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My Drobo 2.0 Experience

After a several-week delay, I finally received the Drobo 2 (Firewire 800) I'd ordered yesterday. I've yet to turn it on (and will update this post when I do) because I spent all of yesterday afternoon and evening copying data:

  1. From my old main hard drive ("Peter") to a new 1 TB drive (~380 GB).
  2. From my media (movies and such) drive ("Thumper") to a new 1 TB drive (~460 GB).
  3. From Thumper onto one of the new drives.
  4. At night, my daily backup script copied my main drive to my backup ("Roger"), or another 380 GB copy.

I had four 500 GB drives, and now I have four 1 TB drives. Since the Drobo (with the four 500 GB drives) is going to be my Time Machine backup system ("Mimzy"), I had to be careful not to turn it on because it will immediately erase all of my drives. Everything seems to have copied over nicely ((psync rocks!!)) aside from some permissions issues ((Permissions issues are a result of me not using the -r flag.)), but I want to be sure I've gotten all of my data before I power up the Drobo and erase the drives.It would have been nice - and would have let me avoid a LOT of disk swapping in my Mac Pro - if the Drobo had the ability to simply act as a Firewire 800 drive holder. Instead of swapping disks in and out of my Mac Pro, I could have simply put all of my current 500 GB drives in the Drobo, the new 1 TB "Green" drives in my Mac Pro, booted from one of the pre-existing Drobo drives (I'd have booted from the main drive copy "Roger" in order to copy "Peter" and "Thumper"), and been done with it.

I'll be interested to see - and will update this post when I find out tomorrow - both how loud the Drobo is with four 500 GB drives in it (there's not a lot of space between them for cooling) and how well and quickly the Drobo works. Hopefully if Time Machine only backs up once every few hours (via TimeMachineEditor) it will let the disks spin down most of the time).

P.S. My drives are all named after rabbits, and my Mac Pro is "Bunny." The drives are "Peter" (main drive), "Roger" (backup drive), "Mimzy" (Time Machine drive - get it?), Thumper (media, movies, etc.), "Playboy" (an external FW 400 drive I keep a few old files on), and the new drive (which used to be the internal Mimzy) is now "Harvey," which houses my Aperture and iPhoto libraries as well as my Windows XP files for Parallels.

Update: Wed, Aug 20, 2008
I've been using the Drobo for awhile now. Though I still wish the Drobo supported individual drives, I'm now clearly beyond the point where I'd need such a feature.

Despite having four 500 GB drives, I've provisioned the Drobo as a 2.0 TB device. I believe this is simply how large it reports its size to the computer - it offers up only 1.35 TB for actual data, and uses 470.15 GB for "protection" (of the 1.81 TB of actual storage). I believe this "protection" space allows me to upgrade drives. I also believe I'll be stuck at 2 TB, at least unless I reformat the drives, should my storage capacity in the Drobo ever exceed 2 TB.

The fans are about as quiet as you'd expect, but a bit louder than I first thought. I am somewhat surprised that the Drobo doesn't sleep the drives when not in use, as that would certainly allow the fans to slow down and/or stop now and then. Again, my desktop Mac only backs up every four hours, so there's typically 200+ minutes every 240 where accessing the disk(s) isn't necessary at all.

The Drobo Dashboard application is decided un-Mac-like. Command-W doesn't close windows, the buttons look a bit bizarre, I've already registered yet the "Register…" button remains in place, a disclosure triangle hides and shows a drawer… all sorts of subtle touches that don't quite feel right.

I was just about to write this: "The inside of the magnetically-mounted front cover should contain a quick bit of instructions: when it's safe to remove a drive, what the various blinking lights mean (color and blink/solid state)." Turns out I hadn't looked there, but it contains exactly that FTW!

2 Responses to "My Drobo 2.0 Experience"

  1. Glad to see you did update with your thoughts on the Drobo. I am strongly considering getting one as I want a no brainer backup / storage solution for my media (photos, vids & mp3's). Though mine would be hooked up to my Airport Extreme.

    It is disappointing that it doesn't put the drives to sleep as it just adds some wear to them that isn't needed.

    Curious if there a reason you are only using the Drobo for TimeMachine backups rather than a backup / media store?

  2. Sounds like you don't sleep the machine the Drobo is connected to. I can't find any information about what happens when:

    A - You sleep the Mac without ejecting Drobo first

    B - You eject the Drobo and sleep the Mac. Is Drobo there when the Mac wakes up?

    But it looks like you haven't messed with that, have you?