Should I get a drobo box?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by gianthobbit, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. gianthobbit macrumors 6502

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    #1
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    I have one large external hard drive and it has a ton of important data on it. Getting afraid one day it would fail.

    Doing research in different options (like raid) I found this product called drobobox. The base model runs $300 on amazon.

    A bit of mixed reviews (mostly positive) and most of the reviews are old (2008). Is there a better product for this? Should I invest in it or learn how to do a proper RAID setup?

    Simple and cheap would be ideal. If drobo is as easy as they say and expandable I am leaning towards that.

    Thoughts? Thanks!
     
  2. E.Lizardo macrumors 68000

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    #2
    Got a 4 bay drobo that I've had a couple of years for time machine.Completely satisfied with it.It warned me that a drive was soon to fail and I had time to replace it with no problems.The good thing is if the drive had actually failed my data would still be safe.Of course off-site storage is the only way to be protected from fire,theft,floods power surges etc,but for protected local storage it's great.
    hope that helps.
     
  3. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #3
    I've had 4 different Drobos (USB, FW800, S, Pro) and I sold them all. If you plan on JUST using them for backup and not moving them at all, they're fine. IF you plan on using them for data reading at any intensity, I'd highly recommend against them. They are also very susceptible to errors. I've spent weeks waiting for my Drobos to rebuilt their libraries for no reason at all.
     
  4. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    #4
    I have tried several brands of NAS drive. I've used Buffalo, WD, Seagate, Iomega, LaCie and most recently Synology. Avoid the $100ish models. For instance, the consumer grade Seagate drives try to force you to pay a monthly subscription to make features in the drive work despite the fact you paid for the thing outright, or you at least thought you did. That's the only one I returned for a refund the same day I bought it!

    I'm most happy with Synology. One thing I like is their DSM software which is basically a Linux box (on an ARM processor unless you buy their more expensive Intel based + series drives). I have been delighted with the performance and I will soon decommission all my old NAS boxes and just keep the LaCie and the Synology around. I've heard good things about Drobo and I actually had one in my hands at Microcenter but decided I didn't want to spend $700 on NAS that day.

    Rather than deal with elaborate RAID setups, I simply back stuff up multiple times. I back up once to an Apple Time Capsule external USB drive using Time Machine, next to Crashplan's cloud and really vital stuff gets manually copied to the LaCie and the Synology NAS drives. For photos, I keep them on a LaCie Firewire drive, BOTH NAS drives and to a cloud photo backup site. If any one drive fails anywhere, I've got other copies and I simply pop out the drive, replace it and copy everything over to it before another copy fails.
     
  5. colinet macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Got 2 Drobos as Time Machines on 2 different Macs and they have both worked faultlessly so far.

    The newer one Drobo FS has 5 x 2TB drives and it's set up so that 2 drives can fail and I still won't lose anything.
    The older one has 4 x 1.5TB drives and that can lose 1 drive without losing anything.
    Neither of them have had a drive fail so far, though obviously they will eventually as all drive do.

    I throughly recommend them.
     
  6. calderone macrumors 68040

    calderone

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    #6
    I don't personally recommend Drobos.

    1. Slow
    2. Proprietary "RAID"
    3. Poor Customer Service
    4. Did I mention slow?

    As others said, if it is for backup it will do fine and if you aren't a particularly advanced user I would say stick with a Drobo.
     
  7. colinet macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Nice to know that as the author and illustrator of over 60 books all written and illustrated on Macs, I am a 'not particularly advanced user' . . :rolleyes:
     
  8. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #8
    You must be using a Drobo as a last resort backup. I would never use it as anything close to a scratch or usable disk. It's slow as molasses, rebuilds itself on a whim rendering it nearly unusable, and the customer service is notoriously lazy. But don't take my word for it, I've only owned 6 Drobos over the last 4 years...:rolleyes:
     
  9. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    #9
    By far... this is the best advice in this thread. Double backup of your data is a much better suggestion than RAID or other redundant disk arrays.

