Tech Stand-Off: DroboPro vs. Mid-Range PC

Tech Stand-Off: DroboPro vs. Mid-Range PC

Anthony Nguyen
Apr 9, 2009

Just yesterday, Data Robotics announced their latest release of the DroboPro, a business class storage solution, which features a monstrous allowance of hard drive bays - 8 to be exact - catering to all your mediaphile needs. Still, we couldn't help but wonder if the $1300 price tag was justified. I mean, c'mon - you can grab a $300 PC with a large case and RAID to do just about the same thing, right? We've got the benefits and negatives awaiting you, after the jump.

Edit: Correction - it's not a NAS! Despite having ethernet connectvity, you still need to plug this bad boy into a server or desktop PC - not just a router or a hub. Thanks for catching this!

Despite being huge collectors of media stuffs ourselves, we can't bear to look at the ghastly $1300 price tag without cringing a bit inside. Is the device worth it?

Here are a couple of reasons to own the DroboPro in addition to a PC:

  • Hot Swappable Storage. Pull dead drives, or small drive and instantly swap them out with larger, working drives all while still able to access data (or playing video from the Drobo without having it skip).
  • Mixed hard drive storage sizes which you don't get with RAID. RAID requires same size drive per slice or you only get aggregate of the smallest size slice. Drobo supports any size per slice.
  • Automatic format/setup of each new hard drive. Drobo autocorrects bad sectors (marking off) while maintaining your data integrity using the redundant data features of the Drobo. Also if a drive dies, it'll alert you and you just swap the drive out without interrupting any work you're doing. RAID would require you to rebuild without any access (or limited access) to the data in the interim and the RAID rebuild could take hours.

And here are a few reasons why sticking with the PC would make more sense:

  • Space savings.Who needs another box around when you can just grab a large case to store the drives?
  • You can set up automated image-based backups instead. Though maybe slower, can provide you with whole images of a computer system "as is" in case of a virus outbreak.

So in the end, it's really up to the price you'd be willing to pay for convenience. Is waiting not your game? Then grab the Drobo. If you need to do more than just store files, go the PC route. You'll most likely get much more functionality out of it, but will have to deal with the common gripes of a dedicated PC - crashing, viruses, your little cousin accidentally deleting your My Documents, etc... but all of these are avoidable with the right type of software and backup solutions.

The DroboPro comes with USB 2.0, twin FireWire 800 sockets (both of which are compatible with FireWire 800-to-400 adapters) and a gigabit Ethernet jack. It is set to retail for $1300 later this week.

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