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Data Safety Made Easy

Meet Drobo: A Data-Saving Robot
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RAID Levels - A Short Overview

Popular storage solutions for on-line operation and permanent availability are based on RAID configurations. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent/Inexpensive Drives. You are able to reach distinct goals by configuring your RAID array in different ways. Improved data throughput is called RAID 0; distributing data across two drives in a stripe set. This configuration scales with as many drives as your controller supports, but bears no question of data safety, since all data will be lost in case only one hard drive dies.

RAID 1 provides you with increased data security. Data written on one hard drive will be mirrored onto the second drive in this configuration. Thereby, you can still access your data on the functioning hard drive even if the other one is failing. After the defective hard drive is replaced, the RAID controller will mirror your data onto the new drive to restore a safe system state.

In regard to data security, RAID 5 is definitely the most common RAID configuration. You will need at least three hard drives for RAID 5. User data and parity information will be distributed across the drives. RAID 5 helps to recognize errors and to recover data after a hard drive failure. However, RAID arrays are not very flexible if you want to change the configuration.

The Promise: Automated Data Safety Without Configuration Hassles

Data Robotics' Drobo is supposed to do all the configuration work for you. The manufacturer's objective is to offer simple and safe data storage without a difficult setup process. The company's Website offers a video featuring Drobo's functions. Data Robotics claims the device allows you to upgrade hard drive capacity without performance losses and latency, while it automatically completes configuration and setup tasks for the user.

Virtualizing Hard Drives

Data Robotics utilizes the principle of virtualization to avoid typical limitations of static RAID arrays. Drobo administers available storage dynamically, depending on the size of the installed hard drive. It is also possible to use hard drives with different capacities.

One drawback is how Windows Explorer will always indicate that Drobo has 2 TB of storage capacity - regardless of the actual size of the disks in the array.

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    Anonymous , July 18, 2008 4:50 PM
    Thank you for your review. I only want to add that there is a 2nd generation drobo that gives Firewire support. Also, you can buy droboshare to go along with one or two drobo for network access. I would be most interested in reading your thoughts about the different connection abilities and speeds. http://www.drobo.com/Products/Index.html
    Thanks again