Drobo S vs. Promise DS 4600 vs. other?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by lirand, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. lirand macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hey guys,

    I'm currently trying to choose between the Drobo S and the Promise DS4600. The DS4600 is way cheaper so that's an advantage :)

    Anyway, the raid's purpose for me would be to serve as my main storage for photography, which means I need it to be very fast so I can access my photos with no hiccups.

    I am a Mac user and I thought about connecting it using Firewire 800.

    Do you think the Promise would be fast enough for this purpose? What about the Drobo S? Which is better?
     
  2. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #2
  3. lirand thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Yeah but I'm trying to understand if these drives would be fast enough for my needs. Do you know if they're appropriate to serve as the main storage for my photo library?
     
  4. fiercetiger224 macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I would stay away from the Drobo. Look into the OWC. I got what I needed based on this review:

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

    I got my OWC unit a couple weeks ago, and I couldn't be happier with my purchase. It's VERY fast, and I'm using ESATA to transfer and work from.

    There's something seriously wrong with a RAID unit that tells you that you can throw in ANY drives of ANY size. Sure the Drobo does all the dirty work, but the point of a RAID array is to ensure that your data is being protected. Therefore, the best way to do it is to have IDENTICAL drives with IDENTICAL sizes, to make sure that the data is redundant. :rolleyes:
     
  5. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    That's a complete load of BS. The first part of your comment was quite reasonable and helpful, then you threw this crap in. Data can be fully redundant across different sized drives, it is just not as space efficient as if all the drives are identical. "make sure the data is redundant"? DROBO does that, it can have N+2 redundancy on some of the units. It is redundant, I don't know how you can argue that it is less redundant because the drives are different sizes.

    Just to be clear, I don't care whether people buy drobo's or not, but the above mentioned point should in no way affect anybody's evaluation of storage options. DROBO's are slow and expensive, but provide an easy upgrade path. Conventional RAID is less expensive and faster (much much faster), but upgrading is a giant problem. Each person must decide which solution works best for them.
     
  6. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #6
    Drobo is a great system, but it's slow. If speed is an issue, go with the OWC solution. If flexibility is more important than speed, then Drobo is a good way to go. Horses for courses.
     
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #7
    The OP is interested in a Drobo S which is markedly faster than the original Drobo or the second-gen Drobo. You've linked to a review of a second-gen Drobo with FireWire. The Drobo S can manage ~70+ MB/s, easily enough to saturate the FireWire 800 port. I've also seen numbers that are a little higher, but the exact throughput obviously depends on the drives you put in it.
    Actually you're wrong: there are plenty of schemes to provide redundancy even if the drives are not of the same size. Windows Home Server 1 also uses a similar scheme to provide additional storage.
     
  8. AppleMatt macrumors 68000

    AppleMatt

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    #8
    ???

    If I have 350GB of data on a 1TB drive, I don't need another 1TB drive to make it redundant. I need a 351GB drive.

    350GB data on 1x 1TB drive + 1x 351GB drive = complete data redundancy.

    AppleMatt
     
  9. sapporobaby macrumors 68000

    sapporobaby

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    #9
    Ignore fiercetiger224 as he has zero clue as to what he is talking about. I am running a Drobo S and it is the best investment I have made. I started out with only 2 x 2TB drives. Added 3 x 2TB drives and have things set up as RAID 5. The Drobo just works. I had a 2 x 2TB WD My Book that failed 10 days after I bought it. My entire iTunes library went with it. Luckily Apple let me download all of it again. While waiting for my Drobo to arrive I purchased a WD (yes, I know) ShareSpace 4 x 1TB NAS which I use as a dump. The Drobo is my iTunes Library, iPhoto Library, and Aperture Library. I have no worries about its ability to store, backup, and secure my data. It is well worth the money.
     
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #10
    One should add that a redundant harddisk enclosure (be it a Drobo, a normal RAID enclosure or a RAID array in a server) is not a substitute for a backup. All (important) data must be backed up, simply keeping it on a RAID (- RAID 0, of course), just protects against harddisk failure.
     
