A robot that backs up all your stuff

Plug in Drobo and leave it to snapshot all your data

Drobo may be the ultimate backup drive. In fact, it's designed as an 'automated backup robot'. The intention is that you need do nothing to it, but it will keep a copy of everything on your machine, whether it's a PC or Mac. And if it's the latter, then yes, it'll work with Time Machine in Leopard.

The £299 Drobo is self-sufficient to the point that it backs up everything within itself, and you can install up to four drives. However, it's designed for use by one PC only at the moment. The idea is sound, but we'd like to see a NAS version of the device that does everything Drobo does, but on a network-wide basis.

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Robust data protection

The closest thing to that is Microsoft's Home Server tech which also debuted in the UK this week. But we haven't seen the self-backup options in Windows Home Server (which also shuns RAID technology) proven as yet.

So while WHS devices can back up every computer on the network, we don't think the technology inside the box is robust enough yet to be entrusted with all your data. Drobo is designed as a "RAID replacement" according to Data Robotics director David Herrington. Data is stored across all the drives available.

On the other hand Drobo appears to have been built with a host of data protection features in mind. "On board we have memory - MV RAM, battery protected to protect the writes that are in progress. If the power fails, the write is protected," Herrington adds.

But most of all, it's intended to be easy to use, with just four light modes designed for when drives need replacing or attention. Drives can be inserted or removed just by slotting them in or out without a caddy. All the drives are combined and display on your desktop as just one store.

So far, says Data Robotics, the company has sold 7-10,000 units in the US. The senior vice president of sales told us that the company had "plenty of people". When asked when Drobo would be available in the UK, she added that the company will be launching here before it had previously planned to.