Drobo Mini portable storage array

Drobo Mini

Currently, I have a couple of Seagate and Western Digital external hard drives for backing up my data. Although both have worked flawlessly, it’s time for me to consider something that’s not only more expandable, but offers greater protection for my data. And that’s led me to look at the Drobo Mini.

Launched in June 2012, the Drobo Mini is marketed as the world’s smallest and most portable full-featured storage array. It’s designed for both personal and business users, who can use it as either a primary storage drive, or as a backup device for a system.

The Drobo Mini takes 2.5-inch drives – the kind typically used in notebooks. It has four bays in total, which are hot-swappable, so you don’t need to mess about with carriages or screws each time you want to add or remove a drive. Not only can you mix and match drives from different manufacturers, you can also use drives with different capacities. If you add 4 x 1TB drives (currently the highest available capacity), that will give you 3TB of storage plus single drive redundancy, which I will explain in the next paragraph.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Drobo Mini, and in fact all Drobo storage arrays, is the protection they offer your data. They take all the installed drives, combine them into one single pool, and set some storage aside for redundancy – the Mini offers single or dual drive redundancy. So, even if the worst happens, and two of your drives fail – your data is still protected. In addition, in the event of a power cut, a battery protects any data in memory or cache.

LEDs located around the front edge of the Drobo Mini provide instant information about the status of your drives, while Drobo’s Dashboard app for OS X and Windows provides more detailed system information.

Despite its diminutive size, the Mini boasts a technology usually only found in business grade storage solutions – Data Aware Tiering. This feature, which involves adding an industry-standard mSATA SSD to a special Accelerator Bay, uses the high-performance flash in SSD drives to boost the overall performance of the array. And while we are on the subject of speed, for maximum performance you can add SSD drives to all four bays.

In terms of connectivity, the Drobo Mini has one USB 3.0 port, and two Thunderbolt ports – it’s currently the only storage array that offers both options. If you so desire, you can actually daisy chain up to six Thunderbolt devices, including a monitor at the end of the chain.

Finally, the Drobo Mini looks awesome – I’d certainly be happy to show if off alongside my iMac. Its casing is constructed from metallic carbon fiber with a soft-touch rubberised finish, which is designed to offer protection for those occasions when you need to travel with it.

The Drobo Mini retails for £540 ($649) with no drives included.

For more information, I’d recommend having a read of this Drobo Mini review.