WD Sharespace vs Drobo

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by kennethkearns, May 24, 2009.

  1. kennethkearns macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2007
    I am trying to decide between which of these large storage options I should chose.

    Currently I have an imac with 1 tb in and 1 tb via USB with a 2tb connected via FW as a time machine. I currently have about 80gb free on the external and 90gb free on the internal.

    Now, for whatever reason, I am going to be separated from this setup for about a year. In my new setup I am building I am looking for something large enough to house all of this data and has room for expansion.

    Does anyone have any experience with these two set ups?
  2. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2008
    Loveland, CO
    Tom's does not give the WD Sharespace very good marks:


    It supports Raid 5 ... which in the 4T version gives you 3T of storage and single drive failure protection.

    I think you can build a 4T NAS Drobo for about the same price. There are reviews that indicate the the Drobo is also a bit slow:


    I have used plenty of RAID systems at work and I have never been that happy with them. The issues typically are:

    1. a drive fails and no one knows about it .... this is only an issue if the RAID is in a lab, attached to a system that does not get monitored. When the second drive fails ... everything is lost if the system is a RAID 5. (A very bad day!!!) Also, if you buy a bunch of the same exact drive at the same time, then run them in a RAID with each drive getting about the same amount of work, then the odds of having multiple drives fail in a narrow time frame increase over a collection of drives at different manufacturing times or from different manufacturers. (+1 for Drobo)

    2. a standard RAID 5 (like the WD Sharespace) requires identical drives. You need to make sure that you can still get the drives that you are using. The Drobo is better in that respect because it does not require identical drives. I had this problem with one RAID system ... the drives we were using had been discontinued for a while. It cost a fortune to buy a replacement. (+1 for Drobo)

    3. Rebuilding takes forever (exaggeration) and seriously slows things down. In all of the RAID systems I have used, when I have had to replace a drive, it has taken more than 12 hours to rebuild the drive from the other drives. In addition, if the remaining drives (the undamaged ones) have any unrecoverable bit (read) errors the array may not be able to rebuild itself at all. (-1 for both!)

    4. Every one of the RAID boxes I have used has been loud because of fan noise. Sticking 4 (or more) large drives into a single box will generate lots of heat. Additionally, when you use RAID, the data (if striped) and parity will be spread across the drives. This means that all drives will be used for almost all accesses. So, you will need lots of cooling. It is also typically that drives in a RAID will rarely spin down when not in use. Hence, lots of fan needed for cooling to keep the drives from failing from heat stress. (-1 for both)

    Given the issues I list above, I would think that the Drobo would be a better candidate because it does not require identical drives. YMMV!

    Currently, I am backing up non-media files to an extra set of external drives manually. For my media library, I am "sharing" with a co-worker. (Think of it has off-site backup.) We both have copies of all of all the media files so if one of us loses a drive, we can recover the lost files from the other person's drive.
  3. tom1971 macrumors 6502a

    May 15, 2007
    I was thinking about Drobo, too, but now i am more tending to use this
  4. kennethkearns thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2007

    Thanks alot for your thoughtful response.

    You really seem to be against a raid 5(like) setup.

    any other suggestions? I am already at 1.7tb full. it is very expensive to keep up the 1 to 1 mirroring backup.
  5. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    I have a Ver 2 Drobo (firewire version). As outlined above, it has definite benefits in simplicity and ability to use any drives (very nice for expansion which is a major pain in most raid setups).

    HOWEVER it is dog slow compared with most eSATA raid solutions. I just copied a 789MB folder from a fast drive into the drobo, it took 70 seconds by the clock. That's 11.3mb/sec write speed. And that is on a Firewire 800 connection. The fastest I've ever seen was around 20mb/sec.

    A good RAID5 array can easily reach 10 times that speed.

    So if you're going to be using this device for primary access, I personally would advise against the Drobo just based on speed. I use mine solely for time machine and so it's livable.

    the other area that is not mentioned is noise. I =HATE= noisy computer devices. The drobo is not quiet. It's less noisy than the 2 other raid external towers I have used however.

