Synology vs Drobo: Choosing the Right NAS!
The data is our new gold and we need to store it and secure it properly. The ideal would be using NAS (network-attached storage). You can connect NAS to your network and access it 24/7 for storing and backing up the data. Considering the fact there are dozens of different vendors on the market; it is a bit tricky to find the proper one. You should make decisions based on a few metrics. In summary, they are related to purpose, performance, agility, reliability, UI, vendor credibility, and product support. All of these metrics should also fit into the defined budget. We got you covered with Synology and Drobo, two well-known NAS vendors among Windows and MAC.
About Synology and Drobo
Synology is a Taiwanese company that is developing NAS devices since 2000. 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).
For example, if you need directly attached storage (DAC), you can purchase one of three models; Drobo 5C, 5D3, and 8D. You can connect them to your Windows or MAC using USB and Thunderbolt. 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). Drobos supports capacities from 64 TB to 128 TB. Furthermore, Drobo protects your data 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, one of them is Wikipedia, Drobo products have been Out of Stock since the beginning of 2020. Fans of Drobo wonder 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 you from entry-level to ultra-high performance for latency-sensitive workloads. Synology helps you to choose the proper devices. You can select one of the following; File server & synchronization, Data backup, Multimedia hub, Productivity, and Virtual machine on NAS. 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 want to run virtual machines on Synology, you can choose one of 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.
Synology supports gigabit Ethernet technology for all devices. Furthermore, it supports 10 Gbps network connections for some models.
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. In addition, Synology allows you to encrypt data 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, you can install Drobo Dashboard from Windows XP to Windows 7, and from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008. As you probably know, Microsoft doesn’t recommend using old and not supported 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
You can extend the capabilities of your Synology and Drobo by installing add-ons. When it comes to Synology, there are dozens of them available in the Synology Package Center. They are 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. You can find the complete list of the available add-ons 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 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.
Warranty 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. You can extend it to 2 years more through the extended warranty. You must register it 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. You can bring this to another level by monitoring it using a network monitoring solution. Synology supports SNMP, SNMP Traps, and Syslog. By using these protocols you can get metrics about CPU, RAM, disk space, fans, temperature, power, and events. You can’t use them on Drobo (not supported), but you can still enable email notifications. In the case of Drobo data loss, it’s recommended to use a data recovery expert’s help.