Drobo, Here You Come

I bit the bullet today.  Not buy choice but by necessity.

For the last several months I’ve wanted a Drobo.  When the Drobo 2 came out with FireWire 800, my want became a crave.  When my 1tb iTunes drive started clicking, my crave became a “oh shit I need to get this fixed” and when my laptop got to 2gb free and my desktop 50gb free and my TimeMachine ran out of space my “oh shit” became, “BUY NOW!”

So, with my tax refund, I bought a Drobo. Not the most exciting thing I could have purchased, and probably sealed the deal of me NOT going to San Francisco Pride, but I had to get it.  Otherwise, I’m basically screwed.  Either my hard drives are going to fully fail and I’ll lose everything (even my MacBook Pro drive is starting to click) or I’d just have to reformat and love everything anyways.

So what all did I get?

First, the Drobo.

Drobo 2

Then, four Western Digital 1.5tb hard drives

Western Digital 1.5tb, 32mb Cache, 7200 Green Drive

All that adds up to 6tb of space. Wow, glorious space!  It’s super exciting to not have to worry about running out of hard drive space, at least for a while.  Plus, when I do?  I’ll just have to fork over whatever it costs for a 2, 3 or 4tb drive as those come out.  The Drobo can store up to 4, 4tb drives so I have room for 10tb more.

Now I’ve just gotta cross my fingers that it comes in before my drives totally crash. While I was typing this post, my 1tb WesterDigital Studio Edition drive crashed on me… Scary stuff.

So, Friday, my Drobo comes in and so do the three of the four 1.5tb drives.  I’ve gotta wait for the fourth drive to come in from NewEgg.com as Amazon.com limits you to 3 of these particular drives per month.


@RadZack asked how the data redundancy worked and how much space would be left over after the redundancy.  I honestly don’t understand how it works except that it doesn’t backup entire disks but 1/3 of each drive is saved on another drive so one drive can fail while the other two drives rebuild from their copies of particular portions of it.

Drobolator Capacity Calculator

Drobolator Capacity Calculator

So you end up with much more space than a normal RAID which simply mirrors your data, it, my 6tb drive would have 2.75tb of useable space while the Drobo has 4.1tb of usable space, an increase of 1.35tb.  That’s pretty awesome.


Clive suggested that despite this being an interesting solution to storage problems, it was expensive.  While yes, it isn’t cheap, here’s how it breaks down.  You’ll find that it’s really the best possible option around, especially at its price point.

@Clive Not really expensive. I haven’t found an option that’s even close to the price for 6tb of storage, expandable to 16tb with or without having to use all exactly the same drives like you can with a Drobo.

  • LaCie‘s 6tb is $1,400
  • Netgear 6tb is $3,600
  • Linksys 4tb is $700 ( with <2tb usable vs 4.1)
  • Fanthom 6tb is $1,600
  • EZquest 6tb is $1,500
  • G-Technology 6tb is $2,100
  • Homemade 6tb is $795

And remember, none of these have the same amount of storage space available as the Drobo or allow hot swapping of drives that are of different makes, sizes and speeds. My total was $450 + $139×4 = $1,006. That’s less than any other 6tb RAID array I’ve seen. If you build your own, yes you do save money, in fact you can save up to ~$200. But, you don’t get the feature set of a Drobo or the ability and flexibility in growth.  Much less Drobo’s warranty and support, drive specific applications etc etc.

10 thoughts on “Drobo, Here You Come

  1. It’s only a matter of time before you will though! The more we download TV/Movies from iTunes and Amazon, the faster that need will show up. I’m just glad to finally have a good solution!

  2. *Drools over your 6tbs of storage*

    I would kill for 1.5TBs, let alone 6. I mean, god damn.
    Congrats on the drobo, but even more on the freaking hard drives.

  3. Clive and Zack, check above for some updates re: your questions.

    Glad you enjoyed the entry. Drobos seem to be made with people like you and me in mind. The perfect solution for media creators.

  4. Oh hell no. I hear about your not coming to SF in a blog post about a data storage device. Heartbreak.

    Well Drobo is pretty damn cool as far as data storage goes. Our office Drobo is a happy little robot. He sits quietly next to the server and keeps our data safe. Probably a wise move in the long run.

    Seans last blog post…tulip garden 1

  5. To bad the Drobo doesn’t have a network adapter or eSATA. You have to get the DroboPro to have a network adapter.

    The Thecus N3200PRO would be better, although it’s short a drive bay if you are comparing the two, it more than kills the Drobo when it comes to media services given it’s designed to be a home NAS.


    The Drobo is however far more stylish, but then I prefer function over style.

    JAB_aus last blog post…Windows 7 Release Candidate Avalible

  6. @JAB_au It actually does have a network adapter, DroboShare.

    The Thecus N3200 costs more too, considering it limits you to three bays and not four, so a max of 12tb not 16tb.

    It has lots of great features but I ultimately chose the Drobo which is the best solution for someone like me. I don’t have an eSata port on my MacBook Pro or my iMac so I would actually be LIMITED by the Thecus’s USB port.

    So yeah, the Thecus is a great product but not better than the Drobo. It’s like comparing Lightroom to Aperture or Nikon to Canon. They are all great products and none is truly better than the other but some work better for other people and if you don’t have an eSata and need future expandability, the Drobo is definitely the best option for you. If you want/need/have eSata and you don’t need more than 12tb of future space, maybe the Thecus is for you.

    The Drobo has all the software features of the Thecus and more through its open source program solutions, including the iTunes server.

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