    I'm actually very much considering the Lacie 4big Quadra unit because it is 1) Faster than the drobo and 2) much quieter. You do lose several features, but especially if you're looking for online data access (vs. backup use) I'd strongly consider it.

  6. NightGeometry macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2004
    Mozy looked really cool, but looking for more info I cam across a review that seemed very 'honest'. Try reading here before committing.
  7. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2008
    Loveland, CO
    As mentioned above, my approach is to have an "off-site" backup with a co-worker. We both have 2.75TB of space that is currently ~80% full. I am hoping that the 2T drives drop in price and improve in reliability to keep the drive count down. We are using external FW, passively cooled enclosures and have the drives set to spin down when not in use. As a result, the drives are powered down most of the time unless someone is watching a movie or listening the music. As an added benefit, the drives are fairly quiet.

    I have been burned too many times on RAID 5 systems that fail to recover from drive failures. In my case, these systems were storing large databases of speech data used to generate HMM models for Automatic Speech Recognition systems. The cost for collecting, labeling, and end-pointing that data was huge at the time. Losing the data just about killed the product I was working on. As the drives get larger, the odds of a failure to rebuild because of the Unrecoverable Bit Error increase.

    Frankly, with 1T drives <$100, the costs for having a redundant store is relatively cheap.
  8. kennethkearns thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2007

    I am going to use this as a big itunes disk.

    Is it fast enough to play whatever media I wish is the threshold of speed I am looking to make. Any more than that is a nice to have but not of paramount importantance.

    Given that I see three options presented so far.

    Lacie 4big - $783
    WD Sharespace - $699
    Drobo FW - $780 (with 4 drives)

    The Lacie is the quietest, fastest.

    The WD has all the functionality of the Lacie outside of speed and sound for a bit less money.

    The Drobo is simple and versatile, but needs $200 attachment to match functionality and is slow.

    I like the looks of the drobo and Lacie.

    ugh. I guess its just down to a decision.

    Thanks for all your help
  9. kennethkearns thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2007
    5big vs 4big

    One more thing. Does anyone know of any difference between the 5big and 4big Lacie's beside the additional bay and lack of firewire support?

    the 5big offers a better cost per TB.
  10. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    I believe the 5big is NAS only - i don't think you can hook it directly to the computer. The eSATA ports are for hooking up external drives to the machine, not to hook it to the computer.

    I wish it was, because it offers raid6 possibility which I really want rather than raid5 and the extra disk is super important when doing raid6 to have any decent volume size.
  11. ksemel macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2009
    ShareSpace 4tb owner, not 100% pleased currently

    I have the 4TB ShareSpace and while it's a decent machine, I'm currently very annoyed at it. I'm primarily a PC user, and saavy enough to be dangerous but not an expert (as my tale of woe will surely show).

    I've had my ShareSpace in the RAID5 config since I got it in January 2009, giving me just shy of 3TB of space. I like to think I may have been the first person to get the latest firmware update due to compulsive reloading in the week leading up to its release.

    The iTunes share server is horribly unreliable. I ended up putting my iTunes library directly on the sharespace, connecting to it via a mapped drive and cloning all my PCs to match the iTunes ID and config. So I could edit my music files and such from any computer and they all thought the one physical library was theirs.

    The Twonky media server is finicky about file types, and takes a LONG time to reindex anything. But I could connect both a PS3 and an XBox360 to it to watch movies. All my computers ran the WD Backup software to it without too many headaches. It is limited, but simple and dead silent. You'd probably hear it in a bedroom, but in my living room it was a tiny invisible miracle worker.

    Issues came up when "something" happened, possibly in the permissions part of the ShareSpace's software. Either one of my automated backups copied a corrupted file, or there was a brown out that got the Sharespace in the middle of an operation. At least that's what I suspect from the vague error messages I saw in the log files. Not able to access my data I did what any good PC user does - I rebooted it.

    The reboot FULLY screwed things. The file issue became a permission issue, which left me unable to access my data over the network but still able to login to the admin panel. Then unable to login at all. I reset the admin password to the default - which WD assured me would not effect any other users, or my data - and now I can't access the drive at all. Via WD software, via network, or via any of the magic tricks or prayer I've tried beyond that.

