Hardware preview: Drobo FS

As of today, the Drobo product lineup has a shiny new device: a network version of the Drobo S, called Drobo FS — a NAS device. Its performance is up to 4x greater than that of a DroboShare, which is going to be discontinued. The Drobo FS is a natural at shared file storage, network backup and private cloud applications. You’ll be able to manage it through the Drobo Dashboard application, which will detect it automatically once it’s plugged into your network.

New Drobo Line-up

Here’s how the Drobo product line-up is going to look from now on, sorted in ascending order by US list price (at time of writing):

  1. Drobo, 2nd Gen (2 x FW800, 1 x USB 2.0) $399
  2. Drobo FS (1 x Gigabit Ethernet, AFP/CIFS/SMB) $699
  3. Drobo S (1 x eSATA, 2 x FW800, 1 x USB 2.0) $799
  4. DroboPro (1 x Gigabit iSCSI, 2 x FW800, 1 x USB 2.0) $1,499
  5. DroboElite (2 x Gigabit iSCSI, 1 x diagnostics-only USB 2.0) $3,499

If know which model to get and are looking for a great deal, you can find the Drobo for $335, the Drobo S for $699, the DroboPro for $1,199 and the DroboElite for $3,495. The Drobo FS isn’t listed for sale yet at online retailers.

Details and Thoughts

The Drobo FS is an all-in-one file serving solution — hence the FS moniker. It’s a plug-and-play file sharing system that gives you the performance and self-healing data safety of the Drobo S, in a NAS package. It’s a 5-drive unit with a single Gigabit Ethernet port that supports Jumbo Frames, AFP, and CIFS/SMB, so it’s compatible with OS X, Windows and Linux. It runs on a dual-core processor — the same processor used in the DroboPro. In the Drobo FS, one core does the Drobo BeyondRAID stuff and the second core runs Linux and — this is the neat part — whatever DroboApps you decide to install on it.

It’s simple and safe data sharing, because, just like the Drobo S, it protects against two hard drive failures, not just one. It can also be customized through third-party DroboApps, which can turn it into a remote file sharing solution, a cloud storage solution, a media server or pretty much anything you’d want a NAS device to do.

DroboApps available at launch are:

  • Wake-on-LAN
  • NFS
  • iTunes compatible media server
  • UPnP/DLNA media server
  • BitTorrent client
  • Web/HTTP server
  • FTP server
  • rsync server
  • SSH client
  • DroboApps Admin Utility
  • and more, including this next app…

Data Robotics has partnered with a company called Oxygen Cloud, which has written an app that turns the Drobo FS into a “personal cloud”. No matter where you are in the world, you can map your Drobo FS to your laptop and access the files you’ve placed on it over a WAN connection between you and the Drobo, handled by the OxygenCloud app. You can set varying levels of access and give multiple users the ability to access various file sets. The app promises to be intuitive, easy-to-use, and to provide fine-grained controls for data access. It also provides a gateway for cloud backup to either a second Drobo FS or a cloud storage provider like Amazon, Mozy or RackSpace. The app is still in beta, will be released in May, is going to be free for a single user and will have a licensing cost for multiple users.

Keep in mind though that the quality of the WAN connection depends entirely on the quality of the broadband connection you’re using to connect to the Drobo. If, like me, you’re on a 30 Mbps fiber optic connection, you should have very little latency, but if you’re sitting at a crowded hotspot somewhere, tied into a 2 or 3 Mbps asymmetric connection that only gives you 512-768 Kbps upstream, then you’ll experience a fair share of latency. In other words, you’ll double-click on a file that sits on your remote Drobo, which is on another continent, and it’ll take a bit of time until it’s read and opened by your laptop. Just FYI, so plan accordingly.

On the front and sides, the device is identical to the Drobo S. Of course, I think it’s beautiful. Gorgeous, actually. On the inside, it’s got 5 drive bays, once again, same as the Drobo S.

Only the back is different. Whereas the Drobo S has four interface ports on the back (1 x USB 2.0, 2 x FW 800, 1 x eSATA), plus the power supply connection, the Drobo FS has a single Gigabit Ethernet port and the power supply connection.

