Installation and Drobo Dashboard Features
For those looking for a teardown, the Drobo 5C is similar in construction to the 3rd gen Drobo that we disassembled in its own review.
Installing the Drobo is about as easy as it could be. Plug in the power supply, connect to your system with the included USB 3.0 cable. Install the Drobo Dashboard software, and you're off to the races. Note that you may need to update any dated version of Drobo Dashboard already on your system.
Well, you *do* need to actually install drives if you want to use the Drobo for its intended purpose. Once done, simply follow the automatic prompts to format the array. This process takes just a few minutes to complete, and then a drive letter appears and Dashboard shows the connected device in 'green' status:
Exploring the interface further we can see how the available capacity has been determined:
Here we are using a set of five WD Red 8TB drives, with the default 'Single Disk Redundancy' (equivalent of RAID-5). Essentially, one drive worth of capacity is donated to the cause of keeping the array safe from any single drive failing or being removed for replacement or upgrade.
In the settings screen, you can set the device name, enable or disable idle spin-down, and adjust the brightness of the front panel LEDs. This is also where you can enable Dual Disk Redundancy.
The process of switching redundancy modes takes time proportional to the amount of data stored on the Drobo, so it's best to choose this while setting up the Drobo for the first time. What also takes time proportional to data stored is the rebuild process that takes place during a drive failure. We simulated this by removing drives one at a time. The Drobo takes only a few minutes for each rebuild if the array is mostly empty, but can take hours or days for a completely full array to be re-stitched back to a redundant state. A sequential failure of drives can occur over time with no operator action and the data will still be protected until you reach the minimum number of drives needed to hold one full copy, or when you reach one drive remaining, whichever you reach first:
(This image was borrowed from our review of the 4-bay Drobo)
The above shows how desktop notifications work. Email notifications are also configurable from within the Dashboard. Even in the particularly grave condition shown above, the Drobo volume was still available to the OS and completely usable (with caution). It's a bit comical how the point of warning here is how any given single external HDD operates normally. Most people don't realize they are operating on a single point of failure until the drive crashes and their data is gone.