Drobo or OWC Qx2?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Sensamic, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. Sensamic macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #1
    Hi everyone.

    Im looking to buy this Christmas one of the Drobos (4 bay or 5 bay) or the OWC Qx2 (4 bay). Right now I think the OWC is the best one, from what I see and read on some reviews. The Drobo is made of plastic and that is bad for the drive heat. The Qx2 is made of aluminum, which helps dissipate the heat of the drives. One point for the OWC. Also, the OWC works with the new 3TB hard drives, while the Drobo doesnt (they say they are working on a firmware update which will come in the next months). Another point for the OWC. I like the idea of having 12TB in RAID 0 or RAID 5. The cool thing of the Drobo is that the Drobo S has 5 bays, so I could put 5 3TB drives inside and have 15TB! But I would have to wait for the firmware update, and it is very expensive, but I would be buying the drives slowly.

    Both have eSata, FW400/800, USB 2.0, etc. I will be using it with the Mac Mini 2010 and Plex. I have a LOT of movies and tv shows and stuff.

    I was thinking of the Drobo FS too, with NAS. But I dont know how long it would take to copy files over wifi to the Drobo. Is that the way to copy files with a NAS drive? Also, I dont like the idea of having the drives on all day.

    I also hear that the OWC Qx2 is quieter than the Drobos.

    So, what do you guys think?

    Any option would be used with 3TB drives to have maximum storage.

    Right now I own an OWC on-the-go SSD and Im very happy with it. Never tried Drobo, but everyone seems to have them.

    Thanks!
     
  2. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #2
    I have two 2nd Gen 4 bay Drobos. They are silent. Just because they are made of plastic doesn't mean that it's less efficient at keeping drives cool. The Drobos have a big fan in the back that does an excellent job at keeping the drives cool. On the other hand, I've had all aluminum 1U RAID enclosures that ran much hotter. Don't base your decision on how well an enclosure can cool drives based on the material that the enclosure is made of.

    Yes, Data Robotics is working on firmware updates for all their devices to bring 3TB drive compatibility. No one except DRI knows how long this will take.

    Since you will be using it with a Mac mini, you would be best served using FW800 or gigabit ethernet. I don't have an hands on experience with the Qx2 or the Drobo FS so I can't tell you which is faster and/or how fast either is. But if you have other computers, NAS can be very convenient. Since, it seems, your primary usage will be to store your media collection for playback using the Mac mini, both should be more than sufficient.

    Like I said, from my experience with my Drobos, they are silent.

    How much data do you have to store right now? If it's less than 8TB, you can load up a Drobo FS with five 2TB drives and use it until the prices of 3TB drives drop (and when the new firmware becomes available). Upgrading Drobos are ridiculously simple. I don't know how difficult it is to upgrade drives in the Qx2 or if it's even possible without having to off-load the data elsewhere first.

    Since most Macs don't have eSATA ports, you may want to have a look at this. It's essentially the same thing as the Qx2 without eSATA at a much lower price. Remember, OWC doesn't manufacture their own products. They just buy OEM devices and puts their own name/label on it. If you look hard enough, you can probably find the Qx2 under another name elsewhere.
     
  3. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #3
    Will you be using this device with only the Mac Mini, or do you have other computers that you'd like to be able to access the drives? Gigabit Ethernet is the best way because it is the fastest, and you are not limited to connecting the device directly to one computer. The drives in any decent NAS device will spin down when not in use, going into a very low power standby mode.

    The Drobo is popular because it is extremely user friendly, but it is crippled by extremely slow access speeds. For one user, this will likely be fine, but other devices in the same price range can be up to 4 times faster than the Drobo. For example, take a look at the Synology DS411+.
     
  4. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    I want to point out some possible misconceptions. The bottleneck to performance will be the FW800 interface (or even worse, WiFi). Gigabit Ethernet would be about the same as FW800. So for transferring large files RAID will not get you any time savings. RAID0 also reduces reliability, and you haven't talked at all about backups. RAID5 will give redundancy, but that 12TB array becomes 9TB. The Drobo will also take up space to give redundancy.

    Drobos allow mixing drive sizes -- RAID arrays require matching drives, but are notorious (check the forums) for being slow. Pick your poison.

