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Par : Rob Andrews
23 juin 2023 à 18:00

Drobo’s: Innovating Storage Solutions Through the Decades – WHAT WENT WRONG?

Drobo, the pioneering data storage company, has had an interesting and noteworthy journey since its inception in 2005. Known for developing user-friendly, advanced storage solutions that emphasize simplicity and reliability, the company has encountered various highs and lows in the market. Let’s dive into the history of Drobo, tracing its evolution through the years.

Drobo, How it Began (2005-2010)

Data Robotics, known today as Drobo, was founded by Geoff Barrall in December 2004 in California. Geoff had the vision of creating a new kind of storage technology, a product that was easy to use, flexible, and above all, highly secure. He aspired to make technology that was a “data robot” – automated, intelligent, and adaptable – hence the name Drobo, a portmanteau of “data” and “robot.” The company officially launched its first product, the original Drobo, in June 2007. The device was a 4-bay external storage device known for its simplicity and ease of use. What set it apart was its ability to hot-swap drives of nearly any size without requiring data migration. It was designed to manage resources without the need for human intervention, and it offered flexible data protection schemes. It was a breakthrough product at the time because it introduced an entirely new concept in storage – automated storage that didn’t require extensive knowledge or configuration to manage.

The original Drobo was marketed as a “storage robot” that simplified the task of data storage, making RAID, a system typically used by large companies and IT professionals, accessible to everyday consumers and small businesses. This was a significant step in democratising storage technology. With the help of Drobo, users did not need to worry about the intricate details of traditional RAID setups. Moreover, the original Drobo was hailed for its design as well. It was sleek, quiet, and attractive, unusual for storage hardware usually relegated to the unseen corners of a desk or a data center. Drobo was bringing style to the world of storage, making their devices something people were happy to have visible in their workspace.

Despite being a relatively young company, Data Robotics managed to create a lot of buzz in the tech world with the Drobo. The concept was unique, and the implementation was effective. Drobo became the buzzword for simplified and automated data storage. Drobo’s launch was so successful that it set the tone for the brand for years to come. In conclusion, the early years of Drobo from 2005 to 2007 marked the inception and launch of a pioneering data storage product. The company successfully carved out a niche for itself in the competitive storage market, and its innovative approach to storage garnered attention and praise. This period laid the foundation for the Drobo brand and its mission to simplify storage for all. Over the next three years, Drobo’s unique, self-managing storage solutions attracted attention in the market. They offered an appealing mix of data protection, expandability, and ease of use. The successful launch of Drobo FS, a network-attached storage (NAS) device, in 2010 further cemented Drobo’s reputation as a customer-centric innovator in the industry.

Drobo Entering the Business Market (2010-2013)

In the wake of its initial success with consumers, Drobo began to set its sights on the lucrative business market. Recognizing the burgeoning data storage needs of businesses, Drobo embarked on a strategic journey to capture a significant share of this market. In 2010, Drobo made a bold move with the launch of DroboPro FS, a network-attached storage device specifically designed for small to medium businesses (SMBs). This model included a dual-drive redundancy feature, which provided extra protection for data, a feature highly valued by businesses. Additionally, it supported iSCSI, a network protocol that allows the sending and receiving of SCSI commands over IP networks, making data transfers faster and more efficient. Recognizing the importance of support and reliability for business customers, Drobo also launched DroboCare for the DroboPro FS. This service provided enhanced support features, such as 24/7 technical support and advanced hardware replacement. These additions were significant, demonstrating Drobo’s understanding of business customer needs and its willingness to meet them.

In 2011, Drobo continued its foray into the business market with the launch of the Drobo B800i and B800fs models, targeting larger businesses. These models featured 8 drive bays, significantly increasing storage capacity. The B800i model also offered iSCSI connectivity, making it an attractive choice for businesses requiring large amounts of storage. This expansion into the iSCSI SAN market underscored Drobo’s intent to serve the data storage needs of businesses. The following year, in 2012, Drobo took another leap forward with the release of the Drobo B1200i. This model was a significant upgrade from its predecessors, offering 12 bays for increased capacity. It also featured automated data-tiering, a mechanism that moves data between high-cost and low-cost storage media—typically fast SSDs and slower hard drives—depending on its usage and value. This feature was particularly beneficial for businesses, as it allowed for optimized storage performance and cost-effectiveness.

Throughout this period, Drobo was consistently recognized for its efforts. The company received numerous awards for its products, including several “Editor’s Choice” awards, further cementing its reputation as a leading provider of business storage solutions. By the end of 2013, Drobo had successfully established itself in the business market, offering a range of products to suit various business needs. The company had skillfully adapted its initial consumer-focused strategy to serve businesses, leveraging its unique value proposition of simplicity and user-friendly design, combined with powerful business-oriented features. The success of Drobo in the business market was indicative of its versatility and adaptability, traits that would continue to shape its journey in the years to come.

A Reminder of Key Innovations by Drobo over the Years!

Drobo has been a pioneering force in the world of network-attached storage (NAS) systems. Several key innovations have become synonymous with the brand over the years, enhancing their products’ usability, efficiency, and aesthetics. Let’s delve into some of these game-changing features.

