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Khendal

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 8, 2010
38
2
Hello, i'm a new happy owner of iMac Late 2013.

I'm looking for a review o comparison about Drobo mini and Promise J4 because i need to buy 1 of them and i don't know which one.

So the J4 is only thunderbolt then no windows compatibility but it's also faster and quiet right?

The Mini instead , has thunderbolt and usb3 for a windows compatibility, is it also possible to start up in bootcamp?

Uff... i'm really undecided.
Thanks for any advice.
 

pastrychef

macrumors 601
Sep 15, 2006
4,720
1,421
New York City, NY
I've never used a Drobo Mini but I do own two other models of Drobos. Don't let their marketing material fool you, they are slow. As far as I can tell, they can't even saturate a Firewire connection. Their main selling point is their ability to use drives of any capacity and to dynamically increase in capacity when larger drives are installed. This makes them wonderful for archival but not so good if you need to access the data regularly. I can't really comment on noise because I have mine tucked away in a corner and access them over a network so I never hear them. As far as I know, you can not boot from a Drobo.

This is the first time I'd ever heard of the Promise J4. I looked at it briefly on the Promise website just now. It appears that they only offer RAID 0, 1, and JBOD. This means they can not dynamically increase in capacity the way the Drobos can. But they should be much faster. It appears that booting might be possible on the J4.
 

priitv8

macrumors 68040
Jan 13, 2011
3,999
623
Estonia
I've never used a Drobo Mini but I do own two other models of Drobos. Don't let their marketing material fool you, they are slow.
Which specific Drobo models do you own, that you are referring to?
The 2012 model range (mini/5D/5N) actually show 3x performance improvement over Drobo FS and fare quite well in tests ("multicore" ARM vs Dual-Core in FS). Esp if equipped with the mSATA SSD accelerator.
Check this: http://onemansblog.com/2013/04/05/synology-ds1512-vs-drobo-5n-head-to-head-comparison/
Pay attention, that the Syno DS1512+ runs on Dualcore (2C/4T) 2.13GHz Intel Atom, but the speed diff to 5N is only 15-20%.
 

maflynn

macrumors Haswell
May 3, 2009
73,240
42,968
I have the Drobo mini and I've been impressed and happy with its performance and reliability.

The price differences seem negligible between the two models. Its seems that the J4 only supports Raid 0 (stripping), Raid 1 (mirroring) and JBOD, while the drobo offers their propriety BeyondRaid which appears to be something like a RAID 5 set up.

I think drobo use of parity raid offers better protection but you are going with a proprietary solution which carries its own risks.

I've had to deal with Drobo's tech support and I was pleasantly pleased at the professionalism and quick turn around in resolving the product.

I think overall you cannot go wrong with either unit, the drobo mini is a solid product but does use non standard replication/mirroing while the J4 uses standard RAID, its only up to RAID 1. For a 4 drive enclosure, I would want something like a RAID 5 setup but that's just me.
 

pastrychef

macrumors 601
Sep 15, 2006
4,720
1,421
New York City, NY
I have two Drobo S models. Judging by the link you provided, they've made massive improvements to speed. onemansblog showed over 80MB/s. I'm lucky to see half that. But even at 80MB/s, I'd imagine that has to be slower than a traditional striped array running off Thunderbolt.
 

maflynn

macrumors Haswell
May 3, 2009
73,240
42,968
onemansblog showed over 80MB/s. I'm lucky to see half that.
When I first got my drobo mini I was easily seeing speeds close to 400mbs.
speeds
drobo_tb1.png

For some reason it slowed down to half that. I'm guessing the drive filled up is causing some of the performance slow downs but also I had updated OSX, right around the time I saw the performance drop (plus I have the TB to USB adapter connected to it as a pass through which may further contribute)

drobo_usb.png
Anyways I'm floating between 200 to 250. I'm at work now so I can't take a more accurate measurement but here's one that was taking a while ago.
 

pastrychef

macrumors 601
Sep 15, 2006
4,720
1,421
New York City, NY
They have never skipped a beat. Prior to these, I had the 2nd gen Drobos and they were also reliable.

I've never had a reason to contact technical support.
 

priitv8

macrumors 68040
Jan 13, 2011
3,999
623
Estonia
They have never skipped a beat.
Thanks for confiming. I am also looking for a 5-bay easily expandable disk array and Drobo has catched my attention due to slick design of both hard- and software. Remaining questions for me are precisely the proprietary disk format (aka recoverability) and reliability. Seems like only trouble stories make it to the Internet, that's why I was asking.
 

Khendal

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 8, 2010
38
2
I've just ordered a Promise J4 for my SSD... maybe next time i will order a Drobo 5D for my 3.5" drives from a Mac Pro sold 2 days ago :D
 

Macman45

macrumors G5
Jul 29, 2011
13,197
135
Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
When I first got my drobo mini I was easily seeing speeds close to 400mbs.
speeds
View attachment 440046

For some reason it slowed down to half that. I'm guessing the drive filled up is causing some of the performance slow downs but also I had updated OSX, right around the time I saw the performance drop (plus I have the TB to USB adapter connected to it as a pass through which may further contribute)

View attachment 440045
Anyways I'm floating between 200 to 250. I'm at work now so I can't take a more accurate measurement but here's one that was taking a while ago.

A lot of the tests do rely heavily on the file sizes you are using. I think there is an option in BMST to change the stress file size. Results can differ greatly when a bunch of smaller files are referenced as opposed to a few larger ones. But back OT...I have a Pegasus R4 which is divide into two arrays..It is quiet, reliable and very fast. I know they are expensive, but worth the money IMO. The J series is great if you don't need larger capacity though, but I think they are a little overpriced for their size.
 

brand

macrumors 601
Oct 3, 2006
4,390
456
127.0.0.1
When I first got my drobo mini I was easily seeing speeds close to 400mbs.

mb ≠ MB

m = milli
M = mega

b= bit
B = byte

mb = millibits
MB = megabytes

I am willing to be that you were seeing speeds much higher than 400mbs (400mbps).
 

HenryAZ

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2010
690
143
South Congress AZ
It appears that booting might be possible on the J4.

I looked seriously at the J4, until I learned that booting is not possible. Here is the response I received from Promise on that:

"Here is the latest info on booting from Pegasus devices:

The J4 has to use a driver for Mac OS X as there is no EFI (BIOS)
support for it at the initial release, but it will be added in the next
Service Release - but that date is not yet determined as all resources
are engaged in Thunderbolt2 work to support the MacPro release. So you
can boot from the R4/6 and J2, but not the J4 at this time...

For Windows, there is no EFI/BIOS support at all for booting from
Thunderbolt devices..."
 

Pheo

macrumors regular
Jun 13, 2011
200
1
Thanks for confiming. I am also looking for a 5-bay easily expandable disk array and Drobo has catched my attention due to slick design of both hard- and software. Remaining questions for me are precisely the proprietary disk format (aka recoverability) and reliability. Seems like only trouble stories make it to the Internet, that's why I was asking.

Its a bit of a misnomer that RAID arrays are fully recoverable, but somehow the versions put forward by Drobo, Synology etc are not. RAID Arrays tend not to be recoverable unless you find a replacement host device with the same specifications, setup in the same way.

I'm getting my drobo mini swapped out - I queried with support that it seemed a bit noisy, they did a diagnostic, and determined they wanted to swap it out - all I need do to "recover" my data is put the disks in the turned off, replacement Drobo, and hey presto, it'll rebuild.
 
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