Around The Bend A random path through gadgets, photography and when I'm lucky, a few great roads on my motorcycle ….

I’ve Been Drobotized

Originally uploaded by Matthew Britt

After my backup disk died several months ago, I’ve been living on borrowed time. With a growing photo library (not to mention music and movies), it was time to get some storage.

The drobo, for those who haven’t heard of it, provides an expandable storage without the management problems of a traditional RAID. It holds up to 4 disks (you’ll need at least 2 for data protection), has a USB2 and Firewire 800 interfaces (use the 800 for better performance), and works with OSX, Linux, and Windows. You can start w/ any sizes of disks and the drobo will figure out how to provide the most data storage it can while giving you the protection of having a single drive failure. Very flexible; very cool.

The beauty of the system is the drobo can present to your computer a filesystem that is bigger than it really is. Why would you want to do that? With a normal RAID system, in order to expand it, you would need to move all of your data somewhere else, replace all of the drives to a bigger size, recreate the filesystem, then move your data back on. More of a hassle than it needs to be (and who has a few terabytes sitting around idle anyway?). With the drobo, you specify a filesystem size (say 16 terabytes) and that is what your computer will see. Starting filling up the drobo and it will tell you when the system is getting too full AND which drive you should replace. Start out small, wait for the big drives to start coming down in price (they always do), and replace your smaller drives on the cheap. Expandable storage with minimal fuss.

One last note – on the website, you can see how much usable storage you’ll have with any combination of drives, using Data Robotics’ Drobolator. A pretty useful tool to get a sense of how it works.

You can buy a drobo directly from Data Robotics, but I found mine cheaper on Amazon. Through the end of January, there is an additional $50 rebate.

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