Drobo Innovation #1. BeyondRAID – Flexibility Over Traditional RAID

Traditional RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) systems have long been the standard for data protection and performance. However, they require careful planning, the same sized drives, and can be difficult to manage. In contrast, Drobo introduced its proprietary BeyondRAID technology, fundamentally transforming the way RAID is perceived and utilized.

BeyondRAID retains the fundamental principles of RAID, but it introduces a level of flexibility unheard of with conventional systems. BeyondRAID is unique because it automates the traditional management tasks associated with RAID, including the configuration of RAID levels, provisioning of storage, and array expansion. It also supports the mixing of different drive sizes, which simplifies drive upgrades and expansion.

Drobo Innovation #2. Internal Battery in a Desktop NAS

Uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems are common in data centers and server rooms, but less so in desktop storage systems. Drobo broke the mold by incorporating an internal battery in their desktop NAS devices.

This innovative feature ensured that the device would complete any ongoing data transactions even in the event of a sudden power loss, preventing data corruption and loss. This was an industry first and showcased Drobo’s commitment to data safety and security in their devices.

Drobo Innovation #3. Optional SSD for Caching

To improve the performance of their NAS systems, Drobo was one of the first companies to introduce an optional solid-state drive (SSD) for caching. This feature significantly improved the overall speed and efficiency of the system by storing frequently accessed data on the SSD, reducing latency and improving access times. This innovation reflected Drobo’s forward-thinking approach to enhancing user experience.

Drobo Innovation #4. Unique LED System

Drobo also introduced a unique LED system for system indicators and storage usage. Rather than requiring users to decipher complex codes or log into a software dashboard, Drobo’s front panel presented a simple, easy-to-understand light system. Coloured lights indicated overall system status, hard drive health, and capacity, enabling users to understand their system’s status at a glance. This user-friendly system was another example of Drobo’s focus on simplicity and accessibility.

Drobo Innovation #5. Modern Design and Low Noise

In an industry where many products are often visually unappealing and noisy, Drobo took a different approach. The company invested in sleek, modern designs that were quiet and low-noise. The innovative design philosophy resulted in products that users were comfortable displaying in their workspace, rather than hiding them away. This commitment to aesthetics was rare in the storage industry and it helped set Drobo apart.

Drobo’s numerous innovations in their products have greatly contributed to the evolution of NAS systems. From BeyondRAID’s flexibility to the incorporation of an internal battery, an optional SSD for caching, a unique LED system, and a commitment to modern, low-noise design, Drobo had continuously pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in desktop storage solutions. Unsurprisingly, they quickly gained high industry praise and would end up gaining the attention of bigger companies and buyers soon!

Drobo Transition and Reinvention (2013-2015)

In a turn of events that seemed both surprising and familiar, Drobo was acquired by Connected Data in 2013. This was a company founded by Geoff Barrall, the original creator of Drobo, after he had left Drobo in 2009. Connected Data, recognized for its Transporter product line, had carved out a niche for itself in the market for private cloud services. The union seemed fitting as both companies were driven by the same ethos of making data management simple and efficient. Following the acquisition, the companies merged their strengths, bringing together Drobo’s user-friendly storage solutions with Connected Data’s private cloud products. The strategy behind this merger was to provide a more comprehensive and seamless data storage solution for both individual users and businesses. The combined entity continued operating under the Drobo name, symbolizing the strength and market recognition of the brand.

The years following the merger saw Drobo refocusing its efforts on its foundational principle of simplicity. The company updated its product line to include features of private cloud storage, emphasizing user convenience. The move was seen as a response to the changing trends in data storage, with more businesses and individuals seeking the flexibility of cloud storage. However, in 2015, a significant change occurred. Drobo and Connected Data parted ways. Drobo was acquired by an investment group led by seasoned technology veterans who saw potential in Drobo’s simplified storage solutions. Despite this transition, Drobo maintained its brand identity and continued to operate independently, signaling a new phase in the company’s journey.

During these years, Drobo also updated its offerings to adapt to emerging technologies and user preferences. This included the integration of SSDs into their storage devices, as well as the introduction of devices compatible with newer data transfer protocols, like Thunderbolt. The move demonstrated Drobo’s commitment to innovation and reinforced its status as a competitive player in the evolving data storage market. This period of transition and reinvention was a pivotal one for Drobo. Not only did it reflect the company’s adaptability to changes in ownership and market trends, but it also reaffirmed its unwavering focus on delivering user-friendly, advanced storage solutions. Despite the changes, Drobo’s core principle of making data storage ‘self-managing, trouble-free, and affordable’ remained steadfast.

Drobo / Stoltz Capital Acquisition (2015)

As Drobo moved further into the mid-2010s, the company faced a turning point. Despite the success of its previous strategic shifts and product launches, it was clear that the rapidly evolving tech landscape was calling for another transformation. This transformation came in the form of an acquisition. In 2015, Drobo was acquired by an investment group led by seasoned tech investor, Stoltz Capital. The investment group saw significant potential in Drobo’s unique approach to data storage, and they were determined to help the company achieve its full potential. This acquisition was not merely a change in ownership. It signalled a new era for Drobo, one that was marked by a renewed focus on innovation and an aggressive drive to push the boundaries of what was possible in the data storage space.

