"Next to my cameras,
drobo is the most important piece of equipment I use".
drobo in action
I've had the drobo for a couple of days now and have been very impressed with it. After loading it with 500gig drives, hooking it up, (which was easier than installing a printer!) It swallowed the entire contents of three hard disks. Having got it full of all the data the next thing to do was to make a drive fail by popping a drive out of it and see what happened. Not for the fainthearted, but, disaster recovery is no use unless you test it! The drobo behaved exactly as the nice people at Data Robotics said it would and soon enough, all the lights were green again. Nice.
There is much discussion about the "lack" of gigabit or Firewire connectivity with the drobo to a host PC or MAC based system. While the addition of either of these protocols would speed things up in the photographic world, where large volumes of multi megabyte images eternally expand to fill all the available disk space. These protocols will be available at some point, but this shouldn't preclude the advantages of the drobo from being used today.
In the same way that computers use fast memory as the worktop, and a hard drive as a filing cabinet, to borrow an office based analogy, using a fast hard drive as a desktop and drobo as a filing cabinet works very well for me. I'm not sure if the phrase has been used before by another product, but "near-line backup" is how it could be described in the system that works for me.
When it first arrived, rather than immediately hooking it up, the drobo spent a couple of hours in the studio here posing for the cameras as can be seen above. To the un-named and unknown photographer who did the photos for the drobo website, www.drobo.com "nice work!"
SEVERAL MONTHS LATER...
Now several months after the installation of drobo, as well as the obvious and direct benefits like sleeping at night! Using the drobo as a huge file bucket has let me rationalise the directory tree structure on the resident local drives and see just how many copies of some files had crept across the drives! (How does that happen??)
The particular methodology that I have developed and use every day relies on automatically finding any image files that might appear on any of the several possible drives, at any time and copying those files to the drobo. I then need to be able to copy any such file back to a different drive to work on. This also has to work with multiple files (up to 3,000 at a time!) oh, and replicate the directory structure of the source area too!
Backup software is the obvious choice but there are usually problems with that choice; Only scheduled checks, compression, usually really slow or a backup container file that can only be accessed by the backup program.
Although there is no backup software supplied with the drobo, something is needed unless you are going to remember to do it manually every time you change something on one of the drives. Hmmm... I can spot some holes in that plan!
The good news is that there is a solution and it's an obscure piece of software that was probably designed without any knowledge of a drobo. I now have live and un-encrypted backups directly to the drobo from four other drives on the same computer and several important drives on other computers in the network, now a fully automatic process too. That last sentence explains what is probably the most useful part of using a drobo. ALL the important files, wherever they are, are monitored and in my case copied to the drobo each night without me doing anything! An elegant, efficient, brilliant solution! This software is a perfect solution. Strictly speaking, it's not a pure back up program, but it does the job and does it very well.
I can't recommend it highly enough, it has proved an excellent partner to, and an essential part of how I use, my drobo.
NOTE; If you buy the software, and it's ridiculously cheap as well as being bloody good. If you want to use it in the same way as I have described above, when configuring it;
Make sure you have it moving or copying from the local drive to the drobo. One way only! That gives you the data vault / near line backup / whatever you want to call it.
By default, the software is capable and configured as bi-directional. It will keep two copies of every file, one on the local drive, one on the drobo and syncronise the drives / directories in both directions, you don't need that.
Setup one job per drive and configure which folders to include or exclude. You can then manually over ride the automatic moving of files on a specific drive with just a couple of clicks.
I'd also recommend that you copy only, once you have finished working on any files on the local drive you can delete them and you'll still have the directory structure on the drobo. That keeps the local drive work space from getting clogged up.
If it's not completely clear what the setup is from the description above, feel free to email me with any questions. click here to do that
Drobo has had two firmware updates and has been powered 24/7 throughout the last couple of months. Everything I've tried in attempting to break it has been rewarded with four green drive lights and the message;
"I am healthy and have sufficient capacity, no action is required at this time"
The classic line "I'm completely operational and all my circuits are functioning perfectly" has finally been rewritten and brought up to date.
I thought I'd poke around the drobo with the temperature probe from a FLUKE 179 and share the results.
My drobo is filled with 4 x Hitachi 500gb deskstars that areat 50% capacity. The PC has been running about 17 hours since last reboot.
Room Temperature (same height as drobo) 64.4f
Temperature one inch inside top left hole of front cover 55.6f
Temperature of top of top hard drive (no front cover) 64.1f
Temperature of top of top hard drive (WITH FRONT COVER!) 61.9f
Temperature half inch inside cowling of rear exhaust fan 77.4f
What my numbers appear to indicate is a reduction in temperature of a couple of degrees with the front cover on!
Xmas - Happy xmas droboteers, :-)
The drobo has been running almost non stop (we had a couple of power cuts earlier in the year) for almost a year now without any problems... It's still at about 50% capacity, having got rid of nests of duplicate files. There was a brief point in time where I actually GAINED space after deleting all the duplicates! I've managed to clog all that up now.
AND YOU FANCY BUYING ME A DRINK,
More to follow in the adventures of a drobo soon
If you would like more information on the drobo, call Robert on
+44 (0)118 976 7111, tell him Max sent you!
The BBC PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
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