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Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a smart, compact solution that ups the storage capacity of your network. They are a practical desktop storage solution that offers hassle-free installation, easy integration, and simple, ongoing management. 

Creatives like photographers and designers who want to run a more sophisticated home network are increasingly adopting desktop NAS. There are so many desktop NAS to choose from but Drobo, an external storage manufacturer, has gained a reputation for expandable, future-forward storage solutions that scale intuitively. 

Join us to review the Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS. We’ll deep-dive into its features and performance to evaluate if this NAS will meet your storage requirements. We’ll also share the best deals online for purchasing this popular Drobo NAS. 

Let’s dive in!

Summary

The Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS is a 5-Bay desktop. As one of Drobo’s fastest network-attached NAS, this next-generation NAS has been designed for ‘prosumers’ who are conscientious about performance.

Its high-utility design includes: 

  • 5-Bay NAS which can be used with up to five 3.5-inch SATA HDDs
  • 1 Drobo Accelerator Bay that can accommodate a single solid-state drive
  • Carrier-less Drive Bays with indicator lights
  • Power Fail Protection
  • A lock port for security 
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 64TB filesystem support (maximum capacity)
  • Status lights
  • A capacity gauge
  • Drobo Dashboard version 2.6 or later
  • Operating system support for macOS: 10.14.x, 10.15.x, 11.0.x / Windows 10 / Windows 8
  • External Power Supply: AC: 100-240VAC~2A, 50-60Hz / DC: 12V, 7A, 84W
  • Two variable-speed cooling fans
  • 2-year manufacturer’s warranty

This 5-Bay, network-attached NAS is the fastest in its class because of its upgraded processors. It has been engineers for fast and efficient data sharing and remote access that benefits home and professional users. 

The NAS has exceptional data management capabilities, thanks to Drobo’s proprietary BeyondRAID™ technology. Despite being a desktop NAS, the 5N2 also has enterprise-level disaster recovery backup, but remains easy-to-use thanks to the Drobo Dashboard which is Windows and macOS compatible.

About the Company: Drobo

Drobo (formerly called Data Robotics) was founded in San Jose, California in 2005 and is a U.S. manufacturer of a variety of external storage solutions aimed at the consumer and small business market. It has since been acquired by an investment group with tech specialties. 

Its range of devices has capacities of up to 12 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA hard disk drives, with some devices being compatible with SSD. The hard drives can be added or removed from the NAS without manual data migration or network downtime. Drobo NAS generally connects to an existing network via USB, Ethernet or Thunderbolt ports.

Drobo Dashboard

Hard disk drive
Hard Drive sitting on a gray desk

©AzmanMD/Shutterstock.com

Drobo provides its own management application for managing the NAS that can be used to configure and get updates on one or multiple NAS in one window. It can run on Windows or macOS X. Here are the essential features it includes to make running your Drobo NAS easy: 

  • Immediate recognition of all Drobos on your network
  • Click through on the Dashboard to view the capacity chart and status updates for the NAS 
  • Locate and configure drives by the bay
  • Intuitive settings windows
  • The ability to name each NAS and update firmware
  • Configure alerts via email for your Drobo NAS
  • Run diagnostics on the NAS 
  • Diagnostics files can be shared with support via the dashboard

Best Deal Today

Drobo 5N2 40TB: Network Attached Storage (NAS) 5-Drive Array with Seagate NAS Drives - 2X Gigabit Ethernet Ports (DRDS5A21-40TB)
  • Highly scalable network storage array. 64TB filesystem support
  • Gigabit Ethernet connectivity x2. Ethernet port bonding. Hardware Features : Carrier-less Drive Bays, Power Fail Protection.
  • Holds up to 5x 3.5” SATA HDDs. Optional mSATA SSD boosts performance. Expandable by adding drives or hot-swapping drives with larger ones. *Units with hard drives include Seagate HDDs
  • Award-winning Beyond RAID automated data protection. DroboDR disaster recovery support, and internal battery backup
  • Supports myDrobo Platform, DroboAccess encrypted-end-to-end remote access, and DroboPix allowing secure and automatic uploads of mobile photos and videos. DroboApps support, including ElephantDrive,...
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

You can purchase the Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS here.

Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS Overview

Price and Release Date

Drobo launched this desktop NAS on March 27th, 2017. Mihir Shah, the CEO of Drobo, described the 5N2 as a storage solution that provided enterprise-level technology in 5-Bay NAS at a cost-effective price. 

