Review: Drobo Mini for External Storage

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For solution providers seeking a versatile, reasonably priced external storage device, the CRN Test Center recommends the Drobo Mini.

This little device provides 2.5-inch hot-swap bays for spinning or SSD media, and connects to both Apple and Windows machines via USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt. Drobo provides a small setup app to set format and protection preferences.

The Drobo Mini’s proprietary protocol provides about 2.75 TB of available storage with all four bays populated with 1-TB drives, and protects data from single drive failure. With a couple of 1-TB drives installed, a 1-GB file was copied over Thunderbolt in about 10 seconds. While streaming a video file from the Mini, the same process took almost two seconds longer, and the video skipped a few times. When the Test Center added Drobo’s msata SSD, the same file transferred in eight to nine seconds with just one skip. With each additional file added, the capacity of each file was available about 15 seconds after insertion.

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The Drobo Mini has a magnetic driver cover, surrounded by power-indicating LEDs. An internal battery powers the device through brief power outages.

The Drobo Mini has a street price of around $300; MSRP is $449.