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.

UPDATE:

@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.

UPDATE 2:

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.

Backblaze Is Not For Me

I’m constantly terrified that my data isn’t safe.

Both of my Mac’s are backed up on a Timemachine, it’s a 1gb Western Digital external. It does a good job but has now filled up completely and thus, my old backups are starting to get deleted.  Sad.

So there’s one problem, limited space, and we haven’t gotten to Backblaze just yet.

My entire iTunes library has it’s own external 1tb Western Digital drive.  It’s the MyStudio with the FW800.  Unfortunately, that drive is down to 40gb of free space and quickly going down from there.

I thought I’d use an online service to backup my data.  My iTunes drive is worth thousands of dollars with the media it holds and the idea that it might crash on me… absolutely terrifying.

I decided on Backblaze because of its Apple integration and ability to backup attached, external hard drives.  It looked like it was a go! I got into the beta testing and got it all setup.

Only one problem.

Do you know how long it takes to backup 1.175tb of data?! I was only trying to backup the iMac and iTunes drive.

Yeah… I don’t have 125 days!

Another problem?  Even if I pause Backblaze, it will start backing up things and eating up all of my bandwidth.

Even though it’s only uploading data to Backblaze, I am unable to do even the simplest of internet functions like a Google search.

Uninstalling Backblaze wasn’t easy either. Even after you uninstall the app, you then have to delete the preference pane from System Preferences.  AppCleaner made this easier for me but a novice might find it too difficult.

And I do realize that taking 125 days to upload 1.175gb to Backblaze isn’t their fault.  They have great feature though where they will send you a hard drive with all your backed up data if downloading it all isn’t your bag. Unfortunately, pricing for this service are not specified on their site. Now if only they’d send you a drive to back up your data to and mail to them to speed up this backup process…

So, it looks like I am just going to have to bite the bullet and get the Drobo. It doesn’t have any of these problems plus allows me to move all of my drives into one place with redundancy.

Just gotta find the money!

My Massive iTunes Library

You might remember, since it was my last post, that when I updated my iTunes to 7.7.1, it crashed my iTunes Library.  I had to start from scratch.  One reader posted a question in my comments.  ZC asked, did I really have the music, why would I have that much media, is it all legal/illegal; etc etc.

ZC.

I most certainly do have that much music, or I did before the crash.  Some numbers have dropped but I retained about 95% of my media.

Why so much?  Well, I don’t pay for cable/satellite and I live in an area where picking up HD over the air is not very feasible.  I got tired of paying for HD-DVR Cable a few years ago and when the AppleTV came out, I was done with it.

Since I was in high school I had the habit of buying lots of CD‘s from Warehouse Music.  The store near my house was going out of business, for four years, and I took advantage of its slow, slow death.

I had a great job working in a chemical company’s laboratory and doing IT work, since I only had classes half of the day, I spent the last year of high school working and really racking up a large library of music.

When iTunes was released for the PC, I went berzerk.  The first thing I purchased, sadly, was Mama Mia; I was hitting on someone who wanted a copy of the CD.

Anyways, the seed was born and I put about $100/month into my iTunes account though it wasn’t uncommon for me to buy 10 CD’s from a new/used music store in a day.

I did this not only to fulfill my love of music, I did it also because I lived with four to six other people who also loved music; I had money, they did not.  I would buy music and let them stream it onto their iTunes in our home.  We had large parties at least once a week, it was college after all, and those parties required vast quantities of high quality, popular music.

Later, I would tire of paying for cable and DVR.  The whole idea of paying to watch something once was stupid to me.  Almost worse was paying to record something only to have to delete it sometime later.

Remember that episode of The OC when what’s-her-face gets drunk and makes out with who’s-that-ho?

I decided I wanted to start buying my television shows and watching them on my schedule.  Going to school, working full time, watching tv, doesn’t work.

I got the AppleTV the day it came out.  I got an iPod video, the day it came out.  I watched my television at the gym, I listened to my music and podcasts in the car.

When the AppleTV finally arrived, I was able to put these movies onto our 46″ plasma screen and off of my tiny iPod screen or my 24″ iMac screen.  That was amazing to me.

I bought more and more television this week.  I considered my cable tv bill of $70/month to be my allowance for buying television shows on iTunes/AppleTV.

Eventually I filled up the 500gb hard drive of my iMac and bought two 1TB externals, one for Time Machine and one for iTunes.

Now I have a 55″ HDTV in my apartment and a 42″ HDTV at our condo.  The 55″ HDTV is powered by my AppleTV, the 42″ is done so by my MacBook Pro through DVI/HDMI.

I am never stranded without some form of entertainment from my iPod, my iPhones (Edge and 3G versions), my iMac, my MacBook Pro or my AppleTV.  It allows me to workout longer and harder.  It keeps plane rides and bus trips barable and to me is a worthy investment.

