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Thread: DROBO Storage device

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Smile DROBO Storage device

    DROBO just announced their FW800 unit today at the original price of $499 and dropped the price on the USB2 only version to $349. If you don't know about the DROBO, this is a super storage unit, featuring automatically implemented and repaired on-the-fly RAID5 drive storage. Very cool machine. I've been waiting for FW800 and now that it's here just ordered my unit.

    What I see as the main advantage, or why I chose DROBO over other RAID options: The main reason is ease of maintenance and the ability to add drives of mixed size and manufacturer at the time more space or a replacement drive is actually needed. By contrast, most dedicated RAID storage boxes require you use the same size and brand of drive, and usually recommend the same model drive, AND you have to fully populate the drive bays at the time you create the RAID. Many manufacturers go a step further and recommend that all drives have the same firmware, while still others recommend using only enterprise class drives, which of course are more expensive. The biggest issue for me here was the idea (and cost) of having to store a supply of bare drives to rebuild the RAID when one of the drives fails, which it surely will.

    Note that a disadvantage to DROBO over a dedicated hardware RAID enclosure is speed; by comparison to a hardware RAID box, DROBO is pretty slow. As such, it is best suited to use for reliable redundancy with a simple maintenance routine at the expense of raw speed. For example, if a drive goes down in DROBO, you would head out, purchase a new drive of any manufacturer or size, eject the bad drive and insert the new, bare drive. DROBO will immediately format the new drive and start rebuilding your RAID automatically, and it will take about 24 hours to rebuild one TB of data in this fashion. Note that this total rebuild includes a reorganization to optimize the data structure too, but the box is busy for an extended amount of time. By contrast, with a dedicated RAID unit you would grab one of your pre-purchased drives out of storage, eject the bad drive and replace it with an identical drive then tell the system to re-build that drive -- and most systems would rebuild the same 1 TB of data in probably 6 to 8 hours.

    So for me, the lower overhead cost and ease of maintenance won out over speed.

    find out more: http://www.drobo.com/Where_to_Buy/Index.html

    ~~~

    EDIT: My actual review with screenshots and torture testing begins on page 3 with at around post 48 in this thread, but I decided to repeat this answer at the front so folks reading through would better understand my personal back-up strategy before getting to my actual review:

    DROBO is my first tier of image back-up. I work by myself and do not need a dedicated image server. My main box is an early 2008 MacPro, 8-core 3.2, with 24G RAM.

    EDIT 2-5-09: Just a brief update on my current drive configuration on my main computer. I now have 6 SATA2 drives in my Mac Pro using this device: http://www.maxupgrades.com/istore/in...Product_ID=158.

    I have my OS residing on a striped pair of WD 640G Caviar Black drives. These drives are screaming fast for 7200 RPM drives and RAID very well, but they do have a slight amount of head seek noise, soft but audible in my Mac Pro -- and they give me a huge, fast desktop for temporary image storage. I then have 4 of the WD 640G Caviar Blue drives in RAID-0 mounted in the main bays. These are perhaps a tad slower on random I/O operation than the Blacks, but are virtually silent -- and in a 4-drive RAID-0 they are VERY fast. On that array, I have a thin outer partition (4x30G) for uber-fast CS scratch and a large 4x450G, or 1.8G partition for Image storage. I then left a small 115G partition at the very end of each drive non-RAID, and use these to store back-up and bootable copies of my OS and other miscellany.

    1) WORKING IMAGES: 4 internal drives striped (RAID 0) for my current working files, giving me plenty of speed on reads and saves. I am not concerned about the lower reliability of RAID 0 here as these images are backed up per #2 below;

    2) ONSITE BACK-UP: ALL images, current and historical, backed up to an onsite DROBO as current working file back-up and storage for older historical images. Note I don't regularly need to access my historical images, so the slower read speeds off the DROBO is not a concern to me (note that with three or more SATA2 drives installed, my DROBO 2 is reading and writing at around 50 MB/s sustained);

    3) OFFSITE BACK-UP: ALL images backed up to single drives stored offsite, updated monthly or after any significant shoot. Note that these are mostly older drives that get checked and/or replaced periodically as I funnel newer, higher performance drives into my main system, and then migrate the offsite images onto the freed up older drives as they become available. I currently use a Voyager Q drive sled for this application: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Newer...gy/FWU2ES2HDK/.

