Which Drobo is the best one?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Sensamic, Jun 26, 2010.

  1. Sensamic macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #1
    Hi.

    In the next weeks I'll be buying a Drobo, my first one. I've never seen or used one so I dont know what to expect or which one to buy.

    First I thought on buying the 4 bay one, but then I found its 2nd generation, so I guess it would be better to buy the newest one, which would be the 5 bay, not the FS one. I've never used a NAS, so I dont know how it works.

    Now I'm looking at the Drobo with 8 bay, and I really like it. With that one I wouldnt have storage problems for years, and I download many many things every day: tv shows, movies,, pictures, music, etc.

    So I dont know which way to go. The 4 bay is at a good price right now, but I'm worried that in 2 or 3 years I may ran out of space, so Im wondering if it may be better to pay more now for the 5 or 8 bay one, which would last me longer, much longer, so it may be better since I wouldnt have to buy another Drobo in 2 or 3 years when the first one rans out of space.

    I would use it with firewire 800. I like the Drobo FS, but like I said I have no idea how it works and if im not wrong, it would have to be connected to the router 24h, and I dont want that. I would use it along my mac mini 2010 as a HTPC.

    Thanks.
     
  2. calderone macrumors 68040

    calderone

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    #2
    Which one is better? That is solely dependent on your needs and your budget

    1. How much can you spend?
    2. How much do you want to spend?
    3. How much space do you need now?
    5. Do you want a device that is independent? Or one that is tied to a machine?

    To address your concern of space, in 2 to 3 years if you are out of space, you put bigger drives in. That is one of the features of the Drobo. You don't have to rebuild the array to expand your space nor do you have to use the same size drives in each bay.

    Think about what you need now, not in two or three years. Buying for what you may need in the future is a sure fire way to pay much more than you should.

    I would recommend you stick with the Drobo 2nd gen, S, or the FS.

    NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. When you connect to a NAS you are making a connection directly to the device. Which means it does not require a computer to share the device, as you would have with a DAS, or Direct Attached Storage like the Drobo with firewire.

    The DroboPro also requires a host machine.
     
  3. ncc1701d macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    #3
    I got the Drobo Pro when it first came out and I have been extremely happy with it. I believe the Elite would be better, as it can attach to multiple hosts and has performance hardware to handle things like VMWare, slightly higher I/O intensive applications.

    I used to use it for time machine back up, but now I store all my movies on it and connect it directly to my Mac Mini that I use as a media centre. With an alias folder on my Mac Pro, I can connect to the Drobo any time and add content. I will shortly be setting up Chrono sync to back up my main Mac Pro and reconfigure my MacPro HDD's for Home video editing, boot drive back up and Bootcamp.

    Beware, as far as I know, you can't boot off any drobo.

    I also find that hunting around their support web site forums you can get a general idea of what people are having problems with or trying to fully understand the limits.

    I have found their help desk very good with pretty quick response.

    Cheers
     
  4. nobunaga209 macrumors 6502a

    nobunaga209

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2009
    Location:
    TX
    #4
    I was also looking at the Drobo FS or even the DroboPro for my current/future multiple bay storage and media needs. I ran across this from Synology which is better suited for what I'm looking for. Good luck on whatever you decide and here's a couple of additional questions you may want to ask yourself besides cost:

    How fast do you want to be able to read/write from your NAS?
    Would you need/want access to your media over the internet?
    Would others [family/friends] need/want access to your media?
    What, if any, security do you want for your media [considering you may have pictures/documents stored]?
    What kind of carbon foot print will you leave [if you care]?
    Do you want something that is easy to setup with simplified options [GUI]?
    Will you need to contact your NAS products customer support?
     
  5. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #5
    Thanks for the help.

    I really like the DroboPro, but I just saw some pictures of it and it is very very big. It wouldnt fit anywhere near my mac mini. So I was thinking now maybe of buying two Drobos 1st gen, that way I would have the same 16TB of the DroboPro for a lot less money. Plus, theyre smaller.

