Data Robotics Drobo S Review

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File Transfer Tests

Our last series of tests are what you might call more "crude measurements" in that we simply fired up our trusty stopwatch and measured the time it took to complete a drag-and-drop of a single large file or a bunch of smaller files from an internal drive in our test system to the external device being tested. Our internal drive was a 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo 2.5-inch SSD, which was connected to our testbed system's IOGear GICe711S3 PCI Express card. With our Large File test, we copied a single 3.4GB ISO file between the 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo 2.5-inch SSD and the DAS being tested. With our Small Files test, we copied a 533MB folder (made up of 90 JPGs ranging in size from 2.27MB to 4.38MB, and 78 MP3s ranging in size from 1.98MB to 4.35MB) between the OCZ SSD and the DAS being tested. Note that due to some unexplained anomalies with the USB 2.0 results with these tests, we chose to include only the eSATA results.

While these are our only true "real-world" tests--copying real files from and to the test drives--the results here need to be taken with more than a few grains of salt. The results really only apply for the specific file-transfer scenarios we explore. You might very well see different performance results depending on what kind of file transfers you are performing. It's also important to note that these tests don't give a reliable indication of the sort of performance you might see with data transfers related to running specific data-heavy applications.

File Transfer Tests - Read/Write Performance
Custom "Real World" File Transfers Measured

On our large file tests, the status quo remains intact--the SmartStor DS4600's RAID 0 and RAID 10 write and read performance still leads the pack. The Drobo S's performance is significantly slower than the SmartStor DS4600, and the Drobo S still suffers a performance penalty with its write performance when going from single-drive protection mode to Dual Disk Redundancy. The NexStar MX's RAID 0 performance falls between that of the Promise DS4600 and the Drobo S's single-disk protection mode performance, but the NexStar MX takes a write and read performance hit when using RAID 1 mode.

On our small files transfer tests, things start to switch up a bit. On this test, the Drobo S actually takes the lead on write speeds with both its single- and dual disk-protection modes. This lead is by a such a small margin, however (less than a one-percent difference), that the write performance of both of the Drobo S's modes, the SmartStor DS4600 using RAID 0, and the NexStar MX using RAID 0, are all statistically the same. The NexStar MX using RAID 1 and the SmartStor DS4600 using RAID 10 are a bit slower, but only by a very narrow margin. Our takeaway here is that the playing field becomes very close to even when it comes to small files write performance.

The same, however, cannot be said for small files read performance. Once again, the DS4600 takes top honors with both its RAID 0 and RAID 10 performance--and again with similar speeds from the two RAID modes. The NexStar MX regains the middle ground, and the Drobo S again has the slowest showing--although this time around the Drobo S's dual-disk protection mode was oddly faster than its single-disk protection mode.

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