup incredibly easy, but that's in part because it's not nearly as feature-rich or complicated as other NAS products. For example, your networked Drobo can't operate as UPnP or DLNA media server, and there is no feature for remote Web access. While you can password protect your networked Drobo, you can't assign read or write access to specific users. The second USB port lets you add a second Drobo to your network, but you cannot connect a printer to that extra USB port and share it on your network.

We were able to share iTunes files stored on the Drobo with networked systems running iTunes and found the playback to be hiccup free. We saved a number of HD movie trailers to Drobo, and even at 1080p we encountered nothing but smooth playback on our 100Mbps Ethernet network as well as across an 802.11g Wi-Fi connection.

Data Robotics backs DroboShare with a one-year warranty. Drobo's site offers a support e-mail address, FAQs, documentation, and a user forum. An independent user forum at Drobospace.com is also incredibly helpful for anyone that owns or is thinking of owning a Drobo.

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