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Drobo: Bringing Back What Works with 3rd Gen 4-Bay Storage

By - Source: Toms IT Pro
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Connected Data is announcing a back-to-its-roots 4-bay Drobo storage unit, which the company hopes will rekindle interest in the best-selling product in its history. This third-generation unit announced today is expected to be up to three times faster than prior generation.

What makes this storage unit different from the second-generation version is the addition of a USB 3.0 port, a faster processor, more memory, battery backup on board, Apple Time Machine support and dual drive redundancy, Joe Disher, senior director of product marketing for Connected Data, wrote in an email exchange.

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Faster is good, but it does not mean much if the data cannot be protected. According to Connected, like all of the Drobo line, this third generation unit is built on the company's BeyondRAID technology. From the business point of view, BeyondRAID is a simpler to manage RAID without the customer losing the sophistication and data protection that RAID offers. An included battery backup also provides additional protection in the event of a power failure.

BeyondRAID adds features such as instant expansion that allows users to add storage capacity to a Drobo by simply inserting an additional drive or replacing smaller ones with larger ones. No additional administration is required. If a drive fails, Drobo automatically protects the data with no user intervention. What would normally be a time consuming administrative task for a user is dealt with by a virtualization layer application that automatically selects the correct action to protect the data.

Pricing has also changed with this latest generation to a lower estimated retail price of $349 (without drives). In addition to the lower cost, Connected Data is also giving first and second-generation owners of Drobo a $50 discount under the company's new customer loyalty program. Another benefit for those upgrading, the BeyondRAID feature allows existing Drobo users to simply remove disks from their current Drobo and move them to their new one.

4-bay Drobo storage unit. Image courtesy of Connected Data.4-bay Drobo storage unit. Image courtesy of Connected Data.This latest version of Drobo is a desktop form factor and weighs in at about 6 lbs 11 ounces (without drives, or power supply). It supports NTFS for Windows and HFS+ for Mac OS X file systems and Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 OS (32 / 64 bit) and Mac OS X 10.7 or higher. The drives are sold separately but the customer can purchase them from any manufacturer, with any capacity or speed. The unit will support up to four 3.5" SATA I / II / III hard disk drives or solid state drives (SSDs). The unit comes with one USB 3.0 port with USB cable for connectivity.

This unit also includes an integrated feature that allows users to dedicate a specific amount of capacity for Time Machine backups that preserves the maximum space available for data storage. In the event of a disk drive failure, the device will rebuild up to four times faster.

For ease of use, no tools are required to add drives and drives can be hot swapped. Drive bay lights give the user "Action Required" indicators, data transfer, space used, and other visual cues that give the user an idea of the health and status of the drives without having to open up additional software.

"With the addition of the latest generation of the best-selling Drobo, we are not only continuing with the simplicity that our customers appreciate, we are bringing added value in the form of investment protection to the owners of the previous two generations. No other product in the market allows you to not only increase your drive capacity on the fly, but move drives from a current system and slide them into a newer, faster model without complexity or downtime," said Disher.

Pre-orders are being accepted today with shipments expected to begin in late April.