Skip to main content

Drobo Mini and Drobo 5D: data redundancy shrinks to portable proportions, gains Thunderbolt and mSATA SSDs

Drobo Mini and Drobo 5D: data redundancy shrinks to portable proportions, gains Thunderbolt and mSATA SSDs

Share this story

Gallery Photo: Drobo Mini and Drobo 5D hands-on pictures
Gallery Photo: Drobo Mini and Drobo 5D hands-on pictures

External storage isn't the most exciting topic, until you need an extremely safe place for gigabytes upon gigabytes of precious photos and video to go. Then, CEO Tom Buiocchi hopes, you'll choose a Drobo: an external storage array that lets you pair drives of any size or type into a single logical, redundant whole. Today, that choice is easier than ever, if you've got the cash to spend, because Drobo has a pair of new prosumer products that are faster and more capable than before.

First up, the Drobo 5D: At $799, the 5D doesn't look like anything special, just a five-bay array with all of the company's proprietary data protection knowhow on board, but turn it around and you'll find a pair of Thunderbolt ports and a USB 3.0 socket for speedy connectivity with recent computers. For $599, however, the Drobo Mini is a entirely different story. It's a tiny Drobo that uses four 2.5-inch laptop-sized drive bays to do everything its bigger brother does, but in a portable package that weighs just three pounds fully loaded.

The Mini has a pretty clever case, too: the outside is a custom injection-molded plastic and metal matrix that feels pleasantly grippy to the touch and doubles as electromagnetic shielding. Four thin curved lightguides light up in each of four quadrants to tell you how your drives are doing, and there's a blue LED bar that can let you know how full the entire array is, too. Best of all, the 2.5-inch drives slot right into an extremely satisfying (and patent-pending) spring-loaded mechanism without screws, trays or rails of any sort. If a drive needs to be replaced, just push it in slightly, then pull it out, and stick another one in its place. The only thing that stands in the way of portability is the Mini's power requirements, as it needs an (included, and fairly small) AC adapter to do its thing. You can't run it off the Thunderbolt or USB bus alone, unfortunately.

The origins of the Drobo Mini (codename: Wheems) are interesting in and of themselves: Buiocchi says the team discovered that founder Julian Terry had jury-rigged a tiny custom Drobo for a rather unusual fit. "We literally walked into his office one day, and saw all these blue blinking lights in a server rack." After some deliberation, the company decided to turn the idea into a portable storage device instead. It sounded like a tall tale, but Drobo provided proof: we've got some pictures of that original prototype, and some pictures of what the Mini looks like inside that shell!

Both the Mini and the 5D have a pair of Thunderbolt ports so they can be daisy-chained together with other storage devices and peripherals, and both have a special surprise on the bottom, too: there's an mSATA bay so you can add a dedicated solid state drive to drastically increase the responsiveness of the system.

Drobo executives didn't have final speed ratings to share (or a unit to test), but told us both arrays should be able to achieve sequential transfer rates of between 200MB / sec and 300MB / sec with hard drives alone, and the mSATA SSD can increase IOPS by up to 300 percent. If you want to add more solid state drives, Drobo told us that it should detect and use those intelligently for maximum performance as well, as both the Mini and 5D include the data-aware tiering function previously only available on business-class Drobo. Find both units on sale next month, and plenty more technical details at our source links.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 16 minutes ago Striking out

A
Andrew Webster16 minutes ago
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.


E
TikTok
Spain’s Transports Urbans de Sabadell has La Bussí.

Once again, the US has fallen behind in transportation — call it the Bussí gap. A hole in our infrastructure, if you will.


J
External Link
Jay PetersSep 23
Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

“Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.


E
External Link
Insiders made the most money off of Helium’s “People’s Network.”

Remember Helium, which was touted by The New York Times in an article entitled “Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All?” Not only was the company misleading people about who used it — Salesforce and Lime weren’t using it, despite what Helium said on its site — Helium disproportionately enriched insiders, Forbes reports.


J
Youtube
James VincentSep 23
Nvidia’s latest AI model generates endless 3D models.

Need to fill your video game, VR world, or project render with 3D chaff? Nvidia’s latest AI model could help. Trained on 2D images, it can churn out customizable 3D objects ready to import and tweak.

The model seems rudimentary (the renders aren’t amazing quality and seem limited in their variety), but generative AI models like this are only going to improve, speeding up work for all sorts of creative types.


J
External Link
Jess WeatherbedSep 23
Japan will fully reopen to tourists in October following two and a half years of travel restrictions.

Good news for folks who have been waiting to book their dream Tokyo vacation: Japan will finally relax Covid border control measures for visa-free travel and individual travelers on October 11th.

Tourists will still need to be vaccinated three times or submit a negative COVID-19 test result ahead of their trip, but can take advantage of the weak yen and a ‘national travel discount’ launching on the same date. Sugoi!


T
External Link
Thomas RickerSep 23
Sony starts selling the Xperia 1 IV with continuous zoom lens.

What does it cost to buy a smartphone that does something no smartphone from Apple, Google, Samsung can? $1,599.99 is Sony’s answer: for a camera lens that can shift its focal length anywhere between 85mm and 125mm.

Here’s Allison’s take on Sony’s continuous-zoom lens when she tested a prototype Xperia 1 IV back in May: 

Sony put a good point-and-shoot zoom in a smartphone. That’s an impressive feat. In practical use, it’s a bit less impressive. It’s essentially two lenses that serve the same function: portrait photography. The fact that there’s optical zoom connecting them doesn’t make them much more versatile.

Still, it is a Sony, and like.no.other.