What's a Good Drobo Alternative? or RAID for MAC?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by avpmusik, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. avpmusik macrumors member

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    #1
    i have about 4 or 5 external hard drives that i am constantly using for work, (Recording/Mixing Music) and my hobby (Shooting / Editing Video).

    i was wondering if there was a cheaper alternative to a Drobo.
    For tho's who don't know, a Drobo is kinda like a RAID HD Setup.

    is there a box, or device that i could use as an all in one solution for my hard drives instead of having 4 or 5 external drives all around my desk?
     
  2. webbernet macrumors newbie

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  3. AppleNewton macrumors 68000

    AppleNewton

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    #3
  4. webbernet macrumors newbie

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    #4
    I believe drobo is about $300 as well.

    personally I dont see anything wrong with using Green drives since 5400rpm drives are more than enough to sustain gigabit, USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 throughput. They also have smarter power management features, which is esp useful for home use where the device is not being accessed 24/7.

    I had a drobo 2nd gen. and it worked well but I needed a NAS which the drobo was not. Data Robotics released the Drobo FS as a NAS device... but the damn thing is like $700...
     
  5. AppleNewton macrumors 68000

    AppleNewton

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    #5
    well thats just it with the green drives, i had them in a raid box and they like to park their heads alot (hence power management) and that is not particularly good with a RAID set up.
    It will go offline and throw errors thinking the RAID needs to rebuild itself and just causes more problems then necessary
     
  6. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #6
    Did you enable TLER on your Green drives? Should keep the controller from throwing errors.
     
  7. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    #7
    i was looking into getting a wd my book 4tb .. it has 2 wd green drives in a fanless enclosure and can do raid 0 or 1 .. i read though that the transfer rates are between 20-35 thru fw800 which is slow .. also that the drives get super hot ..
     
  8. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

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    #8
    It's not really fair to compare DROBO w/ RAID. The beauty of DROBO is that 1) it automatically double protects your data, i.e., if one drive in the DROBO goes south you don't lose ALL of your data like you would in a RAID and 2) it's adjustable on the fly. If your DROBO fills up you just pop out the smallest drive and put in a larger one or if all the slots are not full just pop one into the open slot. You can't do that w/ a RAID, you have to start from scratch.
     
  9. poloponies macrumors 68030

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    #9
    I'll add my support for the Drobo. It's awesome and effortless. I loaded mine with 2-1TB and 2-750GB when I first bought it (2nd generation, when it first came out). I've been gradually filling it up with media and decided to give it some headroom, so I just picked up 2-2TB drives. Pulled out a 750GB, popped in the 2TB and it's rebuilding itself as we speak (er, write). When it's done (later tonight), I'll pop in the 2nd 2TB drive and I'll have headroom for the future.

    The only advice I have for Drobo buyers is set up a large volume initially (you can go up to 16TB, regardless of what's actually there) - that way each time you add capacity it will add to that volume up to the maximum. Otherwise it will ask to set up additional volumes.
     
  10. reebzor macrumors 6502a

    reebzor

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    #10
    1) Thats the whole point of RAID. It's a REDUNDANT ARRAY, every RAID type except RAID0 will protect against data loss.

    2) Not entirely true anymore. A lot of modern RAID controllers support expansion and migration. Migration means you can start from a single disk, add another for a 0 or 1, add a third and migrate to 5. Then you can expand that 3 disk RAID5 array to 4,5,6,etc disks.

    Just wanted to clear that up.

    The thing that the Drobo will allow that traditional raid controllers wont is the mixing and matching of different sized disks. This only really seems useful to people that just happen to have a bunch of extra drives lying around, which I'm sure a lot of us do.
     
  11. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #11
    unRAID from Lime-Technoloy can be a cheap alternative to a Drobo. I set an unRAID array last year and it has been working nicely. I've even expanded the array from four drives to eight drives and upgraded a few smaller drives for larger ones. Everything worked as advertised.
     
  12. Yank macrumors newbie

    Yank

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    #12
    Sounds like there are some Drobo fans here, so hopefully one of you has had some experience that can help me.

    I picked up a Drobo (2nd gen) last September, put in two 1.5TB Caviar Green WDs, a 1.5TB Seagate (not sure which kind), and a 300GB Seagate that had been salvaged from a FreeAgent external that had a damaged power port.

    Everything was working amazingly. Loved having one giant volume for all of my iTunes media (which is all I use the drobo for). I had about 300GBs of Music/podcasts, about 750GBs of TV Shows, and about 1.5TBs of Movies.

    I gradually began to fill up the remaining space, and when I did I swapped out the small drive for another 1.5TB Caviar Green. Things seemed great again, but then a month or so later things started to go south.

    I upgraded my Mac Mini to a 27" quad core iMac i7. The new machine sent me on a video encoding spree, finally getting to a lot of the TV Shows on DVD that I had put off because the encoding was too tedious.

