Drobo - another storage solution - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 36 Old 04-10-2007, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Just came across a blog article on Gizmodo about another storage solution called Drobo, from Data Robotics, Inc.

Originally I thought it would be something like UnRaid or Windows Home Server, but unfortunately it's not network storage. And even though they claim unlimited storage capacity, obviously this isn't the case since you are limited to 4 drives. However, like UnRaid and WHS, you can use different capacity drives. Drobo's ability to reconfigure on-the-fly while added or replacing drives is pretty slick. At nearly $700 (which I assume doesn't include any drives), I doubt it will be real popular with a lot of people on this forum, but it does have some cool features.

I'd like to see something like this with 8 to 12 drive bays with network connectivity and WHS type software utilities. Then it might be worth $700 to me.

Here's the Drobo website.

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post #2 of 36 Old 04-12-2007, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greggplummer View Post

Just came across a blog article on Gizmodo about another storage solution called Drobo, from Data Robotics, Inc.

Originally I thought it would be something like UnRaid or Windows Home Server, but unfortunately it's not network storage. And even though they claim unlimited storage capacity, obviously this isn't the case since you are limited to 4 drives. However, like UnRaid and WHS, you can use different capacity drives. Drobo's ability to reconfigure on-the-fly while added or replacing drives is pretty slick. At nearly $700 (which I assume doesn't include any drives), I doubt it will be real popular with a lot of people on this forum, but it does have some cool features.

I'd like to see something like this with 8 to 12 drive bays with network connectivity and WHS type software utilities. Then it might be worth $700 to me.

Here's the Drobo website.

To my friends here on AVS I can say the following: I have been beta testing this great new product and the company has just launched into production. They are offering a $100 rebate to friends of beta testers (I am one) who buy before their huge launch in June.

Get this: how would you like to have infinitely expandable data storage that is bone-dead simple to use and keeps your data protected even if a hard drive dies? If you're interested, you need to check out the Drobo storage robot (go to http://www.drobo.com). I've been using the beta version of this product for a couple of months and it's just great. You can also check out the Drobo online community at http://www.drobospace.com).

If you are interested in buying one, go to http://www.drobostore.com and be sure to use this special code: REFMIKEZ so you get the $100 instant rebate. Act soon, because the $100 rebate expires on May 30, 2007. This offer is only available to people purchasing in the US.

If my posting this is against the rules of this forum - I'll ask the modorators to delete this post. But I am trying to give you guys a $100 break on this great product!
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post #3 of 36 Old 04-12-2007, 02:26 PM
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By your definition ANY solution is infinately expandable. The case physically limits you to 4 drives so you are LIMITED to 4 drives of data.
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post #4 of 36 Old 04-12-2007, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlknez View Post

By your definition ANY solution is infinately expandable. The case physically limits you to 4 drives so you are LIMITED to 4 drives of data.

True, but as disk drive manufacturers continue to produce higher capacity drives you can continue to purchase and install them into the unit. Take out the smaller capacity and replace with higher capacity.
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post #5 of 36 Old 04-12-2007, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mzemina View Post

True, but as disk drive manufacturers continue to produce higher capacity drives you can continue to purchase and install them into the unit. Take out the smaller capacity and replace with higher capacity.

No offense but I can do the same thing on a Buffalo Terastation.
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post #6 of 36 Old 04-12-2007, 03:03 PM
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Because RAID is just so darned complex...
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post #7 of 36 Old 04-13-2007, 08:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtakacs View Post

No offense but I can do the same thing on a Buffalo Terastation.

True - But if I am not mistaken you will need to purchase all the same size drives - otherwise doesn't the Buffalo adjust to the smallest size drive? You don't need to do that with the drobo unit. When higher capacity drives become less expensive you can swap out the drive you want. So you can have different sizes and the drobo unit will adjust. Plus with the drobo unit you can have protected data with 2,3, or 4 drives (all being different sizes).
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post #8 of 36 Old 04-13-2007, 10:52 AM
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Maybe its just me, but for $700 I can get a pc with a hardware raid 5 card and buy some drives. saying that its unlimited storage really is not the case. buying more drives and connecting and disconnecting them is not my idea of a storage solution.

I understand that the simplicity is the selling point, but you can buy many devices today that are plug and play.

Itai

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post #9 of 36 Old 04-13-2007, 11:26 AM
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For $700 I'd want a network port on it. Isn't the point of a storage box like this to eliminate the need to keep a pc running 24/7 just for file access for other machines?