    Always keep in mind that the redundancy in a Drobo or RAID5 is not a backup. The entire unit can fail destructively or be stolen or destroyed in a fire. You still need at least a second unit that you can perform an image backup to and keep offsite.
     
  5. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #5
    FW800 won't be the bottleneck on a Drobo, which tops out at approximately 25 MegaBytes per second read and write speeds. That's 200 Megabits per second, so it would not even saturate USB 2.0 or FW400. WiFi will of course be extremely slow. The Synology device I mentioned above has read/write speeds exceeding 100 MegaBytes per second, so it is capable of saturating FW800, and nearly Gigabit Ethernet.

    I totally agree with the sentiments about RAID not being a backup - and for that reason I find that for most people, these devices are better served as a backup location than as a main file repository. If you do use it to store files, as you say, make sure you plan to back all that data up somewhere.
     
  6. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #6
    The Synology DS411+ is a four bay RAID enclosure. A quick search on Froogle showed that it costs at least abut $600. When I purchased my 4 bay Drobos a bit over a year ago, I paid about $320 each. At $600, you can get a Drobo FS which is a 5 bay device which can either allow for larger arrays or offer two drive redundancy.

    Here's some benchmarks someone did on the 2nd Gen Drobo and Drobo FS. Still considerably slower than the Synology but more than sufficient for the OP's needs of using to play his media.
     
  7. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #7
    It's not exactly fair to compare the price of Drobo's non-network offerings to a fully featured Synology device. In fact, Synology also offers the DS411j which has similar performance to the Drobo for $359 - including full network compatibility. Synology (as well as most devices available in the segment today) also offer the ability to mix drive sizes, while maintaining redundancy - so there is little that Drobo does that others don't.

    Look around, and you'll find that the Drobo offerings are tempting, but extremely expensive for what you get.
     
  8. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #8
    From what I just saw on Synology's site, the DS411j doesn't have the Synology Hybrid RAID feature to mix drive sizes.

    Drobo FS is a 5 bay NAS that can be found for around $650. Synology DS411+ is a 4 bay NAS that can be found for $600.

    I'm not knocking the Synology devices, I'm just saying they appear to be pricier than the Drobos. Yes, the Synology devices are faster but it comes at a cost. I guess that's why not everyone buys the top of the line Mac Pro.
     
  9. al2o3cr macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    #9
    The Qx2 is quite capable of saturating a FW800 link, so judging from the other posts here it might be faster. It's also quite sturdy and the enclosure is pretty well ventilated.

    However, it's definitely not "silent"; the fan makes a tiny bit of noise, and the design of the case allows some of the mechanical noise from the drives to leak out. It's not objectionable, but it will sound like quite a racket compared to the Mac Mini.
     
  10. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2003
    Location:
    with Hamburglar.
    #10
    I love my DroboPro! The user interface is amazing and being able to hot-swap ANY size drive is just wonderful, especially when you need to add in a little more storage down the road one drive at a time.
     
  11. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #11
    I'll look for other brands too, but right now my main two options are Drobo or Qx2. I dont know if other brands ship to Spain, where I live.

    It's hard to decide between those two. Something that worries me is that the Qx2 will only tolerate one drive failure. After that, they say it wont tolerate any more. That worries me a LOT.

    Do the Drobos keep tolerating drive failures after one breaks? For example, after two years one of the drives inside the Drobo fails. No problem, the device enters auto-healing mode. Then, two years later, another drive fails. What happens then? Can the data still be safe? If Drobo tolerates more failures than the Qx2 then it would be a BIG advantage.

    I could buy the Droboshare too, later on, when I need it, if ever. I have an iMac too at home, but I dont need to access the drive from different computers. I want it to use with the Mac Mini as HTPC and thats it, but I like the idea of NAS, only I dont need it right now.

    Also, the OWC is cheaper than the Drobo, but the warranty would be outside Spain, and that worries me too.

    Im trying to find out if I can slowly add drives to the Qx2 from time to time... Its seems not possible. The Drobo has that option, right? So I could buy one 3TB drive and use it, and then a few months later buy another one, and so on.

    The problem is we dont know how much longer we have to wait for the Drobos to accept 3TB drives... It could take months. I want and need to buy the Qx2 or the Drobo in the next two months max. Im running out of space, but I can wait two months.