Stoltz Capital’s deep pockets and commitment to Drobo’s vision provided the company with the resources it needed to invest heavily in research and development. This new financial backing was instrumental in enabling Drobo to continue developing its innovative data storage solutions, and to move forward with its plans for future expansion. Moreover, the acquisition brought new strategic guidance and management expertise to Drobo. This included a greater focus on strengthening Drobo’s competitive position in the market, and an increased emphasis on targeting high-growth sectors, such as cloud storage and other emerging technologies. The change in ownership also meant a shift in business strategy. With Stoltz Capital’s backing, Drobo started to venture into the Enterprise market, developing higher-end models designed to cater to large corporations with vast amounts of data. This move allowed Drobo to tap into a more lucrative market segment, further enhancing its growth prospects. The acquisition by Stoltz Capital was a defining moment in Drobo’s history. It marked a period of rejuvenation and expansion for the company, and set the stage for the next phase of Drobo’s evolution. The years following the acquisition saw Drobo ramping up its efforts to innovate and adapt in the face of an increasingly competitive and demanding market, efforts that would continue to shape the company’s trajectory in the years to come.

Drobo Facing Challenges and Changes (2016-2019)

In the years following the Stoltz Capital acquisition, Drobo faced a period of turbulence marked by a series of significant challenges and changes. Despite the acquisition’s promise and the infusion of new resources, the company had to navigate a highly competitive data storage market and adapt to the rapid technological advancements that were reshaping the industry. One of the most significant challenges that Drobo faced during this period was the pressure to stay ahead of technological changes. The rise of cloud computing and services like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud fundamentally shifted the way businesses and individuals stored and accessed their data. Companies started to prefer these cloud storage solutions due to their scalability, ease of use, and lower upfront costs compared to traditional data storage methods. This rapid shift posed a threat to Drobo, whose products were primarily focused on on-site data storage. To stay relevant, the company had to innovate rapidly and find ways to integrate its offerings with these new technologies. This meant investing in new product development, adapting their existing products, and exploring partnerships with cloud providers to offer hybrid storage solutions.

The changing market dynamics also brought a surge of new competitors. Tech giants like Dell EMC and NetApp, as well as start-ups like Pure Storage and Nutanix, were all vying for a piece of the data storage market. These competitors, with their vast resources and advanced technologies, posed a significant threat to Drobo’s position in the market. In response to these challenges, Drobo underwent a series of changes. There was a major restructuring of the company’s operations and strategy to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and enhance the company’s competitiveness. This included scaling back certain areas of the business, focusing on core competencies, and ramping up investment in research and development. During this period, Drobo also unveiled new products designed to cater to the changing market needs. This included the release of more advanced NAS devices and the introduction of new cloud-compatible storage solutions. Drobo’s effort was focused on providing flexible, scalable, and cost-effective storage solutions that could cater to the needs of both small businesses and large corporations.

Despite the considerable challenges, this period also saw moments of success and innovation for Drobo. The company managed to weather the storm and laid the groundwork for its future in the rapidly evolving data storage market. This period, characterized by both adversity and adaptation, would ultimately prove critical in shaping Drobo’s future trajectory.

Drobo Closes Doors. The Recent Developments (2020-Present Day)

Though the years between 2016 and 2019 were pivotal for Drobo, marking a turning point as the company grappled with numerous challenges and embarked on significant changes. With technological advancements and shifting market dynamics reshaping the data storage industry, Drobo found itself in a tough position. The rise of cloud computing and its adoption by businesses and individuals posed a significant challenge for Drobo. Tech giants like Amazon and Google were offering scalable and user-friendly cloud storage services at lower upfront costs. In contrast, Drobo’s core offerings were primarily focused on on-premises data storage. This market shift required Drobo to innovate rapidly, and the company was under pressure to adapt its offerings to remain relevant.

Moreover, the data storage market also witnessed a surge in competition. Major tech companies and emerging startups were all vying for a piece of the market, threatening Drobo’s position. In response, Drobo undertook a significant restructuring of its operations and strategy. This involved scaling back certain areas of the business, concentrating on core competencies, and increasing investment in research and development. Despite these challenges, Drobo managed to introduce new products, including advanced NAS devices and cloud-compatible storage solutions, geared towards meeting changing market needs. These offerings were aimed at providing flexible, scalable, and cost-effective storage solutions for small businesses and large corporations alike.

However, the significant shift in the industry, combined with increased competition, eventually began to take its toll. Drobo’s parent company, StorCentric, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2022, indicating significant financial distress. As time progressed, and StorCentric failed to find a buyer or restructure its assets, it became apparent that full liquidation was inevitable.

