Drobo announces Gen3 4-bay array

Drobo's popular 4-drive array is now faster, better - native Time Machine support - and cheaper. Here's what you need to know.

The new/old team at Drobo—now part of Connected Data—is climbing back in the saddle with an upgraded 4-drive unit. Key features include:

  • Time Machine support. You can now choose to have one TM volume and one main volume. Or not.
  • USB 3.0. They claim a 3x improvement.
  • Faster rebuild times. Takes less than half the former time.
  • Lower price: $349. That's with no drives.

What hasn't changed is that Drobo is still the easiest array to manage. If you can tell green from red and yellow you can manage a Drobo. Add or replace a drive when it fills up to get more capacity. If a drive fails, slide it out and plug in a new one without any tools. 

Drobo uses a simple form of thin-provisioning—it fools your OS into believing it has more capacity than it does - so that when you add a larger drive you don't have to reformat and reload your data.

You can also opt for dual-failure protection. This reduces your total capacity, but it also means that two drives can fail and you still won't lose data. As regular readers know, as drive capacities grow, unrecoverable read failures—and rebuild failures—are much more common. This protection is a good feature.

The Storage Bits take
Geoff Barrall, who founded Drobo, Connected Data, and enterprise storage vendor BlueArc, has again taken control of Drobo through a merger with Connected Data. Drobo had some product transition and execution issues that killed growth for a few quarters, leading the VCs to walk away.

Geoff is a brilliant computer scientist and serial entreprenuer, so here's hoping he can breathe new life into the innovative Drobo product line.

Comments welcome, as always.  I like my Thunderbolt Drobo mini, but what do you other Drobo users think?