    /Jim
     
  10. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #10
    Drives are mechanical devices which wear out. It will fail one day. Back it up as soon as you can!

    Noone should be afraid that a drive is going to fail. It's stupid to risk all your data by putting it on just one place.

    This!

    And make sure you have a copy off-site too. Personally, I have rotating copies on two sets of disks, and keep one at a different location.
     
  11. colinet macrumors 6502

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    #11
    As I've already said, I use Drobos as Time Machine drives where the speed is totally irrelevant. I use a 15,000 rpm drive as a scratch disc which will be replaced by SSDs when my new MacPro arrives. My Drobos have NEVER rebuilt themselves or needed to.

    I think we would be very unwise to take the word of anyone who had to own 6 of anything before he decide they were no good. Or did you think that before the sixth one? In which case why was there a sixth one? Don't think I'd want that many of anything if they kept on being useless. But then, maybe you're a Windows user.

    ----------

    Or do both.
     
  12. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #12


    Wow, ok there hot shot. Didn't mean to question the speed of your drives or the size of your...drives. I owned six because I work in video production and have 50TB of storage capacity in the house. I had 2 FW800 Drobos (One backup, and a backup backup), 2 Drobo S's (One backup, and a backup backup), an original USB2, and a DroboPro. All exhibited the same problems, which is why I got rid of them since they inhibited my workflow. OP asked for thoughts, I gave mine, no need to get snotty.
     
  13. js81, Feb 3, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012

    js81 macrumors 65816

    js81

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    #13
    For a simpler solution, how about a Time Capsule (still a single drive, though) or a locally attached dual drive enclosure? But that's only gonna work well for one computer...

    For more than one computer, you could try what I've done - FreeNas on an old machine. I currently have FreeNas 8 installed on an old Dell Optiplex GX620 with 4 hard drives installed (2x 1TB, 2x 500GB = 3TB total). My important data lives on the two 1TB drives, set up as a mirrored RAID 0. For the two 500GB drives, one is a Time Machine backup drive for my MBP, the other is a media share for my PS3 (ripped movies).

    DISCLAIMER: FreeNas is just that - FREE. However, it is NOT the easiest thing in the world to get going. Getting a simple set up going is pretty easy - install the drives, install FreeNas to a flash drive, boot from there, share and go. Its some of the more intricate things that are dicey; namely, Time Machine. Even though its supposed to be a simple software switch to get TM working, I had to do some extras to get my MBP to play nice with the FreeNas server.

    Also, even though FreeNas will run on just about anything (I think the specs are like 133MHz Pentium or better and 128MB RAM), you'll need to consider a few things:

    1) Many old computers can't/won't boot from USB. Realistically, you'll need a Pentium 4 or better.
    2) Many older computers are NOT energy efficient. i.e., You're sucking down a lot of juice for no huge benefits.
    3) Many old computers only have room for 1 or 2 hard drives. My GX620 technically only has room for two; I have the other two installed by some of my own doing. :)

    All of this leads up to my overall FreeNas solution: As soon as I get my tax refund, I'm buying an HP Proliant Microserver. This is a small business class server with a low power AMD Neo processor. Good news, starts at $349 from HP; Better news, you can find last years model BRAND NEW on eBay for less than $250 all day long. It supports up to 4 SATA hard drives, an optical drive, USB and eSATA outside the box, up to 8GB of RAM, and can run most any server OS you want (save for OS X Server, of course). I plan to stick with FreeNas for now, but have considered Windows Home Server 2011, which has an add-in for Time Machine. Its only $50, but then again, FreeNas is... FREE.

    Sorry for the long post! Moral of the story: There are ways to do this that are cheaper and more robust than the Drobo! :D

    LINKS: FreeNas HP Microserver HP Microsever on eBay

    EDIT: Oh, yeah - don't forget that if you DO decide to go the FreeNas route, you can always remove the drive from your external enclosure to use it with a "server" of some sort. But that will void the warranty of your external. But backup your data first... FreeNas uses its own partition scheme, so you'll have to reformat the drive before you can use it.
     