In April 2023, StorCentric shifted its bankruptcy status to Chapter 7, indicating a move towards liquidation and sale of assets. At this point, Drobo’s website announced that as of January 27, 2023, Drobo products and support were no longer available. It wasn’t immediately clear what would become of Drobo and its assets in the liquidation process. This period was undoubtedly challenging for Drobo. While the company had innovated and adapted in response to the changing industry landscape, it was clear that they were unable to keep up with the pace of change and the market’s demands. As Drobo’s story unfolded, it served as a poignant reminder of the rapid pace of technological change and the importance of staying agile and responsive in a fiercely competitive market.

Drobo Alternatives in 2023/2024?

With Drobo no longer in the running, there are several notable alternatives for Thunderbolt RAID storage and NAS systems available in the market. Here are some that might be of interest.

Why Choose Synology NAS to Replace Your Drobo?

Synology is often considered the ‘Software Choice’, as DSM (Diskstation Manager) is by far the most user-friendly, secure, responsive and ‘OS-like’ platform available in the whole of NAS. It may seem one of the most expensive, but with it, you get some genuine boundary-breaking software with your purchase.  You still get a great level of hardware in the majority of Synology NAS solutions, but the real draw of Synology is that software. Not only does it support your own hardware environment of PCs, Macs, entertainment devices and mobiles in their own respective software, but DSM also includes MANY applications designed around keeping all your data IN-HOUSE. So, replace Skype/Whatsapp with Synology Chat, Replace Google Docs and Office365 with Synology Office. Use Synology Drive to make your storage visible and accessible the way YOU want it, and export your entire cloud/data network over to a Synology NAS and remove all the external access as and when you need! They aren’t the cheapest and they want you to do it ‘there way’, but it’s a pretty decent way. Additionally, their recent DSM 7.0 software has left many users impressed, with enhanced support of those 3rd party cloud storage and business services, AI photo recognition, their surveillance platform continuing to win awards and even an in-house cloud service in Synology C2. Stylizing themselves very much as the ‘Apple’ of this industry, they really do focus on keeping things straightforward and intuitive.

PROS of Synology NAS

  • Easily the most intuitive and Usage browser-based GUI (award-winning DSM 6.2/7.0/7.1) – FULL Review HERE
  • One of the best Surveillance NAS software solutions
  • Most popular vendor for Mac users for it’s UI
  • Incredibly feature-rich NVR software included, in Surveillance Station
  • Includes Active Backup Suite – Enterprise level and fully featured Backup Co-ordination software
  • Lowest Power Consumption vs other brands
  • A large # of their systems arrive with m.2 NVMe SSD caching upgrade bays
  • Quiet chassis compared with other brands
  • Task specialised Ranges like ‘PLAY’, ‘PLUS’ and ‘J’ make buying easier
  • The best range of first-party software, with Synology Office, Chat, Mail, Drive and more
  • SHR and SHR-2 – also BTRFS available in most solutions
  • Cloud Services and Hybrid Storage Tools available in Synology C2
  • Desktop and Rack-mount options are available
  • Best software for Home and SMB

CONS of Synology NAS

  • Often the most expensive
  • Recent Enterprise NAS Hardware has changed Compatibility in favour of Synology HDDs and SSDs
  • Generally, Synology NAS has the lowest hardware power in their systems
  • NVMe SSD Bays are for caching ONLY, they cannot be used for super-fast storage pools (Note – Changed in DSM 7.2 for SOME devices)
  • More technically minded folk will need to dig a little to get to the nitty-gritty
  • SHR is not available on Enterprise NAS Systems
  • Network ONLY – no HDMI, Audio in/out, Thunderbolt, etc

Why Choose QNAP NAS to Replace Your Drobo?

Often considered the choice for the more hardware-aware buyer, if you are looking for a much more traditionally computer associated hardware – QNAP NAS is certainly the one that springs to mind. Generally considered the ‘innovators’ of the NAS industry, they have the largest range of solutions available Notwithstanding the fact that their hardware is by FAR the most evolved platform in NAS (thunderbolt 3, multiple HDMI, 10Gbe standard solutions, Silent NAS, AI solutions and advanced SSD caching), the platform is fantastically diverse, providing great NAS options alongside network switches, network adapters and generally reshaping your hardware environment for the better. The software has also evolved dramatically into its own beast, moving away from trying to imitate and carving its own path. It is a little more technically (and I really do mean a little) but it is far more rewarding for it. They do not feature some popular items on their portfolio, such as BTRFS or a fluid RAID system like SHR/BeyondRAID, but make up for this with their own range of alternatives and in most cases succeed. Get your reading glasses on though, as their range is quite vast and might overwhelm you a tad. In recent years the brand has shifted focus a great deal more towards software in efforts to meet the gap with their rival Synology to pretty good success. This is often achieved by releasing software that does the previously impossible before anyone else, but lacking a little of the polish of their biggest rival. Recent achievements with HybridMount, vJBOD, HyperVisor Protector, QuMagie and Multimedia Console have been received remarkably well, arriving onto the scene 1-2 years before anyone else. Alongside this, QNAP still has easily the best virtual machine and backup software for home and SMB in Virtualization Station and Hybrid Backup Sync.


