The Drobo Saga Continues

The Drobo Saga continues

The last episode was about the arrival of the new Drobo 5Dt, and a couple of NAS optimized disks. The installation was trivial, moving the disk pack from the original Drobo to the new Drobo was easy-peasy, and after about 2 hours of “rebuilding”, I added the first of the new drives.

A 4 TB WD red series, “NASware” drive. This caused a “rebuilding” event, but it took less than an hour to subsume it. The next two drives replaced the old drives in the pack, a 1 TB Seagate Barracuda, and a 2TB WD “Green” drive (optimized for DVR’s and low energy solutions).

I had expected each of these swaps to take 8+ hours of rebuilding, but alas, within 8 hours, I had all 5 bays occupied, all protection good, and all rebuilds done.

Ready to rock and/or roll.

The first test was playing video from the drive. The old Drobo, even attached to a Thunderbolt port with a firewire to Thunderbolt adaptor couldn’t keep up feeding VLC with even a low data density SD file. The test was an episode of the Jetsons, ripped from a DVD, and encoded into MP4. Glitches, dropped frames, and distorted playback.

The new Drobo, connected to the Thunderbolt port on my MacBook Pro was able to play flawlessly. I upped the stream to HD, a Bluray rip of The Godfather, and the video playback was silky smooth. (this was a MP4 file, created from a MKV file).

The last test was an MKV file (un-compressed full HD resolution, for an example, a 2 hour video is about 38GB of file size.) Again, smooth, flawless video playback.

Part of this is likely due to the native Thunderbolt interface, but I also suspect that the 128G mSATA accelerator is also a major contributing factor. Regardless, I don’t care. It just works, better than the original Drobo ever did.

Is it as fast as the Thunderbay drive I bought my wife for her video editing? No. There the priority was speed, and the ability to handle tens to hundreds of gigabytes of uncompressed video for her Avid Media Composer work. The Drobo will likely suck for that application. But the simplicity, the (relative) safety of the Drobo, and the “it just works” is a huge selling point.

Currently, it is sitting at 10TB of usable space (15TB in total), and for almost all of my needs, it is perfect. There are three 4TB drives (new), and two 2TB drives (old), and all working harmoniously.

A reliable, external, data repository is essential in this day when computers are increasingly relying on space constrained SSD drives. This makes total sense, keep all the frequently used files, and work in progress locally, and have near-local storage for media, and other important data. For this, the Drobo 5Dt fits the bill perfectly. It is now nestled on my desk, ready to serve up files as needed.

Here’s to getting another 8 years out of this new box.

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