Friday, October 20, 2017

Drobo 5D RAID Storage Device Review

Drobo 5D gives you fast transfer speeds through Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.

One of the ways we communicate with our audience is through video. We write, produce, and finish videos frequently and have found that the standard storage options are actually sub-standard. If you are familiar with the world of video editing at all, you will know that files used for video editing are not small. There has been more than one occasion where hard drives have failed on me – sometimes, right in the middle of a project. Needless to say, I do understand the importance of a data backup and a strong backup system. That’s why when I was originally introduced to Drobo, I was immediately intrigued and excited about what it does.
Since I was originally introduced to Drobo a few years ago, there have been some wonderful advances in drive speed and technologies. Now, one of the products that Drobo has available is the Drobo 5D, which allows for transfer through Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 technology.
BeyondRAIDFor those new to the redundant backup world, let me take a moment to explain why Drobo is so cool. To understand Drobo’s BeyondRAID system, you first have to understand what a RAID is. RAID stands for “redundant array of independent disks” and it’s a technology that was originally developed in the 1980s. RAID is a data storage technology that combines multiple physical disk drive components into a single unit for data redundancy. This provides the user with a system that is like a security blanket. You can store your files on it and not have to worry about a drive failure because if one drive fails, the others take up the slack so that you don’t lose your data. 
Drobo took traditional RAID technology and added a layer of virtualization that chooses the correct protection algorithm based on data availability needs at any given moment. BeyondRAID works at the block level so it can write data that alternates between RAID protection levels. BeyondRAID can also switch from a single to dual disk redundancy using the Drobo Dashboard software. If a drive fails, Drobo automatically re-lays out the data to remaining drives to return to a protected state. You will see by the photos in this article that the Drobo has many different indicator lights. The lights on the right side of the unit indicate the drive’s status. Green means it’s running properly and all systems are go. When a drive has failed, or has been ejected, the other drives flash an orange color until the system has been made right by replacing the bad or missing drive. Drobo made this light coding simple to understand and even includes a key on the inside of the case’s cover.
This BeyondRAID technology is the reason to have a Drobo. For a video editor, having the extreme amount of drive space combined with the redundant backup is the ideal set-up in my opinion. It gives you the freedom and security to work on what you need to and not have to worry about drive failure.
Backup Battery
One of the concerns you have with any hard drive or computer is power failure. We always make sure we have our computers or external hard drives plugged into a battery backup power strip. That way if there is a power surge or complete failure, your computer systems can be shutdown properly rather than abruptly. The engineers from Drobo took this into consideration when designing the 5D as they included the same internal battery that all Drobos have. This internal battery is used to keep the processor and memory working long enough to preserve your data before shutting off. This is a great feature of Drobos in general and something I really appreciate about the 5D.
Drobo 5D Features
Now that I’ve covered the basics about Drobos in general, I’d like to discuss why the 5D is so special. What makes the 5D so great is its transfer speed and its high capacity for storage. The 5D’s twin – the 5N – is a network Drobo, but the 5D isn’t. The 5D is meant to be an active, working drive. You connect to it through either Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 as I mentioned before. The latest generation of USB 3.0 has an incredible 5Gbps high-performance while the Thunderbolt connection boasts a hefty 10 Gbps performance speed. This is what makes the Drobo 5D ideal for video editing. One problem I’ve always had with video editing and external hard drives is that they don’t have a fast enough connection for real-time editing. The Drobo 5D does.
Along with its super fast transfer speeds, the Drobo 5D also has the option to house up to 30TB. There are five drive bays in the 5D and each can hold up to a 6TB hard drive. If you are considering using the 5D for video projects, 30TB will be more than enough for a working hard drive system. Something new with the 5D is that you have the option of using SSDs rather than standard desktop hard drive. This drive option gives you the opportunity to increase your overall performance even more. The 5D also has the inclusion of one mSATA solid state drive in the Drobo Accelerator Bay. The mSATA card helps to prioritize the system’s data and recognizes what files you access more often. The card then pulls those files to the front of the line (so to speak) as a time saver.
In addition to using the Drobo 5D has a working video editing drive, I’ve also used it as a standard archival device and moving files on and off of it is smooth and easy. With this in mind, Drobo also designed the 5D to work with the Apple Time Machine backup system so that you have a redundant system in place in the event of hard drive failure. The 5D also has an incredible software base in the Drobo Dashboard. This system makes it very easy to navigate through your Drobo and find the files you need quickly.
The Drobo 5D is a nice, desktop class backup system. It’s compact enough to keep it on your desk, but also built strong enough (the exterior case is metal) to be able to store it somewhere out-of-sight if you wish. One thing I would suggest is that you make sure wherever the Drobo is being stored is well ventilated. While the unit comes equipped with cooling fans, it does still generate quite a bit of energy and heat.
Drobo Care
I don’t know about you, but whenever I purchase a new Apple product, I make sure to get Apple Care on it. On more that one occasion the warranty provided through Apple has saved my well-being by them replacing phones. Well, Drobo has a similar warranty system in Drobo Care. It’s a great option to have Drobo’s tech support available to you in case issues occur.
The Drobo 5D is a a superior back-up system for the active user. There are other storage solutions out there from Drobo, but if you are looking for a system that runs side-by-side with your computer at blazing fast speeds, look no further than the 5D.