Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Drobo & My Experience With Drobo 5N2

Drobo 5N2 takes pride of place on my desk
I had some great news recently as my work in conjunction with Drobo seems to have paid off as they added me to their roster of ambassadors and with that made me part of their affiliate program - a program exclusively reserved for their ambassadors. Read more about it here with my profile page available here. With that I am now able to offer an exclusive 10% discount off for all products on the Drobo website. Simply enter code - DROBONIC at the checkout.


Drobo sent me a brand new Drobo 5N2 last August to test out along with 3x 8tb Seagate Ironwolf Pro drives. This unit has since featured heavily in my workflow and gives me piece of mind when it comes to storing backups of my images.


My Drobo 5N2 with current capacity usage
I’ve had a couple of basic NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives over the years including a Buffalo Linkstation and a Western Digital My World but always found these to be dreadfully slow especially when copying stuff to them. The Drobo unit by far exceeded my expectations in terms of transfer speeds and that’s without the mSATA slot filled. The 5N2 comes with 5x hot swappable bays (3 of which I have filled with the Seagate drives and 2 currently empty slots for future expansion) which means you can add or remove a hard drive while the unit is still powered on without causing any faults or malfunctions. I'm still in the process of migrating a lot of my data over to my Drobo.

As mentioned earlier I was blown away by the transfer speeds on the 5N2. I was used to getting around 12mb/s max while copying data to my old Buffalo Linkstation so when I hooked up my Drobo and sent a few gigabytes over to copy to it I couldn’t believe it when I saw 100mb/s. At some point I'll get around to filling the mSATA slot with a 128gb stick and I believe my Drobo will be capable of a lot faster write speeds as the mSATA solid state memory acts as a high speed cache between the original file’s location and the Drobo hard drives.

Drobo Dashboard desktop app
Initial setup of the unit was quick and easy. Slotting the hard drives in to place was done in a matter of seconds. Connecting the power lead and Ethernet cables to the 2x gigabit Ethernet ports was also a doddle. I was also required to download the Drobo Dashboard app so that I could configure the unit and install apps to run on the Drobo.

I have the DroboPix app on my iPhone 8 which allows me to back up photos and video from my iPhone directly to the Drobo 5N2. This gives me further peace of mind knowing that precious moments captured with my phone (that's right, I don't shoot everything with my camera) of my family and friends are backed up so in the terrifying prospect of possibly losing or damaging my phone some day I know that I have the important stuff backed up in the event that my iCloud backup didn't work. It's always good to have more than one backup. The DroboAccess app on my iPhone allows me to access my Drobo while on the move. I can pull down pretty much any content stored on my Drobo to view on my iPhone.

DroboAccess app on my iPhone

I have also recently installed Plex on the Drobo which acts as a media server. So I can now stream images, music and video stored on my Drobo to my laptop anywhere in the world, over to my Sony Android TV, PlayStation 4 Pro or even on my iPhone using the Plex app. This app is pretty cool as it catalogues media and pulls cover art and other info using the Gracenote metadata service.

Plex app on my iPhone

This is my current workflow (which I know isn’t perfect but works fine for me) and these are pretty much the same steps I go through every time I shoot commercial work.

  1. I copy all RAW files from my SD cards used on the shoot to my Drobo and a further two portable 1tb hard drives but also leave the RAW images on the SD cards. It’s always good practice to have data stored in three or more places
  2. I edit the images directly from one of the smaller 1tb drives in Lightroom
  3. Export the edited images to the same hard drive
  4. If any of the images need further editing in Photoshop then they will be edited at this point
  5. Once all images are finished I then copy to the other 1tb portable drive and my Drobo 5N2
  6. When delivering images to a client I sometimes create a Share folder on my Drobo and send the client the link

I've been extremely happy with my Drobo 5N2 thus far. It offers far more than what I'd thought and I haven't even scratched the surface with the numerous available apps that you can install. It's become an essential piece of kit in my office and I love that I can access my images anywhere at any time.

Thanks for reading.

I'd like to thank Drobo for sending the 5N2 out to me. I'd also like to thank Seagate for supplying the drives and Bernd at 360 Service.

For more information on Drobo products please take a look at their website

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