  • Best Solutions for Plex Media Server in NAS
  • Enterprise/Business Solutions feature ZFS
  • 2.5Gbe, 5Gbe and 10Gbe Options
  • Best Virtual Machine and Container Solutions in NAS
  • NVMe SSD Bays can be used for Caching, Storage Pools or Tiered Storage Configurations
  • Almost all range is metal in design, or a plastic but unique chassis
  • HDMI and remote control included in most Media NAS devices
  • Thunderbolt NAS options covering TB2, TB3 and even TB4 (TS-464)
  • Two Surveillance Solutions (with 4/8 Camera Licenses included)
  • The Best Backup/Synchronization solution in ‘Hybrid Backup Sync 3’
  • Technical information far more readily available
  • Lower price compared with Synology in terms of hardware
  • Regularly updated software and Detailed GUI/APPs – FULL Review HERE
  • Desktop and Rackmount options are available
  • Much better business options and definitely the best for virtual machines


  • A more android feel towards apps and stability means some users will be put off
  • Lacking the BTRFS and SHR support of Synology
  • Higher typical Power consumption
  • Often a fraction noisier due to chiefly metal chassis
  • Much larger range of devices can lead to confusion
  • Most units arrive with 2-3 Years warranty, but longer will cost you more
  • Have been targetted by Ransomware attacks in the last 2 years

Recommended Synology Replacement for the Drobo 5N2 NAS – The DS920+ and DS1522+ NAS

Choosing to replace the Drobo 5N2 5-Bay NAS with a Synology is actually a surprisingly easy choice. Right now at the time of writing, there are two very clear Diskstaiton devices that you can choose (if you want to stay at this kind of storage sale). The Synology DS920+ 4-Bay NAS (originally released in 2020) and the Synology DS1522+ 5-Bay NAS (released in June 2022). The former has been in the market for long enough that multiple deals are available and if/when the DS923+ arrives on the scene, it will likely become increasingly affordable – in spite of this, the hardware inside is great and it’s a solid fully featured NAS. The latter choice, the DS1522+, is the latest 2022 generation release from the brand, has great default system hardware and plenty of scalabilities and upgrade options to add to the system’s utility in years to come. Find out more about them both below:

Synology DS923+ 4-Bay NAS $500+

AMD Emb.Ryzen R1600 2-Core, 4/32GB Memory, 1GbE, Optional 10GbE, NVMe SSD Caching+Pools, Expandable, SHR, 4x SATA Bays, 3yr Warranty

NASCompares Written Review – HERE

NASCompares YouTube Review – HERE

What we said on 21/05/20

Synology has clearly made something of a gamble in the release of the Synology DS923+ NAS. There is no avoiding that making the switch from the Intel Celeron that has historically been the build choice of this product family and opting for the AMD Emb.Ryzen has ruffled some feathers! On the face of it, the R1600 here has a heck of alot of going for it over the previous generation! Higher clock speed, greater PCIe Gen 3 Support throughout, that 4-32GB of DDR4 memory in such a compact system and just generally giving you a lot more horsepower to play with, as well as better bandwidth potential inside and out! But at what cost? The 1GbE standard connectivity in the base model leaves alot to be desired, the proprietary 10Gb upgrade (though incredibly handy) limits the upgradability a tad and the lack of an integrated graphics processor is likely going to result in many long-term Synology advocates to skip this generation. Synology Diskstation Manager (DSM 7.1 at the time of writing) still continues to impress and although the brand still continues to heavily push their 1st party priorities, they have left a little more wriggle room in DSM 7.1 than DSM 7 before it in terms of media compatibility. In terms of design, I cannot fault Synology on this as the DS923+ chassis still arrives as one of the best-looking and still exceptionally well-structured devices at this physical scale and storage level. As always, a Synology NAS is more about the software than the hardware (and the DS923+ delivers in spades on the software side!) and with DSM 7.2 around the corner improving things. Just always keep in mind that the Synology DS923+ NAS is a system that arrives with the slight emphasis on having to do many things ‘their way’. If you are less technically versed, then you will definitely appreciate this level of user-friendly design and assistance, but more technically minded admins’ main strain a pinch! In short, the DS923+ IS a good NAS drive, but its focus has certainly ebbed more towards the business user this generation than the home.

Check Amazon for this NAS via the link below in your region (results in a % going back to the site and supports us):

Synology DS1522+ 5-Bay NAS $750+

Ryzen R1600 Dual Core, 8/32GB ECC Memory,4x1GbE, Optional 10GbE for $150, NVMe SSD Caching, Expandable, SHR, 5x SATA Bays, 3yr Warranty

NASCompares Written Review – HERE

NASCompares YouTube Review – HERE

What we said on 29/06/22

The Synology DS1522+ is a good NAS drive and most business-focused users are going to appreciate what this newer configuration of hardware is able to provide. There was never any doubt in the extent to which this new NAS would support DSM7, and given its architecture, there is virtually nothing in the popular NAS software that this system cannot do. Likewise, having the option of 10GbE on a Diskstation of this scale will be hugely attractive to some, though the proprietary means with which you need to upgrade is arguably less desirable. The R1600 CPU is a good choice of processor for file handling and simultaneous tasks, as is the 8GB of memory that this system arrives with, plus the potential to ramp it up to 32GB. After that though, the desirability of this system to home users and multimedia users is a little less compelling and with such a large audience of users who look at NAS for their media streaming, the DS1522+ not featuring a more graphically enabled chip will leave them somewhat underwhelmed. Bottom line, the DS1522+ is a solid and full DSM7 supporting system here and you cannot fault the design, internal/external performance and ease of use of this Synology NAS. However, there will always be users wondering why this NAS never arrived with an Intel chip.