  14. sigamy macrumors 65816

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    #14
    I'm not a fan of Drobo...I've actually lost data that was stored on Drobo.

    I was attempting to use the Drobo as my iTunes library storage and some overflow video storage for editing.

    First issue was that Drobo had trouble waking/sleeping properly when attached via FW. Not a big deal, just a pain.

    The big issue was when on two occasions I lost power in my home office. Once was storm, once was blow fuse. The Drobo crashed hard each time. Basically the volumes became corrupt and could not be mounted or read.

    I contacted Drobo support and they told me to purchase Disk Warrior (extra $100) to see if any data could be restored.

    I had multiple computers in the same room attached to same power and they did not lose data or suffer corruption.

    I Sold the Drobo and vowed to never use proprietary RAID-like stuff again.

    I'm back to 3 external FW drives and a rat's nest of cables, but it's better than losing data.
     
  15. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #15
    Generally speaking, the best advice I have read about back-up strategies is that RAID is not a replacement for a primary backup. That is to say - if you put your data on a RAID box, then you still need to back up that box.

    Your best bet is probably to invest in a few (cheap) USB external HDDs. Hook one up as a Time Machine disk. Hook another one up as the target for nightly cloned back-up (something like SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner). Occasionally swap the cloned back-up external HDD with an external HDD stored off-site.

    I use Seagate's Flex series because they a) will fit into a safety deposit box, and b) if you need to boot off the cloned back-up you can swap connectors on the external HDD to a faster FW800 connection.

    If your computer crashes entirely, you can connect an external HDD with your cloned back-up to just about any Mac, boot from the external HDD, and then use that Mac as if it was your own (crashed) Mac. When my MacPro was in the shop for repairs I booted by MBP off the external HDD and just carried on for 10 days.

    Luck.
     
  16. calderone, Feb 3, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012

    calderone macrumors 68040

    calderone

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    #16
    So you draw on your computer, would you like a cookie? That doesn't make you an advanced user, but maybe I misspoke. Unless you know how or have the desire to learn to configure a RAID array from scratch, then stick with the Drobo.

    The Drobo does it all for you, there is no effort or through involved which is what you get with a more traditional RAID box. There is nothing advanced about using a Drobo. Nor are your drawings indicative of any advanced computer usage.


    How would you know if your Drobo rebuilt itself? Oh it must be the logs it produces! Oh no wait, they encrypt log information so you can't self diagnose... So you have to get the encrypted logs and send them over for analysis. Good luck waiting for a response.

    You use your Drobo where its poor performance is irrelevant. Which is exactly what we are telling the OP. Since the OP hasn't illuminated us as to what the plans for this device are, all we can do is offer up our opinions which so far haven't differed from yours.
     
  17. gianthobbit thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Getting pretty heated. This is my concern with Drobo, very polarized opinions.

    Just to clear some things up. The internal HD is backed up to a time machine and off site with carbonite.

    The stuff on my external is large (greater than internal storage). Should I just but a duplicate HD of the same size and just mirror the data? That would be one layer of backup I guess...

    What is the best application for doing automatically mirroring like that?
     
  18. foodog macrumors 6502a

    foodog

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    #18
    Ditto... I got rid of all mine for the same reasons as above.... I just use backblaze now. I have 5 TB backed up for 50 a year. Yes it took a VERY long time for the initial backup.
     
  19. gianthobbit thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    So you have no local backup then?

    Can backblaze run backups off external harddrives? That was my issue with Carbonite, it only backs up items on the primary hard drive.
     
  20. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    #20
    I don't know about backblaze but I use crashplan and it backs up anything I tell it to back up. I've heard crashplan throttles uploads after 200 GB so I've only allowed it to back up documents rather than my entire home folder including gigabytes of email and so forth. My email is already backed up on google's and Apple's clouds so I don't mind not having it sent to crashplan.

