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Any reason NOT to get a Drobo?

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I'm thinking of getting a Drobo as a Thunderbolt external HDD for a Mac Mini server ... I've searched through the forum archives and this seems like a less common external HDD solution for forum users... so I just wanted to make sure I'm not missing something before I take the plunge ...


the main criticisms I found:


- Loud fan noise ... seems like you could put it in a cabinet (or something similar), and this would not be a big deal?


-Proprietary data management/backup system ... might be a problem if the Drobo itself crashes? But seems like you could backup the overall Drobo "drive" to another external HDD to guard against that?


-Expensive ... no way around that!


So am I missing something ... any reason the Drobo's dont seem to be that popular around here? Any MAJOR reason NOT to get one?



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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought long and hard about a DROBO but decided against it, pretty much for the reasons you are discovering. These were my bug bears;



Resilience - this was the main reason for going against it, if a drive fails no problem, pull it out, put a new one in and the DROBO rebuilds it. If the DROBO fails, that's it . . . no data as far as I am aware, because if you buy a replacement unit and put the drives back in it rebuilds and wipes them, so you have to have a further backup. So add that lot up and its a very expensive option and not that flexible compared to a Synogly, which with the apps now available made it a no-brainer for me. QNAP make good units now too, but hard to beat Synology at the moment I reckon.



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I have both a Drobo S and FS. Both have 5 drives. Easy to operate and change drives when one fails. If more than one fails or the Drobo fails, then you are in trouble. I use the Drobos as secondary backups to two big Synology NAS drives (two 12 drive 4 TB each monsters) which are each configured with the Synology version of RAID 5 and two hot spares each. I have everything backed up multiple times (the Synology has the RAID and 2 hot spares, the Drobo has its back up and then I have separate 4TB Seagate external drives for a third back up - I will be doing a fourth set of Seagate 4TB backups to go in a safe deposit box). It has taken me about 4 years to rip about 24TB of vinyl and tapes at 192/24, so drives are cheap compared with the time involved.


I would never use Drobos as my only storage, at a minimum have at least one set of complete backups on external hard drives.


BTW, it takes a Drobo a very long time to rebuild a replacement drive when one fails (4 TB takes between 1 and 2 days). If another drive in the Drobo fails during the rebuild process then you are dead.



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I use a drobo 5N in a walk-in closet on the other side of my place to the living room. Works great! As far as noise goes I find that the only noise I get is from the drives, not the unit or the fan. With 5 WD Reds I get 60-70MB/s transfer rates which is plenty fast. About once a month or so I backup to an external 4TB drive but will be backing-up video to a second drive in the future since I've maxed out the 1st 4TB external back-up drive.

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I used a FS (the old NAS) for 2 years without major trouble. I'm crazy for the simplicity of Drobo: no maintenance, nothing, and above all you can feed it with any drive of different speed/capacity.


Very happy but so slow. Last year switched to 5D: excellent choice. Reliable, changed numerous times the drives without issues. I don't like NAS because I want to be able to shut down easily my storage server. Used with iMac and Mac Mini: no problem. Thunderbolt was faster. Now I dumped Mac in favor of Windows, can't use TB anymore. USB3 a little slower but Drobo still as reliable and lovely as before. There is not so much competition in term of reliable direct attached units. LaCie 5big also quite big but quite good.


My 5 cents: from this generation (~2013) Drobo finally came to speed and the product is good. Now let's be clear: it will fail down, so there must be backups elsewhere, a lot of backups.

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  • 2 weeks later...
thanks for all the replies .... ok, so the Drobo is not a perfect solution ... what is the preferred external/thunderbolt solution for a mac mini? opinions?


I have two Drobo Mini's and two original Drobo's (5yrs old) I love the Mini's. One has spinning disk and the other SSDs. I find the performance is great with either USB3 or Thunderbolt. I believe I purchased the Mini's for around $200 on Amazon a year back One has 4TB of laptop drives in it along with a small SSD for cache. Total cost ~$500.

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