It was released to be a smart storage solution targeting small to medium businesses who want data privacy and security on a NAS that they own rather than cloud storage.

Different Models

A related model released the same year (in June of 2017) was the Drobo 5D3 DAS.

This device is direct attached storage rather than NAS which required a direct device connection from which it accesses data. This 5+1 Bay DAS has similar specifications but is aimed at creatives like photographers, videographers, and other media professionals.

Features

This future-forward NAS provides high-utility features that maximize the performance of your storage.

Below are the main features of the Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS.

Maximized Capacity and Accelerated Performance

Despite being a desktop NAS, the Drobo 5N2 includes enterprise-level, intelligent features like Hot Data Caching to deliver lightning-fast access to your data.

Use an mSATA SSD in the Drobo Accelerator Bay for speed while using the five 3.5-inch hard disk drives for maximizing capacity. If you need more speed, the 3.5-inch bays can also accommodate SSDs.

Dual Gigabit Ethernet Ports

The dual Ethernet ports can be bonded together, doubling the read/write performance. Alternatively, use them separately for the connection of different subnetworks. By default, the ports are in active/passive mode, meaning that if one port fails, the other can take over. 

BeyondRAID®

The Drobo 5N2 uses Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology to automatically protect and manage data even if a single drive or multiple drives fail. BeyondRAID undertakes volume management and reorganizes data on the remaining drives. 

The 5N2 can also mobilize added capacity in seconds. If you need more disk space, simply replace the smallest capacity drive with a larger one and the NAS will handle the rest. Drobo also uses Smart Volumes® that can use the capacity as needed as volumes taken from a common pool.

Enterprise-Level Disaster Recovery

The Drono 5N2 NAS is a widely adopted solution for backup for households and small businesses. If paired 5N2s are used, the devices can port data and user account information between themselves to ensure that it can be available despite a significant failure.

DroboApps

Drobo provides a suite of practical, easy-to-configure applications via the Drobo Dashboard that help you get even more out of your NAS.

  • Access the internet securely using your own mydrobo.com address
  • Remotely access WordPress and Koken files
  • Automatically upload photo and video content with the DroboPix app
  • Strategic partnerships with quality third parties like ElephantDrive Resilio Sync & Plex for syncing, additional backups, and data protection.

Protecting Your Data

With the 5N2, you are protected from losing data due to power failures by its integrated battery backup system. The battery protection always supplies the NAS with sufficient power to back up the data in the cache or memory and then write it to disk. The battery keeps itself fully charged so that your NAS is always covered.

Specifications

Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS
Form FactorDesktop
ProcessorMarvell Armada XP Quad-core 1.6GHz processor
Bays5 x 3.5-inch SATA 1 x mSATA solid state drive in the Drobo Accelerator Bay 
10GbE Connectivity2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports
Power Supply UnitExternal Power Supply: AC Input – 100-240VAC~2A, 50-60HzDC Output – 12V, 7A, 84W
Dimensions 5.9 in x 7.3 in x 10.3 in  (150.3 mm x 185.4 mm x 262.3mm)
Weight8.5 lb (3.9 kg) – excluding hard drives and power supply
Warranty 2-year standard manufacturer’s warranty

Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS Review

The Drobo 5N2 is the most recent NAS from Drobo and, despite it first being released in 2017, this NAS has managed to stay ahead of the curve in both form and functionality.

For personal use or even service of a small office, this smart little storage device certainly punches above its weight and it is a great option if you are new to Network Attached Storage and need your hand held when using it. Let’s take a closer look.

Smart Sleek Design

This NAS is a desktop-sized unit that can be easily and discretely accommodated on your desk. The quality of construction is noticeable; nothing is flimsy, including the pressed steel housing, and the detailing is very sleek. 

The 5 bays can hold 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch SATA drives and you’ll be relieved to know that installation is completely free of tools. To get to the dive slots, simply detach the front panel which has windows that allow you to see the status LEDs of each drive. You can also install a caching SSD using a hatch on the underside of the NAS.

The LAN Ethernet ports are on the back of the NAS and offer 110 Mbps connectivity for data transfer. They can also be channel boned using a switch for even faster data transfer. Strangely, and a real downside, there are no USB ports for this NAS, which is a real shame. 

NAS storage computer hard drive
Grabbing a solid NAS will prove a great decision for your storage needs, and the Drobo 5N2 does not disappoint.