Friends come over all the time to watch old seasons of Weeds or Damages, just like you would if you had the series on DVD.  Only now we can just click through the AppleTV and don’t have to deal with CD’s and DVD’s all over the place.

Some might think I’m crazy and some people have hundreds and thousands of more titles than I do.  It is not a bragging thing, it is just me loving media and entertainment and consuming it on my time, on my rules when I want to do it.

I hope that explains it.

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iTunes 7.7.1 Destoys Library

Being the Apple fan boy that I am, when iTunes 7.7.1 came out yesterday, I hopped right on it.  Supposedly it fixed some bugs and stability issues.  I installed it through Software Update, went smoothly, usual, blah blah.

Then it started to sync my iPhone 3G.  It reinstalled every application, even those I had requested to not be installed onto the iPhone.

Then it said there were updates for all 24 applications.  I had them download and then install.

First off, let’s complain that iTunes keeps every version of every application, it never just deletes the old buggy ones.  So you end up with 1, 2, 3, 8+ versions of applications.

Oh and it loses them, or at least iTunes 7.7.1 did.  Do you see a problem here?

One hour later, still installing and then it froze.  I restarted the computer, then started the sync again.

Warning, 11 files could not be synced because they could not be found.

Warning, 100 files could not be synced because they could not be found.

Meanwhile, only 600mb+ songs synced out of the previous, um, 12gb of music.

Did a check…  Apparently some 10-90% of my music was moved to my Time Machine, as far as the library was concered.

10-90% because it would only show up if I tried to play or sync them and the vast majority of my synced songs didn’t sync…  So thinking that might extend throughout the Library… yeah…

Not only iTunes 7.7.1 “move” files from my 1tb MyBook external and into my other 1tb MyBook external which is my Time Machine, and not just to there, to inside of email account archives.  WHAT THE F*CK?!

So guess what I get to do?  I get to reload my entire iTunes Library.  Anyone that knows me probably knows that I have quite the iTunes Library of music, movies, television shows, applications, podcasts, games, audiobooks and then some; we are talking over 700gb of data.

Now I have no stats on my music, no play counts, skip counts, ratings…

Now I cannot sync to AppleTV or to my iPods or iPhones because I can’t do smart playlists.  I cannot say pick the newest 5gb, I can’t say choose the Top 1,000 Played, I can’t say pick the Top 5gb Top Rated…

I had stats on over 35,000 songs and over 1,400 television shows and 80 movies…

So now what?  Now I call Apple, first thing in the morning and bitch bitch bitch.

Never have I hated Apple, but this is really getting me close to that point.

Moreover, I have more stuff to bitch about.  iTunes refuses to Sync my Microsoft Exchange accounts from Mail to my iPhone 3G.  It also doesn’t store my iPhone Apps on the proper drive, they go to my Macintosh HD not my iTunes drive.

So much of this could be prevented by iTunes storing song ratings and play counts within the files just as MediaJukebox did.

It’s official, I’m pissed off.

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Stop the iPhone Backup Madness

Thanks to Gizmodo for this one, here’s how you stop the backup process on your iPhone from ever happening.  Chances are you only will need to back up once-in-a-while.  I didn’t know I needed a backup for my phone in the first place!  Here are the steps to take.

1. – Quit iTunes.
2. – Open Terminal.app
3. – Copy and paste this in, then hit return:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true
4. – Open iTunes
5. – Plug in your iPhone (2.0 or 3G) and sync.

It will take a few seconds, assuming you don’t have a ton of music or podcasts.

Changing the ‘true’ in step 3 to ‘false’ will re-enable the backup feature.

I’d probably recommend backing up once a week or each night while you sleep. With the new 2.0.1 firmware these problems are supposed to be fixed. Just switch False/True as needed and you can backup on your schedule.

It’s that easy.  Now you can sync and go!  No more watching the entire Dr. Horrible Sing-Along while you wait.

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iPhone 2.0 Gives Wrong Location

Whenever I use iPhone 2.0 on my 1st generation iPhone to find my location, it says I’m in Florida.  Every time.  I have restarted, reformatted, driven 30 miles away from my home base right now… Still I’m in Florida and at the same address.

I’m in Texas.  Just ask BrightKite.

iPhone 2.0 Gives Wrong Location

Anyone else having these problems?

[poll id=”4″]

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The iPhone Apps I Use

So far these are the iPhone Apps that I find either addictive, highly useful or fucking awesome.  Yes.  And I only paid for one… maybe two of them.  I have over 50 apps on my iTunes now but these are the ones, so far, that I would not live without.

These, to me, are must have apps. Now GET!

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