    Is it a bad investment to buy the 1st gen Drobo now? I dont see anywhere if its protected agaisnt drive failure... Is that the biggest con of the 1st gen Drobo?
     
  6. Jawnathin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #6
    I have a Drobo FS and I like it a lot. I do wish it had direct connection options (USB/FW), but given the choice between those (Drobo S) or ethernet (Drobo FS), I'd take ethernet any time.

    One thing to look for are those which are compatible with Time Machine. The Drobo FS just got an update about 2 months ago which allowed this feature. I'm not sure about the others.

    To answer your question about drive failures, I'm pretty sure all Drobos, even the first generation, protect against at least one drive failure. Some models can support two, but thats a configuration option.

    For a consumer like yourself, I wouldn't worry too much about the 8 bay options. 4 or 5 should be fine unless you have a very specific reason for 8. I wouldn't worry about expandability with the smaller bay units. The nice thing about the Drobo is how easy it is to upgrade drives. So when larger capacities come out, just replace the smallest drive with one of those.

    2TB is the maximum out now, with 3TB drives due within the next year. Using four 2TB drives, you protect against one drive failure and still get 5.5TB of storage. With five 2TB drives, you also protect against one drive failure and get about 7.3TB of space. That is a lot of room!

    For reference, I have a 5 bay with two 2TB drives, and three 1TB drives. Using one disk protection, I get about 4.5TB of usable space. I use about 20% now, so I'm not even close to filling it up. However, I do know as soon as it starts to fill up, I'll be able to just pop out the smaller drives and put in a larger one for more room, and voila, more storage.

    You can see how much storage you'll get using the calculator here.

    http://www.drobo.com/resources/drobolator.php
     
  7. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #7
    I remember reading that the Drobo FS has a faster CPU and more memory than the standard Drobo or Drobo S. This help its performance. If you can afford it, I'd say that's the best choice out of the three.

    I have two Drobos and have been very happy with them. But had the FS been available when I made my purchases, I'd have probably gone that route.
     
  8. ncc1701d macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    #8
    :D You're mac mini will look minuscule next to a drobopro :D (I'll try and take a snap of mine if I can)

    I'm not sure what the differences are regarding how many drive failures a particular unit can take. For me at least, the amount of stuff on the drives determines how many drives can fail. If I fill up all 8 bays with a total of 16 TB's, but only have 1TB of content, then I can afford more HDD failures compared with if I had 8TB's of content.
     
  9. calderone macrumors 68040

    calderone

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    #9
    My old school Mini sits atop my DroboPro. It is indeed dwarfed in its presence.
     
  10. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #10
    I think its very unlikely that two drives would fail at the same time, right? Maybe one, but two? Does that occur very often?

    Do you know if the Drobo warranty is universal? Im thinking of buying the Drobo on ebay, as there are some very good options.

    The Drobo FS has to be permanently connected, right? Thats something I dont like. I prefer to just leave it off when Im not using it.
     
  11. smithrh macrumors 68020

    smithrh

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    #11
    You might consider just doing software raid. I have 3 software raid disk sets on my mini (5 TB total usable) and no issues at all.

    The part I really really don't like about Drobo-type solutions is that you can just take out a disk and use it for recovery. Right now, if one of my disks were to fail, the other partner disk is still a usable disk all on its own. I can attach it to another Mac and read/write to it there. I don't believe you can do that with the Drobo disks.
     
  12. Heilage macrumors 68030

    Heilage

    Joined:
    May 1, 2009
    #12
    I'm going for the standard second generation Drobo. I don't feel that almost double the price for another drive bay is worth it, and I want it to run via a small Mac-based server, so it's the best bet for my use. :)
     
  13. Jawnathin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #13
    Well, it protects against one drive failure at that time. Once this happens, its highly recommended that you replace the failed drive. Once replaced, you'll be good to go in case another failure happens. If you do not and another drive fails within this time, you can lose data. Its possible to have 2 drives fail at the same time, but seems very unlikely.

    I don't know about the Drobo Warranty. I'd call them and see what they think about eBay purchases. I know some companies won't cover eBay purchases because its hard to tell when the warranty period should begin.

