Drobo has recently introduced their latest network appliance, the 5N2. An upgraded version of the 5N, the 5N2 offers many of the same features, and even looks very similar. A network storage solution, the Drobo 5N2 is designed to protect your data with the least amount of effort on the user’s part so that things can be up and running with ease.
Designed for use in connected homes and small- to medium-sized businesses, the Drobo 5N2 offers a simple, safe, effective and smart data storage solution. It offers secure remote access, as well as a high level of DroboDR functionality. It also offers access to DroboApps, which enhance the functionality of all Drobo NAS devices. Featured applications, including DroboPix, for the management of mobile pictures and videos, and DroboAccess, a private cloud storage solution, provide security and privacy for users data on any Drobo device that they own.
The Drobo 5N2 is very similar in design to its predecessor, the 5N, though there are some minor changes. It is rectangular in shape and black in color with a very basic layout, though there is an option to purchase a limited edition GelaSkin magnet for US customers.
Running vertically down the front right side of the face of the NAS are five LED lights. These lights correlate to the status of each drive. Along the bottom, a collection of small blue LED lights are laid out horizontally, and these lights correspond to the current amount of data that the system is using. Another LED that indicates the system’s power is located on the bottom left corner, and on the bottom right corner is an LED that indicates the LAN status of the device.
The back of the Drobo 5N2 has a very basic lay out. The surface primarily features ventilation holes. All ports are located along the bottom, including two Ethernet ports, a power port, and a Kensington port. The power button is also located on the back.
A small panel on the bottom of the Drobo 5N2 pops off, allowing for the installation of an mSATA drive for the SSD cache.
The features of the Drobo 5N2 are similar to the 5N, but there are some noticeable differences. The key features of this NAS include:
- Two one-gigabit Ethernet ports
- DroboApps, which allow for turn-key applications and increased management of files
- An upgraded processor, which allows for increased speed and throughput
- DroboDR, one of the best and easiest to use Disaster Recovery solutions currently available
- Enhanced performance boost over the 5N, complete with port bonding
- A two year warranty
A battery protects the write cache from losing power while data is written to drives. If the power fades, this battery keeps the power going long enough so that the 5N2 can finish being written onto non-volatile storage. Also, thanks to the two ports, adaptive link bonding is extremely easy to complete; with just two clicks on the dashboard and both of the ports are bonded, allowing for better network performance.
Drobo is designed to work with some of the best operating software in the industry, including:
- Apple macOS X 10.10 and higher
- Microsoft Windows 10
- Microsoft Windows 8
- Microsoft Windows 7
Additional software features for the 5N2 include:
- Hot Data Caching
- myDrobo Compatible
- Drive Spin Down
- OSX/macOS Time Machine Support
- Cloud access
In order to really determine how the Drobo 5N2 stacks up, we tested out its performance. We used an extensive process in order to determine the benchmarks of each drive on the 5N2 and place them into a steady-state so that they each had the same workload while being tested under a heavy load. We then tested in sets of intervals in various depth profiles in order to determine the performance under both heavy and light use.
Unfortunately, one lacking feature of the 5N2 was a resource dashboard in the Drobo management software that could provide real-time network link utilization. The cumulative speeds from all the client machines were around 110MB/s which is close to the theoretical maximum on a single gigabit connection on the Drobo. Similarly, running our disk benchmark tool on Mac OS gave us read speeds of 113MB/s and write speeds of 100MB/s.
The Drobo 5N2 offers several upgraded features, and those features would certainly be appealing to entry-level users. That said, business users will probably find that the Drobo 5N2 is outclassed by other similar NAS devices from QNAP, Thecus and Synology.
On a positive note, the Drobo 5N2 can help to enhance performance and quality control issues. It’s also extremely easy to use, which we think that a lot of users, especially new users, will find appealing. Overall, we think that the Drobo 5N2 is a great alternative to the top tier NAS manufacturers for the home user.