Drobo 5N Review and Setup

Drobo 5N is the hardware that I use for my main drive storage. I have had it for some time now so this review is a little dated. I keep on getting requests to answer questions about it, so I thought I would throw up a review for the Drobo 5N and answer some of those questions.

Specs and Performance

Drobo is widely known for its ease of use. This usually translates into a higher cost as well which is the case here, but nowhere near the cost of its older siblings. The 5N family of products really stood out as it fits nicely on your desk and is quiet and attractive as well. It holds 5 individual drives of any type. The unique thing about drobo 5N is that you dont need to know anything about RAID as their software does everything for you. This is what attracted me to it.

It runs a flavor of Linux for it operating system with a low-power four-core Marvell Armada XP system-on-chip (SoC) processor. The processor is accompanied by 2 gigabytes of Sk Hynix DDR3 system memory. I have the 5N2 with the 2 ethernet ports on it so the speed is duplex gigabit. A removable cover on the bottom of the system hides an mSATA port. You can install a solid-state drive for high-speed IO caching via Drobo’s Data Aware Tiering.

Drobo 2
Drobo 5N


This is where it gets a bit interesting as some people do not value their data as much as I do. This Drobo 5N2 starts are $499 with NO drives included. Yes, you can buy a cheap computer with a faster processor and ram and put linux on it yourself. You won’t though. That is where the value of this is. The BeyondRaid software on here is super worth it as it makes drive management easy. I said that you can have any drive in there. I meant ANY drive. You can combine SSD with spin drive and the hybrids as well.

Drobo 5N BeyondRaid

This ability to have any drive in there is the strength of this piece of hardware. Right now I have three 6TB drives and two 2TB drives in there. That adds up to 22TB of space, but I have it running Dual Disk Redundancy. This means that I can lose 2 disks and still be protected, BUT it drops my available space to 9TB. This is similar to a RAID 6+0 type situation, but the Drobo does it with only 5 differing drives instead of 8 exactly the same. One of my beefs is that Windows sees some strange amount of total. It is, in fact, the total amount that the 5N2 can support which is 64TB.

Drobo 3


Drobo provides a very robust interface with many things included. It can be a bit daunting when first looked at, but once you start getting around, you can find things easy. It is also NOT a browser interface, it is actual software and it runs in the system tray.

In the dashboard you will also find Drobo Apps which allows you to do much more than just store data. Run a media server, FTP site, web based backup and many other things. You must keep an eye on what the system is really capable of running though. I went to try and run Plex and it just could not handle the transcoding for more than one stream. I have 3 potentially streams running so I just have my media server using a share on Drobo.


One of the things that I would stress is that this is not a backup device. This is a piece of hardware that you will use every day. It changes everyday. You still need to get yourself a good backup that you can house offsite in case something happens, like a house fire. Even with full dual redundancy, a fire will kill everything.

Using it everyday means that you need to setup the shares on here and it is very easy to do so. I have 6 running and have security for each one differently. My daughter likes the fact that her stuff is safe from a computer failure and I dont look at it everyday, but she wishes that I would turn on remote access so she can see it from school.


Even though there are some issues with the hardware I would give it a thumbs up for purchase. I have a few answers on the amazon page for people that were having some problems, but feel free to leave comments here as well if you want.