Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Drobo v. ReadyNAS V: Conclusion

So, what's the bottom line? I've written about what I am looking for, the obvious differences between Drobo and ReadyNAS, differences in connectivity and use of disks, and some of the more technical advantages that favor ReadyNAS. What does it all add up to?

Speed is not a huge issue for me. Sure, I would like a faster solution. But it is not that important. If things go well, I'll never need the fastest speeds. And I'd have to upgrade other equipment to take advantage of it. More importantly, Drobo is already faster than 802.11n wireless networking, so it is fast enough for me. However, others, especially those working with large graphics or video files over ethernet could really make use of ReadyNAS's huge speed advantages. 

Cost, on the hand, is a concern for me. Drobo makes better use of its disks, and costs less up front, especially if you don't need DroboShare to put it on a network. That's a major advantage for Drobo, regardless of how you use it. 

ReadyNAS has many features that Drobo does not. I am especially intrigued by the ease with which you can back up the data on the unit. This would be important desktop users, as their computers and any backups on their ReadyNAS are always in the same place and if disaster strikes all the data could well be lost. It is also important if any data is kept exclusively on the device. However, keep all my data on my laptop, so the device itself is a backup. I am a laptop user, and I usually have my machine with me, meaning that the laptop itself acts as offsite storage, much of the time. And if there were a fire in my home, you can be damn sure that I'm not leaving without my laptop, anyway. But older backups themselves are valuable, and Drobo does not make it easy to copy them. To be entirely honest, though, as much as I like this feature, I am not disciplined enough to use it. And ReadyNAS's other advanced features really are of no use for me.

Apple supports Time Machine -- its cool backup system built into the latest version of OS X -- to devices attached directly to its routers or other Mac OS X computers, but not to other network devices. For my purposes, this virtually cinches it for Drobo, as it can be plugged into my Apple router with USB. I'd rather not try unsupported hacks to make Time Machine work with ReadyNAS.

In fact, I tend to wonder why home users would want ReadyNAS. For basic use, Drobo is cheaper and simpler. Its advanced features are more appropriate for small offices than even most home offices, even even most most offices wouldn't know what to do with them. 

And so, despite the recommendations that I have received to check out ReadyNAS, I don't think that the decision is close at all. When my current network drive gets full, I'll get a Drobo and another internal drive or two and be good to go!


Randall said...

The ReadyNAS is a Network device and the Drobo (without DroboShare is not). The ReadyNAS works well in a situation where you can't direct connect multiple computers to the same device. The devices fundamentally solve two different problems.

Anonymous said...

As far as I understand it you can only backup over a network to the Time Capsule. Not to a drive connected to an Airport device.

Randall said...

You can back up to a network device, but it is unsupported. I haven't had any problems with doing so in the past months. (Do a web search for TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes.)