    Note also that the DROBO is new to me as of this writing -- I have NOT owned the earlier model and specifically waited for the FW800 interface. (It is replacing a set of SATA2 and FW external boxes, and I chose DROBO because I had several mixed drives already.) A few of my shooting buddies do use the USB2 versions and are quite satisfied, hence my decision to try the new box. What I'm saying here is the verdict is still out for me. (EDIT - I've had it now for 6 months and am VERY happy.) Acoustics, or lack thereof, is of importance to me and this box is quiet if you fill it with quiet drives -- I have had good success with WD 1TB Greens and Seagate 1TB Barracudas. The new DROBO is very quiet with newer fans and more intelligent control of them; so should be quiet except perhaps where drives heat up and the fans kick into high gear. (It remains quiet even on the rare occasion the fans go into high.) Of course another nice option is I can buy the NAS attachment for DROBO and move the unit off to my machine closet .

    ~~~



    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  2. #2
    dlew308
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    very cool, too bad it's so $$$$
    FW800 owns!

  3. #3
    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Fail-safe systems fail by failing to fail safe.
    Keep a spare copy
    and keep it off-line
    -bob

  4. #4
    dlew308
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    copy from external to external then take external to safety deposit box?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    I do Bob:

    The DROBO was just a way to have local redundancy more efficiently than my current RAID 1 scheme. So here's what I do now:

    1) A PAIR of 1TB drives striped (RAID 0) with a fast partition for current images and a large partition for recent historical images. The reason for RAID 0 is the increase in performance opening and saving the larger layered files was significant, especially now with the MF DB. I keep this set partitioned to allow me very fast I/O on the fast partition for my current working files and still pretty fast I/O for as many of my immediate past historical files as allowed on the large partition. While the performance increase with this pair is significant and desirable, we know RAID 0 is not particularly "safe." So,

    2) I have these image currently backed up (mirrored or RAID 1) to individual drives. However, since these are onsite I still have a physical loss issue so,

    3) I keep a 3rd identical back-up copy on single drives stored offsite. These get backed up manually once per month or after any important shoot. Not ideal, but adequate.
    In summary, my current solution is RAID 0-1-1 OR RAID 0 performance pair > RAID 1 ONSITE > RAID 1 OFFSITE.

    So the DROBO unit is going to replace the set of single drives used in step 2 above, being an even safer and more efficient "single box" solution than my current set of multiple drive boxes. My scheme will then be RAID 0-5-1 or RAID 0 performance pair > RAID 5 (DROBO) ONSITE > RAID 1 OFFSITE.

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    That is certainly a way to go.
    Although I do raid 0 myself, only 4-way since I use the hardware raid board,
    be aware that the failure-rate of a raid 0 is greater than n times the failure rate of a single drive.
    Makes backup even more important.
    I do something a little different, but pretty close.
    1) Primary store is a 4-way raid 0
    2) Time machine backup of the lot this is where a drobo looks pretty interesting too.
    3) "Important stuff" gets copied to single drives once a month or when indicated.
    -bob

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by dlew308 View Post
    copy from external to external then take external to safety deposit box?
    The DROBO may seem expensive, and my stated scheme will seem like overkill to many, but for me the auto RAID 5 is a welcome plus for piece of mind as I do not have to face the issue of an older, little used drive having failed without me knowing about it until I needed a file on it... With drives having come way down in price, I don't see much downside in my scheme: The total cost for 6 1TB drives, the DROBO and the host of older smaller drives used for offsite 3rd order redundant back-up gives me very high I/O performance coupled with about 4 TB of exceptionally "safe" storage and costs well under $2,000; or less than a one week international trip...

    PS: Note that costs drop by about 30% if one chooses the USB2 DROBO and 500G drives...

    PPS: Note that my 1TB back-up solution is cheaper per Gig than Blue-Ray

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  8. #8
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Bob:

    I have been tempted to do a 4-drive RAID 0 too, but frankly have been too lazy to implement it. It would no doubt increase performance even further, and now with the DROBO the failure rate increase is essentially a non-issue, at most a minor inconvenience when it does happen -- and it will almost certainly happen with a 4-drive stripe

    Thinking...

