Drobo FS Gains Native Apple Time Machine Support

Data Robotics shipped their first true NAS drive early last month, caving to requests from users around the world to finally add a native Ethernet connection to their otherwise very intelligent RAID box. The storage solution itself is basically little more than a Drobo S (which we just took a deep dive with), but rather than having USB/eSATA/etc. ports, there's just a single Ethernet port to plug it directly into your network.

One thing that was curiously missing at launch, however, was native, official support for Apple's "Time Machine." This is Apple's built-in software program that backs up your Mac (or Macs) on a regular schedule, and it smartly pauses during sleep/shut down and resumes later. It has proven to be a rather great option for Mac users (first party solutions always tend to do better than third party), but the Drobo FS wasn't shipped with native support for the platform. Some users were able to find workarounds, but the company obviously felt that they needed an official solution.

This week, an update was made available for all Drobo FS users, free of charge. The update adds native support for Time Machine, by simply clicking a single box in the Drobo Dashboard and then selecting the Drobo FS from the selection screen on your Mac. There are also new options in the process; for example, users can now pre-define a limit on how much storage will be used for Time Machine backups, whereas before it would just consume capacity until it was gone and then delete the oldest backups to make room for new backups. It also supports multiple Mac machines to backup to the Drobo FS at the same time, though obviously speeds are as snappy over the network as they would be over USB or eSATA.

Just look for a Drobo Dashboard update to join the fun, Mac users.

“Many Mac users want a network storage solution to use with Apple’s Time Machine for easy, automated backup,” said Mark Fuccio, senior director of products and markets at Data Robotics. “The Drobo FS delivers the most seamless support for Apple Time Machine of any network storage system on the market today. Using Time Machine with Drobo FS is as easy as clicking one box in the Drobo Dashboard software, with no need for confusing, complex command line work. The combination of Apple’s and Data Robotics’ proven technologies offers Mac users unsurpassed simplicity for storing, sharing, and backing up their data.”

Drobo FS users are now able to pre-define a limit on how much storage will be used for Time Machine backups. Previously, Time Machine would consume capacity until it was gone and then delete the oldest backups to make room for new backups. The Drobo FS platform enables multiple Mac users on a network to automatically and simultaneously back up to the same Drobo FS.

Powering Drobo FS is a dual core microprocessor: one core runs Drobo’s BeyondRAID code while the other core runs an embedded Linux server for file sharing and running DroboApps from third party developers. Data Robotics has enhanced the source code for Netatalk, an open source implementation of AFP (“Apple File Protocol”) to support Time Machine by controlling the amount of disk space used for backups. Data Robotics has donated source code for its enhancements to the project. These are available in Netatalk 2.05, or later, for all developers and users.

Benefits of using Drobo FS with Time Machine

  • Set Time Machine capacity limits – Users can control how much Drobo FS capacity is used by Time Machine backups.
  • Plug in, share, and back up – The Drobo FS connects directly to any Gigabit Ethernet network for a true plug in and share set-up experience. Multiple users on a network can automatically and simultaneously back up to the same Drobo FS target.
  • Open and customizable storage Using an open-source platform and the growing library of third-party DroboApps, which include media and web applications, users can customise Drobo FS to their unique sharing environment and requirements.
  • 5-drive capacity with instant expansion to 10TB and beyond – Customers with growing storage requirements can easily add data capacity by simply inserting a new hard drive or replacing the smallest drive with a larger one, even when all five drive bays are full. With Drobo FS, expansion is automatic, instantaneous, and access to data is always maintained.
  • Single- and dual-drive redundancy – The Drobo FS dual drive redundancy option protects against the simultaneous failure of up to two hard drives. Customers can engage this option with a single click without ever losing access to their data.
  • Self-healing technology – With BeyondRAID, the Drobo FS continually examines data blocks and sectors on each drive to flag potential issues. The preemptive “scrubbing” helps ensure data is being written only to healthy drive areas and automatically keeps data in the safest state possible even when a drive fails.