Drobo FS Adds Time Machine Integration - InformationWeek

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5/20/2010
04:40 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
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Drobo FS Adds Time Machine Integration

Data Robotics has made its Drobo FS network storage unit, designed for small businesses, compatible with the Mac's built-in time Machine backup software, giving Mac-based companies a flexible option for workgroup backup.

Data Robotics has made its Drobo FS network storage unit, designed for small businesses, compatible with the Mac's built-in time Machine backup software, giving Mac-based companies a flexible option for workgroup backup.The Drobo FS, first released early last month, is a network attached storage (NAS) unit positioned as a "simple, safe device" for "connected home, home office, and small office users." It features five drive bays that can accommodate up to 10 TB or more of storage space, provides single- and dual-drive redundancy, and incorporates Data Robotics' BeyondRAID self-healing drive monitoring technology.

Now the Drobo FS can also be used as a target storage device for one or more Macs using Time Machine for backups. "The Drobo FS delivers the most seamless support for Apple Time Machine of any network storage system on the market today," claims Data Products senior director Mark Fuccio. "Using Time Machine with Drobo FS is as easy as clicking one box in the Drobo Dashboard software, with no need for confusing, complex command line work in Terminal."

The Drobo FS connects to any Gigabit Ethernet network, and multiple users can use the device for backup at the same time. Using Time Machine, users can set capacity limits -- i.e., they can designate a certain amount of the Drobo FS storage capacity to be used for Time Machine, with the rest still available for other purposes. The Time Machine space can be allocated per user: for example, using the Drobo dashboard, one user can set up 100 GB of backup space while another could use 300 GB. To accomplish the allocation of space, one of the two processors in the system runs an enhanced version of Netatalk, an open source implementation of the Apple Filing Protocol. (Data Robotics has donated the enhancements' source code back to the Netatalk project, and they have been incorporated into Netatalk 2.05 and later.)

Expanding storage capacity with the Drobo FS just requires swapping in a new drive.According to the company, even if the new drive is replacing one already in use, data access is never interrupted and the added storage is available immediately. A customer quoted in the announcement, RHED Pixel CEO Richard Harrington, said, "We use a Drobo FS both to share project assets between artists and for Time Machine backup. Each workstation has its own share for Time Machine. Drobo FSs ability to share files between users and to replace individual backup drives on the fly make it the most cost effective solution on the market."

The Drobo FS starts at $699. Bundled with Western Digital hard drives, the price ranges from $999 for 4.5 TB (3 x 1.5 TB drives) up to $1,449 for 10 TB (5 x 2 TB drives). By comparison, a single 2TB Time Capsule -- Apple's own wireless Time Machine backup solution -- costs $499 by itself.

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