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Jack,
    I think you will get some benefit with a software 4-way, maybe about a 50% improvement ober a 2-way based my my past measurements.
    For reference, the benefit of the hardware 4-way over a software 4-way was almost twice.
    OTOH, a lot of this benefit was related to rapid write release, and would diminish for very large files.
    I like the DROBO, but even with FW800, it is much slower than native raid, do I think that its reasonable use is either backup (traditional or time machine) or archive.
    My biggest beef with the DROBO actually is that it is so automatic. I you can guess I prefer stick over auto.
    -bob
    Last edited by Bob; 8th July 2008 at 17:04.

  10. #10
    dlew308
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    $499 + drives really is cheap compared to the what we use at work. I wish I could afford the setups we do at work, NetApp filers in various raid configs that snapmirror over the network to a remote disaster recovery center. I wish there was a cheap alternative type backup storage for the common folks. Of course it's thru huge bandwidth as well. 1TB of storage costs more then a sata 1TB disk.

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    Super Duper
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    I use the Drobo USB2 version with 4 7200 RPM 1TB drives and the speed is amazing ... so the FW800 has to be light speed.

  12. #12
    dlew308
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    what kinds of speeds do you get with usb2?

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    The pricing is good on the Drobo.

    I am using a five bay eSATA external enclosure from FirmTek with five 500GB drives in it. Four of the drives are a Raid Group (1 + 0) - Mirrored Striped so I have 1TB of storage. The fifth bay is just a contiguous drive. I download images using Photo Mechanic and it puts one copy on the Raid Group and a second (BU) copy on the fifth drive. I never touch the files on the fifth BU drive, it is storage for all the RAW files only. So I have a copy of all the RAWs on the Raid Group and all the working files, TIFF's, etc. go into folders on the Raid Group. The Raid Group gets backed up to a separate 1TB drive in another external enclosure using a program called MirrorFolder.

    What I am missing is off-site storage. The plan is to get another 1TB hard drive for that. Perhaps it would be better if the on-site backup were raid as well? That is probably what I should do.

    I really have no clue what I am doing so if you have any suggestions I wouldn't mind.

  14. #14
    dlew308
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Has anyone looked into amazon's online storage solution? I forgot all about it, I may check into that again.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=16427261

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    I too am looking at this as another solution. Presently, I have many FW800 externals used mostly for storage and back-up. I went with a FirmTek eSata solution also, but in RAID 5 configuration. Read times are as fast as RAID 0, but write times are a bit slower, but still way faster than FW800 or others, plus having some margin of safety with redundancy. This is the "working" unit, and stores current projects. Those get backed up to external FW drives for onsite and offsite storage. My only issue with the RAID card is that it is dedicated to the machine, and not standalone, as the Drobo is. The SATA speed is great, but setting things up in a dedicated way with same size drives and stuff is more costly at the start.

    The other nice feature of something like this Drobo is that it could be used in a more "portable" way, such as doing a lot more onsite work or capture and having some redundancy until it can be backed up for archiving. That makes it very useful with things like a MacBook Pro for onsite work.

    What I hope is that they got the noise levels down a bit, as was mentioned by Galbraith, but not really pointed out in their press release. The older version was quite noisy.

    LJ

  16. #16
    ddk
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I use the Drobo USB2 version with 4 7200 RPM 1TB drives and the speed is amazing ... so the FW800 has to be light speed.
    ???? Yours must be unique! I found copying large files to the USB2 version a horrendous experience, more like waiting around for grass to grow. I complained about this and I was told that the bottleneck was due to Drobo's internal processing, so I don't see how much benefit one gets from a faster port if everything else has remained the same. I like mine but only for incremental backups.

    david

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    I had looked at a Drobo seriously until I found out that it adds a layer of proprietary coding to the files, even if you have it formatted FAT32, that prevents one from removing a drive and putting into another non Drobo enclosure or as an internal drive. This info is listed as a manufacturer response on the Newegg.com website for this unit under product reviews. I have my unit in my trunk as we speak to return. THis is a great product, do not understand why the company felt it needed to add this limitation, at least as I see it...

    I guess other users might not be bothered by this, but it meant I would always be stuck with having their product case as an interface, and if something happened to it, I would be forced to buy another one, just to access these drives...jmho..

    If someone knows a work around or a fix, please respond, as I will return to the local store either today or tomorrow otherwise...thanks.

