Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Drobo. Better. Stronger. Faster

TechnologyWhen I first heard about the Data Robotics Drobo, " ... the first fully automated storage robot designed to ensure that data is always protected, storage capacity is unlimited and it is exceptionally easy to expand ...", I was delighted.

My introduction came from my favorite of all podcasts, This Week In Photography or TWiP where they (primarily from Scott Bourne of Managing Your Digital Life) were extolling all the praises of this new media savior. At last, they all agreed, there was an easier way to keep files from entering the the great data ethos prematurely and without prior consent, because when that happens, it really stinks.

I say that with all conviction due to the fact that: Not two months before hearing about the Drobo, my 250GB internal media drive decided to die and take one of it's partitions and all of my audio files (of which there were many THOUSANDS) along with it. [me: shakes fist at the data gods and all their cruelty] Needless to say and without reopening that scared wound, the files were unrecoverable. In steps the Drobo. My new hope for never having to go through that again.

As someone who builds computers knows, the standard way of keeping solid backups of your data, was primarily to build a RAID system with many internal drives. This was, unfortunately for me, an option I did not go with on my last PC creation. Primarily for two reasons. Cost, internal case space and pain-in-the-butt'id-ness. Okay, three reasons. After my HD failure, I HAD to get a different storage solution. So off to Costco I went where I purchased an external 1TB drive connected via FireWire. This was great in the sense that I now had way more space but bad in the fact that I could still suffer with another HD crash in the future - only this time, it will take FIVE times the data with it. So far the external drive had performed well, and that is to be expected. They tend to do so right up to the point where they don't. There is, however, one of the four 'accessing data' LED's on the face that has burned out. Is this where it starts? With a .03 LED then -BLAMMO- catastrophic platter death? Let's hope not. Why not?

I do not have a Drobo ... yet.

Yea, yea, I know. "Drobo's are great. Drobo's are the bomb. You go on and on about how awesome they are but don't have one?" Fine. They are great .. and for the less-then-employed, they are also a bit expensive. If only there was a way to get a free one. Hmmmm ...

Anyway ...

They are a small independent computer that can hold up to 16TB in drives (of almost any configuration and size) that not only backs up your data but keeps it safe by healing the data from any drive that happened to go bad, using a set of parity archive files - that is the coolest part of the Drobo.

As a person who had downloaded a bit of data from the internet, I am familiar with the parity file system and think that that is a brilliant way of handling the large data storage solution while removing the chance of loosing files when a drive dies. In the Drobo, if a drive goes tits, you pull it out (literally) and push in a new one. After a while the system replaces the information that was on that drive with the data it has stored in those wonderful parity files spread across the system and -tada- all your data is back. SaWeet!

I guess what this whole post is trying to say is:
  • Drobo's are cool
  • Their expandable to 16TB
  • They run themselves with minimal fiddling
  • I NEED one
  • A free one
  • They are not cheap
  • ... but they are worth it
Did I mention I need one?

Or two ...

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