  11. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #11
    Looked at a few prices for the Drobo S, does that include the hard disks or no? For that money, you could get a ReadyNAS, I have always liked those- did they get good reviews?

    My point is if you're spending that much money, maybe get something with NAS (ethernet) capability, not just peripheral (USB, FW, eSATA) connections.
     
  12. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #12
    No, usually the price doesn't include harddrives. However, the price is relative: even `semiprofessional' RAID enclosures (think Wiebetech enclosures with nontrivial RAID level support and better) cost about twice of what a Drobo S costs. The Wiebetech RTX 400 IR/UR 4-bay and 6-bay enclosures, for instance, have a MSRP of $2000. The `dumb' models cost about the same as a Drobo S. If you want to get something professional, it's even more expensive.
    There is a version of the Drobo S with Gigabit ethernet called Drobo FS.
     
  13. lirand thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Could you help me better understand the advantages and shortcoming of each system? I'm trying to decide between a Drobo S and a Promise DS4600 or an OWC QX2.

    As I mentioned I want to use the RAID as the main storage of my photo library. I would probably put some more stuff inside and would also want it to backup my Mac with Time Machine. All in all - I don't need more than 1 TB of storage for at least the upcoming year or two. Maybe 2TB if I want to absolutely be on the safe side. Besides the need for the storage, I need it to be redundant and reliable (I am also backing up to an online service) and not less important - the data access should be FAST as the RAID would be used as the main storage for my photos.

    I guess I will buy several 1-2 TB drives (2-3 for the Drobo S, maybe 4 for the other drives since they are cheaper) and I really don't see a need for me to have more than 5 TB total storage on the RAID (including redundancy). I do want to be able to easily replace a faulty drive with a different one if and when a drive crashes. It seems it would also be important that the device would be able to accept a different kind of drive (not the same as the other, currently installed drives) as one cannot tell if a specific drive model would be available in a year or two from the date of purchase.

    Any recommendations/observations?

    Thanks again.
     
  14. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #14
    Reading your post, I'm not sure you need any sort of RAID. I was in a similar situation about a year ago. I was contemplating getting a Drobo, a two-drive enclosure with mirroring, you name it. In the end, I decided to get two regular external harddrives.

    What you are posting sounds familiar: you'd like redundancy and you don't have ginormous storage needs. If you can live off 2 TB for the foreseeable future, then get one or two external 2 TB drives. All any RAID with redundancy will give you is fault tolerance with respect to harddrive failures. You will still have a single point of failure: the enclosure. Getting two external harddrives can be advantageous, have you thought of that?

    Another thing that stuck out was that you plan on using the RAID to store your photo library on. Unless you have a Mac Pro, a MacBook Pro with EC card slot or you use an enclosure that supports iSCSI, this solution will be substantially slower than your internal harddrive as the speed will be limited by the interface you use (either USB or FireWire). It won't matter if all you want to store are movies and music.

    Can you post more details on your exact configuration and why you think you want/need a RAID?
     
  15. sapporobaby macrumors 68000

    sapporobaby

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    #15
    @OreoCookie,

    You mention slow. Can you define what you consider slow? My Drobo S is connected to my Mac Mini via FW800 and it houses my entire iTunes library. I stream from it over my network via Home Sharing with zero performance issues. My Mini is connected to my Sony TV so I watch iTunes content from the Drobo. Also I have a 500 gig portable external connects to my MBP that houses my Aperture library and I work from this configuration all the time. Again no "speed" issues that I am aware of.
     
  16. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #16
    The Netgear ReadyNAS I mentioned seems to have a price point very similar to that of the Drobo S. Also without drives. It's not strictly enterprise grade, but the Drobo certainly isn't either. The ReadyNAS does seem quite a bit more capable, however, with built-in ethernet and pretty robust web server support like built in iTunes server, bittorrent client, etc. The readyNAS also has it's own implementation of "magic RAID" technology which allows for mixing and matching disks and also expanding on-the-fly.