I think I'll keep my readynas.
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post #10 of 36 Old 04-13-2007, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cubesys View Post

Maybe its just me, but for $700 I can get a pc with a hardware raid 5 card and buy some drives. saying that its unlimited storage really is not the case. buying more drives and connecting and disconnecting them is not my idea of a storage solution.

I understand that the simplicity is the selling point, but you can buy many devices today that are plug and play.

Itai


I agree, but buying a PC with a hardware raid5 card and some drives is not simple, cheap or plug and play. Something like unRaid sounds a lot more appealing and flexible than a Raid5 solution.

If Drobo had more drive bays or allowed you to scale up a system by daisy chaining more Drobos AND it was a network device, it would be more appealing. However, to me Drobo still sounds more appealing than buying another PC with hardware raid5 and a bunch of identical drives.

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post #11 of 36 Old 04-13-2007, 12:12 PM
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Seems like $570 is a lot to pay for redundancy:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817332008
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post #12 of 36 Old 06-07-2007, 01:33 PM
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to bump this up its now listed at $499 which is still awfully expensive for usb 2.0 but sata or ethernet would be welcome additions.... was featured on the last dl.tv show and i must say i am pretty impressed with it. looks like a real slick and easy to use solution.

with external sata and 100 bucks cheaper i would probably get one. just for the ease of use factor (assuming it works as seamlessly as the preview made it seem to be)
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post #13 of 36 Old 06-07-2007, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mzemina View Post

True - But if I am not mistaken you will need to purchase all the same size drives - otherwise doesn't the Buffalo adjust to the smallest size drive? You don't need to do that with the drobo unit. When higher capacity drives become less expensive you can swap out the drive you want. So you can have different sizes and the drobo unit will adjust. Plus with the drobo unit you can have protected data with 2,3, or 4 drives (all being different sizes).

Unfortunately, it doesn't utilize the extra space on the larger drives until the smaller drives have been replaced with larger drives...

If you go to http://www.drobo.com/drobolator then install 4 100GB drives you have 277GB of usable space. Then replace one of the drives with a 500GB drive. You still only have 277GB of usable space and 371GB of space "reserved for expansion" This is the same type of RAID scenario that is used by others.

Basically, any of the other solutions out there do the same thing this one is not really that remarkable.
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post #14 of 36 Old 06-07-2007, 02:38 PM
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After looking at it; it is simply RAID 5...
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post #15 of 36 Old 06-07-2007, 03:03 PM
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What about it showing 2TB volume instead of the actual installed size?

That's going to throw a wrench in any PVR app you want to use with it, it will just keep recording and recording until it runs out of space, and then "bam".

What about it "slowing down" to tell you you're running out of space?

Do you have to install any software on the PC for it to work? What happens if you change PCs?

And is it limited to a 2TB volume size?

Seems only slightly cheaper than a ReadyNAS, and with far less functionality, a bunch of kind of scarry/sketchy functionality.

I'd rather have a real, self-contained, standalone NAS for the price.

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post #16 of 36 Old 06-07-2007, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

What about it showing 2TB volume instead of the actual installed size?

That's going to throw a wrench in any PVR app you want to use with it, it will just keep recording and recording until it runs out of space, and then "bam".

What about it "slowing down" to tell you you're running out of space?

Do you have to install any software on the PC for it to work? What happens if you change PCs?

And is it limited to a 2TB volume size?

Yeah point 1 might be an issue but ive read the 2TB limitation is a usb limitation and likely wont matter for a esata version which pretty much everybody thinks is coming.
As for the software I have no idea how it works but I would suspect it will work as a standalone and the software is more for "managing" it so i would think it would work on a new computer.
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post #17 of 36 Old 06-07-2007, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by sls001 View Post

Unfortunately, it doesn't utilize the extra space on the larger drives until the smaller drives have been replaced with larger drives...

If you go to http://www.drobo.com/drobolator/...then install 4 100GB drives you have 277GB of usable space. Then replace one of the drives with a 500GB drive. You still only have 277GB of usable space and 371GB of space "reserved for expansion" This is the same type of RAID scenario that is used by others.

Basically, any of the other solutions out there do the same thing this one is not really that remarkable.

Im curious what you mean by that? are you saying it doesnt work like they say it does? from what ive read you could add larger drives and make use of the extra space. but i dont know what the "reserved for expansion" means. but if it is not upgradable space wise what other raid system will allow you to upgrade its size as you go along.

