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Meet Drobo: A Data-Saving Robot

Last response: in Storage
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June 27, 2007 12:34:46 PM

Conventional RAID solutions can be expensive, difficult to handle and hard to upgrade. Data Robotics offers you an alternative: Drobo, a robot that will fix your storage problems.
June 27, 2007 1:51:38 PM

Abstraction and virtualization of the block device to the point where the true drive size isn't known without their proprietary software?

Proprietary driver such that the OS doesn't even know that it's talking to a block device?

Inability to recover from even a simple remove/reinsert of a drive?

$500 with no drives?

16 MB/sec maximum performance?

2 TB limit?

I wouldn't touch this thing with a 10' USB cable.
June 27, 2007 3:30:33 PM

I agree, it's got enough "cons" to outweigh the "pros". In spite of its intended ease of use for an average home user, I don't think this is geared for home users properly.

I'm sure many home users would think it's confusing to have the OS report 2TB if there's not 2 TB available. Also, having the device not recognize hard drives for recovery after a device is removed & reinserted in short order is not a good sign. I am a bit surprised that they would not include eSATA for better performance, but for the average user USB would be the choice.

A small gripe I have is the 2TB limit. I know that up through Windows XP 32bit and Server 2003 (pre SP1) has 2TB limits, and some may not feel this is a limit because 2TB is a lot of space, but we now have 1TB in a single hard drive, and later versions of Windows handles up to 256TB. (see http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/device/storage/LUN_SP1.ms...) After DVR, music, pictures and other data, this storage is quickly used up. 2TB will eventually be passe, and I for one want a device that would be able to expand as hard drives increase. If needed, they should have the drive space amounts split into the 2TB limits imposed by the OS or the system within the device and allow for larger disks.

Another concern is that although this is a better solution for disk protection, it does not protect the user from a failed power supply. Working with NAS boxes in the past, I've used devices which had redundant, hot swappable power supplies. Granted this is a home user device, but redundant power would be an advantage. Even giving the option to add a redundant supply would be good.

Overall, if the device fails, what happens to all the data on the disks? Likely it all fails. As the author mentions, a home user who wants a large hard drive volume for data and redundancy may get multiple external disks and manually copy them. I would agree that for the price of 2 USB single external drives and either using a scheduled robocopy/xcopy task or a piece of replication software is a simple, cost effective, and quick way to get extra storage with redundancy. Once a manufacturer can produce a product without a "single point of failure" (meaning, in my opinion, a device that will not render the data useless because the device failed and cannot be recovered) and it is cost effective, I would then recommend it to my clients.
June 27, 2007 3:51:08 PM

mirroring (RAID 1) is probly the best way to keep data save and Most RAID HW does simple match both disks you can just Pull the disl out and put it in an norm pc

think the review was an little wasted when it got to the tests why use random disks when useing speed test

this is not an item i buy the idea of the product is there but thay need to test it before giveing it to us beta testers (like Pre n stuff) i not trust my data with that box and the speed of it is poor
June 27, 2007 10:52:52 PM

If you look at the Drobo website, you will see the 2TB limit is for a volume, not the whole unit. This is a USB limitation. If you add enough disks to go over that limit, another volume will be created.
June 27, 2007 11:06:25 PM

Quote:
If you look at the Drobo website, you will see the 2TB limit is for a volume, not the whole unit. This is a USB limitation. If you add enough disks to go over that limit, another volume will be created.


The limitation is not USB. The limitation is normally the OS (Windows XP x86, Windows Server 2003 RTM, and all previous versions of Windows have a 2TB limit on any disk/volume, regardless of the interface, file system, or API used.)

Windows XP x64, Windows Server 2003 SP1/SP2, and Windows Vista all support volumes >2TB if GPT disks are used, so long as the device supports it also.

The DRobo will not support >2TB volumes even when used with one of these OS's. Thus, it's a DRobo limitation.

You are correct though in that more than 2TB of space can be used, but will be on separate volumes/drive letters.
June 28, 2007 11:40:26 AM

Yes, you can make more than one drive letter / volume with 2TB limits. Thank you, I should have added that in my earlier post. I was narrowing down and looking at it from the "home user" who may not look at it positively when they want simplicity, not multiple volumes and such.

To add to my earlier point, I wish software (MS et all) and hardware manufacturers would use a much, much larger number in the "zettabyte" range so this doesn't get touched again for decades. Maybe not so high, but you get my point.
July 5, 2007 4:28:48 AM

Quote:


The limitation is not USB. The limitation is normally the OS (Windows XP x86, Windows Server 2003 RTM, and all previous versions of Windows have a 2TB limit on any disk/volume, regardless of the interface, file system, or API used.)




Er, I think you may find that is incorrect. NTFS under XP or Win2K3 will support massive volumes, however only on a dynamic disk, where volumes up to 256TB are apparently supported (depending on your cluster size - I believe this is true for 64k clusters).

Now, quite why you would want to is a mystery since it would probably take about 2 days to CHKDSK a 2TB volume after an ungraceful shutdown.... :lol: 

edit - btw - this is the issue with USB devices, as I don't believe they can be formatted as dynamic disks - hence the 2TB volume limit.
July 5, 2007 3:18:43 PM

Quote:
Er, I think you may find that is incorrect. NTFS under XP or Win2K3 will support massive volumes, however only on a dynamic disk, where volumes up to 256TB are apparently supported (depending on your cluster size - I believe this is true for 64k clusters).

...

edit - btw - this is the issue with USB devices, as I don't believe they can be formatted as dynamic disks - hence the 2TB volume limit.


I should have worded my statement more carefully. Dynamic disks will support a total volume size >2TB, but each 2TB chunk of disk space has to be on a separate physical device. In order to access any clusters beyond 2TB on a single device requires GPT discs, which means Windows 2003 SP1, Windows XP x64, or Vista. This is assuming 4K clusters. Windows/NTFS theoretically supports larger clusters but I've had massive problems when attempting to use anything larger than 4K. (Checkdsk won't run properly, constantly reports errors even after "fixing" them, annoyingly long and hard disk thrashing when accessing large directories, etc.)

I have never tried to create a dynamic volume out of space on a USB-attached device, so I don't know if that's a limitation or not. It is possible that Windows doesn't allow dynamic disks to be set up using any chunks of space from any removable disk, which would preclude it being used on USB, 1394, eSATA, and any other removable device.
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