    Sounds good. I guess my point is that if you're in the $600+ range (without drives) for a drive tower, you're well in the range to get a great full-featured NAS vs. just a glorified external HDD.
     
  17. lirand thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Using my internal HD is not an option as I don't have enough space to store my stuff. This is the main reason for this whole thing - I need more space and I want it to be as redundant as possible (with reasonable complexity). Regarding two external HDs - I currently have two of those but there are several problems with this config:
    1. I've only got 1 FW800 port so I can only connect one that is "speedy"
    2. (The more serious problem) they don't backup automatically and I'm supposed to do that manually from time to time. Since I actually don't, I end up having a really serious single point of failure - many of my precious photos sit on an external HD that isn't backed up anywhere (I'm now trying to start backing it online because this situation is just very bad)

    A RAID seems to improve upon this situation quite a bit. What do you think?

    BTW: I'm using a previous gen iMac 24" Core2Duo 2.4 with no eSATA or iSCSI options...
     
  18. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #18
    Overall, I think going with a RAID would definitely be a step in the wrong direction -- not just because of added complexity, but also because the solution you have in mind doesn't provide you with the `redundancy' you seek.

    My recommendation:
    (1) Have the internal drive replaced with a 2 TB drive.
    (2) Get an external 2 TB drive, preferably a quality drive that allows the drive to spin down.
    (3) Then use Time Machine to back up your data onto the external drive. Keep the online backup in addition! Depending on the speed with which you're connected to the internet, it may make more sense to sync only certain files online.

    This solution would be about as expensive if not cheaper than getting an external RAID1. It would be faster -- and more redundant.

    Now to your post:
    Then I'd replace the internal harddrive first and get an external backup drive. This is a much safer option than what you probably have in mind right now: mirrored external drives.
    You can daisy chain FireWire drives and then access all drives full speed.
    A RAID is not a backup. Even if you add redundancy, it's never, ever, ever a backup. If you accidentally delete/overwrite a file or an app corrupts a file, the data is gone. The most serious point of failure is usually the person behind the keyboard. If you use Time Machine or another incremental backup software, then everything is done automatically, you don't need to take care of backups, it's simply fire & forget.
    …*and you'd still have a single point of failure with the solution you have in mind.
    No, it wouldn't.
    Of course you can use iSCSI: iSCSI is SCSI over GBit ethernet -- which your machine does have. You can reach native harddrive speeds and more with iSCSI.
     
  19. AppleMatt macrumors 68000

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    #19
    I agree with you that a standard RAID doesn't fit OP's needs, however, the Drobo isn't a standard RAID. I also understand your point about data integrity.

    I just had an absolute nightmare when my external drive (Time Machine) failed mid-week. I intended to buy a new one on Saturday, but then the iMac drive also failed. So I had to order a complete restore from Backblaze (my online backup), but restoring the data hasn't been as smooth as I hoped as it turns out Backblaze doesn't handle packages correctly (the older versions of iWork stored documents as packages).

    However, a Drobo with two drives and a Time Machine backup would suit the OP's desire for redundancy (one could fail without any data loss), the OP's desire for minimal effort (it's automatic) and your concerns about data integrity. Furthermore, a Drobo with three drives can be set so that TWO drives can fail without any data loss whatsoever. Plus there's no fiddling, it's treated as an external drive.

    It seems to me the OP is saying he's tried and failed with external drives, yet you're suggesting an external drive. I've tried the external drive solution and it failed me. A Drobo wouldn't have failed me, plus I wouldn't have had the expense or hassle of a Backblaze restore.

    Of course, neither of these solutions (external drive or Drobo) protect against fire, theft etc. That's why I have Backblaze.