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Don,
    I don't think that there is a non-proprietary RAID-5 encoding. In order to achieve the reliability features of raid, a distributed CRC must be calculated and stored along with data on all of the available drives. IMO three is not yet a really well accepted standard way of doing this.
    -bob

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    Super Duper
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    ???? Yours must be unique! I found copying large files to the USB2 version a horrendous experience, more like waiting around for grass to grow. I complained about this and I was told that the bottleneck was due to Drobo's internal processing, so I don't see how much benefit one gets from a faster port if everything else has remained the same. I like mine but only for incremental backups.

    david
    Odd, but then again I didn't expect much being USB2 ... but if it is the internal processing that's the bottleneck then it doesn't seem that FW800 will help much.

    Mine is plenty fast when retrieving a file full of 220 meg MF tiff files ... which is all I care about ... loading them seems a tad slow, but I just do that in the background.

  20. #20
    ddk
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Odd, but then again I didn't expect much being USB2 ... but if it is the internal processing that's the bottleneck then it doesn't seem that FW800 will help much.

    Mine is plenty fast when retrieving a file full of 220 meg MF tiff files ... which is all I care about ... loading them seems a tad slow, but I just do that in the background.
    Its the copying over which is extremely slow, USB2 isn't FW800 but not that slow either. To copy a 250 gig drive over to Drobo took over 24 hrs and when I complained they admitted that Drobo is slow under these conditions and it all has to do with its internal processing, but I find it adequate for incremental backups and accessing the backup.

    david

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Don,
    I don't think that there is a non-proprietary RAID-5 encoding. In order to achieve the reliability features of raid, a distributed CRC must be calculated and stored along with data on all of the available drives. IMO three is not yet a really well accepted standard way of doing this.
    -bob
    Bob - can you please translate your statements above into the "for dumbies level", does that mean the Drobo coding would not prevent using the individual sata drives in a non Drobo case or internally?? The quote from newegg.com seemed like it was the Drobo manufacturer stating that this limitation did exist. I would like to have the ability down the road to utilize the individual drives in other ways then be tied to a Drobo only device. Thanks, Don

  22. #22
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    I think basically what Bob is saying is ANY RAID 5 array uses special coding for the drive array, so that if you pulled any single drive from that array you couldn't read any data from it either. IOW, any single drive from any RAID array, DROBO or otherwise, is for the most part not going to be readable once removed from it's original array, so DROBO is not unique here.

    An added note: Writes are tough in a conventional RAID 5 too unless the drive has been properly formatted for that array from the outset, and thus why you really should also keep "hot" spares if you're running a conventional RAID 5 array. (Typical RAID 5 arrays require all drives to be of the same size and often even the same manufacturer, and sometimes the same firmware or even production lots are recommended!) Since DROBO formats and builds the arrays intelligently on the fly, you can swap in mixed manufacturer, size and even speed drives whenever needed. You can even mix SATA1 and SATA2 interface drives. This latter point is a significant advantage for DROBO from a hardware overhead point -- you don't need to buy spares until you need them -- but also probably explains why the initial load times are relatively slow; the new drive needs to be formatted and the entire data ladder needs to optimally re-organized across the new array, and that process takes some time.

    However, once the data is loaded and the drives all optimally organized, DROBO should run at normal throughput for the connectivity bus and probably why Marc has not noticed any appreciable slow-down on his subsequent data reads.

    I'll share some specs when I've got mine up and running. Note however I am not looking to DROBO as a performance tool, but rather an efficient-redundant data storage tool.

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Jack - thanks for this explanation, I understand it better now. Still don't know if a Drobo is right for me, but I can see it being so, for many. I think it would have been interesting if they could have allowed more interchangeability in its design, but guess it is not possible. For me I will look at a single external FW or FW2 2TB drive and build up from there. This may not be what many choose but it seems cheaper way to start at least...and will function for the most part in the way I am used to....old dog and all that...thanks again..

  24. #24
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Don, totally understand and that's what my strategy was until now. My issue is when you get upwards of 3 TB of images and have all of those different external drives daisy-chained or connected on the various interface ports, it gets a little daunting keeping them all organized
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    That is exactly the case and an important point, Jack. All RAID arrays have their own coding, and drives that are a part of that array must be properly formatted for the array. This can even be true for RAID 1 (mirror) arrays, meaning that if one drive in the array fails, the other drive will rebuild the array with the replacement. It can be a false security thinking that if one failed, you still have all your data readable from the other outside of the RAID array configuration. Only way to ensure that is to clone one drive to another as pure standalone drives.

    The performance on the Drobo should be pretty decent, once it is allowed to format the drives, and get itself set up properly. This will take time, but then it takes time on any RAID array, so folks should not be surprised. (The videos are a bit misleading when drives are popped in and out. That part is possible, but the full performance capabilities will not be there until the system gets completely stabilized.)