Check Amazon for this NAS via the link below in your region (results in a % going back to the site and supports us):


Recommended QNAP Replacement for the Drobo 5N2 NAS – The QNAP TS-464 and TS-h973ax

If you decide to move away from the Drobo 5-Bay 5N22 and towards a QNAP, then I recommend opting for either the 2022 generation TS-464 NAS (as it is really is the best hardware vs scale vs price point the brand has ever released) or the incredibly mutli-facited QNAP TS-h973ax, which as 10GbE, 3 kinds of storage media supported across 9-Bays and the choice of file system at initialization of ZFS or EXT4. Here is more information on these two NAS and what we said about them when reviewed:

QNAP TS-464 4-Bay NAS $599+

Intel Celeron 4-Core N5105, 4/16GB Memory, 2×2.5GbE, NVMe SSD Caching or for Storage, HDMI 2.0 4K 60PFS, USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb), USB RAID Expandable, PCIe Gen 3×2 Upgrade Slot, 4x SATA Bays, 3yr Warranty

NASCompares Written Review – HERE

NASCompares YouTube Review – HERE

What we said on 18/04/22

The TS-464 comfortably arrives with the best hardware in its tier of the NAS market and that is something that QNAP has always been quite good at. Even if you rewind just 5 years, the level of hardware scalability and ease of upgradability that the TS-464 provides is frankly incredible and, fast forward to 2022, is still pretty unmatched. A Desktop 4-Bay NAS (eg Prosumer RAID 5 storage) has always been the next confident step for users who are tired of their hands being tied by subscription cloud services from Google, OneDrive and DropBox, who are looking for their own competent, flexible and fully-featured private server. In the TS-464 NAS, you find a system that is unquestionable the best hardware for your money you can possibly get right now. In software, things are a little less straightforward. QTS 5, although massively software and service-rich, arrives as a complete operating system in your web browser with multiple mobile/desktop clients and hundreds of applications and apps that can be installed at the touch of a button – which can all too often be something of a steep learning curve for many. Lacking the chewable, user-friendly nature of many of their rivals, QNAP and its software/service still have a tendency to be a bit of an information overload that can quickly intimidate the novice. However, for those that are looking for a system that is completely customizable in how/when/where you want data presented to you, as well as a wide degree of 3rd party support, QNAP and QTS 5 still manages to provide a huge degree of brand-unique service that are simply not available elsewhere. Just be prepared to invest your time wisely in its setup and more time ensuring the system is perfect for your needs.

Check Amazon for this NAS via the link below in your region (results in a % going back to the site and supports us):

QNAP TS-h973ax 5/9-Bay NAS $999+

AMD Ryzen V1500B Quad Core, 8/32GB Memory, 1x 10GbE, 2×2.5GbE, 5x SATA HDD, 2x SATA SSD, 2x U.2 NVMe SSD, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb), USB RAID Expandable, ZFS or EXT4 File System Choice, 2yr Warranty

NASCompares Written Review – HERE

NASCompares YouTube Review – HERE

What we said on 13/11/20

I have seen a lot of network-attached storage over the years and the TS-h973AX brings a lot of colour to what was fast becoming a somewhat grey landscape. In short, QNAP has gone and done it again by proving they are the hardware innovators of this industry and have managed to provide a genuinely unique solution here. When they first revealed their new Hero ZFS operating system last year, you could not help but get the impression that only top-end enterprise businesses with £10K starting budgets were ever going to benefit. The TS-h973AX desktop NAS is solid evidence that QNAP will share the wealth and that this is the start of a whole new series of affordable ZFS solution from the brand. That isn’t to say that this system is perfect and pernickety points about a lack of HDMI or LCD may put off some users, and the compact 9 bay chassis that will attract some will no doubt deter others. Ultimately though QNAP has succeeded in creating what they sought out here and what we find is one of the best examples of hardware and software meeting in the middle, while still arriving with a price tag in 3 figures. In the current absence of a straight forward QuTS license purchase option for existing QNAP NAS systems right now, this is a solution that serves as a good alternative to a number of 4 and 6 Bay solutions in their portfolio. Though, make sure you upgrade that memory on day one! 

