Drobo - anyone one using

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Anyone using a Drobo?
Thinking about buying one -- and wondering how you all like it ?
Pro's and con's ??

Thanks in advance
 
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I use an HP Media Smart server with Window Home Server. Not a Drobo, but you can mirror folders across multiple drives, backup the server, stream photos and videos to other devices in your home, set it up to remote connect, set up automatic backups of the computers on your network, and do all kinds of fun things with it.

Probably one of the best photography investments I've ever made.
 
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I have looked at them extensively and passed. The cons:
* expensive
* slow
* not a backup solution

It would be helpful if you explained how you are planning on using it. Also are you on a Mac or PC?
 
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I have looked at them extensively and passed. The cons:
* expensive
* slow
* not a backup solution

It would be helpful if you explained how you are planning on using it. Also are you on a Mac or PC?

With regard to the "expensive" part, they can be bought refurb'd on eBay with 2TB (two drives) for around $350 (for usb2 and FW). The newer eSATA versions are showing up for around $50 more refurb'd, but they don't last long.

I looked seriously at this same option, but have gone instead with buying several Lacie D2 Quadras and use them via eSATA (crazy fast). I keep them in a Lacie rack and they work great! If you are patient, they can be bought on eBay used for less than $120 (1TB) or refurb for around $140. The 2TB models go for around $175-200 refurb'd. I haven't seen any used 2TB models yet. These have all four common interfaces - eSATA, usb2, fw400 and 800. The newest usb3 models aren't showing up refurb'd yet.
 
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I have looked at them extensively and passed. The cons:
* expensive
* slow
* not a backup solution

It would be helpful if you explained how you are planning on using it. Also are you on a Mac or PC?

These are the same points that made my decision to go with something else. running a DNS-323 with 2x1.5TB/mirrored.

After my son knocked over the unit - and killed both drives (data recover was $$$$$) my backup solution now includes a routine backup to a 2nd PC.
 
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These are the same points that made my decision to go with something else. running a DNS-323 with 2x1.5TB/mirrored.

After my son knocked over the unit - and killed both drives (data recover was $$$$$) my backup solution now includes a routine backup to a 2nd PC.

Oooh, data recovery = new 85/1.4G OUCH!
 
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Harrisburg PA, USA
Anyone using a Drobo?
Thinking about buying one -- and wondering how you all like it ?
Pro's and con's ??

Thanks in advance

Well, call me stupid, but I have one that I use for data storage/backup, and I think it's great. I really appreciate the fact that, however they do it, a Drobo unit requires less total storage space to protect a greater amount of data. I have a Drobo S model, which supports USB 3.0 and eSata connections (as well as FW 400/800 and USB 2.0). Speed is not a problem.

I currently have three 3TB and two 1.5TB drives in it, which gives me a total of 9TB of protected data storage, instead of only 6TB with a traditional RAID setup. With either the USB 3.0 or eSata connections, speed is not a problem, although I have a VelociRaptor drive that I use as the primary drive for working files when editing, and then copy them to the Drobo when finished.

I like the fact that when it comes time to expand my storage, all I have to do is remove one of the smaller drives and replace it with a larger one. That's it. The 3TB drives are Hitachi Deskstars, which are currently selling for $175 each. The Drobo S was around $500 if I recall correctly, and the 1.5TB drives were some Seagates that I had been using as part of my main computer setup. So, yeah, it wasn't cheap. But I have five years of photos stored on it, and feel safe for the first time in five years.
 
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Melbourne, Australia
I've used the Xtreamer Etrayz which is very good and for 99 euros you cannot go wrong. Don't let the price fool you!

http://shop.xtreamer.net/categories/eTRAYz/

etrayz_99euro__17699_zoom.jpg
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Orlando, FL
I'll provide more info to explain my earlier comments ...

Price - A Drobo S with no drives is $799 on Amazon. Refurbs aside, that's pretty expensive for something that is not a NAS.

Speed - Consensus is the eSATA connection on a Drobo S runs at about 90-95 MB/s for writes. Certainly fast enough to be useful as an archive solution, but not too impressive compared to other solutions. The NAS version of the Drobo is very, very slow - unusablely so as far as I'm concerned.

Reliability - The Drobo, like any RAID 0, 5 or 6 solution provides protection against the failure of 1 or 2 drive mechanisms. While this does protect against what is, arguably, the most common failure mode, bear in mind that you are not as far ahead statistically as you might think. Since your data is striped across all of the drives, the MTBF to start with is lower due to needing multiple drives - the failure rate of the system decreases in a non-linear fashion the more components are added to the critical path.

The problem though, is a Drobo (or any similar device) does not protect against more catastrophic disasters such as fire, theft, flood, lightning strike, etc. The Drobo will likely be lost (and your data) right along with your computer and anything else connected to it at that physical location. Backup (as opposed to high-availability) requires multiple redundant copies, at least one of which is stored off-site.