    Jack, using this device for efficient-redundant data storage would be ideal, but I also think it could be used in normal storage workflow once drives are in place, formatted, and the system is stabilized. The FW800 capability is more for date throughput, and will be "gated" somewhat by the internal processing. The USB2 channel will be a lot slower, as USB goes through the CPU. In this device, they are essentially installing a small CPU for that traffic, so the hit within the device will not be bad, but USB2 back on the main computer will be a different issue, and will be affected by the CPU usage of that computer. (This is one of the nicer things about FW....it is more or less able to handle data transfers without involving the main CPU of the host, and that is why it can have higher sustained throughputs than USB2.)

    So folks do need to understand that this device has some great capabilities, and that it is also not going to be as fast as hardware RAID arrays, and that drives placed into its system will take time to build and organize. If you can live with those parameters, and let it set itself up properly, it should work very nicely and provide some level of confidence for data redundancy.....to a point.

    LJ

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Agreed LJ: IF your RAID array looses a drive, you need to install a new drive and let the array repair itself to re-claim the data. In the event of some array hardware failing, you have two choices:

    1) buy the same piece of hardware you had before and reinstall the drives in it. With DROBO this is confirmed to work if both units have the same firmware, but probably varies from yes to maybe to no with other hardware RAID systems;

    2) have your data redundantly backed up on some other system.

    Personally I like option 2 the best
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Jack - guessI am not there yet, so far have 2-3 500-750 gb ext drives backing up redundantly the same 400gb image files and other business files. For my purposes, having a 2TB drive will suffice for now, and can add a second or third when needed, or a RAID or Drobo when I have run out of room. By then, maybe more options will be available. For the cost of a Drobo and 2 1TB drives to start, I can buy two 2 TB ext drives, so for me the cost part is still in favor of single ext drives like I have had. With the release of USB 3.0 or FW1600/3200, I guess I will be able to add 1 without having to replace the Drobo USB with the FW model. I assume the newer Drobo will be only FW400 or 800 at most. The external drives being available even know can be FW800 compatible. Can anyone comment on the speed of such drives with FW800?

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    I think basically what Bob is saying is ANY RAID 5 array uses special coding for the drive array, so that if you pulled any single drive from that array you couldn't read any data from it either. IOW, any single drive from any RAID array, DROBO or otherwise, is for the most part not going to be readable once removed from it's original array, so DROBO is not unique here.

    -- snip --
    Jack,
    Thanks for the translation, yes that is what I meant.
    However, lets say that you have a four drive RAID 5 array. Any three of those four drives could be moved to another from of the same model and revision as the original frame and it should work in "degraded mode" (without the ability of sustaining another error), or if all four drives were moved then everything would work fine. Note that once a drive has been removed from a raid 5 array and even if a single write has occurred no matter how small to the remaining drives, then the drive that was removed must be re-built even if it is replaced in its original position. EVEN IF NO WRITES HAVE OCCURRED AT ALL, the array must be re-scanned completely to determine that all of the distributed crcs are correct since the disk control has no idea where that disk has been :-) . Rebuilds or re-scans take a long time, on the order of a day per terrabyte on some systems, during which time system performance will be degraded due to the busyness of the disks and reliability features will not be present until the rescan or rebuild completes.
    -bob

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by DonWeston View Post
    Can anyone comment on the speed of such drives with FW800?
    FW 800 has a theoretical throughput of 800 Mbit/s, or about 100 MByte/s. While single SATA2 drives conected via SATA2 ports have burst speeds up to 3Gbit/s using the buffer, the fastest (single) SATA 2 drive can only sustain a little over 100 MByte/s on large read/writes, and even they slow down to below 80 MByte/s as they pass to the slower half of the drive. Striping (RAID 0) can increase the throughput significantly, theoretically increasing it by a factor equal to the number of drives striped, however reliability is reduced by a factor of 1-(1/D).

    On my system, I have confirmed sustained FW 800 throughput at around 80 - 90 MByte/s with previous generation SATA2 drives, or roughly at about their maximum sustainable transfer rate. I have not tested the newest drives, but suspect they will approach or slightly exceed the theoretical FW 800 maximums.

    So at least for now, FW 800 is about as good as it gets for large file transfer speeds on a single SATA2 drive and probably why there is no big push for FW1600. The only way to improve throughput at present is with a RAID scheme on multiple drives.