    Do you guys know how often does a drive fail? Because if its not that often, I think I would go with RAID 0, to have the maximun storage possible. Does the Drobo allow some option like that? I dont find that option. I think the Drobo has one drive failure protection all the time and it cant be desactivated. So I wouldnt be able to have all the storage available. Thats a point for the Qx2.

    I have a Lacie 2TB which I will be using as backup.
     
  12. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #12
    The Drobo FS can be configured to tolerate either the failure of 1 or 2 drives, but doing this comes at the expense of available space. In any case, DO NOT consider this a replacement for backups. It has already been covered here, but you MUST still back up any data stored on any of these devices. RAID is to improve uptime ONLY. Once a drive fails, it will alert you, but you'd be advised to replace it as soon as possible.

    Also, as regards the storage space on the Drobo, don't expect that you can fill it with 2TB drives today, then add a 3TB drive to add space down the road - it won't work that way unless you replace more than one drive. (That extra TB you added will be marked as reserved space, but unavailable for use.) Use the drive space calculator on their site to get an idea how their system works.
     
  13. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #13
    Im thinking maybe its better to buy 2tb drives separately. Ive found some really cheap 2tb drives on an online shop. I could buy six or seven of them for the price of the Drobo S. That way I could have 12TB and more. It would be a mess next to the Mac Mini, but its so cheap. Also, its just USB. No FW800, but the price is really really good.

    I think I dont mind it having just USB. I could use one or two just for backups and the rest to store the movies and tv shows.

    I like the idea of the Drobo or the Qx2, but they are way expensive.

    Also, if one of the 2TB drives fails, then its no big deal, cause it was cheap and I could have a backup drive somewhere else.

    I just need more space next to the TV and the Mac Mini. All those cables will turn into a mess, but, again, its so cheap...
     
  14. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #14
    Beware that cheap external drives contain drives of unknown and varying (whatever can be bought cheapest) quality, often have poor cooling, shoddy construction and anemic electronics. Is it really worth the risk?

    Drives must be able to run for extended periods of time without overheating. Performing a backup can take days. At 40MB/sec (what you would get with an external FW800 backing up to a second external FW800 on the same port, USB is less than half that), it takes 7 hours to backup a single terabyte. Realistically, with many smaller files, it will take even longer.
     
  15. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #15
    I know it not these cheap drives are not the best option, but I can save half the price. For example, I could get the 12TB of the Qx2 in single drives for half the price. That is a lot of money that I can save.

    Maybe these cheap drives will only be used for backup purposes.

    How often do hard drives fail? Maybe in 4 or 5 years?
     
  16. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #16
    Nobody can ever predict when a hard drive will fail. Some will fail in a few hours, some in a few months, and some in a few years.

    So what if you can get that much space in bare drives and save some money? You still have to have some way to connect all those drives, so that adds cost. With a bunch of loose drives you'll also have a much harder time keeping track of files, which means wasted time, wasted space, and difficulty keeping track of what is backed up and what isn't. At the very least, you should put all of the drives together in an enclosure that allows them to be pooled as JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks).

    If you really need 12TB of space, you need to be looking at devices outside of the class of the QX2 and Drobo - and if you are looking to do it on the cheap, that means building it yourself. You can build a server running on FreeNAS or Linux out of the typical computer that someone else is throwing away. You may have to spend $50-$100 for a case to fit all the drives in, but that's it. That system gets you all sorts of flexibility including any RAID option you could want.
     
  17. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #17
    Just read on the twitter of Drobo that the new firmware for 3TB drives will be available next week. Thats for the Drobo S. After that, each week a new firmware for the rest of the Drobos.
     
  18. ujvb macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2010
    #18
    I love my Drobo's!

    I have a standard Drobo (4 slots, fw 800) and a Drobo S (5 bay, e-sata) and they are both fantastic! I use the Drobo for my ripped DVD collection and other home media connected to my mac mini over fw 800. The Drobo S is in a professional environment, used as the main storage for an HD edit bay. Both of them work flawlessly, they took no time to set up and the most outstanding feature is that I don't need to worry about configuring or even understanding RAID. Drobo does all the thinking for me.

    Our next purchase will be a Drobo Elite to use as a media server for a client with countless hours of HD material that needs to be accessible 24/7.

    In addition, their service staff have been really helpful and knowledgeable on the rare occasion I needed to call them, which was entirely my fault and had nothing to do with the product!

