Finally bought a Drobo for home

Last week, I found a deal I could not pass up.  B&H Photo has a deal on a Drobo for $299 though 6/30/2010.  If you’ve never heard of a Drobo, it is an external storage enclosure from Data Robotics that offers some enterprise-class, automated mirroring/striping for your data across multiple hard drives.  Data Robotics calls it Beyond-RAID because unlike a RAID set where drives should be the same size, their technology allows mix and match drive sizes and handles striping and leveling the data across whatever mix of SATA drives you buy.  If a drive fails, pull it and replace it and the device will rebuild.

I had been worried about losing my digital home movies.  That data is really too large to really push out to a backup service like Mozy and when I load new movies, its usually to the tune of 20 or 30GB at a time, which would take weeks to push up.  In addition to that data, I also have Movies and TV shows that we have purchased through iTunes.

So, I knew that I wanted some sort of external storage with at least mirroring capabilities to protect the movies as best I could.  Back in January, I was close to buying a Western Digital mirrored external hard drive from the Apple store.  I chose instead to get a 1TB, single external drive with Firewire as an upgrade to my 500GB Time Machine which was almost full, and wait for a better solution.

Since it was first released, I have always been in love with the Drobo.  I describe it as an mini-EVA to my co-workers, because it mirrors a lot of the HP Storageworks EVA functionality – like drives auto-leveling and automatically striping data across disks in the disk group.  Maybe, I just like the idea of having something that advanced attached to my home computers…  and I’ll be the first to admit that they don’t compare — they are apples and oranges.

But I do love what the Drobo offers, and so I have been watching them for some time.  Since its introduction, the Drobo had gone from a single device with USB only, to an enhanced version which has USB2 and Firewire (my choice of devices), a version which adds eSATA with USB and Firewire, and several larger devices, the Drobo Elite and the Drobo Pro, which feature iSCSI and NAS functionality targeted towards SMB’s.

As a side note, the Drobo Pro is even VMware certified, and I feel like it is a great solution for small to medium businesses looking for shared storage for an vSphere deployment.  This past week, we attended the Charlotte Regional VMware Users Group meeting, and actually got to see one of the Drobo Elite units on display.

The price has held steady on the Drobo that I have been watching.  At a $399 price point, I couldn’t justify buying it and then having to purchase drives to go inside.  But, as I said before, B&H was offering a great deal – the Drobo device at $100 off its normal MSRP.  It was a good $50 less than I could find it anywhere else, and so I bit — err bought.  I was able to equip it with two Western Digital Caviar Green (my wife would be proud) 1TB drives from NewEgg for a cost of $138.  And so, last night I finished up my transition of data and have everything I wanted protected on the Drobo – and I’m happy…

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Philip is a IT solutions engineer working for AmWINS Group, Inc., an insurance brokerage firm in Charlotte, NC. With a focus on data center technologies, he has built a career helping his customers and his employers deploy better IT solutions to solve their problems. Philip holds certifications in VMware and Microsoft technologies and he is a technical jack of all trades that is passionate about IT infrastructure and all things Apple. He's a part-time blogger and author here at

3 Responses to “Finally bought a Drobo for home”

  1. So now that you have been home for a few days, have you gotten the Drobo set up? How hard/easy was installation and configuration? What was storage presentation like? I know I told you I picked up a WD essentials 2TB External, but I would really love one of these doing eSATA to my linux workstation.

    June 16, 2010 at 4:30 pm Reply
    • Philip #

      It was very simple to setup. It does require its own software for the setup process, which I’m not real fond of – but I understand it. With just 2 1TB drives, I was able to provision an 8TB drive and format it and the Drobo Dashboard monitors when I need to add physical disks to adequately protect the data. So far, I am loving it. Moving over the data was really simple.

      June 16, 2010 at 7:45 pm Reply
  2. Colin #

    i picked up a Drobo FS last week for $699 cdn, as well as 2x 2 TB WD Green drives for $119 each, setup was done in about 15 minutes, and i can access it from all the computers in the house. everything is hardwired with gigabit ethernet except my wife’s MacBook which is on wireless N, it has rather good transfer speeds and isn’t loud at all. one thing i have noticed is that prior to getting the drobo, i was watching movies on my TV in the living room (through a MacMini) but the movies were in my iTunes upstairs on my i7 iMac (stored on an external drive) when i would pause a movie and try to restart it, it would lag for a few moments – i assume hard drives would spin down. i no longer have this problem with my drobo and i like that i can have centralized storage without the need for a computer to be on all the time.

    the drobo has been on for a week and even when i dumped 1300 gigs on it it didn’t raise a fuss, have any transfer errors, permission issues or even make much noise. it is quick to mount and load folders. i love it.

    July 12, 2010 at 12:26 pm Reply

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