Some people love them (easy to configure RAID storage).  Other people hate them (speed, reliability issues).  Either way, Drobo is bringing multi-drive network attached storage to the masses.  We’ve covered Drobo and Droboshare and DroboApps before

Today, Drobo is announcing their newest product, DroboPro.  It basically doubles the amount of drive bays to eight and puts a reasonable $1300 price tag on the setup.  It has the Droboshare networking built-in over iSCSI 1Gb Ethernet.  You can also use Firewire 800 or Hi speed USB.  DroboApps should also work on this setup.  This will hit the sweet spot of many small busineeses and high end home setups.  We’ll have to get some reviews before we’re sold on it, however.

Technically you could load this thing up with 2TB drives and have 16TB of storage (though much less with RAID, obviously).  More info below. (Drobo’s site is slow for some reason at the moment)


Introducing DroboPro.
Download the DroboPro Datasheet <!– DroboPro Images–> DroboPro 360 Degree View        

Introducing DroboPro <!–


Storage That Manages Itself

–> Introducing DroboPro, the first business class storage array that manages itself. Engineered to be both simple and scalable, the revolutionary BeyondRAID™ technology incorporated into DroboPro frees businesses of making the difficult and confining choices commonly associated with storage management. Why trade simplicity for safety, or stability for expandability? DroboPro delivers both enterprise-level data safety and unprecedented expandability, featuring single and dual disk redundancy combined with instant capacity expansion. Once you experience DroboPro, you just might forget the differences between all eleven traditional RAID levels. If you do, don’t panic. You’re experiencing the peace of mind that comes with every Drobo® product.

*Learn more about Drobo’s revolutionary technology

Up to 8 Disks of Instant Expansion to 16TB and Beyond
Grow your storage in line with your data capacity needs with minimal effort. To add capacity, simply insert a new hard disk or replace your smallest disk with a larger one, even when all eight disk bays are full. Unlike traditional RAID systems, the BeyondRAID technology found in DroboPro enables you to mix n’ match disk brands, capacities and speeds. This allows continuous expansion as disk capacities grow. With DroboPro expansion is automatic, instantaneous and access to data is always maintained.

No Headache Dual Disk Redundancy
Enable the Dual Disk Redundancy option to protect against the simultaneous failure of up to two hard disks. It’s all done with a single click, without ever losing access to your data. Running out of space? You can even switch back to single disk redundancy with a click. For instance, unlike moving between RAID 5 and RAID 6, there’s no need to reformat or migrate data off of the array, potentially saving you hours or days.

Triple Interface Featuring iSCSI
iSCSI, FireWire and USBAttach DroboPro directly to the server or workstation that requires storage or to a shared server or workstation on your network that can provide access to multiple clients. Interface options include:

  • iSCSI (utilizes Gigabit Ethernet)
  • FireWire 800
  • Hi-Speed USB 2.0

Unfamiliar with iSCSI? It’s a high performance protocol that has become extremely popular with businesses, but it can often be complex to manage. DroboPro changes that by introducing zero click iSCSI connection establishment for both Windows and OS X.

*Learn more about DroboPro and iSCSI

The Virtues of Smart Volumes
Create new volumes in seconds and manage up to 16 x 16TB volumes over time with ease. The innovative and timesaving Smart Volume management technology integrated into DroboPro allows volumes to pull storage from the common pool of disks rather than a specific physical disk allocation. The labor of resizing and migrating volumes is replaced with the simplicity of intelligent engineering.

Rack Mount Ready, Desktop Quiet
Drobo in Rack Mount DroboPro is equally at home in a rack mount environment as it is on your desktop. Dual smart fans automatically manage their speeds to optimize both cooling and operating noise. (DroboPro Rack Mount sold separately.)

Additional Features

DroboPro Showcase

360° View



Case Studies

Wayne Titus, President, AMDG

The data that we use is extremely critical. To make sure that that data is maintained, kept confidential, and that we don’t have it at any risk of loss is extremely important.

AMDG provides wealth advisory services to philanthropic and socially responsible minded families in the Detroit Metro area. Wayne Titus, AMDG’s president, sets a high standard for maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of the financial data that his firm manages on behalf of its clients. Read more

Rob Miller, owner of IT consulting firm F1 Technologies

A client had a couple of external USB drives that they were storing their data on. They had more than one backup, but they had them both in the same location and their office got flooded. They lost both of their drives.

