Mundane as it might sound, this networked storage device is super-useful in a post-cloud world

Among photographers and media-makers alike, Drobo is known for creating fast, reliable storage solutions. Their devices hold multiple hard-drives that are backed up to each other and hot-swappable. A redundant array of independent disks (RAID) isn’t a new concept, but in the age of cloud storage many of us have stopped thinking about having our own storage devices. Drobo’s new 5N2 solves for the privacy and security of a physical back-up, but adds the convenience of being attached to a network. We’ve been testing it for a couple weeks and have been very impressed.

The 5N2 is basically a $500 housing; it does not come with hard-drives—you have to buy those separately. Doing so gives you the flexibility to factor price, speed and capacity when buying up to five drives to install in the device. And Drobo’s housing automatically sets up the drives in the optimal RAID to maximize capacity and back-up. We went with two 8T Seagate IronWolf drives—a minimal set-up for testing. Setting everything up was simple: slide in the hard-drives, connect power and ethernet and turn the device on. After an initialization period the 5N2 is visible in Drobo’s dashboard software on your computer and ready for as much (or as little) configuration as you want. Ours is visible on the office network for everyone to access (password protected, of course), but using Drobo’s mobile Access app it’s possible to reach the device from anywhere in the world—ostensibly making it a personal, private cloud device and achieving the best of both worlds.

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