Friday, May 27, 2011

Drobo FS... a preview

Hey all,

Excuse the absence of posts, I'm in The 'Stan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom with the 552nd Military Police Company based out of Schofield Barracks, HI. The good news is we get back in 48 days! So what warrants a blog post on my Photography Blog, that's a good question...

So one of the gadgets I convinced myself I was gonna get upon returning to the states was building a Windows Home Server Box (using WHS 2011). Picking the individual components was pretty fun, I used my goto site for computers So I had everything picked out, case, motherboard, processor, memory, OS hard drive, Data HDDs (5x 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green), etc. The price was double to triple what I originally planned, but I also upped the ante going from one to two 2TB drives to a whopping 5 2TBs drives :D

Fast forward to two days ago and I get an email from Data Robotics offering a Memorial Day Sale of their Drobo's

What is a Drobo? Click Here to Find Out

Basically it was $100 off the normal price plus a chance to win a 2nd Drobo if you ordered one, or linked to their site.

So I started doing a little research, seeing if a Drobo could replace the idea of a WHS box. After reading that Microsoft was cutting Drive Extender from WHS 2011 (one of the best features of WHS v1) I was pretty bummed, but had options. Either use RAID to ensure no loss of data or use an add-in for WHS 2011 called StableBit Drive Pool, essentially a third party option that put DE back into WHS 2011. Still sounded like a little bit of work for the latter and a ton of work for the former (RAID=headaches galore).

I've actually heard of Drobo and their products for quite some time (atleast a couple of years) after reading a review from a professional photog who uses them to backup his photographs. What he liked (and what attracted me to the idea as well) was it was a pretty simple and an ingenious way to ensure you have your data (in my case photos mostly) is safe. You add drives to the Drobo (the size/brand/etc can vary unlike RAID arrays), you select single or double drive redundancy (if you want your data to survive one or two disk failures at the sacrifice of available space. You can calculate the space available using Drobo's Capacity Calculator (I linked the calculator to their 5 bay Drobo's as that's what I was looking for). I added 5x 2TB drives to the calculator and came up with 7.26TB with single drive redundancy or 5.44TB for dual disk redundancy, I'm leaning toward the latter.

The more and more research I did and reviews I read, the more and more I liked the idea of a Drobo, plus the idea of winning a 2nd one for free and a roughly "one in four chance" sounded awesome. So I did what any gadget obsessed compulsive spender did, order the Drobo FS (5 bay with gigabit Ethernet) from Data Robotics themselves, using the promo code (email me, or comment with your email address and I'll send you the promo code) to get the $100 off and a chance to win two. Opened a new tab, zoomed to Amazon and ordered my 5x 2TB WD Green drives. I then put away my hot-to-the-touch credit card, while my savings account scowled at me.

The best part is, it can work in conjunction with a WHS box, by either mapping the Drobo to the WHS or using the Drobo to back-up the WHS. Maybe once my car is bought, my block leave (post deployment vacations) are over, and other expenditures are done (install iPad into car aka soundmancaraudio on YouTube) I start saving (again) for my WHS build.

So here's to Drobo and I hope it lives upto my expectations. The best part is, it'll be in Hawaii before I get back (care of a friends' mailing address) so I can play with it right away if I choose :D

Thanks for reading and of course, once I get hands on with it, I'll post more :)