    There is nothing wrong with getting a "lower end" NAS drive for local backup and combining it with a cloud based backup service. Just be careful you don't trip something at your ISP when you suddenly start uploading gigabytes of stuff. Crashplan offers a "seed by mail" service where they will send you a drive you can put your first stuff on and mail it back to them. My "pro" Comcast account takes several days to send 10 gig so seeding via overnight delivery can actually be faster. I didn't opt for this service because it was fairly expensive at over $100 if I remember correctly.
     
  21. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

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    #21
    Drobo is great with Time Machine - I have incremental backup's going back over the last 2 years. I would agree with others that Drobo is not quick enough to work on live files of any significant size.

    The advantage of Drobo is the ease by which you can add additional storage. I started off with two 1TB Hard disks. Over the last couple of years I have added additional hard disks and now have started to replace the 1TB disks with larger capacity ones. The disadvantage with Raid is that it is not so easy to add capacity, without replacing all the hard disks at the same time. With Drobo you can just add a single hard disk to add the additional capacity that you need. Raid is a lot quicker than a Drobo, but not really that critical with a Time Machine Backup.

    At the beginning of last year my primary hard disk failed on my Mac Pro. I luckily had a spare 1TB hard disk, restored my primary drive from the last time machine backup, and was back up and running in no time at all.
     
  22. colinet macrumors 6502

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    #22
    You are so right. The 2 enterprise drives set up in a raid array inside my MacPro and 2 other external raid set ups and a 4 drive raid NAS drive are so complicated that I had to get my 4 year old grandson to set them up for me because it is so difficult.

    Please define an advanced user so I can try to learn how to be one. So far I've only used mine effortlessly to make a very good living and sell over 3 million books and artwork. Am I missing something? I naively thought computers were simply tools to help you in your work.
     
  23. firestarter, Feb 3, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012

    firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #23
    Why so pompous, colinet? You started off by attacking MovieCutter - who made a good point about his experience of Drobo... and it looks like he's got a good deal more experience of them than you.

    Personally I'd never recommend them. I've heard too many horror stories.

    I don't like the way they market to non-tech users as a complete solution to data security. Too many people think they're buying a magic device that will never loose data... they place too much trust in the thing and don't take extra backups.

    (I've even chatted to a Drobo rep at a trade show who basically recommended this, and told me that he had one and made no extra backups of his data. D'oh!!).

    I don't like the way they used a closed standard for their RAID-like disk format. If the box dies, or if it's unable to rebuild your array you're pretty much stuffed. At least with RAID/NAS units that use open Linux type RAID, you have the option of rebuilding an array on another Linux PC.

    And the performance really doesn't seem to be that great. Given the additional cost, additional risks, so-so performance, proprietary format and the fact that it really solves very few of your data integrity/backup needs... it seems like a poor product.
     
  24. martin1000 macrumors 6502

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    #24
    I love my Drobo. Both my iPhoto and iTunes' libraries are housed on it, along with other assorted files are kept on it.

    I am not a power user, but never have had an issue regarding either iPhoto or iTunes. For me, the drobo is not slow.

    I have an unlimited Crashplan accoutn (about $5/month) for in the cloud backup.

    Hope this helps.
     
  25. calderone, Feb 3, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012

    calderone macrumors 68040

    calderone

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    #25
    There is more than just clicking buttons. Sure I can click some button and end up with an array. Is it optimized toward my usage? Does it offer the fault tolerance I require? Am I utilizing my space efficiently?

    You are using products designed to be easy, but just because you can set them up doesn't mean you know what you are doing.

    Even so, the Drobo is a step down even from software RAID on your Mac Pro or hardware on your NAS. You don't have to worry at all about RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, etc. You put the drives in and that is pretty much it. Making it pretty non-advanced. If you don't agree with that, then forget it.
     

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