Over the summer I purchased a Drobo “storage robot” from Data Robotics for my home server/media center. It is a four-bay USB storage device that accepts any number and combination of SATA drives to build a larger virtual volume which can be used on either OS X or Windows. I intended to write about my experiences (receiving it the day before they upgraded the product, a bad first unit, some early driver bugs, etc.) but never got around to it.
In spite of some of my earliest experiences I am quite a fan of the device and have not regretted the purchase (only the timing). It is a flexible and well-performing method for keeping my pile of data safe with plenty of elbow room.
Why am I selling it you ask? The truth is, I’m not a typical user. The system it is attached to serves numerous roles. It is the server for our peay.us domain (web, mail, DNS, etc.) and also the home media server (iTunes, iPhoto, file server, and El Gato EyeTV DVR). The end result of all of this disk I/O is that when EyeTV is recording a show from the USB TV tuner and writing to the USB storage while other disk activity is going on (home directory syncing or Time Machine backup), it will often skip frames. That makes for a very annoying viewing experience. If the disk is idle and just recording there isn’t a problem and recent firmware updates for the device have helped considerably, but the fact remains I’m expecting server storage performance from a device that was not really designed or intended for such use.
As a result, I decided to purchase a gen 2 Drobo which adds a FireWire interface. Having a dedicated bus for storage will alleviate the problems I’ve been experiencing. Of course, if I had just waited a week before purchasing the original unit, I wouldn’t have had to do this.
To keep our budget in check, I am selling the original one to recoup some of the cost of upgrading it. That means you get to benefit from my bad timing. If you are interested in purchasing it (you’ll have to supply one or more of your own drives), make me an offer. I’d prefer to keep it among my “friends” and family to avoid hassling with eBay or craigslist but am motivated and will sell it one way or another.
Still 4 sale?
Everett, sorry I sold it to someone here at work. Thanks for asking, though.
I’m curious: did the new FireWire version of the drobo allow for more I/O and no more dropped frames?
It did largely help as did the recent 1.3.0 firmware though not completely. I have learned that if the server is doing any significant iops (like a network machine doing a Time Machine backup while playing back) it does stutter a bit. Personally, I think I’m not asking more than it is capable of and have offered to work with their engineers on isolating and resolving the issues.
If you are only using the Drobo for home theater use there would be no problem.
Thanks for the lightning-fast response and quelling my fears about the Drobo’s ability to serve to my home theater.
If you don’t mind my asking, was the engineering department receptive to the offer of help?
I know myself well enough to be aware that, once purchased, I’m likely to want to improve a few things here and there, as well. It’s the nature of the beast.
I don’t think my request got to the right ears. While I admit I’m trying to use it beyond normal target, I can’t help but think others are running into similar issues. Given that and the fact that every firmware update includes “improved streaming performance” tells me that they haven’t nailed everything down yet (or are working around Apple issues).
I’ll do what I can to add my voice to the din.
Thanks again for your responses.