So we snagged a DroboShare to hook our lonesome, directly-attached Drobo into. At $200 for what's essentially a USB network adapter we had some pretty high expectations, but thankfully we've been pretty impressed so far. Setup simply entails upgrading your Drobo hardware and Dashboard software to the latest versions (v1.1), restarting the box, and then plugging into the DroboShare. That's it. Detection, configuration, everything else is entirely automatic. Within a few moments it auto-mounts as a shared network drive via SMB, regardless of what file system the Drobo itself is running, or whether you're running Windows or Mac. (For those running on Linux or other operating systems, the DS is still accessible over your network via standard SMB share just like any other server.)

Click on for more on network auto-mounting and a couple speed tests.

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DroboShare Drobo NAS mini-review



The real magic happens when you leave or arrive at the network your Drobo's on, though. Unplug and, depending on the OS, the drive dismounts -- usually between 30-60 seconds. Plug back in and it's back up in under 20 seconds (usually). Sometimes it took a little longer when switching between wired and wireless networks on our LAN, but once we made a few manual connections things started working fine automatically. For what it's worth, to date this might be the best network share auto-mounting system we've seen -- it's certainly way ahead of Apple's weak showing of autoFS in Leopard.

Here are a few quick bits to chew on.

780MB file write to DroboShare:
  • 802.11g - 9:20 (1.4MBps)
  • Wired gigabit Ethernet - 2:10 (6MBps)
  • (Read from DroboShare over gig Ethernet - 1:40 [8MBps])
Other:
  • The DroboShare has a Y-cable for the power cord, so it doesn't need another brick. Lovely!
  • The email alerts worked well and immediately. We tested an unexpected drive swap and immediately got an alert from the DroboShare to all the email addresses we specified. This feature alone might be worth the $200 for some.
  • Should you dismount the drive by accident, the client will auto-mount it again for you every time. This process took about 16 seconds for us.
  • Data Robotics has tested the DroboShare to with Time Machine over SMB with HFS+, and while it's "not recommended," it does, apparently, work.
  • The drives do power down after a set period of inactivity -- unfortunately this period is neither openly documented (we hear it's about 15 minutes) nor configurable. If you like to keep yours spun up 24/7, you might have to complain and wait a while for an update.
Is a $700 barebones, networked, redundant drive enclosure worth it to you? Maybe, maybe not -- but for our money, a Drobo with DroboShare definitely takes the cake in its category. Despite the price and its shortcomings (like its reliance on SMB, and inability to do AFP, NFS, etc.) we still can't think of a better product on the market today.

DroboShare makes your Drobo NAS -- for a price