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back to article Drobos flying off the shelves

Nobody told Geoff Barrall's Data Robotics there was a recession. Sales have just doubled year-on-year in its second quarter, the company says. Privately held Data Robotics makes Drobo, a 4- or 8-slot external storage device with RAID-like protection, user-installable hard drives, and a virtualised block storage pool. It's also …

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Really?

Well lets hope that drives down the price then as those things will set you back a limb.

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Bronze badge

Figures

So, how do these numbers work out as a percentage of the market?

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I've just contributed to this

My first Drobo arrived this morning from Amazon.

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Paris Hilton

Too slow, Move along. Nothing to see here.

I bought one at Christmas with the DroboShare. That's sat in a drawer since the second week of January because it offers so little functionality with no share level access control or integration with a/d. The pair will be going on fleabay as soon as I've got the money to buy another PC to put the disks in. The thing is unusable it's that slow. It's not more slots it needs, it's an eSATA interface.

Paris, 'cos she can get her bits out much quicker.

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ZFS + CIFS better combo

You can very easy build your own server that is more reliable, useable and powerful and cheaper. Read this article for more information

http://breden.org.uk/2008/03/02/a-home-fileserver-using-zfs/

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FAIL

Data unavailability, poor stability, dreadful product

I had a DROBO Mk2 until very recently - running latest firmware. I'm glad I don't have it any more.

It was chronically slow over FireWire (any disk writes during media streaming would cause my movie to slow to a stop: useless!). Three weeks ago my device took itself off line for many hours - flashing amber & green lights - and then came back apparently happy as if nothing ever happened. After I recovered from the heart attack it settled down, but then my DROBO did the green / amber flashy thing (albeit for only 10 mins) several times in the following days. Again, no reason for doing so. Of course, I raised a call… and got no response from DROBO support after I mailed in my 'customer unreadable' log file. What is the point of a customer unreadable log file, for heavens sake?

Others I talk to have had the same problem with data unavailability and have run away from the product quickly. I also read startling web blogs from DROBO Mk2 owners who had lost everything during firmware upgrades or spurious multi-disk failures.

Wish I had known about this before buying and not just trusted the trade rags which only test a product for a few days.

So, why exactly should I trust my data to a product that is slow, unreliable and has non-existent support? Answer - I won't. Instead, I put in place a scheduled mirror process between two external FireWire 800 WD Studio disks which is a far faster solution and gives me confidence that if I lose one of them the other will be OK.

Like so many of these 'home storage solutions' the code they run is less reliable that the disks themselves. They run proprietary RAID algorithms or filesystem code which is no where near robust enough. The bottom line: don't trust your data to just one supposedly reliable product - it will fail, guaranteed. And make sure you read up on the reliability of the product before you jump in with cold cash. The web is full of horror stories about DROBOs suffering data unavailability or total data loss.

I was lucky - managed to get my data off without loss. Others have not been so lucky. Buyer beware.

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Re: Segate Drives

" I now have a "potential brick" Seagate left, but Seagate won't replace it until it becomes a "for real brick." Great contrast in customer support, there."

It's an issue with the firmware on many Barracuda models (some say up to 40%).

I was hit by the same bug and it's a real pain to have to send them back. However they do have a downloadable livecd which you can use to upgrade your own firmware before they brick.

Check it out, it will save you from the hassle of sending it back and not knowing when it will go.

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FAIL

Drobo disaster stories

Well, either Drobo data corruption problems have been fixed, or they just bought some highly expensive indemnity insurance -- check these links:

1. http://www.billstreeter.net/?p=80 or http://billstreeter.net/2008/03/18/do-not-buy-a-drobo/

2. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=drobo+data+loss&aq=f&oq=&aqi=

(Results 1 - 10 of about 8,640 for drobo data loss)

Also, Drobo uses a proprietary, unpublished data format, just to make things more exciting.

Far better is the ZFS file system which is free from Sun/Oracle -- make your own NAS for much less money, which has the advantage of being an open storage system which is open source and free of charge, and it has terrific storage protection features that Drobo can't even dream of matching.

See example ZFS NAS here:

http://breden.org.uk/2008/03/02/a-home-fileserver-using-zfs/

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Stop

DIY

To those of you advising building a NAS with ZFS, you seem entirely to be missing the point. Drobo is not targeting DIY geeks who are happy to cobble together a fileserver out of spare parts but rather the other 99.9999% of humanity.

