We are currently testing a round of Drobos here at PC Perspective, and Drobo recently rolled out a new feature that I thought would be better written up as a quick news post. This is a remote access feature that applies to the NAS-style models, specifically the 5N and B810n, and leverages the Drobo Apps capabilities of these devices. If you are a current 5N or B810n owner, you can update your Dashboard application and firmware to unlock this newly announced ‘DroboAccess’ feature.

DroboAccess falls under the ‘myDrobo’ category of Drobo Apps. These are apps developed and supported by Drobo (as opposed to coming from a third party). With Drobo more involved in the end-to-end aspect of this process, they were able to work some additional magic into their implementation:

After a Drobo owner registers their device, they can install any/all of the supported apps (DroboAccess, Koken, and WordPress). Upon registering, each app prompts for a public URL (a subdomain of .mydrobo.com). Drobo handles the behind-the-scenes registration of a 2k SSL certificate which is installed in the chain, which means that any browser access to the new subdomain is over an SSL (HTTPS) end-to-end encrypted connection. Drobo has set up a relay server that manages incoming internet connections to the 5N or B810n. Home NAT routers are not an issue as the device running the app maintains an outbound link to the same relay server. This eliminates any custom router configurations / port forwarding necessary on the user-side of things, and that free SSL cert keeps prying eyes out of the data coming across the wire. I stepped through this process myself and it was about as simple and seamless as it could possibly be. Once set up, I could browse to (chosen subdomain).mydrobo.com from any internet-connected browser and see the files on the B810n:

The interface is similar to what you’d see from other remote access apps (Dropbox, etc). There is also an iPhone and Android app available, but Drobo has chosen to charge $0.99 for this app – an odd choice given the vast majority of remote file access companion apps are free downloads. I spent some time with the iOS app and while functional, I found it a bit clunky in its current form. As an example, sending a photo to DroboAccess from the iOS Share Menu gave an ‘Upload to’ prompt with no ability to choose a destination folder (images were simply dumped in the root, which is *not* mountable on the local network – only subdirectories of root are mountable on the LAN). This means that you would have to log into the Drobo via web browser to access those uploads and move them to shares so they would be visible to local SMB-connected machines.

In testing browser access, I discovered a few more issues:

  • The data throughput rate appears to be capped at 8 Mbps by the myDrobo relay server.
  • Downloading files >2GB failed silently, resulting in a 0-byte file placed on the host.

…so while things are a bit rough around the edges right now, the setup was quick and painless, which was Drobos initial goal for this feature roll out. We’ve fed back our findings thus far, and I suspect the other parts should receive more polish and tweaking over the coming weeks. I’ve include Drobo’s press blast for DroboAccess after the break.

Drobo Releases DroboAccess for Secure and Simple Remote File Access

Remote File Access and File Sharing With end-to-end Encryption Ensures Complete Privacy

SANTA CLARA, CA. – April 5th, 2016 – DroboTM, the maker of award winning storage arrays for businesses, professionals and consumers, today launched DroboAccess as part of the myDrobo suite of applications. The DroboAccess solution allows customers to access and share files on their network attached Drobo with privacy and security from anywhere on any device. As with all Drobo solutions, DroboAccess will continue with the heritage of preserving simplicity.

DroboAccess allows secure and encrypted remote access so that files are always accessible anywhere, at any time, and on any device. Users can access files from a web browser, or directly from a mobile device using a dedicated iOS or Android app. DroboAccess allows users to host their very own private and personal cloud storage solution using their own Drobo. DroboAccess is available on the Drobo 5N and B810n. DroboAccess will enable users to securely share folders or files via links with read only and read/write privileges along with password protection options.

“DroboAccess is a direct result of the feedback we received from our customers with the need to securely access their files from anywhere and on any device without having to worry about firewalls,” said Mihir Shah, CEO of Drobo. “The 5N and B810n deliver the best file sharing experience while maintaining our value proposition of simplicity. Our extended functionality with DroboAccess demonstrates our commitment to innovation as well as our commitment to our customers.”

Expanding myDrobo Platform Functionality
DroboAccess extends the myDrobo service, which provides a secure way for many applications to access data stored on a network attached Drobo. The myDrobo platform addresses the issue of accessing information on a Drobo storage array that sits behind a secure home or office firewall. With myDrobo, data transfer from the Drobo to a portable device is encrypted end-to-end and each Drobo carries a unique SSL certificate. It is this model of simplicity that allows users to easily extend their storage investment into hosting the applications they need securely.

In addition to DroboAccess, popular applications such as Koken, a photo library app and WordPress, a popular blog app resides within the myDrobo platform. This rich set of downloadable DroboApps will enhance the capabilities and the experience of the Drobo 5N and B810n, providing the ability to host your own blog using WordPress and share photos with a sophisticated gallery app using Koken, directly and securely from your Drobo.

“We are excited to bring DroboAccess to our 5N and B810n customers as the next logical progression for our myDrobo suite of applications,” said Rod Harrison, CTO of Drobo. “The DroboAccess solution is not only important for our prosumer customer base, who need to access their data remotely, but also for SMBs, who need the ability to share company information in a secure manner with their mobile workforce.”

DroboAccess and myDrobo are currently available for free to 5N and B810n owners on Drobo Dashboard. The iOS and Android applications are available for $0.99 on the App Store and Google Play.

About Drobo
Drobo makes award-winning storage arrays that provide an unprecedented combination of data protection, expandability, and ease of use. Based on the patented and proven BeyondRAIDTM technology, Drobo delivers the best storage experience ever for hundreds of thousands of consumers, professionals, and businesses. For more information, visit http://www.drobo.com.

Drobo, BeyondRAID, and the Drobo logo are trademarks of Drobo, Inc., which may be registered in some jurisdictions. All other trademarks used belong to their respective owners.