    AppleMatt
     
  20. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #20
    To me that sounds as if the failure may have been caused by an electrical surge or another malfunction. It's not very likely that the failure of both drives isn't linked. If an electrical surge damages a Drobo and your iMac, then both may fail (almost) simultaneously. I'm glad to hear you were prudent enough to keep an online backup.
    I think the Drobo is a good solution for some people. However, a Drobo is more prone to failure than two independent external backup drives (which is the setup I currently have: 1 Time Machine drive at work, 1 external backup drive at home, Dropbox for current projects). The Drobo is good for people whose storage needs exceed that of a single harddrive and who want redundancy. The OP said he won't need more than 2 TB in the foreseeable future -- and you can get 2 TB right now. The OP also wants speed and any solution involving USB or FireWire is slower than the internal harddrive. Hence my suggestion to replace the internal harddrive and get an external FireWire drive.
    You don't know that as that depends on the reason of failure. There are single points of failure with the Drobo (and any other RAID under consideration here): the controller, the enclosure, the power supply, etc. It sounds as if in your case, the failure of your two harddrives is linked. I'm not saying RAID solutions are useless because of that.
     
  21. sapporobaby macrumors 68000

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    #21
    I tend to agree with you AppleMatt. I had a 2TB x 2 WD My Book. It died ten days after I purchased it, and with it died my entire iTunes library. I ordered a Drobo S (2TB x 5). I had the option of an FS but the FW 800 seemed to be plenty fast for me. I am still waiting for OreoCookie to explain his speed issues with the Drobo but he seems to not have an answer. Anyway, I stream video content across my network from my Mac Mini which is connected to my Drobo. I have had ZERO speed issues so I am lost as what OreoCookie is talking about. I also have a Time Capsule that I use for OS backups, but I am on my 3rd TC so my faith in it is quite small. For backups of my iTunes, Aperture and iPhoto libs, I have a WD SpaceShare (4 x 1TB). I use an app called File Synchronization which does incremental backups which is great. I schedule this to run every other day. It all runs in the background and I am only alerted once the backup has completed. Drobo is configured in a RAID 5 array, and I am pretty confident that it is more than redundant, and I would like anyone here to explain why it's not.
     
  22. lirand thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #22
    Hey, I didn't think that it is possible to replace the hd of the iMac, but your suggestion made sense so I re-checked this thing: anyway, after consulting our local Apple dealers it turns out that io cannot upgrade my old hd (320gb) to anything higher than 500gb (they say it's against Apple's recommendations).
    Sadly that's not enough for me. I need at least 1TB. Preferably 2.

    With that out of the question - any recommendations?

    Thanks again.
     
  23. sapporobaby macrumors 68000

    sapporobaby

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    #23
    Can you back this up with some sort of data or a link? This sounds like pure speculation. Some MTBF rates or any other empirical data showing the Drobo failure rates. Not saying that they do not fail, but you make a bold claim without backing it up.
     
  24. sapporobaby macrumors 68000

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    #24
    Hi lirand,

    If I may make a suggestion. The first thing you should do is to plan for expansion. While your current needs are say 1TB, you might want to plan for 2 to 4TB's. In that case WD makes an okay product that should be what you need. I WOULD NOT RELY ON AN APPLE TIME CAPSULE. I can not stress this enough. I am on my third one in less than 2 years. As you can see with my solution I have the Drobo (fill in the device of your choosing) as my lib stoarge, and redundancy, and the WD SpaceShare as a backup. If one or more of my Drobo drives files, my data is still safe because of the RAID config I am using. Whatever you do, to not use RAID 0 or striping as you have all the capacity but no redundancy.
     
  25. lirand thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #25
    Ok - I checked with another local dealer and apparently IT IS possible to upgrade my internal hd. I will probably upgrade to 2 TB (does it matter much if it's SATA 2 or 3? 7200 rpm anyway)
    THANKS! that was a very good advice!

    Anyway, now a different question rises :)
    I will soon have an internal HD of 2 TB with an external drive of only 1TB to back it up (using Time Machine). Obviously, I would want to buy a bigger external hd. So - should I buy a Drobo to build a raid for external storage? (for backup) or am I better of with a different solution? :)

    I should mention that in this new scenario, both the need for speed and the fear from losing the data have been reduced.

    Recommendations? :)
     

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