Check Amazon for this NAS via the link below in your region (results in a % going back to the site and supports us):


Recommended Synology Replacement for the Drobo B810n NAS – The DS1821+ NAS

Replacing or deciding against the Drobo B810n 8-Bay NAS system and opting for a Synology is, if anything, considerably easier than moving away from the 5N. Synology has a great history of 8-Bay NAS devices and the 2021 generation DS1821+ is a fantastic choice of NAS system. It supports the full range of DSM applications, has scalable storage, can be expanded by ten more drives, has in-built m.2 NVMe slots, a high bandwidth PCIe Upgrade slot and still manages to be very petite. Here is more information on the Synology DS1821+ and what we thought of it at review:

Synology DS1821+ 8-Bay NAS $1,100+

AMD Ryzen V1500B Quad Core, 4/32GB Memory, 4x1GbE, 8x SATA HDD, 2x NVMe SSD for Caching, PCIe Gen 3×8 Upgrade Slot, SHR or Traditional RAID, BTRFS or EXT4 File System Choice, 3yr Warranty

NASCompares Written Review – HERE

NASCompares YouTube Review – HERE

What we said on 15/12/20

What you have here is a solid piece of hardware that very much lives up to everything Synology promises, even if some of those promises aren’t to everyone’s taste. With a hardware architecture that we have already tested to notable success in the DS1621+ previously, we already knew that this NAS would be able to do everything it promised. Many users looking to spend their annual business budgets on an improved or extended data storage solution will find the balanced position of hardware vs software found by the Synology DS1821+ to be quite desirable, as well as the scaled potential to upgrade external performance via PCIe and storage via eSATA. However, there is no ignoring that despite the fact this 2020 release excels in many things, it also arrives with a little bottlenecking in a number of others. The continued default utilisation of 1Gbe on the newest generation by Synology is somewhat perplexing and although I have continued admiration for Synology’s engagement with intelligent M2 NVMe cache utilisation and providing a solution that allows more flexible upgrade paths, I know that there are still users who just wish they could use that super fast NAND for raw storage pools and have better than gigabit connections out by default. It has never been a secret that buying a Synology NAS solution was always a largely ‘software over hardware’ purchase, and the DS1821+ is still a fine example of that balance. However, with other brands closing the gap in what they can offer the SMB (Small/Medium Business) user, while still providing superior hardware and similar warranty coverage, there is the tiniest feeling that the DS1821+ is a NAS that sits on its laurels a bit. Hugely upgradable and still with that award-winning and fantastically intuative DSM software, the DS1821+ is about buying a solution you can adapt within its lifespan and not one that will knock your socks off on day one. A solid and dependable data storage solution, if a little safe, at the end of 2020.

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Recommended QNAP Replacement for the Drobo B810n NAS – The TVS-872X NAS

0-176TB, 8-Bays, 2x PCIe 4 M.2 NVMe 2280, PCIe Gen 4×16 Upgrade Slot, Intel Core 12th Gen i5/i7/i9 CPU, 16-64GB DDR4 Memory, 2.5Gbe Port, 10Gb x2 Prots (Intel i9 Version), KVM, ZFS or EXT4 Setup, 3-5yr Warranty

Current Price/Availability on Amazon – $2000-2500-3000

Hardware Review – LINK

YouTube Video Review – Watch

What I said in my review Dec ’22:

The QNAP TVS-h874 NAS is easily one of the most hardware-capable desktop NAS systems that I have ever seen (as you would expect for £2500+) and has clearly been designed with phenomenal future proofing in mind! If you are concerned about the longevity of this NAS, this hardware architecture will still be top tier 5 years from now, with the added support of PCIe 4 meaning that high capacity and performing micro upgrades throughout its life also ensuring it remains relevant long after. It’s price tag clearly moves this purchase out of the home and squarely into the business market (though likely those that take their media seriously will add it to the cart) and the TVS-h874 will function as a solid solution for Video editing (even at 8K), high frequency and performing VMs, large scale AI powered Surveillance setup, hybrid cloud/on-prem alternative to Office 365/Google Workspace services and as the center point for all your data storage operations. Crucially though, it is that the hardware on offer here will be able to do ALL of these at the same time, therefore maximising the investment for most businesses that want to move aware from their cloud dependant ops. In terms of software,t things are a little less absolute, with QTS and QuTS still getting a little busy at times, with a steeper learning curve than its big rival DSM from Synology. That said, die-hard fans of ZFS (Zettabyte File System) will adore the inclusion of benefits in RAID handling, management and recovery that are exclusive to that platform, whilst enjoying the wide range of applications and service benefits in QuTS that are often restricted to Linux platforms.  The slightly conveluded approach to release hardware that does complicate the selection process (different CPUs in the Intel 12th Gen family changing the rest of the system architecture) is something that I hoped this brand would graduate from (for the sake of simplicity), but for many, this level of choice in hardware and budget will be welcome. As is QNAP’s position on the support of 3rd party hardware (drives, PCIe upgrades, etc) and software, something that we have seen a worrying trend in the last few years against elsewhere in the industry but some other brands, to err towards 1st party/proprietary compatibility more and more. There are still lingering doubts by some on the security of NAS, with ransomware attacks on the rise and ALL brands and ALL platforms being targetted (NAS, Cloud ,etc), finding a middle ground between ease of use and depth of security being a tricky tie rope walk indeed. The TVS-h874 arrives with a wide range of Day 1 tools, further rigid defaults in QTS/QuTS in 2022/2023, considerable security settings to configure and multiple system scan tools for recommendations & preventative measures available. The QNAP TVS-h874 is probably the most powerful desktop/tower NAS drive I have ever reviewed and if you are looking for a system that can legitimately do anything server-side, but you are also willing to put in the time to configure it correctly – you will genuinely be hard pushed to find a better system in 2022, 2023 and likely 2024 at this price point and scale.