    The Drobo FS remains connected to the router's ethernet port. I'd leave it on so Time Machine can back up every hour and you always have access to it. If you insist on turning it off, you can put it on stand by (I think), or turn it off via a switch in the back.
     
  14. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #14
    It depends on how fast you need it to be. The standard second generation Drobos are not very fast. I use both of mine primarily for archival purposes and the moderate speeds are fine for me. They are connected via Firewire and I get approx 25-30Mb/sec from them. Also, I noticed that speeds degrade as they get fuller.
     
  15. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a

    Paulywauly

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Location:
    Durham, UK
    #15
    Yes this sounds spot on. I dont know about you but ive had a couple of 2nd Gen Drobo and they've ran very hot? even with WD green drives in. Fans are nearly always on.
     
  16. mumstead macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    #16
    Consider a Promise SmartStor DS4600

    I was very disappointed with the speed of my Drobo 2nd gen. When connected by Firewire 800 it was about as fast as a USB hard drive. I really liked everything else about it. It seemed well built, it was fairly quiet, and beyondraid was nice. But the speed was a deal breaker. I picked up a Promise Smartstor DS4600 for the exact same price as the Drobo and it is much quicker. It only does standard raid 0,1,5,and 10 so you loose the ability to mix and match drives but for me the speed difference is worth it. Using activity monitor and watching read and write speeds while copying the exact same 11GB file to and from both units showed that the DS4600 is at least twice as fast as the Drobo. The other problem with the DS4600 is you cannot use "green" drives in it. I emailed Promise tech support (they responded in less than an hour) to ask if WD green 2 TB drives would work. They responded that no low power or "green" drives are appropriate for a raid array.
     
  17. Heilage macrumors 68030

    Heilage

    Joined:
    May 1, 2009
    #17
    I will only store media files on them, for streaming on my network.
     
  18. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

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    Mar 26, 2010
    #18
    Ive read different opinions on the Drobo about the noise it makes. Some people say its fairly quiet and others say it never stops making noise... Which is it? Does it depend on the drives? I was planning on using WD caviar green 2TB. Apart from being very silent, are they safe?

    Im looking for the safest and most durable 2TB drives on the market.
     
  19. scenemissing macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #19
    I have the 2nd gen. It does get noisy, and will randomly spin up the fan even when not in use. Well at least it's doing it now in the summertime....


    Another solution is some of the roll-your-own NAS solutions out there if you don't mind building a box. OPENFiler has some high grade options, and Lime Tech makes what is essentially a SW Drobo.

    http://www.lime-technology.com/

    You can mix and match drives - basically the largest is used for parity. Both the Lime thing and Openfiler are custom Linux you load off a USB stick. The Lime one is pay software, Openfiler is free.
     
  20. mashinhead macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2003
    #20
    I too am considering a Drobo S or FS, whats the primary difference and which would you suggest?

    Also one on my concerns is how this would work with time machine? I'm still not sure how that works? There are more questions than answers with that application.
     
  21. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

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    Mar 26, 2010
    #21
    Does the Drobo has to stay on permanently or can it be powered off?
     
  22. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #22
    I have two 2nd Gen Drobos and both are absolutely silent.
     
  23. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    #23
    Will 3TB hard drives work on the Drobos? That way, for example, the 4 bay Drobo could reach 12TB, with 10TB usable.

    They say the 3TB hard drives will come out this year. Will the work? Someone knows what the prices will be?
     
  24. ljonesj macrumors 6502a

    ljonesj

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    Oct 20, 2009
    Location:
    Kingsport TN
    #24
    They may work with a firmware update to the drobo i heard that can be firmware upgraded
     
  25. Sensamic thread starter macrumors 68030

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    Mar 26, 2010
    #25
    I think it should work without firmware upgrading. The new 3TB drives will be SATA II, so theres no need for software I guess. Also, the Drobo says it can up to 16TB. So how is this possible with only 2TB drives available right now? I guess when new 3TB drives come out they will just work, but Im not completely sure.
     

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