    Can't recommend Drobo enough!

    And no - I'm not sponsored or getting any discounts! :)
     
  19. Sensamic, Dec 9, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010

    Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #19
    One IMPORTANT question about the Drobo.

    After one drive fails, will the Drobo keep saving the data if another drive fails in the future?

    From what Ive read of the Qx2, it can only tolerate one drive failure. After that, if another drive fails sometime in the future all your data is lost. Is that the same case with the Drobo?

    It would be great if it could tolerate one drive failure always and not just once.

    Someone knows?
     
  20. db1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2010
    #20
    speed tests

    uvjb have you tested the speeds of the drobo s? I appreciate the speed tests posted on drobo and fs but the drobo S with esata is what should give the best chance of comparing to qx2.

    Lloyd Chambers has done extensive tests on QX2 which in raid 5 is near 200mb transfer speeds far above anything on drobo. but drobo s my be tolerable?

    plus drobo s can be run in whats close to raid 6 which can tolerate 2 drive failures , all of which is great if it also has some speed???

    anyone out there would could run a test?

    http://macperformanceguide.com/Reviews-Drobo.html

    http://macperformanceguide.com/Reviews-OWC_QX2.html
     
  21. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #21
    RAID is not the same as a backup! It's there to eliminate downtime in case of a drive failure. When the drive fails you replace it right away, but even if you lose a second drive you still have your backup.

    Same thing applies to a Drobo. It isn't a backup either.
     
  22. pprior macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    #22
    I had an original drobo and then one of the FW800 models, they were both terribly slow - averaging 10-20mb/sec writes. WAY slower than the FW interface allows.

    I've got a FW800 drobo sitting in my closet right now I don't even use anymore due to this...fwiw.

    I'm buying my second qx2 today.

    The ONLY thing the drobo does better is mix and match drive sizes.
     
  23. shoeshine macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2010
    #23
    I recently got a Drobo S (five bay) and it's totally fine for what I need. It's got five WD Green drives, three 1.5TB and two 1TB. It's connected to a Mac Mini Server via FW800 with no other firewire devices on the chain. The Mini is then on a gigabit switch. This is what I get for results running Xbench from my MBP over the network.

    [​IMG]

     
  24. dime21, Dec 10, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010

    dime21 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2010
    #24
    Absolutely 100%. RAID is not a substitute for backup! Ever!

    In fact, I do not like RAID for home use, for this very reason. Lets say you fill this thing with five 3TB drives. Now you have 15 TB. How in the heck do you intend to back that data up?? :confused: Are you going to buy another Qx2 and five more 3TB drives to backup the first one?

    What does it mean "buying slowly? :confused: Are you planning to buy one hard drive this month, then two months later, another, and a few months later, another? This is a very bad idea if you are doing any kind of RAID. Hard drive manufacturers are constantly tweaking and tuning the firmware on their hard drives. Buying them each separately will almost guarantee that you'll have a different firmware version running on each drive. Mixed firmware in a RAID array frequently leads to an unreliable array! You don't want this!! Either buy all the drives in a single purchase order from the same vendor - or don't buy them at all.

    What are your performance requirements? I don't like NAS because it is slow. Even on Gigabit Ethernet, it is slow. Ethernet + TCP/IP is a horrible interconnect for bulk data transfers due to the very very high latency, and massive protocol overhead. Wi-Fi is worse still. Unless you have a need for many computers to all access this storage, you'd be better served with DAS instead of NAS. With a DAS interconnect like eSata or Firewire 800, you'll have way better latency, and much better throughput than you ever will over Ethernet.
     
  25. dime21, Dec 10, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010

    dime21 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2010
    #25
    No, actually, they're not even close. Firewire is 73% faster than Gig-E in real world file transfer speeds. The reason for this, is that Ethernet + TCP/IP has a massive protocol overhead, while Firewire is very lean. Also, Ethernet has way higher latency than Firewire. Lastly, Firewire transfers occur in DMA mode and do not place any load on the host CPU. Ethernet + TCP/IP do not operate in DMA mode, and will consume a measurable amount of CPU utilization.

    The end result is a maximum of 78 MB/s on Firewire800, and only 45 MB/s on Gig-E in real world file transfer speeds.
     

Share This Page