Large-Capacity Storage: Drobo vs. RAID vs. ?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by jeffburk, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. jeffburk macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2008
    Houston, TX
    I'm looking to upgrade my storage to transfer my iTunes library from my 1-TB internal drive to an external drive that will accommodate rips from 1,000 or more DVDs and Blu-Rays. For ripping and encoding, I'm using the automated process in the thread at the top of this forum.

    I figure I'll need at least 4 TB of capacity, perhaps more, just for Handbrake encodes. If I want to save the full-DVD and Blu-Ray backups, I'll need significantly more. Also, I want to make sure I have sufficient capacity for a Time Machine back-up of my internal drive and the iTunes library on the external drive.

    I've read a few things about RAID and Drobo here, but I'm still not clear on what the pros and cons are. I haven't considered other options besides those but would like to hear if anyone has any other suggestions. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  2. JKColo22 macrumors regular

    Feb 19, 2009
    Your question is rather unclear. Drobo is just a manufacturer of standalone raid controllers. Other manufacturers include Promise and Qnap (and many more). For the kind of space you are looking for you would need at least Raid 5 with four 1.5TB drives. The benefit of Raid 5 is that if one drive fails, your data is protected. If more than one drive fails your screwed. I suggest you do a Google search for "what is raid?," research some additional manufacturers and come back with more detailed questions.
  3. jeffburk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2008
    Houston, TX
    Thanks. I read the Wikipedia article on RAID before posting. To be more specific, what RAID controller (Drobo or otherwise) would you recommend for capacity in the 4 TB to 8 TB range, and why?
  4. smithrh macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    What are you serving from?

    I have a media library off of a Mac mini, I use software RAID 1.

    Currently I have 5TB of mirrored disk served up.
  5. Omne666 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Using the Drobo V2....7Tb capacity, which gives 4.5Tb actual storage space over 4 Drives (2x2Tb + 2x1.5Tb), connected via firewire 800 to my iMac.

    The drobo supports the failure of 2 drives simultaneously before your data is threatened.
  6. OmegaRed1723 macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2009
    The Waste
    I'm also using a Drobo v2 with four WD20EARS 2TB drives for 5.5TB of actual storage. Lately, however, the unit has become incredibly noisy. After disassembling the unit to troubleshoot, I've come to the conclusion that the fan is starting to crap out. Not impressed, considering how expensive these things are. Once the Mac mini is updated with Thunderbolt, I will be looking for a DAS to replace my Drobo possibly the Pegasus R4.
  7. FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
    If you want FAST transfer rate, which help a bit in Handbrake, then get T5_R5-eSUF Use the internal SATA port in MP
    You will get over 240MB/sec.

    If you need SPACE then use 3TB HDD, you will have fast, protected 12TB.

    I recommend use its email notification, it makes my day.
    A drive had write error, it notifies me. I replace and use it as a single external drive, about 3weeks later, it dead

    I'm a happy camper.
  8. TheHoff macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2008
    The cheapest way to solve this without going to a proprietary closed system like a Drobo is to build your own mid-tower server in a PC case. It can be running OS X if you can do a Hackintosh or Linux. I use a FreeBSD Linux server as my media box -- it has 8 TB of drives in a 4 TB RAID 10.

    The server communicates over AppleTalk AFP protocol with all of my Macs. It shows up just like any other shared device and it will saturate 1-gig wired ethernet (125 MB/s) without breaking a sweat. I have a separate section of the RAID shared as a 500 MB Time Machine capsule. I can change that size at any time but it is nice to be able to limit how much it can take up out of the 4 TB.

    If you don't feel you have the tech skills to do that, I'd look at a Synology RAID like:

    But honestly for that price you can build a server that is way more capable (since that is really just a linux server doing a RAID in a small custom enclosure).
  9. NightStorm macrumors 68000

    Jan 26, 2006
    Whitehouse, OH
    I've been very happy with the performance of my netgear readynas ultra 4+. I use an iSCSI volume for my iTunes, iPhoto, and aperture libraries and have had zero issues.
  10. jeffburk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2008
    Houston, TX
    Thanks, everyone, for the very helpful suggestions and explanations. I've narrowed my options down to the following:

    1) Drobo DR04DD10. B&H is selling this for $339, and I can get four Seagate or Western Digital 2TB bare drives for $80 each, so that's $659 shipped for 8TB.

