I have a Time Capsule that I use for Time Machine, and am thinking about getting a regular entry level 4 slot Drobo to hang off its USB port as shared, non-Time Machine disk space. The Drobo appeals to me because I can expand it as my needs grow, and because it has RAID-type functionality built in. I figured that I could also unhook it from the Time Capsule and attach it to an individual machine should the need arise.

Have you tried this before? How has it worked out for you?

Edit: Just to clarify, I was not looking to use it for Time Machine data. The Time Capsule itself has plenty of disk space for my Time Machine backups. I'm looking to add network based storage for general use (archiving videos, rarely used disc images, etc.) I don't really need the performance of a Drobo FS, so I was looking to see if I could save some money with a regular Drobo.


I've plugged in a Drobo S into the USB port on an Airport Extreme when I needed fast and dirty file sharing. It worked fine. It was only for a week, but I didn't notice any sort of unusual behavior.

Once you've done the initial setup/config via the Drobo interface, the drive acts just as standard USB drive. It's not the fastest thing in the world, but you're limited by the USB 2 anyways, so your experience regarding speed will depend more on your actual usage.


Here's my setup:

  • MacBook Pro (mid 2009)
  • Drobo 4bay - Misc. Files
  • External Drive (I forget the manufacturer) with 2 partitions:
  • Backblaze

This works great and provides lots of protection for my data.

  • My laptop drive is backed up 3 times:

    • A bootable clone (with a daily archive)
    • A time machine (which has hourly snapshots)
    • Backblaze remote backup.
  • My drobo is backed up only via Backblaze, but it has the redundancy of the RAID array.

This is a pretty sweet setup. The only downside is how long it takes to backup the drobo over the net, since it tends to have large files (videos, games, etc.)


I had planned to use my Drobo for Time Machine, but to do that you will want to partition the drobo into multiple logical drives so that Time Machine does not fill the entire machine with backups.

Here is the relevant info on the Drobo web site explaining how to set it up. Drobo Fact #12: Which Drobo Should I Use with Time Machine? [Link removed]

"Time Machine for a Single Mac Using Time Machine with Drobo is simple. Just setup the Drobo and then select it for Time Machine back use in the System Preferences. You want to create a separate partition for exclusive use by Time Machine. This way you can have a separate location and not co-mingle the Time Machine backup folders with other data. This article in the Knowledge Base provides more information: http://support.datarobotics.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/119/related/1/kw/time%20machine/r_id/100004"

The newer Drobo products (Drobo FS/DroboPro FS/B800fs) have the idea of a "Share" which allows you to limit the amount of space Time Machine can use. [Link Removed]

  • Two of your links are dead. – Adam Lassek May 18 '12 at 19:07

Beware that when Mac OS X's Time Machine feature backs up to a local drive, it writes the files directly to the drive, but when it backs up to a remote AFP server over the network (such as a Time Capsule), it puts the backup inside a kind of disk image called a sparse bundle (or ".sparsebundle"). So I don't think you can move a Time Machine target disk from a Time Capsule to a Mac (or vice-versa) and have it seamlessly continue to act as a Time Machine target disk.

So, if you primarily used it on the Time Capsule as a remote sparse bundle style Time Machine target disk, and then you moved it to your Mac, you could use it as a normal hard drive on your Mac, and you could manually mount the .sparsebundle file on your Mac, but I don't think you'd be able to get Time Machine to use the .sparsebundle when the Drobo is directly connected to your Mac.

  • Thanks for your input. However, I'm not looking to use it for Time Machine data; I'm looking for general purpose shared storage. – Warren Pena Jul 10 '11 at 16:51

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