"This is the same type of RAID scenario that is used by others. "

this quote. i dont know a ton about raid but i always though no matter what you used it would always be limited by the smallest drive. and "upgrading" to larger drives give you no benefit. the reason i was interested in this product was their video makes it appear like you could start with drives... say a 80,320,500,500 and over time upgrade the 80 to a 500 gig drive and get more space (all the while maintaining redundancy). thats actually what it would be more use to me doing is over time being able to incrementally upgrade it and gain space. then again im sure their marketing will make it look better than it is but i wouldnt think they would flat out lie on their webpage if you couldnt.
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post #18 of 36 Old 06-07-2007, 05:37 PM
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Well - in my book they already lied on their web landing page when they state that storage capacity is unlimited. Anyway - this not compelling for me (and it sounds like others feel the same) because:

1) It does not directly connect the the network (suggestion add a GigE port and some software to make this a NAS)

2) Only supports 4 physical drives thereby greatly limiting its expandability - hence the lie about storage capacity is unlimited. (suggestion - Make two versions, one with 4 ports and one with 8).

3) Doesn't have any useful software loaded as part of the device. (suggestion - add PnP and Snapshot functionality for instance).

4) USB is not the preferred connection interface. USB is suspect - no way around that. And while I think it has its place, in my opinion, it should not be the connection bridge to your important data.

Few notes - Looks like they assign the largest drive to be the parity drive (I think unraid does this too). Form factor is nice. Looks like it is targeted at the relatively novice home user that hasn't looked at a NAS or think a NAS is too complicated.

This might be someone's cup of tea - but not mine.

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post #19 of 36 Old 06-07-2007, 05:41 PM
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Any that maybe interested in purchasing this system (up to September 30, 2007) can get a $25 rebate to friends of beta testers (I am one) who buy before September 30, 2007.

I've been using the beta version of this product for several months and it's just great. You can also check out the Drobo online community at http://www.drobospace.com).

If you are interested in buying one, go to http://www.drobostore.com and be sure to use this special code: REFMIKEZ so you get the $25 instant rebate. Act soon, because the $100 rebate expires on September 30, 2007. This offer is only available to people purchasing in the US.

Again, if my posting this is against the rules of this forum - I'll ask the modorators to delete this post. But I am trying to give you guys a $25 break on this great product!
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post #20 of 36 Old 06-07-2007, 05:46 PM
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yeah but from what i read thats a temporary issue.... dltv said they have esata and ethernet based versions coming and the limit right now of 2 gigs is usb based so with a esata or ethernet based one that will likely go away. and i know 4 drive bays isnt enough but really there is no true "unlimited" nas and likely never will be. (i know thats a point of contention here though). i for one think 4 drives is enough but would welcome 8 version just to have it.

thats what it looks like to me as well.... an easy to use unraid.

speaking of unraid are you able to replace the actual unraid box and keep the data? thats one area i havent read too much about and something drobo advertises.... thats what honestly worries me more than the actual system is since its more or less a computer in there i would think it would be more suspect to breaking than the drobo. and what worries me most about these systems is the actual enclosure breaking.

but as i said i wouldnt even consider getting one until we have esata. usb just doesnt cut it imo.
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post #21 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 04:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagouar View Post

Im curious what you mean by that? are you saying it doesnt work like they say it does? from what ive read you could add larger drives and make use of the extra space. but i dont know what the "reserved for expansion" means. but if it is not upgradable space wise what other raid system will allow you to upgrade its size as you go along.

"This is the same type of RAID scenario that is used by others. "

this quote. i dont know a ton about raid but i always though no matter what you used it would always be limited by the smallest drive. and "upgrading" to larger drives give you no benefit. the reason i was interested in this product was their video makes it appear like you could start with drives... say a 80,320,500,500 and over time upgrade the 80 to a 500 gig drive and get more space (all the while maintaining redundancy). thats actually what it would be more use to me doing is over time being able to incrementally upgrade it and gain space. then again im sure their marketing will make it look better than it is but i wouldnt think they would flat out lie on their webpage if you couldnt.


jagouar - Hi,
Sorry to not get back with you sooner:
I went to their website to check out this product and used the tool that they created to check out what happens when you add various size drives: http://www.drobo.com/drobolator/.

If you follow the example I gave in the previous post you can see what I was talking about. Please don't get me wrong...it looks like a nice product but it doesn't do anything more than other similar products are capable of.
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post #22 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 05:38 AM
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and that just basically means you have to buy more then one "big drive" at a time right? (because i added a second 500 gig and it was all usable space)

just wondering here but what other products are out there that are like this thats not unraid. other than unraid i have never seen anything like this (which is what piqued my interest because unraid is awfully expensive if you buy the whold box which i would have to do).
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post #23 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 06:28 AM
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There are a number of products out there now similar to this solution and all of them have their Pro's and Cons. Personally, I'm just going to build a server either from scratch or purchase and configure a SuperMicro 3U server and add drives 1 or two at a time and probably configure it with RAID 1 or 10. I'm also not a fan of UnRaid.