    2) StarTech S354UFER. is selling this for $220, so with the four 2TB bare drives that's $540 for 8TB.

    For the $119 price difference, the Drobo offers the flexibility of being expandable up to 16TB and being able to mix and match drives, but the Drobo also uses a proprietary format so that I'd have to replace it with another Drobo if it broke. In any event, those both seem like very good deals for the amount of storage offered. I'll probably go with the Drobo, particularly given the positive recommendations it has received here.

    I recently purchased a 2TB Seagate ST320005EXA101-RK external drive. Does anyone know whether I could open that up and use the bare drive in the Drobo or StarTech? Thanks in advance.
  11. The Mad Hatter macrumors 6502a

    The Mad Hatter

    Oct 12, 2004
    If it's a SATA hookup (which it most likely will be) then yes. Back it up first, as the Drobo will wipe it clean.

  12. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    i Bought a Drobo-FS a few moths ago, i purchased a unit similar to the startech last week.

    with the drobo, i was getting speeds equivalent or maybe a bit better than a USB2 drive. It is an FS, so it was also having to do file sharing over the network, which a direct attached won't have to do, so they are supposedly a bit faster.
    It also is notoriously slow for opening folders on apple file sharing, which again, won't be a problem for a direct attached unit.

    at one point i had speeds that were really slow, around 2-3 MB/s. turns out this was due to my torrent program and the way it wrote to the drive. files were fragmented all over the place, and anytime it tried to look at those files it choked.

    the new box is a TR5UT-BP, it's 5 bays with it's own internal hardware RAID controller. has USB3 and e-sata connections. have been getting great speeds out of it. it will show up as 1 big drive

    with the drobo, you can grow the array pretty easily, just add a drive, and it will add it to your capacity, or remove a smaller drive, and replace it with a bigger one. Then depending on how much stuff you have, it can take a couple days for it to re-lay itself out, you will still be able to access your data, but it might be a bit slower.
    You can also set it to have dual disk redundancy, which means if 2 drives die, you still have your data, if you buy more storage up-front than you need, you can set it to dual, and as it fills up, just change it over to single.

    most other RAIDs are not as forgiving in their changing or adding of drives.

    also, don't depend on "single drive failure" as a decent backup solution make sure at least your irreplaceable data, if not all of it, is on another device, either a USB external, or a bare drive and a dock. drives fail, devices fail, don't depend on the RAID, they can crash and you loose everything on them.
  13. jeffburk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2008
    Houston, TX
    Thanks. This is interesting and very useful. I have neither the skills nor the courage to hack my iMac to connect via eSata, so I intend to connect the Drobo using FireWire. Hopefully that will give me a suitably fast connection. I have also considered getting an Airport Extreme and connecting the Drobo to via USB. My iMac would be connected to the Airport Extreme by Cat5e, so I would not be wirelessly streaming. Which would be faster, the direct FireWire connection to the iMac, or the USB connection to the Airport Extreme connected by Cat5e to the iMac? My AppleTVs are also connected to the network by Cat5e.
  14. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    if your iMac has a firewire 800 port that will be the fastest.

    even though the numbers for firewire 400 (400b/s) and USB2 (480b/s) don't look like, it in real world firewire 400 will move files faster than USB2 and fire800 is twice as fast.

    you can check if you're running at gigabit speed, open network prefrences, click networks, select your ethernet adapter, hit advanced, and then go to the ethernet tab. the speed you're running at is there, you should be set to auto, and the speed will be greyed out.

    if you're running gigabit (1000) that's faster than usb, but if it says 100, you'll have 1/4 the maximum speed of USB, and 1/8 of what you can get direct connect fire800. Keep in mind that stuff only goes as fast as the slowest piece, so if the drive is under the bandwidth of a connection, going to a faster connection won't make the drive run faster.

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