Things like a Drobo are useful primarily where one requires on-line storage and accessibility to amounts of data that exceed what can be handled by a single drive or JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks). If you need contiguous storage greater than 2-3 TB (currently), then a device like a Drobo or port-multiplier RAID is the next step. However thinking that because you have your data on a Drobo it is "safe" is dangerous thinking. And bear in mind that a JBOD approach (manually allocating data across multiple drives/volumes) at least has the advantage that losing a drive only affects the data on that drive.

My backup solution is an eSATA bare drive dock with about a dozen SATA drives of 1 and 2 TB capacity divided into 3 sets. I rotate backups using drive cloning software and keep 2 sets on-site in a safe and the third set at my office where I work. Certain data (smaller stuff that is practical) is also copied to cloud storage (either MobileMe or Dropbox).

It would really suck to lose 9TB of photos because of a hardware failure in the Drobo power supply for instance that wiped out more than 2 drives (leaving the entire set unrecoverable).

UPDATE: Forgot one thing - I also have a drive with a copy off my entire music library, (over 1500 CD's in lossless compressed format) since I got rid of the physical CD's for space reasons, stashed in my safe deposit box at the bank. I have a substantial investment in purchasing all of this music over the years.
 
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Keith
What brand and part number of eSATA bare drive dock are you using
I would like to explore this a little further
Thanks in advance
 
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NJ
Reliability - The Drobo, like any RAID 0, 5 or 6 solution provides protection against the failure of 1 or 2 drive mechanisms. While this does protect against what is, arguably, the most common failure mode, bear in mind that you are not as far ahead statistically as you might think. Since your data is striped across all of the drives, the MTBF to start with is lower due to needing multiple drives - the failure rate of the system decreases in a non-linear fashion the more components are added to the critical path.

Raid 0 is striping. Raid 5 & Raid 6 are not. Striping and mirroring are two entirely (and basically opposite) concepts. With a Drobo you need simultaneous catastrophic failure on 3 out of 4 drives. Show me the math that this is a higher risk than catastrophic failure on a single drive.

The problem though, is a Drobo (or any similar device) does not protect against more catastrophic disasters such as fire, theft, flood, lightning strike, etc. The Drobo will likely be lost (and your data) right along with your computer and anything else connected to it at that physical location. Backup (as opposed to high-availability) requires multiple redundant copies, at least one of which is stored off-site.

But neither does an external hard disk. The key is to have something off site. I agree that this is cheaper and easier to achieve with an external eSata bay with units that are swapped on a regular basis, but having a drobo in the office and one at home would achieve the same thing. "Off site" is an implementation choice that is hardly device dependant.

You're also bypassing that other element of good backup practice. And that is doing it. You can have a wonderful backup procedure with 84 sets of hard drives, uploading data to five different clouds using three different internet providers and saving images to both .nef, .dng, .jpg and .tif format (after all you never know which format will fall out of fashion and will no longer be supported two years from now) but the fact is, if backing up is cumbersome then it doesn't get done.

The big advantage of an easy-accessible solution as drobo is that it makes automated backups possible. Would I use it as a single solution? Certainly not, that would be very unwise. But a super secure solution with storing hard drives in bank vaults will not prove very useful either when, in case of a disaster, your last backup turned out to be 6 weeks old.

My personal setup is something that:
  • Allows automated backups on a daily basis
  • Has off-site storage that might or might not be backup up on a daily basis (but usually at least twice a week)
  • Has cloud storage as an "when all else fails" option

I complete agree when you say "don't use Drobo as your only backup solution". I completely disagree when you say "don't use Drobo as part of your backup solution".
 
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Aren't Drobos proprietary? Purchasing two, one at home and an identical one at work, seems a bit over the top simply to get automatic backup to me. As a Mac owner I use Superduper to get automatic backups and every drive is readable/an exact copy of my Mac's drives. I'm certain there is an equivalent Windows package.

I can see the need for either a huge amount of data or 24x7 mandatory access in which a Drobo solution makes sense...but for home use?

Rich
 
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Oooh, data recovery = new 85/1.4G OUCH!

Lol yeah, price for being stupid and leaving the unit in a vulnerable location.

Khollister: excellent post. I mentioned this before, and learned the hard way. RAID is NOT a backup solution it's a Redundancy. Your last paragraph adresses this perfectly.
 
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Raid 0 is striping. Raid 5 & Raid 6 are not. Striping and mirroring are two entirely (and basically opposite) concepts. With a Drobo you need simultaneous catastrophic failure on 3 out of 4 drives. Show me the math that this is a higher risk than catastrophic failure on a single drive.

I had this from before-copied from my Facebook page lol. The short of it is; as you increase the number of drives the rate/peobabilty of failure increases.