I am very glad to see that it has a power switch. I would have liked to see one on the regular Drobo as well. Who knows, perhaps at some point in the future, it’ll happen. I do think it’s important to have a less expensive, entry-level Drobo, so I hope the base model stays in the lineup for some time to come. I’m also glad that, as I predicted when I reviewed the Drobo S, the same design language was used for the Drobo FS. I like this maturation of the original language, and I look forward to seeing it translated in the enclosures for the DroboPro and DroboElite in the future.

For reference purposes, I’m including the indicator chart for the Drobo FS here. It’s also available in the Drobo FS Data Sheet. It’s standard stuff if you’re already used to the Drobo S, but it differs a bit from the regular Drobo, as that model only has single-light indicators which don’t light up in half-half colors.

The Drobo FS formats the drives using the EXT3 file system, but you won’t need to worry about that. You won’t be asked to format the drives or to choose what file system you want for it, because it’s a NAS device, and it can talk to your Mac, PC or Linux box without any problems. You simply put drives into it, it’ll format them by itself, and share the volume onto your network. Easy as pie.

You can have up to 16 shares on the Drobo FS, and up to 32 users connected to it at any one time, though Drobo recommends up to 16 users as the optimal number for proper performance. This should be plenty for busy professionals or small businesses and workgroups, which together with consumers are its intended target users.

Since it’ll work over both wired and wireless networks (once you plug it into a router, naturally), I asked Data Robotics what sort of typical uses people can expect out of it. File sharing, such as documents, presentations, spreadsheets would be no problems at all, and that goes without saying. I asked, for example, if movie playback would be a problem. Not at all, they said, with one disclaimer: if you’re on a WiFi network, make sure it’s a WiFi-N network. This is not a limitation of the Drobo FS, which can offer maximum read performance of around 50-55 MB/sec (with Jumbo Frames), but a limitation of the bandwidth of a WiFi-G network. So that’s really neat!

There is one use they don’t recommend for it though: editing movies. Because it’s a network device, and certain video codecs have very particular performance requirements, official word from them is that people should get a Drobo S or a DroboPro for that. They say, and I quote, “unless a person is very, very familiar with video codecs and their performance requirements, they should not use the Drobo FS for video editing”. Furthermore, and this is very important, “if you want to use Apple’s ProRes (any of their family of 5 codecs), DO NOT try to edit video on a Drobo FS”. So please keep that in mind.

Performance-wise, it’s much faster than a Drobo + DroboShare combo (about 4 times faster), with sustained throughput of 30-40 MB/s. Data Robotics recommends that new buyers check for firmware updates, as they’ve made a number of improvements to the Drobo FS firmware since preparing the units for the first shipments. For comparison purposes, the sustained throughput you get from a Drobo S is 70-90 MB/s when using the eSATA connection.

The Drobo FS gives you about 75% of the performance of a DroboPro, which uses iSCSI. The extra 25% performance is eaten up by the overhead of translating everything for the file sharing protocols (AFP and CIFS/SMB). That’s not a Drobo-only limitation. That’s what happens on any device that has to deal with typical file sharing protocols — they slow things down.

Another neat feature of the Drobo FS is that it will give people the chance to choose a range of time after which the drives will spin down. Those who are concerned with energy use can opt for something like 5-10 minutes, while those who need performance can opt to only spin them down after 30 minutes or 1 hour of inactivity, or more. With the DroboShare, this option wasn’t available, but there was a DroboApp you could install that would periodically write and erase a few bits of data to the drives in order to keep them from spinning down.