    Anyway, I got to about 3TBs used of the total available 4.06TBs. Then I started noticing that iTunes was frequently unresponsive. Throwing me the spinning pinwheel/beachball over and over on simple browsing of my library. Pretty much anything that engaged the Drobo (iTunes of Finder) would frequently lag, or not respond at all. Tried copying data to other drives and running iTunes from that content, and everything was fine. Tried running iTunes from drobo based content (but smaller amounts) and still had problems.

    Drobo support had me try swapping cables and connecting to the Mac Mini. All tests resulted in the same intermittent slowness. So they sent me a replacement unit, and things were going "ok" until I got to about 2.5TBs used (of the 4.06). Now it's gotten even more unreliable, with frequent copy attempts stalling altogether.

    I'm thinking it must be one of the drives, but don't know the best way to test. I'm currently refilling the drobo with only 3 of the drives installed (left out the Caviar Green I put in last). Hoping things remain stable and I can just try some drive tools on the single drive (any recommendations for drive diagnostic tools for mac?).

    Any advice anyone has is hugely appreciated. Or simply some shared horror stories, so I know I'm not crazy.
     
  13. brand macrumors 601

    brand

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    #13
    Turn off the Drobo and hook the hard drives up to a PC. Then run SpinRite on each hard drive. After SpinRite has done its thing put the hard drives back into the Drobo and see if that resolved your issue. I believe that SpinRite can boot on Intel Macs but the hard drive has to be connected directly to IDE or SATA and and not through a USB or FireWire adapter.
     
  14. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #14
    I have two Drobos, also 2nd gen. I've noticed that as they get full (90% or more), they do get much slower. However, I've never had file copies fail.

    Once, one of the Drobos didn't mount on the desktop, but Disk Warrior fixed it and all was fine again.
     
  15. orpheus1120 macrumors 65816

    orpheus1120

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    #15
    Pastry, which one would you personally recommend? A drobo or an unraid server? Drobo has come out with the DroboPro FS for a 8-bay solution. However I'm concerned about the data transfer speed over the network for it. I read the drobo has had slower transfer speed all the time. Do you know if that's the case for DroboPro FS which according to Data Robotics is a true NAS?

    I was interested in an UNRAID server prebuilt by Lime-Technology. It was the 12-bay version which sadly sold out long ago. I enquired about it, but Lime Tech never replied. Therefore i was hesitant in purchasing their other available models. So I'm looking at the DIY route but that means looking through the forum for a recommended built for a 8-12 bay solution.

    Is there any advise you could give me regarding these two NAS offerings as I'm a total noob in NAS? I would honestly want a prebuilt set if possible. But wouldn't mind going DIY to get a system customed to my requirement.
     
  16. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Michaelgtrusa

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  17. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    #17
    I have two Drobo's, a FW800 model and a DroboPro.

    The DroboPro sits in the server closet in my office at home. I have it hardwired to my Mac Pro with a Cat 6 cable. Connecting with iSCSI gives you very good performance for the DroboPro.
     
  18. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #18
    All my experiences with Drobos are the 2nd generation 4 bay models. I've read that the newer 5 and 8 bay models are faster than what I have but don't know how much faster. I will try my best to answer based on my experiences with the 4 bay model.

    As to which is better, it depends. Do you need AFP? How important is speed to you? How much redundancy do you need? How much money do you have to spend? How technically inclined are you?

    If you need AFP, the Drobos will probably be a better choice at the moment. It is possible to add AFP support in to unRAID version 4.5.x but it isn't perfect. The author of unRAID has begun work on version 5 which is supposed to have AFP support but he has not offered any ETA.

    If speed is important to you, unRAID can be made to perform much faster than Drobos.

    I've read that the 5 and 8 bay Drobos allow you select protection for 1 or 2 drive failures. unRAID doesn't offer this and only offers protection agains a single drive failure. However, due to the way unRAID works, multiple drive failures does not mean all your data will be lost. It is because unRAID only protects agains a single drive failure, I've chosen to keep my unRAID array to only 8 drives.

    If cash is not a concern, the Drobos offer much more simplicity and requires far less tinkering. But the difference in cost can be quite significant to those without unlimited funds. For example, a bare Drobo Pro costs nearly $2000 and the Drobo Elite costs even more. I managed to put together an 8 drive unRAID array with an Intel SS4200 that I purchased for $135 and an external 4 bay eSATA enclosure for $110. That's a huge difference!

    If you are relatively comfortable around computer hardware (and maybe a bit of experience around a command line console) you won't have a problem setting up unRAID. As for your concerns about hardware compatibility, unRAID is very hardware independent in that it works with an extremely wide variety of hardware. A little bit of searching on the Lime-Technology site is probably all you'll need.

    Personally, given a choice between a Drobo Elite or an unRAID build, I would probably go with the Drobo because I use AFP and may use the 2 drive redundancy. But if I had to pay for it, I'd have to go with unRAID and live with the limited AFP support (and hope that the author finishes version 5 asap).

    Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I'll try my best to answer.
     

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