doddleREVIEWS: Drobo 5D3 Direct-Attached Storage

By Larry Jordan

We all know that we need to backup our data. But, we also know that most people don’t. You don’t by a Drobo for performance, you buy it for security, expansion, and ease of use.

I’ve purchased, or reviewed, storage from close to two dozen companies and Drobo is unique in how they describe, promote, package and deliver their products.

Every storage vendor sells storage, sometimes technically-challenging-to-set-up storage. When you open the box from Drobo, you’ve found more than storage – you’ve found a friend.

Drobo says “Hello!” better than anyone, except possibly a Mac.

Drobo is designed to make backups non-threatening and easy. No one in storage does better packaging than Drobo. The only company that comes close is Apple. And, like Apple, the whole point of their packaging is to make you feel good about technology.

Which, when you think about it, is pretty amazing.

The Drobo comes carefully wrapped in its own protective cover, which turns into a fabric carry-bag with handles. Cool.

But, if we don’t consider sheer performance, what can we use Drobo storage for? Surprisingly, quite a lot. Recently, the Drobo team contacted me about reviewing their latest direct-attached storage for Mac: the 5D3. I’ve reviewed lots of Drobo units over the years, so I was immediately interested.

They very kindly loaned me a new 5D3 for this review. Then, it took me a week to get drives for the unit, because the 5D3 ships without drives. Now that I have all the pieces in place, let me tell you about this new storage system.



Drobo designs storage systems which are easy to setup, highly flexible and highly expandable with reasonable performance. The 5D3 is the definition of “hardware appliance.”

You can get systems which are faster, but you can’t find a system which is easier to setup or use.

The 5D3 connects to a Mac with a cable that is Thunderbolt 3 (Mac-side) on one end and USB-C (Drobo-side) at the other. Power, from an external power supply, provides 12V DC current.

Another excellent design thought is that while the Drobo uses a USB-C port to connect to the computer, it has two additional Thunderbolt 3 ports on the back to allow daisy-chaining additional devices or monitors; Drobo specifically mentions supporting additional 4K monitors.

You don’t buy a Drobo solely for performance – though its performance isn’t bad; instead, you buy it for ease of setup, ease of operation, flexibility in accommodating drives of difference capacities, expandability in allowing you to add drives at any time without sacrificing data or performance, and its reliability for sitting quietly in a corner, keeping all your files backed up and safe.

You can read more of Larry’s thoughts on the Drobo 5D3 here.


About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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