After many requests from worried clients, Miller started offering customized off-site backup as a service, using Drobo as the storage device. Read more

John Grow, Commercial Photographer

Before he became a commercial photographer, SLP Photography’s John Grow designed disk drive systems for Seagate and Maxtor, so he knew that he needed backup for every hard drive in his company. Eventually, he ended up with five external hard drives, and had problems keeping track of what photos were on which drive. The solution he came up with? Drobo. Read more

Additional Resources

<!–  –>DroboPro FAQs
<!–  –>DroboPro Datasheet <!––>
DroboPro and iSCSI
Migrating your data from Drobo to DroboPro
DroboPro Overview On-Demand Webinar
DroboPro Guided Tour On-Demand Webinar

DroboPro: RAID without Regrets
  BeyondRAID Technology
  File System and Operation System Agnostic
  Mixed Drive Capacity Utilization
  Redundantly Safe
  Proprotional Rebuild Times
  Thin Provisioning
  Smart Volumes
  Storage Virtualization
  Drive Reordering

BeyondRAID™ Technology
Every Drobo product comes with the revolutionary BeyondRAID storage technology — the next generation of redundant disk protection. BeyondRAID will not only keep your data safe, but also will increase uptime and availability. BeyondRAID technology offers several improvements over traditional RAID-based storage systems, including the flexibility to replace failed disks, increase capacity and with a single click switch between single and dual disk redundancy all without costly downtime.

Key features of BeyondRAID include:
  Data protection against two simultaneous hard disk failures
  Instant capacity expansion without downtime
  Automatic healing

File System and Operating System Agnostic
DroboPro and its underlying BeyondRAID technology currently support the Windows, Mac and Linux&sup1; platforms, with file system support for NTFS, HFS Plus, EXT3 and FAT32. Since DroboPro is a block level system, it easily adapts to almost any environment.

Mixed Drive Capacity Utilization
Grow storage in line with data capacity needs with minimal effort. To add capacity, customers can simply insert a new hard disk or replace the smallest disk with a larger one, even when all eight disk bays are full. Unlike traditional RAID systems, the BeyondRAID technology enables IT managers to efficiently mix n’ match disk brands, capacities and speeds. This allows for continuous expansion as disk capacities grow. Now, expansion is automatic, instantaneous and access to data is always maintained.

To find out exactly how much free capacity you’ll have with your choice of disk capacities, try out our interactive Capacity Calculator.

Redundantly Safe
Utilizing dual disk redundancy, DroboPro’s BeyondRAID technology can ensure your data is safe even if up to two disks fail simultaneously—all without a moment of downtime. You can even switch between single and dual disk redundancy with a click. You’ll feel safer knowing that if disks do fail, DroboPro automatically enters a state of self-healing wherein it relays out your data across the remaining healthy disks and sectors.

Proportional Rebuild Times
The time it takes DroboPro to rebuild data after a drive failure or removal is proportional to the amount of data stored in the pool—meaning the less capacity that is used, even on a 2TB disk, the shorter your rebuild times will be. This is superior to traditional RAID, which lacks proportional rebuild times, and is forced relay out every bit even if it does not contain user data.

Since DroboPro is “Data Aware”, it tracks where data is on each disk, so it can differentiate between used and unused portions of disk. This expedites rebuild times and reduces your risk of losing data to an additional disk failure. In short, your data is safer on a Drobo.

When DroboPro detects a "bad" hard disk, it proactively advises you with a series of warnings ranging from a blinking red LED on its front panel, to pop-up alerts in Drobo Dashboard, to email alerts. What DroboPro does next is exceptional. Entering a self-healing mode where it repairs around the bad sector or disk, DroboPro will work until it returns to the safest state possible. If DroboPro has sufficient time and free capacity (indicated by all lights returning to a solid green state), it can even withstand additional hard disk failures — that’s the power of self-healing.

Smart Volumes™
Create new volumes in seconds and manage up to 16 x 16TB volumes over time with ease. The innovative and timesaving Smart Volume management technology integrated into DroboPro allows volumes to pull storage from the common pool of disks rather than a specific physical disk allocation. The labor of resizing and migrating volumes is replaced with the simplicity of intelligent engineering. And increasing the available pool of storage on DroboPro is as simple adding or upsizing drives.&sup2;

Storage Virtualization
BeyondRAID was designed from the ground up to allow the storage capacity of the array to expand and contract. BeyondRAID makes this a simple process by utilizing a technology called “virtualization.” Virtualization provides a layer of abstraction between the data requested by the file system and the physical location of that data on the disk drives. A given piece of data can be located on any drive, and on any physical location on that drive. This is what makes adding a drive to a Drobo so simple. The new drive just provides additional places to store data.

