Which Drobo is Right for You?


The Drobo “5” Series has been designed for media creators and data storage professionals who are looking for fast, expandable, and flexible data storage and protection for large media collections and performance-demanding applications. However, since different users have different needs, which member of the Drobo “5” family is right for you—the 5D, 5Dt, or 5N?

The Drobo 5D is equipped with five tool-less and carrier-less 3.5" drive bays that support 3.5" and 2.5" SATA III 6 Gb/s and SATA II 3 Gb/s hard drives with a 2.5-3.5" converter dock, and SSDs. The 5D offers connectivity options using dual Thunderbolt ports, providing bi-directional transfer speeds of 10 Gb/s, as well as one 5 Gb/s USB 3.0 port. While one Thunderbolt port is used to interface with your host system, the other can be used to daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt devices, including a display. There is also an mSATA drive bay that, when equipped with a separately sold mSATA SSD, fuels Drobo’s Accelerator Cache, which caches frequently accessed data, helping to deliver it even faster.

Drobo 5D Professional Storage Array

For those seeking faster data-transfer rates than the 5D can provide, look no further than the 5Dt. While very similar to the 5D, the 5Dt, or Turbo Edition, has been upgraded with Thunderbolt 2 connectivity, allowing bi-directional transfer speeds of up to 20 Gb/s. While the 5Dt retains the USB 3.0 port and five 3.5" SATA III drive bays, it includes an mSATA SSD within the Accelerator Bay, thus enabling Drobo’s Accelerator Cache. The 5Dt’s Thunderbolt 2 ports also support the daisy-chaining of up to six Thunderbolt 2 devices, including support for a display, with the display support for Mac OS X having been upgraded to 4K.

Drobo 5Dt 5-Bay Thunderbolt 2 Enclosure

Drobo’s offerings in the “5” series are rounded out with the 5N, which uses its Gigabit Ethernet port to share storage and access data over a network. Once it is plugged into a switch, wireless router, or even your computer, its ready to use and requires no additional configuration. Aside from its Gigabit Ethernet port, the 5N does not contain any other connectivity interfaces, but retains most of the design built into the 5D and 5Dt, such as five 3.5" SATA III drive bays and Drobo’s Accelerator Cache, although the 5N does not include the mSATA SSD and does not allow daisy-chaining.

Drobo 5N 5-Bay NAS Storage Array with Gigabit Ethernet

The Drobo 5D, 5Dt, and 5N operate using BeyondRAID technology, which helps to protect your data using single or dual-drive redundancy and requires no user interaction, even in the event of multiple drive failures. If a drive needs to be replaced due to failure or storage expansion, this can be done on the fly by either adding a drive to an empty bay, or removing a smaller drive and replacing it with a larger one. When combined with its integrated Dashboard, which is used to manage all your Drobo devices, Drobo provides several options for office, home, and production environments.

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What frustrates me about Drobo is you much choose your interface and hope that will work for years.  Why can't they build a "5" with USB 3, USB C, Thuderbolt 2, and Ethernet.  One flexible device for everyone.  Less marketing, less manufacturing variations, one design.  It could be the 5E, the Drobo for everyone.

Dear DKalip,

Thank you for your review, we will definitely take in to account your comments of have an all-inclusive solution, for the next generation of DAS (Direct Attached Storage) products, as we are striving to make simple solutions that everyone can use.

We would like to point out that the 5 Bay with USB-C is compatible with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. Additionally, all the Thunderbolt connection Drobos also have USB 3 connectivity. The reason that therse connections (can be joint USB 3, USB C, Thuderbolt 2) one one or two units is that the processors will allow to function at direct attached speeds.

Our 5bay NAS units are a different story, the reason we do not offer the other types of connectivity’s it is because they could only offer you NAS speeds, which are very dependent on your configuration and network capabilities. This is true of all devices that offer Ethernet and USB 3, USB C, Thunderbolt 2 connections in one. In an effort to provide simplicity we would not want to mislead customers that expect DAS speeds, and only provide them with NAS capabilities.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]

Kind regards,

Team Drobo

I have owned 3 different Drobo models, lured by the promise of easily mixing and upgrading drive sizes. One is very good; one works, except it does not do what the advertisement promised; one is a door stop. The Drobo 5D is quite a good drive. The Drobo 5N is only an OK NAS drive; it does NOT work reliably as a networked Time Machine storage device. The original Drobo is sufficient reason to never buy one of their prodicts again.Their customer support is fair and their software (which is required) is awful.

Dear Ed,

Thank you for being a Drobo fan, although we wish one of your experiences had a different tone, we do appreciate your preference.

I am not sure if by the first Drobo you mean the original 4bay model that was launched over 10 years ago, if so, we apologize it is not still working after 10 years, we do have customers that are still using them. If it is a latter model, we do recommend you provide/or file a support case.

Please feel free to reach out directly to us: https://myproducts.drobo.com/support


Drobo Team