Synology vs Drobo: Choosing the Right NAS!
The data is our new treasure and we need to store it and secure it properly, ideally on NAS (network-attached storage). NAS is a device connected to the network and used 24/7 for storing, accessing, and backing up the data. Considering the fact there are dozens of different vendors on the market, sometimes it is a bit tricky to find the proper one. The decision should be made based on a few factors such as purpose, performance, agility, reliability, UI, vendor credibility, and product support. All of these factors should also fit into the defined budget. In this article, we got you covered with Synology and Drobo, two well-known NAS vendors among Windows and MAC users.
About Synology and Drobo
Synology is a Taiwanese corporation that is developing NAS devices since 2000 and they have a market share from end-users to small and medium companies. Drobo has a bit less experience, as they have launched the company in 2005 in the US. Both, Synology and Drobo have the same goal, to provide end-users and companies with competitive data storage products.
The Drobo Product Family includes six different devices, only three of them are Ethernet-ready including Drobo 5N2, B810n, B810i (iSCSI SAN). They come with 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports which provide network redundancy and faster read/write performance. Depending on the model Drobo supports one or more of the following network protocols CIFS, SMB, AFP, iSCSI/CHAP/MPIO (Drobo B810i).
Three other models Drobo 5C, 5D3, and 8D are direct-attached storage (DAC) and can be connected to your Windows or MAC only by using USB and Thunderbolt. You can only access your data if your Windows or MAC machine is up and running, and not via a network. There is no Linux, as it is not supported.
Drobo supports from 5 to 8 HDD/SSD (2,5″, 3,5″) and in some models, it supports installation of additional mSATA SSD (card sold separately). The maximum disk capacity goes from 64 TB to 128 TB and your data are protected with BeyondRAID® technology. With BeyondRAID you can switch from single to dual disk redundancy with a single click and Drobo´s are also self-healing and have virtual hot-spares. It’s RAID, only better. You can read more about BeyondRAID on this LINK. The supported file systems are NTFS, HFS+, VMFS (Drobo B810i).
There is no information about CPU and RAM under the official specification and datasheet, which is quite weird. Drobo doesn’t support rack-mount installation and there is no option to make high availability through clustering.
According to different sources on Internet, and one of them is Wikipedia, Drobo products have been Out of Stock since the beginning of 2020 with fans of Drobo wondering about the lack of communication addressing the shortage and the future of the company. The store on drobo.com continues to list all but one Drobo product as “sold out” as of July 2021. WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE ABOUT DROBO, LAST EDITED 5 JULY 2021
We recommend contacting directly Drobo and/or their resellers to get an official confirmation.
Synology offers more than 30 different NAS devices intended for end-users, small or medium companies. It covers your from entry-level to ultra-high performance for latency-sensitive workloads. Synology helps you to choose the proper devices by selecting one of the following categories File server & synchronization, Data backup, Multimedia hub, Productivity, and Virtual machine on NAS and answering a set of questions. For example, if you are looking for Synology NAS for a multimedia hub (play, collect, and share your photos, video, and music through an intuitive web and mobile interface), you can choose one of the 15 available models.
If you are looking for Synology NAS to run virtual machines on it, you can select one of the 18 available devices. As you can see in the screenshot, Synology support rack-mounted installation which is a big plus for all business sizes. In addition to that, Synology supports high availability where you can join Synology servers in a centrally managed failover cluster to maximize service uptime and boost the reliability of your business IT.
All devices are Ethernet-ready and can be easily connected to a network via one of more Gigabit and 10 Gbps network cards. In some models, you can add more network cards.
Synology supports from 2 to 24 (some models scale up to 72 disks) HDD, SSD, SAS and it also supports m2 SSD which increases disk read/write performance. The maximum single volume size is 108 TB. It supports different RAID types (Basic, SHR-1, SHR-2, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10, and RAID F1) and the following file systems EXT4, EXT3, FAT, NTFS, HFS+, exFAT, AFP, rsync, and Btrfs. The data can be easily encrypted using the AES-256 algorithm.
The CPU and RAM capacity goes from 4-core 1.4 GHz to Intel Xeon 8-core and physical memory from 512 MB DDR4 to 64 GB DDR4.
(UI) User Interface
Synology devices are powered with DSM (DiskStation Manager). It is an intuitive easy to use web-based operating system for Synology NAS devices. Synology has recently introduced DSM 7.0, a new user interface, providing a more fluid and responsive experience. The features are grouped into file sharing, connectivity, system, and application. The UI supports more than 20 languages.
If you are an owner of Android and iOS you can install more than 10 different apps to access your Synology cloud, photos, audio, VPN, and others.
Drobo works in a bit different way. Drobo Dashboard, running on Windows or MAC OS X is the management application for your Drobo devices. According to Drobo´s official system support, the Drobo Dashboard is supported from Windows XP to Windows 7, and from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 – which are considered quite old operating systems. When you go to the product page, you will find Windows 10. It seems some pages are not up-to-date. When it comes to MAC OS X, it supports MAC OS 10.10 and higher. You can read more on this LINK.
Drobo UI supports six different languages and has two apps (Drobo Access and Drobo Pics) available for Android and iOS.
Extend NAS capabilities using apps
Synology and Drobo support the installation of additional apps or add-ons which extend the capabilities of your NAS device. You can expand the value and functionality of your Synology NAS by installing different add-ons packages. There are dozens of them available in Synology Package Center grouped into the following categories: backup, multimedia, business, utilities, security, productivity, developer tools, and management tools. Your Synology can act as a DNS, Proxy, or VPN Server, you can install McAffe or another antivirus to regularly scan your data, and a lot more. The cool thing is that all Synology devices support Package Center. The complete list of the available add-ons can be found HERE.
Drobo also provides the installation of additional apps through Drobo Apps. Drobo Apps are a set of applications and services designed to be installed and run from the Drobo 5N using Dashboard. That being said, you can’t run Drobo Apps on Drobo Mini, Drobo, Drobo 5C, and Drobo 5D/5Dt/5D3 devices. You can find the full list of available DroboApps on this LINK.
Warrant and support
The simple and powerful protection for your new Drobo is provided through DroboCare. All Drobo NAS comes with a 2-year Standard DroboCare warranty (email supports) and the first 90 days include Advanced Support. You can also purchase Premium DroboCare and extend your support to 5 years. DroboCare must be activated within 30 days of DroboCare purchase. You can find more information on this LINK.
Synology provides 3-years of Standard warranty for all products and you can extend it to 2 years more through the extended warranty. It must be registered within 30 days from purchase on Synology Account. Currently, Synology doesn´t offer an extended warranty in the USA. You can find more information on this LINK. Synology has more user-friendly and extensive documentation, all in one place.
Monitoring the health state of your NAS device
Both devices, Synology and Drobo, provide you with some basic health state metrics available in pop-up or status window. If you are using NMS (Network Monitoring Solution) and you want to get more insights into the specific metrics (disks, CPU, RAM, fans, temperature, power, or events), you can easily do it on Synology by using SNMP, SNMP Traps and Syslog. Unfortunately, none of these protocols are supported by Drobo, but you still can enable email notifications and stay notified in case of issues.