Specifications

  • Drives: Accommodates from one to five 3.5” SATA I / SATA II hard drives of any manufacturer, capacity, spindle speed, and/or cache. No carriers or tools required.
  • Interface: 10/100/1000 Ethernet Port
  • Supported data transfer protocols: AFP and CIFS/SMB
  • Dimensions: 5.9” wide x 7.3” tall x 10.3” long
  • Weight: 8 lbs. (without power supply, hard drives or packaging)
  • Includes: Drobo FS, CAT 6 Ethernet cable, external power supply (100v-240v) with U.S. 110v power cord, User Guide and Quick Start Card (printed), Drobo Resource CD with Drobo Dashboard application, help files, and electronic documentation.
  • System Requirements: Apple Mac OS X 10.5.6 or greater; Microsoft Windows 2003, 2008, XP, Vista, Windows 7; Unix/Linux client that can connect via CIFS/SMB

Pricing

Suggested retail prices for the Drobo FS are as follows:

  • Drobo FS, base configuration: $699
  • Drobo FS + 4.5 TB bundle (3 x 1.5 TB drives): $999
  • Drobo FS + 7.5 TB bundle (5 x 1.5 TB drives): $1,149
  • Drobo FS + 10 TB bundle (5 x 2 TB drives): $1,449

Images used courtesy of Data Robotics. The Drobo FS will be available from major retailers such as Amazon, B&H Photo, NewEgg, CDW, Synnex, Bell Micro, Ingram Micro and datarobotics.com.

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Author: Raoul Pop

Entrepreneur, consultant, filmmaker, photographer and watch collector

50 thoughts on “Hardware preview: Drobo FS”

  1. I have a Drobo Fs. It totally does not work how it is advertised. I purchased this device for backing up with Time Machine, storing music, and streaming video. Well Time Machine works well. I am also able to stream music. The whole issue is Video. I am unable to stream any video even if it is 480i. Video starts then freezes over and over. I called tech support and they said I need to run FUPPS. So I installed and can’t figure out how to use it at all. Drobo support refuses to give any information about applications. I just feel that with such a large price tag it should work out of the box. If I have to use an application to do what their product claims to do then they should support it. My whole Drobo experience has been kind of negative. This is not a plug and play device. So basically I have a grand invested into a dive I use exclusively for Time Machine. And the whole reason I purchased was to stream video. Firmware is up to date and I am using a D-link 655 which is a 802.11n router. Everything I have read is right. Video just freezes up with VLC, Quick time, or Movist. This product should stream video out of the box.

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    1. That doesn’t sound right, Tim. I have one of my 1st gen USB Drobos connected to a QNAP Turbo 110, and I can play videos over my network just fine, even if they’re 1080p. It looks to me like there’s either a problem with your Drobo or perhaps you WiFi network isn’t working properly. Have you tried connecting to your router via a wire, to see how your connection to the Drobo would work that way?

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      1. Well my Drobo is brand new. And everything else works so I guess it is Just the Drobo FS. Do you have to have to use any applications running to play video? My network is fast. I get 30mb/sec to all wireless devices when i use my broadband connection. I stream video with Netflix and Amazon to every device with no problem. Drobo FS sends video data in packets. Which explains why it freezes. I should of went with another product. I am not happy at all.

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  2. Hi All.
    Some great posts here, and I was hoping someone could enlighten me with a little help.

    Current set up;
    Home Office – Mac Pro
    Study – iMac Intel and iMac G5
    Lounge – MacMini Intel (Firewire 800 1T MyBook Studio)
    Mobile – 2xiPad 2xiPhone
    MobileMe single account.
    Thecus 5200BRpro
    Peripherals – Scanners, Printers, Elgato 264HD etc etc

    I wanted to set up a MacMini Server (replacing MacMini PVR and Thecus 5200).

    I would like to use the server as:
    Mail server.
    Calendar sharing.
    Small site server.
    Media Centre.
    Video Encoder.
    Centralised – iTunes library, Home Video library, Photo Library.
    Time machine Backup.
    Superduper Backup.

    Now which Drobo should I consider.
    The ‘S’ or the ‘FS’.

    I think I covered most things there. REGARDS

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    1. It depends on whether you want to connect the Drobo directly to the Mac mini or to simply have it on the network. From the looks of it, it sounds like you want a directly-connected Drobo, since you’re going to have a server to connect it to, so I think you’re leaning toward the Drobo S. Just realize you won’t be able to use the eSATA connection with the Mac mini.