    PS: FWIW, I have confirmed virtually identical throughput speeds to those above on single drives across GigLan.
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Rebuilds or re-scans take a long time, on the order of a day per terrabyte on some systems, during which time system performance will be degraded due to the busyness of the disks and reliability features will not be present until the rescan or rebuild completes.
    I hope my initial DROBO write is a bit snappier than 1TB/day. If not, it'll be a week after it arrives before I can post results.
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Jack - many thanks that certainly cleared things up per my needs at this point, am comfortable going with 2TB and FW800 for now. I am always appreciative about the wealth of info available here. Best of Luck with the Drobo etc. It certainly looks like the best option if need be. Don

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    [QUOTE=Jack Flesher;39263]So at least for now, FW 800 is about as good as it gets for large file transfer speeds on a single SATA2 drive and probably why there is no big push for FW1600. The only way to improve throughput at present is with a RAID scheme on multiple drives.
    QUOTE]

    There is only one company, Symwave, who makes S1600 silicon and they just announced it last March. I haven't seen anyone build products yet. There was a press announcement last week about the release of the S3200 specification.

    We'll have to see if anyone has the courage to build S3200 silicon in the near future. There seems to be hesitation to embrace more 1394 in the face of USB 3.0 coming out. The two busses continue to be compared even though they both are designed for different purposes.

    It will be interesting to see how things play out as 1394b, eSATA & USB all continue to move for higher speeds with all three claiming their primary scenario external storage. Weíll have to see if the USB camp is able to lower the 15 ~ 30% CPU hit for transfers that USB 2.0 gets right now (but letís face it, Intel makes CPUs and something that chews CPU cycles would be good for them) and if there is a bump in power over the BUS for USB. eSATA is interesting, but it isnít useful for anything but storage (e.g. dedicated BUS) and while there was a spec update that provides power over the BUS, none of the few laptops that have hit the streets with eSATA ports seem to support that rev yet. 1394 suffers from a few different issues, most of them are cost related.
    -- M.

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    I bit the bullet and ordered one of these. It seems to have the added advantage of being very simple to use for those of us who are less expert with regard to RAID setups. Now I have to decide which drives to order for it. Since it's primarily for backup I'm wondering if I need the latest and greatest (and most expensive) drives.

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Daivd, I'm putting in a set of mis-matched 1TB drives, 2 WD's and 2 Samsungs. But I still don't have it yet!

    When I ordered it, the site said "available". The next day it said estimated 10 days delivery. Yesterday it said 5 days. I ordered it over a week ago. Customer service says they cannot give me a specific delivery because they don't have a solid date yet.

    So far I CANNOT say I'm at all impressed with their service. Starting to sound like your Rollei experiences...
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Update: Just got an email from DROBO CS assuring me my unit will ship on Tuesday. I paid for overnight so should have it up and running with time for comments by Thursday...
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    I'm probably a couple of days behind you then. Maybe time to order some drives from OWC. I've been very happy with the Seagate 1TB 7200.11 that you recommended but they are a bit pricey when you think about getting four of them.

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    The Seagate 7200.11 are excellent, but run a bit warmer than the WD Green or Samsung Spinpoint, a consideration when 4 are packed tightly together in a small box...

    One of the reasons I bought the DROBO was I already had a bunch of mix and match drives. Best thing about the DROBO is you can add drives as you need them, so no sense buying more than you need for the present -- one certainty to keep in mind is that the price of drives will continue to drop and the technology inside them will continue to improve...
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    I bit the bullet and ordered one of these. It seems to have the added advantage of being very simple to use for those of us who are less expert with regard to RAID setups. Now I have to decide which drives to order for it. Since it's primarily for backup I'm wondering if I need the latest and greatest (and most expensive) drives.
    Drobo is fine if you have a bunch of mismatched drives laying around collecting dust but its not what you buy if starting from scratch and going for the latest/greatest HDs. Drobos are going to be slow no matter what the interface, its inherent to their design and its expensive doing it your way. You're much better off with a high quality, high speed e-sata RAID from LaCie or other competing manufacturers. Drobo's bottleneck is copying large files over, which is going to be the case if you're going to use it as your main image server, specially in your case David and the type of files you're dealing with. Setting up a RAID array is very simple, almost as simple as formatting a disk. You open he software, decide on the RAID type, there's a clear and detailed explanation of each type with the software, then click format, that's it, the rest is invisible.

