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Data Robotics Drobo 4-Bay Review

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October 20, 2010

There has been a big buzz about the Drobo devices for quite some time now. Anyone that uses a computer (both PC and Mac) have either experienced data loss, or know someone that has. I myself have had this happen before, and it's the worst feeling ever.

When using digital media's like Dslr's or Digital video cameras, backup is an important step. The Drobo handles this for you, and it is also a scalable storage solution. What this means is that you can add drives to the unit, or swap out the drives in it with larger ones without having to know anything about computers or Raid setups. The Drobo reviewed here is the 4-Bay, which means it has room for four SATA hard drives. A minimum of 2 drives are needed for the unit to work.

Does the Drobo live up to the hype? read on to find out.


Interface: FireWire-800, USB 2.0
Data Transfer Rate: FireWire-800
Approximately 40MB/sec
USB 2.0
Read: 22 MB/sec
Write: 20 MB/sec
Drive Types Supported: 3.5" SATA and SATA II
System Requirements: Computer: PC or Mac
Operating System: Windows 2000, 2003, XP, 7, Vista; Mac OS X 10.4
Hardware: FireWire-800 or USB 2.0 port; 3.5" SATA hard drives to populate enclosure
Power Requirements: AC: 100-240VAC
Included accessories: Power Cord
FireWire-800 Cable
USB Cable
Software Resource CD-ROM with Drobo Dashboard Application, Help Files, How-to Videos, and Electronic Documentation
User Guide
Quick Start Card
1-Year Limited Warranty
Dimensions (WxHxD)

6 x 6.3 x 10.7" (15.2 x 16 x 27.2cm)

weight: 6.7 lb. (3.1kg)
Price from: $339.87 USD

Drobo Front Open
This is the front of the Drobo with the cover removed

Drobo 4 Bay rear connections
Rear view.


  • Scalable storage.
  • Easy to set up.
  • Nice design.
  • Power, 100-240VAC, travel with your device? well not likely, but it did allow me to buy it from B&H in the US and use the device in Norway without any voltage converters therby saving me quite a bit of $ as well.
  • Size.
  • Price.


  • Speed?
  • No on/off switch
  • Driver support under windows systems.
  • Proprietary protection, if the unit fails you need a new unit to access your data.

Drobo Read/write Speed
Drobo Read/Write Speed on win 7 x64 with Unibrain drivers


The setup is easy and no knowledge of computers is needed to get this up and running. For people that don't want to mess with setting up Raid(or don't know how to), the Drobo is a great solution. Just pop in hard drives and you are set to go. One of the best features of the unit compared to running Raid setup on your PC is that you can move the Drobo between computers and/or Mac's if you set it up to do so. The scalable feature is great as well.

There are a few key things that's missing on the Drobo, for one, an on/off switch. I use the Drobo as a backup device, and since there is no on/off switch I have to unplug the power to the device when I'm not using it.
The fan noise is a bit too loud for my taste. My computers run pretty silent, so the Drobo stands out as far as the noise level in my office.

I'd like to see an eSATA connection to the unit, as I find it quite slow to transfer large amounts of data. However if you are now using external HDD's as your backup solution and only have USB 2.0 or FireWire 800 ports on your computer you might not see this as a drawback, but I'm sure one day down the road, you will be wishing the unit had eSATA connection as well.
*Most of my complaints about this version of the Drobo has been fixed in the Drobo S, but it also almost doubles the price of the unit.

Final line is; stylish desing, works great(so far), easy to use, right price, but a bit slow for my taste(it does knock the socks of a USB external device though)

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Data Robotics 4-Bay Drobo Robotic Storage Array Enclosure $339.87


Purchasing items through these links helps me adding more content to this website. The links takes you to B&H's website, which is my recommended store to get equipment from. I've used B&H personally since 2005, and I get all my equipment from them these days(including the equipment used for these reviews). Thanks for your support, Fredrik.

Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ 4-Bay Price: $298.95

PROAVIO editBOX 4PM Array Enclosure Price: $328.95

D-Link 4-Bay Network Storage Enclosure Price: $355.95

Drobo S 5-Bay Array Enclosure Price: $674.47 USD

More Data Robotics solutions

*Prices are subject to change. Listed price is from October 20, 2010

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Drobo Review © 2010 Fredrik A. Rasmussen. All rights reserved.