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Why Not Use Cloud Services like Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox instead of a NAS?

Do not think that 3rd party cloud services are bad, they really aren’t! In fact, you should always consider adding a 2nd or 3rd tier into your backup strategy at home/work, and synchronization of files/folders on your NAS with the cloud is a good means to ensure you have another backup in place. Additionally, most NAS feature a variety of 256bit encryption options, password protection, 2 step verification and more to allow secure access is ensured to the NAS and the content, even via the cloud. Additionally, bg NAS brands like Synology and QNAP have been supporting Hybrid Cloud services that not only allow cloud storage to be bolted onto your NAS storage for shared usage and access, but also both brand support backup and synchronization with cloud collaborate services, such as Google’s G Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365. So there is DEFINITELY still a valid and useful place for 3rd party cloud services in 2022, however, I rarely advocate the use of these cloud services as a PRIMARY storage location. They ARE convenient and you can get a limited amount of space included for free, but I generally have three core reasons that I do not recommend cloud as a first-tier storage.


COST – The cost of most 2-year subscriptions costs about the same as if you just purchased even a small-scale NAS on day 1. It might seem like just 5 or 10 bucks a month, but over 2 or 3 years, it all adds up and moreover, after that time you either need to keep on paying every month or still buy a NAS or DAS system for the data to live on. Might as well buy the NAS sooner rather than later as it will be inevitable eventually.

ACCESS – NAS provides more apps, file-level tailored use and can be better adapted into popular 3rd Party applications like PLEX, KODI, APPLE TIME MACHINE and DLNA supported devices. A cloud provider severely limits the kind of access you have on a regular basis.

PRIVACY – NAS provides full individual user control and access, as well as admin controls. Plus the NAS can be fully disconnected from the Internet/Network at your discretion. A cloud provider has a relative pre-set safety protocol that, when cracked on one or two occasions, opens up mass hacking

This is not to say that data on your NAS is completely inaccessible. Any NAS brand can only really stay 1 step ahead of the hackers, patching exploits as they are found (no different than any online service really), but a NAS is a means to create a secure, customizable and ultimately bespoke data storage solution.


What About Moving from Drobo to Asustor or Terramaster NAS?

Obviously, as NAS is such a popular and highly evolved area of the tech industry (despite it still also remaining quite niche compared with traditional computers and laptops), Synology and QNAP are not the ONLY brands in the market! Indeed, if you have been looking at moving away from Drobo and saw some affordably devices from Asustor or Terramaster, you will likely wonder why I have not covered them as much in this article (though I DO cover them and their solutions in the video embedded in this article above). Although both brands have been providing some great hardware (both for the price AND just generally) in 2022, these brands do not provide the full range of software and services (especially 1st party developed) that QNAP and Synology do. Their respective software in ADM and TOS aren’t bad, indeed they are very good and very responsive with many apps, they just are not on the same level as Synology DSM and QNAP QTS/QuTS right now. You can find out more about their software in the software review videos of each below:


Should I Move From Drobo to TrueNAS Core?

Many Drobo users, after using their systems for many years and (after becoming increasingly proficient) started to feel its limitations, might have heard about the free and DiY NAS server platform ‘TrueNAS’ (aka FreeNAS) and considering making the switch towards it after Drobo. It will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that when it comes to TrueNAS is a fantastically capable software for managing your storage. It even manages to swerve the downfall of being ‘too enterprise’ but arriving as an open source free software platform to be enjoyed by businesses and storage enthusiasts. There is no avoiding that it IS quite a technical mountainous learning curve if you are arriving at it from a position of zero storage or network experience, but the last few big TrueNAS system updates have gone a long way to update some UI elements to be more intuitive, software wide help notes available at all times and the community support is as on-point at it has ever been. If you are a home users looking for a hurdles setup or a day-1 deployable system for your small business, then TrueNAS may be too big a jump for you and you would be better off with a traditional off-the-shelf NAS system. However, if you have the know-how, you have the willingness to get your hands dirty and already have the hardware in mind/in-house, then TrueNAS stands in a class of it’s own and thanks to some very unique architecture choices that are almost utterly unique to this platform, it’s pretty unparalleled in its scope. Just please, PLEASE remember that a Drobo NAS is a ‘turnkey’ solution (aka, ready to go out of the box) and TrueNAS Core and TrueNAS Scale involve ALOT more setup and a much higher learning curve. You can buy TrueNAS-ready systems, such as the iXsystems series of devices, but these are still rather expensive compared with the modest Drobo and still require ALOT of tech knowledge to make the most of. You can find out more about the TrueNAS software platform in my written and video review below:

TrueNAS Written Review

TrueNAS Video Review


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