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by DonWeston View Post
    I had looked at a Drobo seriously until I found out that it adds a layer of proprietary coding to the files, even if you have it formatted FAT32, that prevents one from removing a drive and putting into another non Drobo enclosure or as an internal drive. This info is listed as a manufacturer response on the Newegg.com website for this unit under product reviews. I have my unit in my trunk as we speak to return. THis is a great product, do not understand why the company felt it needed to add this limitation, at least as I see it...
    Likely there's no designated parity spindle, and instead they use fountain codes to achieve redundancy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_code

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    One of the reasons I bought the DROBO was I already had a bunch of mix and match drives. Best thing about the DROBO is you can add drives as you need them,
    Do they allow setting the degree of redundancy?

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    Drobo is fine if you have a bunch of mismatched drives laying around collecting dust but its not what you buy if starting from scratch and going for the latest/greatest HDs. Drobos are going to be slow no matter what the interface, its inherent to their design and its expensive doing it your way. You're much better off with a high quality, high speed e-sata RAID from LaCie or other competing manufacturers. Drobo's bottleneck is copying large files over, which is going to be the case if you're going to use it as your main image server, specially in your case David and the type of files you're dealing with. Setting up a RAID array is very simple, almost as simple as formatting a disk. You open he software, decide on the RAID type, there's a clear and detailed explanation of each type with the software, then click format, that's it, the rest is invisible.
    As David K said, he was looking for simplicity which DROBO is; just add or replace any drive when you need to. In a regular RAID 5 array you have to purchase the main box which can be more expensive than DROBO, but even at the same price you need to buy all new IDENTICAL drives plus a back-up drive or two, and then then be willing to learn how to manage it properly... The way I see it, these are two different solutions for differing philosophies of storage: DROBO smart raid for simple mass storage, regular RAID 5 for optimal performance with mass storage.

    Cheers,
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    As David K said, he was looking for simplicity which DROBO is; just add or replace any drive when you need to. In a regular RAID 5 array you have to purchase the main box which can be more expensive than DROBO, but even at the same price you need to buy all new IDENTICAL drives plus a back-up drive or two, and then then be willing to learn how to manage it properly... The way I see it, these are two different solutions for differing philosophies of storage: DROBO smart raid for simple mass storage, regular RAID 5 for optimal performance with mass storage.

    Cheers,
    As I mentioned in the post you can buy a ready made solution like the ones from LaCie which come with the appropriate controller and software, just plug it in open the software, choose the RAID type to format the drives and you're done, I don't see any more complicated than the Drobo. You still have to install the Drobo software, and let it format the drives the same way, I don't see the LaCie arrays any more complicated than the Drobo. Price wise there's really nothing between them if you have to buy al new drives for Drobo. The really big, Big, BIg,BIG difference is speed, the two aren't comparable when accessing or writing files to them. Don't get me wrong I have a couple of Drobos and they're great for incremental backups, but I bought them because of all the spare drives that I had sitting around, otherwise I would have bought more LaCie raids, a lot faster, more versatile and just as secure.

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    As I mentioned in the post you can buy a ready made solution like the ones from LaCie which come with the appropriate controller and software, just plug it in open the software, choose the RAID type to format the drives and you're done, I don't see any more complicated than the Drobo.
    The difference is the work you have to go through when a drive on your normal RAID fails...

    Regardless, I agree it is a much tougher decision IF you are buying drives too -- like you, I had a bunch already laying around...
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    The difference is the work you have to go through when a drive on your normal RAID fails...

    Regardless, I agree it is a much tougher decision IF you are buying drives too -- like you, I had a bunch already laying around...
    You have a point there Jack, theoretically you can replace the failed drive with another orphaned one of any size and Drobo would take care of the rest. I need to test it out and see what is really involved. Still, do you see your Drobo as a primary image server or a more secure backup?

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    David, I don't question your expertise in this area which certainly exceeds my own, but notwithstanding the greater speed I might have gotten elsewhere, I do think this is the right product for me. As I'm sure you know, everything is fine until it isn't and that's what concerns me with a RAID setup. Also, since this is simply backup for me, the additional speed that I might have gotten isn't of much concern to me. I'll probably do what Jack is doing and throw in some on hand drives for starters, then buy more as needed. Jack makes a good point about hard drive prices moving in one direction only.

