NAS: Drobo vs. FreeNAS vs. Synology

I’ve been psyched for Drobo ever since the first time I saw their video years ago where the guy played back a movie while pulling out and putting back in drives.  Wicked awesome.

But they haven’t kept up, imo, with the times.  They still have some really cool underlying tech, but the apps aren’t there.  And just like Windows Phone vs. iPhone, if the apps aren’t there, it’s not such a great platform.

So anyway, last night I was setting up a new AsRock Vision 3D Media Center with Windows 7, and I noticed that it wasn’t seeing the Drobo S that I had plugged in via eSATA.  I went to the closet with the Drobo and noticed its lights were occasionally blinking on for about 50ms, but nothing else.  Drives weren’t spinning, etc.  I tried unplugging, replugging, using another outlet, disconnecting eSATA, etc.  No luck.  I noticed that the light on the external power supply was relatively dim and varying in intensity, so my conclusion is that the power supply is dying.

This is when I decided to switch away from Drobo.  I realized that if I wanted my data back, I only really had 3 options:

  1. Buy a new drobo and stick the drives in it
  2. Buy a new power supply for this Drobo and hope it works
  3. Try to use data recovery software to cobble together the data from the pieces.

#3 is obviously a horrifyingly time consuming prospect.  #1 isn’t much better.  I’m trying #2, but so far Drobo customer support isn’t super fast.  If this were truly mission critical stuff, I’d be pwned.

It was at this point I decided to get a non-Drobo NAS appliance.

I narrowed in on the Synology DS2411+ being what I wanted pretty quickly.  It’s quiet, can hold 12 drives, can accept external expansion, and can connect to IP cameras.  The applications that run on it seem quite good.  Sadly, Amazon said the DS2411+ was “usually available in 1-4 weeks”.

That just won’t do.  So I’m having a Synology DS1511+, which is identical except that it can only hold 5 drives rather than 12, delivered to me tomorrow.

I considered FreeNAS, an open DIY NAS built on FreeBSD, and the hacker in me was really intrigued…   but in the end realized I could click buy it now on Amazon and have a Synology DS1511+ delivered to my house tomorrow for something like a $6 delivery fee.  And that’s awesome.

Plus, just because I have the Synology doesn’t mean I can’t try a FreeNAS as well… It’s free after all.

I’ll update with how the Synology works and whether the Drobo (with all my ripped DVDs, and tons of important documents) is resurrected or not.

3 thoughts on “NAS: Drobo vs. FreeNAS vs. Synology”

  1. You should add the comments you made on doing online cloud-based backup to either this post, or a new one. Quite useful

  2. I have a Drobo and Freenas servers, I’m also familiar with Synology (Mate has one). You seem to have to alot of expense when probably all it requires is a 12v 1Amp PSU. Feeenas is free but has far quicker access times try NAS4Free version 9. I would think if you use your drives from the Drobo in the DS 1511+ all your data will be lost. Good Luck…..

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