    WD broke my heart and told me it's hosed, there's no means to recover at this point since I did all the things they would suggest, and they'll need to replace it. They are nice enough to send me a replacement in advance of returning the broken one, but I'm responsible for the data recovery.

    I am currently waiting for a 4port RAID5 controller so I can yoink the drives, bypass the ShareSpace's interface and attempt to recover a software image off them. When I get the new system I won't be using RAID 5 again. The redundancy really isn't what I was hoping for.

    ShareSpace Pros: Crazy Quiet, Simple to set up. WD is willing to replace it without much hassle.

    ShareSpace Cons: Horrible data loss and agonizing recovery process is just a misunderstood error message and a reboot away. No way to get in a local "back door" if the network connection fails.

    I probably would have gone with a Drobo if I'd known about it when I was looking at the ShareSpace. It seems the more flexible option, and looks slick. If my recovery attempts end badly I may switch.
  12. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2007
    Which enclosure are you using? I've been looking at the following and hooking it up to either my media server (Mac mini) or go the Time Capsule route. And is going FireWire worth the added cost (isn't USB still okay for streaming movies?)?

  13. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2008
    Loveland, CO
    I prefer FW800 enclosures as a future proofing thing. I currently have everything hooked up to a previous gen Mac Mini via FW400. USB on my Mini is significantly slower than FW.

    I currently have 3 different enclosures: 1 Rosewill, 1 Macally, and 1 OWC miniStacker. The miniStacker has a fan that is seriously loud. I put a WD 1T green drive in it and can access it lightly without the fan firing up. I need to get the soldering iron out and swap the fan for a quieter one.

    The reviews for the enclosure (on the NewEgg web site) imply that it is a quiet enclosure. The limitation appears to be the 2T total disk size limitation. One reviewer reports that it held 4 seagate 750GB drives and still worked, but that appears to be the limit. You could probably put 4 WD 500GB green drives and not worry to much about heat. I will suggest that JBOS mode would be a better choice than spanning ... if a drive fails, you will not lose the data on the other drives.
  14. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Sep 15, 2004
    i(am in the)cloud
    People talk about the write speeds in the drobo being slow and that is true. However that is because if you have data redundancy active the drive is distributing your data over the various drives to protect it against failure. That is drobo's biggest feature.

    And let's face it, if you are using the drive for a huge collection of data- i.e. as a media drive, how often are you transfering massive files? And in the end, who cares? The read speeds are fine for streaming video etc.

    When people talk about speed, you should think if that will effect you.
  15. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    sorry that's just wrong. There are LOTS of RAid-5 (and Raid-6 for that matter!) that are also writing parity bits and ensuring drive integrity and do it 10+ times faster than the drobo.

    The problem with the drobo is it's WAY underpowered. I also routinely get 10-20mb/sec writes and that is just plain pathetic.

    It does matter if you're using it for any large amount of data. Even my 500mb-1GB time machine backups take forever to run and I can only imagine how painful it would be to try and edit off of it.

    I'm a drobo owner, so I'm not just speaking out of thin air. It does have some very nice features and thus far has been very reliable and very easy to use, however please make sure you don't need speed as a primary need before you buy!
  16. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Western Digital is making pure trash right now. If I was allowed I would take a picture of the one office we have FILLED with broken mybooks. Complete trash as of late.
  17. Zonyc macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2008

    This is the main reason I purchased a Drobo. I use it as a media drive and its currently filled to the brim with almost 3tb worth of video, music etc. The redundancy is a life saver! I had one of my WDC drives crap out on me and luckily I lost no data and was able to replace the drive simply by pulling it out and replacing it with another 1tb drive. The only problem is that it took 6+ hours to write the data to the new drive.

    I have a first gen (no FW) and my dad uses a second gen for his business. Mine is LOUD! and I dont meant slightly audible, I mean keep you up at night loud. My dad's however is as quiet as a whisper.

    Either way I'm satisfied with the Drobo and would recommend it. Sorry, I dont have any experience with the other products you mentioned :)

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