Setup, Configuration, and Features
This is always dead simple with a Drobo. Install drives, plug in and attach cables, power on, and let 'er rip.
While the 5N2 is powering up, you should download and install the Drobo Dashboard app. This is the app that handles firmware updates to the 5N2, and you should ensure you are on the newest firmware before setting up your volume. Once the firmware is up to date, volume creation is automatic. Here we see the status after the volume has been created. Note that not all options are available while the volume setup is completing its initialization.
Once the initial setup process is complete (~20 minutes), the Drobo is ready to go and you gain access to the rest of the menu structure. Digging into some of the stats, we see just under 29TB of space available using the default single redundancy (RAID-5) mode.
Share settings are comprehensive and about what you'd expect for a NAS product.
Enabling additional features such as DroboDR (Data Replication) and DroboApps requires the setup of an administrator login and password in order to protect the device configuration. This is a good idea even if you don't intend to use either of those features.
DroboApps are services that can be installed and run on the 5N2 itself. Here is a full list current as of this writing:
These apps add all sorts of functionality to the Drobo 5N2. DroboAccess is their own encrypted remote access (we tested it a few months back). There are file sharing, web serving, code management, media streaming and collection apps. For those so bold and capable, you can even make your own.
The 'Drobo Settings…' option at the left brings up a submenu of items, the first of which is General Settings. Here you can enable dual disk redundancy (RAID-6) with the check of a box. This prompts with a warning that available capacity will be reduced. In the 5x8TB config we were running, the prompt noted the available capacity would be reduced to 21.79TB.
Migration takes some time, as an additional level of parity must be calculated and written across the disks. That said, migrations tend to be significantly faster than traditional RAID, as only the stored data must be processed.
Now for the cool part. Under network settings, we have a simple looking check box to enable Network Interface Bonding. Those in the IT field reading this may be a bit agitated at how simple this is (compared to their own experiences with NIC teaming / link aggregation). While the 5N2 is capable of acting as a NAS on two separate networks, enabling NIC Bonding means both GbE ports must be connected to the same network/switch in order to work properly and at full (potentially double) speed. I know you probably want to know if and how well this works, so let's get straight to our look at performance.