Drobo - Bucket loads of storage

Since I outgrew my 250MB Buffalo LinkStation, I’ve been running a low-power microATX Pentium mobile based system on Linux with a hardware RAID 5 array (4x250GB) as my home server and backup solution, however I’ve got somewhat tired of keeping the system up to date, and dealing with the cross-platform account permission issues. (Plus the proprietary power supply in the Antec case I was hosting it in just expired…)

My new solution is going to involve a Drobo device. When I saw the first gen Drobo released a couple of years ago, I was very tempted but the high price (especially in Europe) put me off. I love the concept of the Drobo - which provides RAID 5-like capabilities (or if you listen to Drobo - they describe it as BeyondRAID) without the need to keep all of the disks in the system at the same size, without the complexity of managing a RAID system.

Checkout the quick overview by Cali Lewis or the longer faceoff between FreeNAS vs Drobo by Jupiter Broadcasting below (or scroll down to see my thoughts on drives for the Drobo).

When selecting a system, you do need to pay some attention to disk selection - because if you combine one small disk with a couple of large ones, you will be limiting the value you’re getting from the large disks - so generally, it is better to try to keep the system fairly well matched. Using the configuration wizard on the Drobo site, I think an initial config of 2x250G re-used from my old system, and 2 new 1 or 1.5TB drives will provide a good balance.

I’ve seen some bad reviews of the DroboShare, so whilst I would love a NAS based solution and even though Drobo V2 and DroboShare is on offer at Amazon.co.uk, I think on balance - running my workhorse PC directly connected to the Drobo is going to be the best solution for the moment. Should Drobo ever get around to offering a Drobo with iSCSI, I may be tempted to put my Drobo up for sale on ebay, and upgrade. At the moment, the base price for a DroboPro isn’t justifiable.

So my plan is to connect it directly to my main home PC via USB2 or FW800 (not sure which yet - as I’m going to need to get a FW800 card if I want to go that route), and will share the files across my home network from this system.

As the Drobo isn’t the fastest storage system out there, I won’t be using it as a working-drive. The value of a Drobo is much more as as an online reliable archival system; not as the system you use to work photos or video from.

The new disks I’ve selected are the Samsung Spinpoint 1.5TB F2 Ecogreen (press release), because I’m not looking for blindingly fast performance in this case. From a quick scan of the drives available in Europe, and the reviews (Tom’s hardware does a review of this drive vs the WD Caviar Green alternative,the amazon.com reviews for the 1TB version, along with the NewEgg reviews) all look good, and the price/capacity seems quite reasonable.

 I’ll post a follow up once I’ve got it up and running.