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Drobo is awesome!

Drobo is indeed an excellent device, and is actually priced very well for a decent 4-bay raid enclosure. I don't think it has eSATA though, just Firewire 800 which is way slower on a RAID device.

It was pretty expensive at first, but HOLY CRAP can you find a good deal. Amazon USA has the non-pro Drobo for $319 after rebate!! This is a normally a $450 device.

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Des

I love my Thecus

I bought a Thecus N5200 pro (for home use) and stuck in 5 x 750GB drives in RAID 5 config. It's great, it does all I need and more with only one exception (something to do with 4GB files). It has a built in print server too (if you need one) and 2 network ports (there is a 5 port model). It supports eSATA and iSCSI as well as USB. I've had mine for 18 months and it is still the best data storage device I've owned.

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Tom Maddox

"To those of you advising building a NAS with ZFS, you seem entirely to be missing the point. Drobo is not targeting DIY geeks who are happy to cobble together a fileserver out of spare parts but rather the other 99.9999% of humanity."

It is very easy to install OpenSolaris on a computer. It is not difficult. As for ZFS, it is secure. Drobo is not. All discs shows some errors when reading many bits. ZFS corrects them, no other solution can correct the bit errors. The ZFS main architect explains about future filesystems, which problems they face and how to solve them:

http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=1317400

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Flame

Funny

For all those who think Drobo Mk2 is great because its not dumped on you yet / you've only had it for 2 days and love the cool look / read some reviews on line and trust them: listen to those who have been through the pain, been scarred, lost data, found other better solutions.

By the way, Drobo Mk1 appears to be less of a problem, based on the online material I have read / personal experience.

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Flame

@ "I like a geek with a sense of humor"

Since when did OpenSolaris == Linux ?

ZFS comes from the OpenSolaris stable, NOT Linux.

You might like to get your facts right before attempting to laugh at other people, and in the process making a fool of yourself... just a thought ;-)

Thanks for making me laugh though :)

As you would appear to have no experience of either ZFS or Drobo, you would do well perhaps to listen to those who have experience of these things -- like 'JL 1' for example.

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FAIL

No built-in NIC????

I would have bought a few of these, but then I learned the add-on NIC was like 120 bucks...

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Pirate

To the 'guru' AC @ 02:57

> I have decades of heavy-duty software development experience, network design, Web design, project management, and general all-purpose geekiness. I own a Drobo MkII, use a Drobo MkI and several of my employees use Drobos for their desktop backups.

Good luck mate. I suppose you've done a google of 'drobo data loss' ?

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Happy

@AC 02:57

> Actually, I have more experience with both of these technologies than you could possibly imagine, as well as Linux, UNIX, and even some other OSes. I have decades of heavy-duty software development experience, network design, Web design, project management, and general all-purpose geekiness.

Wow, I bow down in honour your lordship -- yeah right. My daddy's bigger than yours too... :)

Your listed skills are pretty commonplace amongst slightly older geeks like yourself, so nothing special there. I could easily reel off a load of my skills too, but what would it prove?

However, it does amaze me that for someone who is supposedly so smart, why Drobo -- when the tales of woe of data loss are there for you to read aplenty?

Tell me one thing. What makes you so confident you won't lose your data using Drobo? And why would you choose to use a storage system which uses a proprietary unpublished format?

I wish you luck. Have a nice day too.

Oh, and one more thing. When you mentioned Linux in the following statement, what has Linux got to do with things -- the guy you laughed at was talking about something that used OpenSolaris and ZFS -- so I fail to see where Linux comes into things.

Here's your statement again: "At least, I'm really hoping this was a joke. If it wasn't, then we have a VERY good example of why Linux has yet to make serious inroads onto the Consumer Scene."

As your such a self-confessed expert on Drobo and ZFS, could you list each of the areas that Drobo beats the list of ZFS' protective features. Just in case you need to refresh your memory:

http://opensolaris.org/os/community/zfs/whatis/

You went AC too ... Pot... kettle... black :)

Have a nice day again!

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 02:57

You back up to AIT, a helical scan format. Credibility failure. If the angle of the helical scan drifts, you're scuppered.

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