------
Reliability (as measured by mean time to failure (MTTF) or mean time between failures (MTBF) is roughly inversely proportional to the number of members – so a set of two disks is roughly half as reliable as a single disk. If there were a probability of 5% that the disk would fail within three years, in a two disk array, that probability would be upped to \mathbb{P}(\mbox{at least one fails}) = 1 - \mathbb{P}(\mbox{neither fails}) = 1 - (1 - 0.05)^2 = 0.0975 = 9.75\,\%.<BR /><BR />The reason for this is that the file system is distributed across all disks. When a drive fails the file system cannot cope with such a large loss of data and coherency since the data is &quot;striped&quot; across all drives (the data cannot be recovered without the missing disk). Data can be recovered using special tools, however, this data will be incomplete and most likely corrupt, and data recovery is typically very costly and not guaranteed.
 
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Raid 0 is striping. Raid 5 & Raid 6 are not. Striping and mirroring are two entirely (and basically opposite) concepts. With a Drobo you need simultaneous catastrophic failure on 3 out of 4 drives. Show me the math that this is a higher risk than catastrophic failure on a single drive.

Unless I really missed something, Drobos can only recover from 2 simultaneous drive failures at best on the 5 bay S model. How do you think you recover with only a single drive operating when the data set is larger than the capacity of that drive. The Drobo is a convenient variation of RAID, but it ain't magic.

As to your MTBF confusion ...

A fully populated Drobo S needs at least 3 drives operating for data integrity, not 1. Since these are serial failures (i.e. the failure of any one component is catastrophic to the system) the MTBF of the system is calculated by converting the MTBF of the individual components to failure rates per million hours (Lambda in RMA terminology), summing those failure rates and converting the resulting Lambda back to the system MTBF. You will find the composite MTBF of a system of serial components will always be less (usually much less) than the MTBF of the least reliable individual component. Since I don't have an equation editor here, I won't try to give you an equation for this.

This is the reason people are advised to not use stripe sets (RAID 0, as you correctly noted) for critical data - the reliability is worse than a single drive. The more serial components (e.g. stripe set members), the further the reliability degrades, and it is non linear.
 
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I complete agree when you say "don't use Drobo as your only backup solution". I completely disagree when you say "don't use Drobo as part of your backup solution".

I am not a Drobo fan due to the cost vs performance issue and the fact that the feature of using mixed size drives is far less of an economical issue today than in the past when large drives were much more expensive. I can buy a 2TB for $89 today, so putting 4 of those in a RAID 10 (1+0) enclosure I can buy for less than $200 makes more sense to me. YMMV

I also didn't say that it couldn't be part of a solution. I was commenting on the usual things I read (one which was in the thread) where someones thinks their data is "safe" because they are storing it on a Drobo instead of on an internal drive in their computer.

I think the "just jam any old collection of SATA drives you have in there" aspect of the Drobo Beyond RAID technology is cool, I just think it is too expensive and too slow. Just my opinion (which is what the OP asked for BTW).
 
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Aren't Drobos proprietary? Purchasing two, one at home and an identical one at work, seems a bit over the top simply to get automatic backup to me. As a Mac owner I use Superduper to get automatic backups and every drive is readable/an exact copy of my Mac's drives. I'm certain there is an equivalent Windows package.

I can see the need for either a huge amount of data or 24x7 mandatory access in which a Drobo solution makes sense...but for home use?

Rich

Yeah, I somewhat agree Rich. Given the availability of 3TB drives now, using Time Machine (or something equivalent on Windows - I have no idea what is available there) in concert with a rotating backup set with some offsite storage is my solution. Doing the backups periodically is easy and quick with Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper in the Mac world.

And to another comment by Lurker, having a backup 6 weeks old is a whole lot better than having nothing because everything you owned was destroyed in a fire or stolen. Doing nothing because it isn't perfect is a really bad strategy in my opinion.
 
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As to your MTBF confusion ...

A fully populated Drobo S needs at least 3 drives operating for data integrity, not 1. Since these are serial failures (i.e. the failure of any one component is catastrophic to the system) the MTBF of the system is calculated by converting the MTBF of the individual components to failure rates per million hours (Lambda in RMA terminology), summing those failure rates and converting the resulting Lambda back to the system MTBF. You will find the composite MTBF of a system of serial components will always be less (usually much less) than the MTBF of the least reliable individual component. Since I don't have an equation editor here, I won't try to give you an equation for this.
QUOTE]

I don't pretend to follow the math, but I "think" this misses the way Drobo operates. Even using only three disks (and I agree, three are required for data integrity), the failure of one disk has absolutely no impact on data integrity. It would require the simultaneous failure of two discs, and in my five disc setup, it requires the simultaneous failure of three discs to cause a catastrophic failure. While I will accept for the sake of argument that using multiple discs means that the MTBF on any one disc increases (again, I'm taking this on faith), how does the prospect of multiple simultaneous failure increase? If not, then the chance of disc failure causing data loss doesn't really increase.

Oh, and by the way, I also utilize a redundant off-site backup.
 

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