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  3. Drobo FS uses Netatalk 2.05, or later. Netatalk is an open source implementation of the AFP protocols. Starting with 2.05 netatalk has AFP support for Time Machine. Data Robotics enhanced the Netatalk source code to allow setting a share/volume size in Drobo FS which enables controlling how much space Time Machine can use. This was donated back to the community and has been adopted for use in Netatalk 2.1 or later.

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    1. Hi Mark,

      Thanks so much for the reply. I’m still wondering, however, exactly what version of AFP that implies. Saying “netatalk has AFP support for Time Machine” doesn’t tell me as much as I would like to know about the quality and extent of the support.

      I ask for two reasons.

      First, according to Apple, only Apple products actually support Time Machine. So if you don’t have Apple’s blessing, I’d at least like to know how fully you have complied with their published specifications of the AFP protocol. If the Drobo FS supported AFP 3.3, then it would (at least according to my reading of Apple’s specs) be providing an AFP implementation functionally identical to Apple’s own approved implementations. On the other hand, if the Drobo FS only supports AFP 3.1, then I would worry about its reliability.

      My second reason for concern is that, in fact, netatalk only implements AFP3.1, its implementation seems to be used by most competing NAS products, and it does in fact seem to be causing Time Machine problems with them. For instance, the ReadyNAS’s AFP is also based on netatalk. (I think Synology’s is as well). This blog post by a firm that provides netatalk support, for instance, describes errors in the Time Machine log that are due to netatalk not supporting AFP3.3. Their suggestion is “don’t disrupt your network connection while backing up with TM!”

      That doesn’t exactly build confidence — will closing my laptop while Time Machine is working corrupt my backups?

      I am very interested in the Drobo. But it’s price marks it out as a premium product, so I was hoping the Drobo FS had some special sauce that provided better AFP support than its competitors, in addition to its simpler management interface.

      Perhaps your modifications of netatalk addressed some of these issues? I am eager to be reassured.

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  4. Thanks for this write-up, which really covers the bases well. However, I was wondering if you had more detail about one thing — the Drobo FS’s support for AFP (Apple Filing Protocol), the standard for accessing disks over the network on Macs.

    Apple details the different versions of AFP. In particular, does the Drobo FS support AFP version 3.3 or at least 3.2+?

    Many competing NAS boxes seem to have quite buggy or outdated implementations, supporting only AFP version 3.1 (e.g., Synology’s products, or the ReadyNas) and with issues like disappearing files (!).

    Good support is especially important for using the Drobo FS for backups via Time Machine. Apple’s Time Machine documentation implies that full Time Machine functionality requires the version of AFP introduced in OS X 10.5.6, which seems to imply it requires AFP 3.2+ or AFP 3.3.

    (Apple does not officially support Time Machine for any third-party NAS boxes, only for OS X servers and the Time Capsule product. But from their technical documents, it seems this amounts to AFP 3.2+ or AFP 3.3.)

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    1. Alexis, I can’t answer that question, but I’ll forward your comment to someone at Data Robotics, perhaps they can help.

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  5. Just picked up a Drobo FS for the home and an S for my (own) main machine. I’ve been waiting for Data Robotics to put out a real NAS (I’ve set up several people with older Drobos and the DroboShare–not so great).

    James, you wouldn’t want your library on an NAS. You might want your photos on the NAS, but having your library on the NAS would result in a lot of network traffic and rather poor performance.

    It’s been a while since I used Lightroom (I currently use Aperture). Aperture allows you to distinguished between managed files (files in the Library database, managed by Aperture) and referenced files (files which have preview and processing information in the Library but the actual image file is not managed by Aperture). What I’m doing is moving all my “inactive” photos out of the Aperture Library to referenced files on the S (then backed up to the FS). Photos I’m actively working on remain in the library, which is on one of the drives inside my MacPro). This works very well for me and is, I think, in the spirit of NAS technology as it exists today.

    Sometime in the next few days I’ll set up Firefly and see how it does with video.

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    1. Narayan, thanks for the feedback.
      As my internal disk (iMac) is getting too small, I was looking for and external alternative.
      I use Aperture 3 at the moment, perhaps I need to take a look at your suggestion and move older files out of the library and make them referenced.