Virtualization is what enables BeyondRAID to effortlessly change the data arrangement on the drives, for example, changing data stored as a mirror into data stored as parity stripe, say, without interrupting the user access to data. Virtualization completely decouples the physical space available in the array from the space reported to the operating system. This is how BeyondRAID is able to remove the need to manually expand/contract the file system as more space becomes available or is removed.

Thin Provisioning
Thin Provisioning is a technical term that describes how the BeyondRAID technology communicates with your operating system. BeyondRAID communicates with your OS about how much disk space you have, up to 16TB per volume (this varies with older operating and file systems). Specifying a larger amount of storage than is physically available allows you to grow into the volume without having to reformat or migrate your data in order to add capacity. BeyondRAID automatically also reclaims space as you delete files.

DroboPro is storage that manages itself. There are no complex configuration screens, DIP switches, confounding choices, web consoles or other complications that prevent so many other storage devices from working out of the box.

Drive Reordering
One long-standing requirement inherent in traditional RAID-based systems was that if for some reason you needed to remove the drives, you’d have to replace the drives in the exact same order. When you remove your disks from DroboPro, you can put them back in any order you like.

&sup1; Linux support in Beta
&sup2; The creation of multiple Smart Volumes will be supported through Drobo Dashboard v1.5.0.



DroboPro Product Specifications

Disk Interface
     Eight-bay capacity
     3.5" SATA I or SATA II hard disk drives
     No carriers required
     Mix and match capacities, disk brands and speeds

Continuously upgradeable with larger and faster drives. Use our interactive tool to estimate your storage in various configurations.

DroboPro Size

  Width Height Length
Inches 12.17 5.46 14.1
mm 309.1 138.7 358.1

 Weight: 16lbs 3ozs (without hard drives or packaging)
 3U for a standard 19" rack

Host Interface

iSCSI (utilizes Gigabit Ethernet)
FireWire 800
High Speed USB 2.0

Normal operation: 30.4 dB


Box Contents
6′ USB 2.0 cable
6′ FireWire 800 cable
6′ Ethernet cable
User Guide and Quick Start Instructions
Resource CD includes:
      Drobo Dashboard application
      Help files
      Electronic Documentation

Certification: Emissions
FCC Part 15 Class B and Safety: UL, cUL

Kensington lock port
(lock not included)

Power Specifications
Power Specifications

Idle system (standby, drives off): 13 watts
Typical idle system – idle, drive spin down mode (eight drives): 25 watts
Typical busy system (eight drives): 82 watts

Operating System Support
Windows 2008 Server
Windows 2003 Server
Windows XP (Service Pack 3)
Windows Vista (Service Pack 1)
Mac OS X 10.4.11 and greater
Mac OS X Server 10.4.11 or greater
(Mac OS X 10.5.6 or greater recommended for optimal iSCSI performance and reliability)
Linux using EXT3&sup3;

File System Options
Windows: NTFS
Mac OS X: HFS+
Cross-Platform: FAT32
Linux: EXT3

Two (2) year warranty or as provided by local law.


1 iSCSI support for Windows XP Server and Vista utilizes the Microsoft Windows iSCSI Initiator; for OS X Drobo Dashboard is required as OS X does not have an integrated iSCSI initiator. Drobo Dashboard includes iSCSI initiators for Windows and OS X free of charge and enables zero click iSCSI connection establishment.

2 Acoustics tests performed 1m from the front of DroboPro with eight 1TB Western Digital GreenPower™ drives during a file copy to DroboPro. DroboPro has a smart, multi-speed fan system governed by internal temperature sensors that operate the fan at optimal speeds. The fan is programmed to minimize noise, but never at the expense of disk integrity. The fan will switch to higher speeds if necessary in hot operating environments or during strenuous usage to keep the temperature within the drive manufacturer’s specifications.

3 Linux support currently in Beta.


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About the Author

Seth Weintraub

Publisher and Editorial Director of the 9to5/Electrek sites.

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