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Drobo 5D 5-bay Storage Array, Thunderbolt/USB3.0

  • DRDR5A21
  • 2 x Thunderbolt ports; second port for daisy chaining Thunderbolt devices (Mac OS X only)
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • 3.5"
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Learn more about the Drobo DRDR5A21



Dimensions / Weight


Package Contents

Package Contents
Drobo 5D
2 m (6.6 ft) USB 3.0 cable
1.8 m (6 ft) power cord with power supply
Quick Start Card
Thunderbolt cable is not included

Quick Info


  • Limited Warranty period (parts): 2 years
  • Limited Warranty period (labor): 2 years

Customer Reviews of the Drobo DRDR5A21

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  • Zach J.
  • 12/27/2013 6:42:23 PM
  • Tech Level: Somewhat High
  • Ownership: 1 week to 1 month
  • Verified Owner

3 out of 5 eggsQuick, Durable, Loud

Pros: The speed of thunderbolt is incredible. Loaded with Crucial mSata and using for offloading user folders,VMs, and media. Quality product for an office location away from the user.

Cons: the noise of the case fan is quite unbearable. If your goal is to place this in a bedroom you sleep in, seek another product. The fan noise contains a metallic grinding noise that will slowly drive you insane. 2 stars removed for the lack of engineering in noise control. The Drobo 5D must run the fan in continuous mode to cool the processor. The 5N is supposedly quieter. I however, was not expecting the fan to be as noisy as it was.

Other Thoughts: I opened up the device to inspect the fan. It appears this fan is swappable. I am definitely going to look for another, lower decibel fan to replace this with. Loaded this device with 4 Seagate 4TB NAS HD's. The drives are whisper quiet and spin down when not in use. The mobo for this product rests on the bottom just above the mSata bay. There are 4 screws located at the base that hold the shell to the inner case. If you remove these, and 6 screws inside, carefully, you can gain access to the fan.

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • Aleksandr B.
  • 6/3/2013 6:26:26 AM
  • Tech Level: High
  • Ownership: 1 week to 1 month
  • Verified Owner

1 out of 5 eggsStay away from this Drobo!

Pros: Cheapest Thunderbolt drive for 3+ bays;
Includes 0 drives - so I can use drives I want;
Great and super fast technical support.

Cons: External power supply;
Not reporting correct amount of free space;
Not supporting partition encryption;
Java required for Drobo Dashboard to run.

Other Thoughts: I've purchased it for use with OS X, as it one of the devices which has Thunderbolt connection. My plan was to put in 5 3TB drives and setup RAID6.
First warning flag was, when I tried to format it: it asked me to format it not actual capacity of the drive, but "thin provisioned" capacity. What that means, you select random size (usually highest, as instructions suggest: 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 12TB, 16TB) and then everything goes bad from here. OS X will always report, that there is 16TB of total space (actually I had only 8TB). I could have lived with this, knowing where to check. Tech support says it's bug in OS X (which is always easier to say, because Apple won't respond to those false claims).

Second warning flag was that suddenly, usage lights got to all lit on my Drobo. Upon inspection with technical support, I was told that Drobo does not understand encrypted HFS+ partitions.

I'm returning this Drobo back.

0 out of 7 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • James R.
  • 5/3/2013 2:40:27 PM
  • Tech Level: High
  • Ownership: 1 week to 1 month
  • Verified Owner

5 out of 5 eggsFantastic option for external Mac storage

Pros: SSD Cache option (64GB Crucial m4 mSSD from Newegg works nicely here)
Ease of expansion
Thunderbolt Cable is included

Cons: Mac client requires Java to be installed

Other Thoughts: While the Drobo 5D may not be the fastest external Thunderbolt storage array for the Mac, it offers up a pain-free experience that allows novices and professionals the capability to add massive amounts of capacity to any space-constrained environment.

While the unit may not be as cost-efficient as the plethora of NAS devices that are available, the construction of the unit and the simplicity of the underlying software and utilities are justified for the asking price. When combined with a mSSD that is installed in the underbody of the unit, the 5D becomes even more capable with file transfers that can leverage the SSD.

The 5D generates far less noise/heat than a loaded tower PC, and you cannot hear the drives when they're installed and in-use, even from approximately two feet away. The adjustable illumination will cater to those who do not enjoy bright/flashing lights to be visible.

While the cons I've mentioned aren't showstoppers, they are the very limited flaws in an otherwise well-designed package. Highly recommended for the mini and iMac!

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • Karl R.
  • 3/29/2013 2:49:17 PM
  • Tech Level: Somewhat High
  • Ownership: more than 1 year

1 out of 5 eggsWarning no support down the road

Pros: easy to use

Cons: I have a GEN 2 Drobo, it's not even 2 years old. The fan started to go and it was making a lot of noise. Drobo's support offered two options. That I find a new fan online and replace it myself. By the way the Drobo uses it's own connection so you would have to splice some wires. Second what they recommend is to purchase a new Drobo D for $800. A product not even 2 years old there solution is to purchase a new product, the ease of use is great. But the support has issues. How can you not support a product not even 2 years old. I was willing to pay to have the fan replaced, but that's not even an option. They just don't support it. But if I had purchased their Drobo extended protection plan. Then they would of fixed it. It sounds like to me that take advantage of you. It put me in a really touch place, and I don't really appreciate a company that does that. Be aware, when you need them down the road they most likely won't be there for you.