      Would running Aperture from NAS be an option if I were to use only referenced files?

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      1. James,

        Yes, running Aperture from an NAS works great if the files are referenced and stored on the NAS and the library is local, with a few caveats:

        -accessing large files over a wireless connection, even an N connection, will be (is) painfully slow
        -if your computer has a wired network connection and you have a gigabit router/switch off of which the FS is connected as well, performance is better than I would have expected but not something I’d want to live with day-in and day-out
        -the setup I suggest above assumes that your older, referenced files are not accessed very often and that speed and efficiency are priorities for newer files which, for example, still need processing.

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  6. Did some more research and apparently Aperture (and Lightroom) don’t like having their library on a networked drive 😦

    Now I am looking for a raid protected direct attached storage solution, hestiating between regular Drobo and the products of CalDigit (http://www.caldigit.com/CalDigit_VR/). According to some sites, Drobo support is not that great and you have to be patient with them, any thoughts on that matter?

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    1. They’ve been responsive when I contacted them, but your mileage may vary, according to other people’s experiences.

      The thing you have to remember about these other companies is that everyone and their mother is putting RAID 0 and 1 products on the market these days, but not everyone has what a Drobo has, which is the ability to use any SATA drive, from any manufacturer, model and size. With typical RAID, you have to use identical drives, all the time.

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  7. It was through a wireless, but my further research leads me to believe that it’s a Lightroom problem. Apparently, people with QNAPs have the same problem. I hope Adobe works this out.

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    1. I hope they do, too. If I recall from the Adobe LR instructions, they say the library should always be on the local hard drive or on a directly-connected hard drive, but the photos themselves can reside on a network volume. Was that your case?

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  8. I was thrilled with the idea of the Drobo FS, but after I migrated all of my photo libraries to it, I found out that it’s incompatible with Lightroom! Basically, every time you want to access one of your Lightroom libraries, the files have to be reimported from the Drobo FS, which takes a loooong time. If anyone knows how to fix this, please let me know – Drobo’s support line wasn’t able to solve the problem, except to say that I should consider a wired Drobo instead. I’m bummed!

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    1. Sorry to hear about that, Pamela. Are you on a wired or wireless network? Did you try using a wired network, or at least a WiFi-N network, to see if you get better performance? Because I have a feeling that in your case, the bottleneck is in your network, not the Drobo FS. I wonder if you’d connect it directly to your machine, via the networking cable, how the performance would compare to when you run it over the network.

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  9. Raoul
    Thanks for such great info.
    I have a PC/Windows, and my wife plans on getting an Apple laptop. What sort of problems will we get with the DroboFS?
    Didier

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    1. Didier, you shouldn’t have any problems. Mac, Windows and Linux computers can all connect to it. But if you have any specific questions, I suggest you read through its features and specs thoroughly, and perhaps even put through a call to Drobo Sales, just to make sure.

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    1. Vijay, I’m not sure you understood my reply, and I don’t think you researched Firefly as I suggested you do. You can’t run Firefly on a regular Drobo. You need either a DroboShare or the Drobo FS to run it.

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  10. Raoul, I’ve been reading your comments on the Drobo FS and appreciate the efforts you put into it. I have iTunes library that I’ve syncd with ATV. The library mainly consists of my video collection and is nearing full capacity on the ATV. Would I be able to store the iTunes library on the FS to stream to the ATV. I see the Drobo apps firefly provide for a itunes music server but what about video files? I have a MBP and couple of labtops at home and the house is networked. Thanks.

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    1. Vijay, thanks! I haven’t used Firefly yet, but I hear that’s the app you need to stream your iTunes library to multiple computers. I believe you can only have one computer connected to it at one time, but don’t quote me on that. It stands to reason that if you can stream your music, you should also be able to stream your videos — after all, they’re part of the same library. But please do some research on this. To this point, I’ve only used directly-connected Drobos (USB/Firewire), so I can’t personally vouch that Firefly + Drobo FS will do exactly what you want it to do.

