Drobo FS info

June 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm 8 comments

I’m sure everyone is waiting impatiently for part 2 of the Drobo FS review.  Unfortunately, I’ve been holding out for new firmware.  I had several odd issues while moving data to the Drobo FS.  That, and Time Machine wasn’t supported in the original firmware.

I’ve since upgraded to the latest release.  Time Machine does work now with Drobo FS, but there is a bug whereby your Mac always thinks that the full size of your Time Machine partition is available… Not sure what effect this will have when you actually do run out of space on that partition, but I’ve made the Drobo people aware, so hopefully they are hard at work fixing this issue.  So, I’m still waiting on firmware for that final fix.

There is a bit of magic that I have witnessed with the Drobo FS that I’d like to share, though.  I initially installed three 1 TB drives in the Drobo FS.  After a few weeks, a 500 GB Seagate drive in my SageTV server started acting up.  I shipped it off to Seagate and got a refurbished replacement.  SageTV has transcoding working very well in the last few versions, typically squeezing a show in about 1/8th to 1/10th of the original size, so I haven’t really needed this 500 GB drive (in addition to my 1 TB main drive).

Anyhow, once the replacement 500 GB drive arrived, I placed it in my Drobo FS.  Within just a minute or so, Drobo Dashboard showed my expansion complete (this is with me using probably 500 GB of the Drobo FS).  In looking at the Dashboard, it showed pretty much the entire capacity of the 500 GB drive added.  This means that it reorganized the RAID array so that I had four 500 GB slices in one array, and three 500 GB slices in the other array.  I lost 500 GB from each of the two arrays, equaling the waste of 1 TB from the original three TB drives.

From the typical users standpoint, adding a new 500 GB drive and having that much extra storage show up is exactly what you’d expect.  I’ve used various RAID systems over about the last 15 years, so I see how difficult this would be to actually do with any other system.  It’s really a pretty amazing technical achievement. Almost magical, even…  Or maybe I’ve just been reading too much about the iPad.  🙂


Entry filed under: General, Networking.

Drobo FS Review, part 1 ReadyNAS, iSCSI, and VMware

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jsherhart  |  June 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Hello and it’s always nice to find someone who understands the complexity behind making a product simple. I don’t know if we’d even say that BeyondRAID is magical, but we sure don’t mind that you think so. We do feel it is a much better way to protect data and a very different experience from anything using traditional RAID.

    Regarding your comments about Time Machine shares reporting the wrong capacity, this is purely cosmetic and will be addressed in the next version of the firmware. There is absolutely no risk of running out of space on these shares. Use with confidence (as we do!).


    Jim Sherhart
    Data Robotics, Inc.

  • 2. jesseparkes  |  July 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I’m looking forward to part 2 of your review, so please do find the time for it. I’m considering getting a Drobo FS to replace my DLink DNS 323 which I am using in single drive mode – so I don’t have any backup whatsoever. The price is a bit steep but I hate having to worry about burning pictures and stuff to optical media.

    In particular I would like to know what the real world speeds are for it on a gigabit network and to make sure it will work for straming files to my popcornhour media player.


    • 3. ptaylor  |  August 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm

      Sorry it took me so long to comment – I forgot about your comment until I saw it again this evening. I haven’t gotten around to performing any performance tests with my Drobo FS since I’ve upgraded to the latest version of firmware. I can say that you shouldn’t have any issue with streaming media from one, though. I’ve moved my entire iTunes video collection over to it, and it streams beautifully, using regular old Samba. I believe the highest res files I have are 720p, but I can’t imagine 1080p being any issue either. If I’m remembering my initial test results anywhere near right, I was getting in the upper 20 MegaByte/second range on the slowest of tests. That’s no where near full wire speed on a Gigabit network, but it’s about double what you’d get on a 100 Megabit network (they top out around 12-13 MegaBytes/second). My ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer is much faster, in the upper 30 to mid 40 MB/second range, but for the money the Drobo FS is a great deal, especially when you consider the fact that you don’t need Enterprise level drives in the Drobo FS – Just buy whatever is on sale and plug it in…

  • 4. itoad  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:08 am

    I’ve just bought the Drobo FS (two actually) and updated the firmware + dashboard to the most recent versions.

    However Im experiencing very pour network performance when transferring data FROM my Drobo FS to my iMac. It’s varies from 500kb and peaks at 16mbit.

    The other way around (from iMac to Drobo FS) I get 25MB/s which is acceptable.

    I’ve tried through my AirPort Extreme (gigabit-wired with cat6) but also directly into the Drobo FS from my iMac. Same story for both of my two Drobo FS.

    I connect my shares via AFP.

    Any ideas how to fix this? 🙂

    Thanks in advance.

    • 5. ptaylor  |  September 30, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      That’s nothing like the performance I’m seeing on my Drobo-FS. I’m thinking there is a problem with your network, as you should be getting speeds MUCH better than that – in the 35 MB/sec range, assuming you have a Gigabit network.

  • 6. itoad  |  October 1, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Yeah, that’s what I thought too, but even when I connect a cat6 cable directly into the Drobo FS, I get the above mentioned speeds. It’s really weird.

    Are you running Snow Leopard 10.6.4, by any chance?

    • 7. ptaylor  |  October 1, 2010 at 8:23 am

      Yes, that’s what I’m running on my iMac. Since you have two performing this way it would seem unlikely that it’s a problem with the Drobo, unless there is a bad batch of hardware or something. I am assuming you are using the same types of drives in both units. What capacity? Did you build the array with the original firmware or the latest firmware? How did you copy the files to it? How full is the array? Have you tried a different client machine? Do you have any of the drobo apps running?

  • 8. itoad  |  October 1, 2010 at 8:31 am

    No, I’m really confused as well. I hope there is a “minor” fix to this as this happens to both my Drobos. What are the odds of purchasing two Drobos with issues.

    I’ve submitted a ticket at Data Robotics but you can see more specific information about the two Drobos below 🙂 I’ve updated the firmware and dashboard before building the array.

    Drobo #1
    Firmware version: 1.0.5
    Dashboard version: 1.7.3
    OS version: OSX 10.6.4 (With SSD)
    Hard drives: 4×1.5TB WD Green
    Network: Have tried connecting directly to iMac and through an Airport Extreme – both with cat6 cable.
    Network protocols: Have tried SMB and AFP.
    NOT Dual Redundancy
    Droboapps: None.
    Network performance: 16MB/s FROM Drobo FS and 500kb/10mbit peak TO Drobo FS.

    Drobo #2
    Firmware version: 1.0.5
    Dashboard version: 1.7.3
    OS version: OSX 10.6.4 (With SSD)
    Hard drives: 4×1.5TB WD Green + 1 320GB Hitachi Drive.
    Network: Have tried connecting directly to iMac and through an Airport Extreme – both with cat6 cable.
    Network protocols: Have tried SMB and AFP.
    Dual Redundancy activated.
    Droboapps: NFS installed.
    Network performance: 25MB/s TO Drobo FS and 500kb/16mbit peak FROM Drobo FS.

    Note: The two Drobos is not connected to the same LAN – not even placed in the same city.


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