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Drobo 5C 5-bay USB Type-C DAS Review - More Bays!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Drobo

Introduction and Packaging

The Drobo 5D launched a few years ago and continues to be a pricey solution, running close to $600. This was due to added complexity with its mSATA hot data cache and other features that drove the price higher than some potential buyers were happy with. Sure the cache was nice, but many photographers and videographers edit their content on a faster internal SSD and only shift their media to their external storage in bulk sequential file copies. These users don’t necessarily need a caching tier built into their mass storage device - as they just want good straight-line speed to offload their data as fast as possible.

With new management and a renewed purpose with a focus on getting lower cost yet performant products out there, Drobo relaunched their base 4-bay product in a third-generation form. We tested that unit back in December of 2014, and its performance was outstanding for a unit that typically runs in the mid-$200 price range. The price and performance were great, but things were a bit tight when trying to use Dual Disk Redundancy while limited to only four installed drives. A fifth bay would have certainly been handy, as would USB-C connectivity, which brings me to the subject of today’s review:

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I present to you the Drobo 5C. Essentially a 5-bay replacement to the 4-bay 3rd gen Drobo. This will become the new base model Drobo, meaning there will no longer be any 4-bay models in Drobo's product lineup:

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Read on for our review of the new Drobo 5C!

Packaging

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The Drobo unboxing experience is always dead simple. Double boxing, solid packaging, simple instructions.

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Included are the Drobo 5C, power supply and cabling, and...

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...a USB Type-A to Type-C cable. Since most systems still have their USB 3 connectivity via a Type-A connector, the 5C comes with a Type-C to Type-A cable. Type-C to Type-C cables can be purchased separately, and since the connection is data-only, there’s no need to worry about melty cables. Note that there is usually a quick start instruction card in the box, but our unit came to us before these were finalized.


October 10, 2016 | 09:26 PM - Posted by Chris Covington (not verified)

With Drobo having a VP of Ops who previously was caught offering to bribe hardware sites for good reviews, it makes me wonder about them.

October 10, 2016 | 09:45 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Just in case there is any doubt here, I was not offered anything above the typical pre-briefing and sample for testing. Same thing that happens with any other item we review. I've never had any interactions with Drobo that I would consider immoral.

October 11, 2016 | 03:24 AM - Posted by Prodeous13 (not verified)

Since this 5 bay DAS shows a nice reduction in price, I wonder how long (or if ever) then 5 bay NAS will also see a price reduction.

As for the review, it does follow the great reviews I'm used to seeing from PCPer as a whole.

@ Allyn Would you recommend a DAS over a NAS? I'm trying to figure out where such a product fits. with NAS you can access it from an entire network... ok well I guess speed wise, 1GB limits to max 120is MB/s... kind of answered that myself :)

I do wonder, now that 2.5/5Gb nics are coming out, how soon Drobo will announce support.

And finally, Asus just released a "cheap - $250usd" Switch (2x10Gb + 8x1Gb). Wonder if 10Gb ports would be backwards compatible with 2.5/5 via some update.

Overall more speed the better. and having DAS speeds via NAS would be a welcomed improvement :)

October 11, 2016 | 11:59 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The argument for DAS is when you want to have your mass storage closer to your main editing system, where it can enjoy the throughput and latency bonus of not having to pass over a gigabit network. If that system happens to be always-on, you can simply share the DAS out via that system, effectively making it into a NAS. One bonus there is that you are covered by the security updates on the host OS instead of having to ensure yet another box (NAS) is updated. You won't get the additional remote access bells and whistles seen on some dedicated NAS boxes, but much of that functionality can be replicated by applications run on the host.

Backwards compatibility for 2.5 and 5 Gbit will likely require new hardware, as the point of those lower grades is to use lower cost / lower power hardware to drive the copper.

November 14, 2016 | 05:14 AM - Posted by TinkerToyTech

Allyn,

Could you move drives from a 5N to a 5C?

Can you potentially increase throughput by adding MSATA?

I will be plugging this into an USB 3.1 port on a Z170X-UD5 Mainboard.

Thank you!

Proud Patreon supporter!

November 15, 2016 | 10:36 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The 5N and 5C have competely different file formats. The N uses its own internal file system, while the C is directly mounted to the host (and uses a file system managed by the host PC).

Drobo has a migration guide here, complete with a matrix on what can move to what.

November 23, 2016 | 12:27 PM - Posted by Sharma (not verified)

Just curious on the migration you did for this test. Which Drobo did you migrate the disks FROM to the 5C?

I have a 5D and looking to move current disks to the newer 5C so that I can upgrade the 5D with new disks but Drobo's migration matrix only lists migration from 5C to 5D/5Dt not the other way around.

Would appreciate any comments on this.

November 27, 2016 | 04:33 PM - Posted by arbiter

Just got my 5c yesturday, has 5x4tb WD red's in it with 5.4tb used. Used ATTO just now i had as high as 260-270MB/s write speeds and seems maxed 230-240MB/s read.

December 16, 2016 | 10:15 AM - Posted by modo (not verified)

My new drobo is quite slow 60/90 mb/s (drives tested in a pc were 230/230). I'm using 2x8t seagate skyhawks. Any advice?

The enclosure is also very loud, and often starts to resonate and vibrate.
HHD's where also quieter in a pc, in a drobo they have this grinding sound when working.

February 6, 2017 | 04:26 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does the 5C appear as an external drive? network drive? or only accessible via the drobo app?

Does it have backup (snapshot) or file versioning? If the PC gets a crypto-ransomware, can it be use to rollback to an earlier date?

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