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  11. One thing that I did was I created a sparsebundle of double the size of the HDD in my mac mini. The sparse bundle will only grow as needed until, the max size is hit. In my case, the max size of the sparse bundle is 160GB. I have tested with a sparse bundle of 80GB so it would hit the max much sooner so I can see what time machine did when the limit was reached. When time machine can’t get any more room it will then start removing things from it like normal and back up the most recent. I am only backup up one mac using time machine as my mac is backup files from a windows xp box using ChronoSync. I am sure this will work for more than one mac. Also, if you ever want to give the sparsebundle more room it is a simple command to give it on the Terminal to increase the size. I have been using this for about 8 months now and have gone into time machine to copy files from the past.

    I am currently using a Drobo v1 connected via USB and I average about 16-18MB/s

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  12. I am up in the air between a Drobo S attached to my Mac Mini HTPC (shared on network through the Mini) or a Drobo FS. I would love to see a comparison chart of speeds on a Drobo S via (FW800) and a Drobo FS over a wired network connection.

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    1. Chris, this is why I recommend in the site guidelines that people read through previous comments. I already answered the first half of your question in this comment. And the second half of your question is already answered in my review. Did you read through the whole thing?

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  13. The Drobo FS sounds like a great option. Right now I have a Drobo (FW 800) hooked to a Mac Mini server to backup my house computers.

    I am debating my second Drobo purchase since I have 4 spare 1.5 TB drives. I am also deciding between the Drobo and Drobo S (Drobo FS seems redundant to my Mini server).

    Any thoughts on the second Drobo I should get for use as a photo storage / Aperture library and live data for my iMac? The Drobo is a deal but I like the dual drive redundancy and possible faster FW 800 of the Drobo S.

    Like

    1. Joe, as you can see in one of my comments above, Data Robotics says the FW800 performance on the Drobo S is at 60-70 MB/sec for reads and 40-45 MB/sec for writes. If you look at my review of the Drobo, you’ll see that FW800 performance on it clocks in at 52 MB/sec for reads and 34 MB/sec for writes.

      That means that it’s up to you to decide if you want to pay the price difference between a Drobo and a Drobo S for that, plus the dual drive redundancy. It goes without saying that using the eSATA connection with an iMac is out.

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      1. Thanks Raoul. My real problem with speed is how slow the Drobo gets as it gets full. I have a 4 TB Time Machine partition to backup 2 machines that is 88% full (Drobo giving Yellow Alert). The actual protected capacity is 4.5 TB and I have the drive partitioned in two 4 TB partitions. The Time Machine one and an empty 4 TB spare.

        It is exceedingly slow! It has taken over a day to transfer 2 GB to the drive.

        I am adding two more 2 TB drives to replace two 1.5 TB drives which boosts the protected capacity to 5.5 TB (essentially four 2 TB drives in there). I am hoping this will speed things up!

        Any thoughts on keeping Drobo fast while running Time Machine on it? I went the Time Machine partition route rather than using the Time Tamer Drobo App.

        Thanks.

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        1. Joe, that’s a sore point with me as well. See this review of mine, where I talk about the fastest way to back up your Mac. I tried both routes: with a separate backup volume on the Drobo, and with the Time Tamer. Basically, I just don’t like the throughput I get either way, so I bought a little USB drive that I use to back up my laptop.

          My MBP has a 250GB HD, and I have a 500GB LaCie drive. It works great for me. I plug it in when I want to backup. I don’t back up hourly. It’s too much of a hassle for me.

          I thought the Drobo’s slow writing speeds when capacity >= 80% were fixed with a recent firmware update. Do you have the latest firmware and Drobo Dashboard? That might help alleviate the problem. One thing’s for sure, I gave up on backing to my Drobo before they issued a fix for the slow write speeds. Things may be different now.

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        2. I have the latest dashboard but I see there is a later firmware (1.36) that is billed as working with 4k sector drives.

          I’ll try the updated firmware and let you know.

          I hope my problem will be solved by adding drives. four 2 TB drives in a Drobo gives a protected capacity of 5.5 GB. My 4 GB Time Machine partition should only be 72% of that so I hope it will stay fast.