  46. #46
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    David, I don't question your expertise in this area which certainly exceeds my own, but notwithstanding the greater speed I might have gotten elsewhere, I do think this is the right product for me. As I'm sure you know, everything is fine until it isn't and that's what concerns me with a RAID setup. Also, since this is simply backup for me, the additional speed that I might have gotten isn't of much concern to me. I'll probably do what Jack is doing and throw in some on hand drives for starters, then buy more as needed. Jack makes a good point about hard drive prices moving in one direction only.
    My concern was that you were thinking of this as your primary image server and were going to spend a lot money for new highend hds, I just wanted to warn you if that was the case, otherwise it seems like a great product for backups and orphaned drives, but now I have to test that auto rebuild theory...

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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    You have a point there Jack, theoretically you can replace the failed drive with another orphaned one of any size and Drobo would take care of the rest. I need to test it out and see what is really involved. Still, do you see your Drobo as a primary image server or a more secure backup?
    David, DROBO is my first tier of image back-up. I work by myself and do not need a dedicated image server. My current strategy is:

    1) WORKING: a pair of internal drives striped for my current working files, giving me plenty of speed on reads and saves. I am not concerned about the reliability of RAID 0 here as these images are backed up per #2 below;

    2) ONSITE BACK-UP: ALL images, current and historical, backed up to an onsite DROBO as current working file back-up and storage for historical images. Note I don't regularly need to access my historical images, so the slower read speeds off the DROBO is not a concern to me;

    3) OFFSITE BACK-UP: ALL images backed up to single drives stored offsite, updated monthly or after any significant shoot. Note that these drives get checked and/or replaced periodically, as I funnel newer, higher performance drives into my main system, and migrate the offsite images onto the older drives as they become available.

    Note that the DROBO is new to me -- I have NOT owned the earlier model and specifically waited for the FW800 interface. (It is replacing a set of SATA2 and FW external boxes, and I chose DROBO because I had several mixed drives already.) A few of my shooting buddies do use the USB2 versions and are quite satisfied, hence my decision to try the new box. What I'm saying here is the verdict is still out for me. Acoustics, or lack thereof, is of importance to me. The new DROBO is supposed to be very quiet with newer fans and more intelligent control of them; so should be quiet except perhaps on a build or large save where drives heat up and the fans kick into high gear. If the new DROBO is noisy at idle, it's going straight back for a refund -- my working environment is relatively silent right now and I intend to keep it that way. (Of course another nice option is I can buy the NAS attachment for DROBO and move the unit off to my machine closet )

    Cheers,
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    DROBO unit just arrived!

    UPDATE: Loaded 2 1TB disks, plugged it in and let it do its thing. About 30 seconds later I get the dialog on my screen to initialize, so I do, another 20 seconds elapse. I install the Drobo Dashboard software, follow the instructions, register the unit online, disconnect and reconnect Drobo so it can finish the install, all goes fine like clockwork. About 5 minutes spent to get to this point, including the online registration and software/firmware update check (which it didn't need).

    I next select about 500G of images and drag them over to the DROBO icon and drop them off. It is chugging away on that task at present, and doing it very QUIETLY () I actually have the unit sitting right next to my keyboard as it does this and all I can hear are very soft head-seeks. IOW the box is as quiet at idle as my Mac Pro --- YEAH!

    Transfer rates for those curious are running around 33MB/s -- not smoking fast but not horrible either.
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Been running about an hour. About every 15 minutes, the fans kick into a slightly higher speed and run for a few minutes, then subside again. At this higher speed, the fans are audible, but not unpleasantly noisy -- still a very quiet box and frankly better than I anticipated. Very impressed so far.
    Jack
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    Re: DROBO Storage device

    Okay, filled up the 2 @ 1TB drives and added a 3rd 1TB drive to see what would happen. Got a notification it was preparing the new drive and warning me not to remove any drives as it could not protect my data during that period. That lasted about two minutes then everything back to green and normal, except now with an extra TB of storage available. Couldn't have been easier!

    It seems the unit is working in the background as I can hear some soft head seeks, so I suspect it is optimizing the data storage across three drives. This procedure has NOT increased heat appreciably and the fan is running at its lowest "essentially silent" speed. Way cool!!!

    NOTE: Read speeds were identical to the write speeds of 33MB/s with the two drives in. I will let this 3-drive configuration get fully organized and run a comparative performance test on the three-drive array.
    Jack
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