Other Thoughts: Let's say in 2 years the unit goes down. Drobo based on it's current support wouldn't help you. Just imagine all of your data and Drobo say sorry we can't help.

6 out of 14 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • Joseph L.
  • 3/14/2013 9:40:38 AM
  • Tech Level: Somewhat High
  • Ownership: 1 day to 1 week
  • Verified Owner

5 out of 5 eggsSeems pretty cool

Pros: I like its ability to setup the system as a 16TB array with out having the drive capacity first. It is backing up my TimeMachine Server alternating with an IOSafe. The tech support spoke english from America. Anyone who has called techsupport in India understands. I mean no disrespect, jus the barrier is difficult. The lights can be dimmed even.

Cons: If you are migrating from windows to mac and the system doesn't recognize your drives as formatable; hit the reset system switch.

Other Thoughts: So Far Nothing

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • Matthew G.
  • 2/17/2013 8:12:56 PM
  • Tech Level: High
  • Ownership: 1 week to 1 month
  • Verified Owner

5 out of 5 eggsReally fast. Really easy.

Pros: Really, really fast.
I upgraded from a Drobo (FW800) to this unit. The same diskpack migrated from my old Drobo to the 5D.

Shut down the old unit. Moved the disks. Booted the 5D and was online about 90 seconds later.

I was getting reads of 30MB/sec over FW800. Now I get reads around 240MB/sec. I have the optional mSATA SSD installed.

Attached via Thunderbolt to my i7 Mac Mini.

Cons: Nothing yet.

Other Thoughts: It seems Drobo really listened to feedback about the speed of the unit. While they were always brain-dead simple, they (at least the Drobo and Drobo S) were sloooow. Not anymore.

I also like the tweaks to Dashboard. Before it was a necessary evil. It's starting to present more information now.

If only we could convince Drobo to show drive Model/Serial info and stop encrypting logfiles...

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • Robert L.
  • 2/15/2013 7:17:03 AM
  • Tech Level: Somewhat High
  • Ownership: 1 week to 1 month
  • Verified Owner

5 out of 5 eggsSO much better than the FS...

Pros: Fast, even using USB 2. Much quieter than the FS or even the second generation Drobo Disk Pack.

Cons: Stupidly expensive against the new 5N. Even with Thunderbolt, which I don't have on my Mac Pro, why the $350 differential?

Other Thoughts: My iTunes library is now over 5 terabytes, and this is pretty much the only answer for reliability and safety without a computer degree that you need for most other NAS storage solutions. The Drobo folks are also good at support....

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • William A.
  • 1/25/2013 12:22:06 PM
  • Tech Level: Somewhat High
  • Ownership: 1 month to 1 year
  • Verified Owner

5 out of 5 eggsPerfect Data Center

Pros: USB3 and Thunderbolt ports. I run a pc so I am using USB3. It’s not the fastest usb3 ever but still many times faster than USB2.
Easy set up. Just install drobo dashboard set up the drobo to the maximum space possible (for future upgrades) and install the hard drives. And you are ready to go.
Expandability. The fact that this device can be upgraded to 5 4TB drives.

Cons: Cost. This thing is expensive but all similar products that do what this does are around the same price. It basically has its own built in OS that handles building and arranging the array of hard drives.
Array rebuild time: If you remove a drive or one fails it does take time for it to rebuild the array but you computer does not need to be on while it’s doing this. Also the more data you have the longer it takes to rebuild.

Other Thoughts: I bought the Drobo 5D to by my main storage center for all of my data. I had increasingly become concerned about one of my hard drives dyeing and losing all of my files. So I bought the drobo since it offers single and dual disk back up. I installed 4 2TB drives that I already owned and added one new 3TB WD red to the system. What’s nice about the drobo set up is I have the ability to replace any of the drives with larger ones without having to manually rebuild the array. The Drobo handles all the technical bits its self. I bought this from the recommendation of a friend who has the previous version. For what this product is it can’t be beat, but there are other devices out there that do the same thing for about the same price worth considering. I chose this because my friend owned one and he gave it his stamp of approval.

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • Kimberly D.
  • 12/18/2012 2:22:49 PM
  • Tech Level: Somewhat High
  • Ownership: 1 day to 1 week
  • Verified Owner

3 out of 5 eggsGREAT STORAGE, BUT

Pros: Using the USB 3.0 connection the transfer speeds are very good. The Drobo Dashboard is comprehensive and easy to understand and configuring the device.

Cons: I purchased this item because of the advertised Thunderbolt feature. The exterior of the box advertises "Thunderbolt", PC and Mac. However, Thunderbolt is not supported on a PC. This was disappointing after speaking with Tech Support, citing there is no Intel driver. Strange, I have been running a WD Storage "Dual Disk" device without any problem.

Other Thoughts: MB: Asus P8Z77-V Premium
OS: Windows 8 Pro

5 out of 19 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

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