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Item#: N82E16822240090

Drobo Direct Attached Storage - 5 bay array with mSATA SSD acceleration - USB 3 and Thunderbolt ports (DRDR5A21)

  • 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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  • Overview
  • Specifications
  • Warranty & Returns
  • Reviews

Learn more about the Drobo DRDR5A21




Form Factor

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
Warranty, Returns, And Additional Information
  • Warranty
  • Limited Warranty period (parts): 2 years
  • Limited Warranty period (labor): 2 years
  • Read full details

Customer Reviews of the Drobo DRDR5A21

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  • Brett W.
  • 12/14/2015 7:49:50 PM
  • Ownership: more than 1 year
  • Verified Owner

2 out of 5 eggsWorked well for 1 year. I really wanted to like this.

Pros: Thunderbolt connection, fast transfer speeds.

Cons: If the unit goes down or has issues, there is no way for you to access the data on your hard drives, unless you get the unit fixed or find another similar unit to use with the current drives. Most people will only have one, so this means downtime and no access to files either way.

Other Thoughts: This looked to me like it would be the perfect solution to be able to use daily for my photo and video editing, and also have the peace of mind that everything is backed up. A year in I was loving this, and no problems at all. One year and 15 days in (now outside of the warranty), and the unit stops fully powering on, and no longer mounts to the computer. I tried many different techniques of power cycling, different ports, even trying the USB 3.0 connection instead, and nothing seems to work. I got it to mount for a brief second at one point, but I wasn't able to access anything. Because it is now out of warranty, I am dead in the water, and decided to order another raid device that if it goes, will still be able to at least access the data on the drives without having to buy a whole new enclosure.
I really really wanted to like this. But now that I see this one problem with the enclosure can shut me down for days without access to my data, I don't see it as being something I can risk having happen again.

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

5 out of 5 eggsGreat, Expandable Solution

Pros: Supports up to 5 drives
Supports separate flash drive for caching
Very fast

Cons: Cost
Storage management not as flexible as Drobo 5N (which has logical volumes/shares)

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

1 out of 5 eggsDrobo will not stand behind this unit.

Pros: Blinking lights and glossy package make it look smart. The promise of easy expansion by adding drives of any size makes it sound like panacea.

Cons: Doesn't actually work, and Drobo Support will alternately ignore and respond to your tickets until you're out of the support period. They will not accept a return unless you purchased the unit directly from their online store (and then only within 30 days -- so you're out of luck if Support takes longer than that to work out your issue).

Other Thoughts: After extensive research on external drive arrays to replace our small office's file server (running a 2TB mirrored array), I selected the Drobo 5D because of its (purported) ease of use and its dynamic RAID setup, allowing us to put any number/size drives in the enclosure. RAID without the complexity was what I was looking forward to.

I connected our Drobo 5D to our simple network "server" (a Dell Vostro running Windows 7 32-bit) and added 2x Western Digital 3.0TB drives to it. Within a few hours of completing the initial data load onto the Drobo, it began sending email alerts about how it was reaching critical capacity (despite only being half full). Checking the Drobo Dashboard software included with the unit, it would indicate that the drive array was completely full, and then would begin ticking downward (by about 100MB/sec) the amount of consumed space until it settled out at the actual capacity. About 6 hours later, the system would do it again.

I really wanted the Drobo to work; I formatted the array twice, reloaded it with its 1.2TB of data twice (a multi-day affair via its USB interface), reset the Drobo back to Factory default several times, and finally reformatted our Dell, replacing its operating system with a clean install of Windows 7 64-bit (once again performing the Drobo reset, drive format and data load) -- all to no avail. I uploaded 6 copies of diagnostic files to Drobo Support, various movies and screenshots of the misbehavior, along with Windows Event logs and copies of the email alerts. I even purchased and added an additional 3TB Western Digital Drive at Support's suggestion.

I worked with Drobo technical support for almost 90 days (opened the ticket on December 30, 2014 and requested a refund on March 16, 2015), all the while running lower on drive space on our network share. This included a nearly 3-week stretch (1/22/15 to 2/10/15) of no response from Support on my ticket, despite 5 requests for updates via their support portal plus a phone call. My request for a refund was refused on March 20, 2015 (despite a tech, via phone, assuring me that I was not missing a window for returns), because Drobo will only refund units purchased directly from their own online store, and only within 30 days. Further, exchanges for like models are refurbished units with no possibility of return.

Despite demonstrating a clear desire to make the unit work in my environment, Drobo has ultimately left me flat with a non-working 5D, and I'm out $600. Shame on you Drobo! I expected better. I wholeheartedly warn away other buyers.

My replacement purchase was a Synology DS415+ instead, which offers the same type of hybrid-RAID technology (add mixed drive sizes), along with additional software functionality the Drobo lacked (private cloud, remote access, the ability to backup to our Crashplan Pro account, etc.). It seems to be better regarded by purchasers as well, with more stars and better reviews than the Drobo unit.

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

  • Zach J.
  • 12/27/2013 6:42:23 PM
  • 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.

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

  • Aleksandr B.
  • 6/3/2013 6:26:26 AM
  • 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.

2 out of 10 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • James R.
  • 5/3/2013 2:40:27 PM
  • 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!

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • Karl R.
  • 3/29/2013 2:49:17 PM
  • 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
  • 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

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

  • Matthew G.
  • 2/17/2013 8:12:56 PM
  • 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...

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No

  • Robert L.
  • 2/15/2013 7:17:03 AM
  • 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....

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

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Item#: N82E16822240090
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