©Lost_in_the_Midwest/Shutterstock.com

Smart Data Management

Drobo has its own version of Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID). The hybrid RAID uses intelligent volume management to make the most efficient use of your data.

With the 5N2, you don’t need to rush out to buy 5 pristine high-capacity drives and only add more capacity when you need it. When you have occupied all 5 bays you can replace drives with larger capacity drives. Drobo’s volume management technology will adapt, pool, and distribute the data as necessary. 

Helpful Apps

5N2 can be up to 46 apps via the Drobo Dashboard including:

  • WordPress
  • Plex
  • MySQL
  • Apache

You can also use remote access tools to access your data from remote devices via a secure internet connection. Navigating to and through apps via the Drobo Dashboard is straightforward, with clear instructions and easy navigation.  

Robust Performance

The 5N2 has been built for speed and should live up to expectations. Benchmarking tests found speeds of up to 118 Mbps, which is consistent with the high-speed Ethernet connectivity. This means that they should integrate well into an existing network or perform well with multiple NAS.

Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Tool-free assembly and installation of hard drives
  • Easy setup
  • Can accommodate SSD drives
  • Compact desktop form factor
  • Strong metal chassis with a detachable magnet front panel
  • Smart volume management
  • Easy-to-use dashboard and app-based interface

Cons

  • Predominantly SATA-based
  • More flash-based memory would speed things up
  • Only Ethernet ports for connectivity
  • Customer service may not always be reliable

Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS: Is It Worth It?

This is a fantastic NAS if you are new to storage and want a device that is easy to integrate into your network. It is compact, intuitive to operate, and has room for scaling. The one downside is the lack of ports, as a home or small business NAS, it could really do with USB connectivity!

Buy it if…

This is a great option if you’re a NAS beginner or are a photographer or creative who needs a mature storage option for backing up your work.

Its speed is ideal for accessing your data fast and internet-based access may be useful if you need images or files while away from your desk. This NAS will also work for a serious work-from-home network with a reliable backup for your valued data. It is pretty well suited to these use cases and provides lots of apps so you can use it exactly how you want.  

Don’t Buy it if…

If you are an SME that is looking to rapidly scale storage, it’s not best for you. Rather than buy multiple 5-Bay NAS, you’d be better off considering a rackmount NAS with 8, 12, or 16 bays to give you the room for expansion you need!

Final Thoughts

The Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS is a great value NAS that punches above its weight in speed, volume management, and data protection. This respectable build from Drobo certainly has a few more years of market leadership in it, making it a worthwhile buy for 2022. 

Next Up…

Check out some of this interesting content, you may learn something:

Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS: Reviewed for 2022 with the Best Deals FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What's the difference between a NAS and a server?

NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. This is a storage device that is just like a server, but on a smaller scale. NAS are increasing in popularity because they allow individuals and small businesses to store their data on-site, simply and without taking up much space.

NAS devices are available in form factors spanning desktop to rack-mounted NAS with multiple racks of hard drives.

You can use NAS storage to build highly adaptable local area networks with fast file transfer between any computers that are connected to the network. Having a NAS takes the pressure off devices so that they can be used for more important computing tasks. You also gain a reliable backup for important files.

 

NAS cannot compete with servers because they are much smaller and can be overwhelmed if too many users attempt to access data simultaneously. However, they offer much more control than cloud-based storage and are worth buying if your data storage needs are large but not excessive.

What are bays in a NAS?

One bay in a NAS holds a single hard disk drive or SSD. NAS for individual use have up to 5 bays, whereas an enterprise NAS can carry up to 24 bays.

Is SATA better than SSD?

SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment are mechanical hard drives that require data to be physically written to and read from a spinning disk. It is an older technology, that is still in use but significantly slower than Solid State Drives (SSDs).

SSDs are flash storage that retain data in electrical circuits rather than writing it on a disk. This makes them at least three times as fast as a SATA drive. However SSDs are more expensive and have less capacity per drive than a SATA drive.

What is a Kensington lock?

A Kensington port lock (also known as a a K-Slot or Kensington lock) is a special type of lock that is used to secure electronics. The Kensington lock fits into a metal reinforced hole that is carried on devices like PC, laptops, and NAS.

The lock consists of a metal anchor with a combination lock attached to a cable that can be secured to a permanent fixture like a heavy desk or shelf. You can secure the Drobo 5N2 DRDS5A21 NAS with a Kensington lock. 

What is RAID?

Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) is a data storage virtualization technology. It is used to pool and organize the capacity of multiple disk drives for improved efficiency and performance. 

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