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Drobo - a good buy for me?

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Francis Mead
Drobo - a good buy for me?
on Nov 13, 2008 at 6:11:29 pm

Sorry - not sure where else to post this.

Currently I have three external drives - two G-Raids and one LaCie, with a total of two terabytes capacity - which is getting filled up. As I take on more video projects, it would be preferable for me to have an integrated system for storage with protection from drive break-down. It's just me - and my workload isn't enormous - but I need more storage space - and until now have been editing in SD, but need to switch up to HD/HDV.

I know little about storage systems - and have looked at the ads for Drobo - on the face of it, it looks like it might be suitable for me and not to costly - but I don't know how well it compares.

would be interested in opinions on this.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Drobo - a good buy for me?
on Nov 13, 2008 at 11:11:07 pm

Its a firewire drive - just like your Lacie or G-Tech, but you can pop drives in and out. It is not a SAN. You can't use this as shared storage. The interface is FW800/FW400 and USB2. It's not hi speed.
I dont' really see the apeal of this product. It uses standard drives, just like any other product on the market. If you want protection from failure, there are countless RAID 5 products on the market for professional application.

I am currently testing the wonderful new Cal Digit HD Element which comes with the Cal Digit RAID 5 card. this is a professional product - and there are others as well. I am not really sure what I am missing about the Drobo -and what makes it unique from other drive products on the market.

Bob Zelin

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Tom Meegan
Re: Drobo - a good buy for me?
on Nov 18, 2008 at 12:09:23 pm

I've been researching the Drobo as a back-up to the RAID 5 SAN I recently purchased.

Although Drobo isn't a SAN, with the addition of a Drobo Share it becomes an NAS.

Drobo Share is a compelling choice as dummy proof back up for shops with two or three seats, and Drobo is a nice choice as primary storage for one man bands doing low bandwidth work.

Drobo + four 1.5 TB drives:

Equals 6 TB raw (about 4.5 TB usable) on a Drobo. About $1100.00. Direct connect to one edit station doing DV or HDV work and it will perform pretty well.

Here is the performance chart:

For the shop with several seats add DroboShare for about $200 and anther Drobo with four drives –

12 TB raw, 8-9 TB usable, sharable over a network, $2400.00.

This could serve as a common media pool for sound effects, music, and stock footage. Or a near-line archive. Or back up for the SAN.

The Drobo's ease of use, ease up upgrade, and the ability to turn it into an NAS for $200 are good reasons to consider it for certain users.

Tom Meegan
Woven Pixels, LLC

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Matt Geier
Re: Drobo - a good buy for me?
on Nov 26, 2008 at 6:34:46 am


I admit I had been watching this thread and now I cannot help myself but to share my opinion. I thought I might share a few important points. As a matter of fact I had a conversation with someone else earlier in the week that asked me this very question. So these thoughts are fresh.

From the research I've done the Drobo is a good Direct Attached Storage (DAS) device.

Here's the Transfer Rates direct from their spec off the website -

Max Sustained Transfer Rate
FireWire 800: Up to 52MB/s reads and 34MB/s writes
USB 2.0: Up to 30MB/s reads and 24MB/s writes

One note to make is that this is with no IO's (Input Output) going on. This device is good if you only have just one computer, maybe two. If you have plans for anything else beyond that in the long term the transfer rates will not stand up in a "Shared" environment. Needless to say a Video Editing Shared Environment.

So, with regard to Final Cut, if you do DV25 and DV50 and you do very little of it, one of these Drobo's, could effectively support a couple editing clients at best.

You have to know the math about what this looks like in the network to really know how your going to be able to plan long term for growth and additional editing suites.

Just know that your Ethernet Ports will go 100MB/sec. Don't overlook the idea of taking advantage of something additional you already have on your computer. Ethernet Storage is the next best thing to this Drobo that I could suggest. Ethernet Storage is scalable short term and long term. It is going to be more expensive, but that is so for anything beyond where the Drobo is. Take a look at Ethernet Storage There are some Vendors listed in there that would be helpful for you to know, for now, or in the future when you need this later.

I think I've talked enough now and given you plenty to think about. Let us know if any of this was helpful at all.


Matt G

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Francis Mead
Re: Drobo - a good buy for me?
on Nov 26, 2008 at 2:26:32 pm

Thanks Matt for your thoughtful comments - this is very useful and I'll follow up on your suggestion to look into ethernet storage and will give the Drobo thing further thought.

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Jen Isenhart
Re: Drobo - a good buy for me?
on Apr 21, 2009 at 9:13:24 pm


we are a small-to-medium sized production company with three Final Cut Studio suites. We have an XServe RAID in place, not as a SAN, but with the lower half connected to one suite, the upper half connected to a second suite via independent Fiber Channel connections. Our third suite is used primarily for ingesting and encoding, so it's out there on its own with an internal raid array.

All three suites are connected to our network via Gigabit ethernet. We shoot primarily VariCam and HVX200 HD and work a lot on the DVCPro HD codec as well as ProRes.

So-- about the Drobo. We are considering purchasing two of the 4 bay devices for archiving and backup of finished productions, stock footage and the like. We currently back up to a small farm of LaCie Firewire drives... as well as to HD tape just for extra backup. But as of late, we've had several problems with our LaCie drives failing. This scares the hell out of me. Fortunately, we're redundant in our redundancy, so we had additional copies of the lost data on another drive. But it becomes a nightmare to manage backups of backups... etc.

So, we're thinking of migrating all our backup and archival video files to Drobos.

What do ya'll think of these little devices for such an application? We'd continue to use the XServe RAID for live editing of projects. But I would sleep better at night if our archives were stored on a system with a RAID Level 5 type of protection.

Is a Drobo the best option? Or do you think there are others out there that would be better?

Thanks for any advice you can provide...

Jennifer Isenhart

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