          Still not sure whether to go for the Drobo or Drobo S for my second Drobo.

          I do agree that local Time Machine backups are better than networked ones. Time Machine seems very slow trying to restore files over the network when compared to a firewire drive.

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        3. Keep in mind the Time Machine backup set will keep growing in size and eating up the space on your Drobo, no matter what. That’s one thing I don’t like about Time Machine, and that’s why I like using a single drive for it, with a hard limit to the amount of data that Time Machine can cram into it. On a Drobo, the available space is always going to be less than what the computer thinks it can put onto it. If you’ve formatted your Drobo as a 4TB or 8TB or 16TB volume, Time Machine will keep trying to fill that space up, but with 4 x 1 TB drives, you’ll only really have something like 2.7TB available. Time Machine will never remove old backups. And when you get to 90-95% full capacity on the Drobo, backing up to it is going to be unbearable. On the other hand, when you use a regular drive, there’s no mistaking the amount of capacity the backups are going to have, and Time Machine will manage itself. It will remove old backups to make room for the new ones, and you shouldn’t see a noticeable decrease in write speeds as you fill up the drive.

          Personally, I love using the Drobo for real files, not backups: file archives, network shares, movie libraries, music libraries, photo libraries, photo editing, movie editing, etc. That’s what it shines at. Backups are a necessary evil, and I do them to a dedicated drive, where they won’t balloon out of control.

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        4. I am going off the protected capacities. So with 2 TB, 2 TB, 1.5 TB, and 1.5 TB I had a protected capacity of 4.1. My Time Machine partition of 4 TB was essentially full at the Drobo was at 88% capacity.

          In this state copying to my empty partition was decently fast but the almost full partition was dog slow.

          I replaced a 1.5 TB drive with another 2 TB. It’s going to take the Drobo a few days to sort itself out with the added drive.

          I am getting the feeling that my Time Machine partition has been corrupted so I may have to reformat it once the Drobo is done adding the new drive. Right now it says that happy moment is 159 hours away . . . . .

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  14. Raoul

    Great article, thanks

    Any idea if this is suitable for image editing (Apple Aperture) with library stored on the drobo FS or should I go for the Firewire800 enabled Drobo 2nd generation?

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    1. *Corrected* — James, I would say you can safely edit photos off it if it’s on a wired network, and you might even be able to do so over a WiFi-N network. After all, RAW files or JPG files from typical DSLRs range in size from 10-20 MB, and can go up to 30-40 MB with the high-end cameras, and that’s not too big a file size to be read over the network. Still, if your network isn’t optimized and you have a lot of traffic and collisions on it, you may experience errors writing to and reading from the library, so keep that in mind. Sorry I can’t give you a sure answer, because I haven’t tried it myself and can’t vouch for it directly.

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      1. Thank you for the swift response

        It is a difficult decision, for the price of one Drobo FS (or even the Drobo S) I can buy 2 Drobo’s of the 2nd gen

        Network feature is a plus but not a necessity, will wait a while to see online retail prices

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      2. James, it shouldn’t feel like a difficult decision. Go with your comfort level. I have four regular Drobos, and I love them. They work great for me. Most people will do fine with the regular Drobo, particularly now that it has a FW800 connection. Some people do need more (performance, NAS, private cloud, iSCSI), and for them, there’s a Drobo S, a Drobo FS, a DroboPro and a DroboElite. There’s plenty of choice, that’s for sure! 🙂

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      3. I need to mention that even though I wrote in the original comment that the Drobo FS can be used for video editing, I was wrong. Data Robotics recommends against doing this, as certain video codecs may have problems with reading and writing to the network. They recommend getting a Drobo S or a DroboPro if that’s what you plan on doing, to make sure you get the performance you need.

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  15. Raoul, you mentioned that with Drobo S you can get 70-90 MB/s using eSata. Do you have performance data with firewire 800? Thanks.

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    1. Gabriel, I received clarification from Data Robotics about the FW800 specs on the Drobo S and modified my comment accordingly. Please check it again for the details.

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