Now of course the solution that works for me or that I'm comfortable with won't work for everyone!

In researching the Drobo solution I found that there are numerous complaints of the noise level the box emits. The issue that turned me away from the box however, was the way it implements redundancy (RAID). When the box is under 50% of capacity it uses mirroring (RAID 1) but once it goes over that it changes its redundancy strategy to stripping of the data (RAID 5). Depending on the drives sizes this conversion can take several hours to perform. A couple concerns there are what happens if a drive fails during conversion and what is the data availability during conversion?

Lastly, each and every product out there has its pro's and con's. This looks like a neat product but it is certainly too early to determine if it is going to offer any features that will make it stand out head and shoulders above the others. And, like any new product it is going to have its growing pains.

Shawn
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post #24 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 06:51 AM
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I don't know, I just can't get past the always reporting 2TB size thing. That just seems like a horrible design to me.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #25 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

I don't know, I just can't get past the always reporting 2TB size thing. That just seems like a horrible design to me.

I was going to mention that but didn't want it to seem I was picking on the box
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post #26 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

I don't know, I just can't get past the always reporting 2TB size thing. That just seems like a horrible design to me.

yeah it was and like i said i wouldnt consider this device until it goes to esata where the usb 2 tb limit is removed (because the only reason there is currently a 2tb limit is the usb interface but it was still a bad choice to start with usb2.0). and hopefully by then it would drop another 100 bucks as well.
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post #27 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sls001 View Post

There are a number of products out there now similar to this solution and all of them have their Pro's and Cons. Personally, I'm just going to build a server either from scratch or purchase and configure a SuperMicro 3U server and add drives 1 or two at a time and probably configure it with RAID 1 or 10. I'm also not a fan of UnRaid.


and thats the biggest reason this device is so interesting to me because i dont want 5 or 6 "drives" added over time.... but part of my biggest use for this would be a recordedtv drive for media center since it works best using one large drive. so having a 400 gig array here and there is kinda useless to me. (and what i have already)

as far as the sound i did some reading on their site and it looks like there were alot of complaints about the beta units but the production ones didnt have the issue. (but i dont know since ive never used one)
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post #28 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 07:27 AM
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I understand what you are saying. As I mentioned each persons needs\\desires are going to be different.

I use an HTPC with 4 drives in it for recording but want a large "disk storage" area for movies that is why I am going to go with the server. My main reason for adding 2 disks at a time is cost. I can't afford to build a box with 16 drives at once and with the costs dropping for drives I'll start with a couple 500GB drives then add progressively larger ones as the price drops.

My main interest in a box like Drobo\\TerraServ etc. is for my office and my kids so that they can store the shows they want since their HTPC's are microATX boxes. At this point I just don't see the advantages of this box especially after looking at some of its early issues and limitations. (network connection, 2TB limit, fan noise, USB only connection, changing RAID configurations, etc).

I will continue to read up on the system though, the do seem to have a good forum and do seem to get right back to the users that have posted issues and questions. That is a big plus provided they keep it up.

Good luck and keep us posted if that is the way to go.

Shawn
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post #29 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sls001 View Post

I understand what you are saying. As I mentioned each persons needs\\desires are going to be different.

I use an HTPC with 4 drives in it for recording but want a large "disk storage" area for movies that is why I am going to go with the server. My main reason for adding 2 disks at a time is cost. I can't afford to build a box with 16 drives at once and with the costs dropping for drives I'll start with a couple 500GB drives then add progressively larger ones as the price drops.


We have very similar ideas and have similar setups. and imo thats where the drobo really shines is being able to add 2 new drives/upgrade drives over time while maintaining the "single" drive with data protection.

And im the same way the nas solutions generally require you to spend lots of money upfront (including unraid) on the drives/box. And this is also one area drobo looks interesting in that you can upgrade the size over time (I would start with 2 500 gig drives and a 320). But would plan on adding more 500 gigers and 750's once they come down in price.

The device im has tons of potential but still needs some changes (mainly esata) or ethernet. but its a very interesting device and if only because it makes everything easy and seamless. Ive messed with enough raid 5's to know they arent very good when things go wrong and it will be interesting to see some "longer term" reviews to see how this handles it but since its all automated it could be much nicer in this area.
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post #30 of 36 Old 06-08-2007, 08:22 AM
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Drobo is a great solution aimed squarely at the intended audience - that audience just doesn't include most of the folks that post on avsforum.


Bill

Cheers,
Bill
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