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So, when I say, “I’ll have a write-up detailing my backup strategies in the near future,” I’m playing a little loose with the word “near.”  I originally wrote about The Importance of Backing Up on January 23, 2010, but I’ve only now approached a major goal in backing up my data.

In order to protect my data as well as possible locally, I finally got around to purchasing a Drobo.  I got the regular FireWire 800 model, with four drive-bays, in which I have filled two so far — both with 2TB HDDs.

Because this device offers built-in redundancy (even insofar as being able to sustain a sudden drive death), this sort of array is perfect.  But there was another reason I needed a large, redundant back-up solution: I’ve slimmed down my primary drive by quite a bit.

I finally took the plunge and got my hands on a 160GB solid state drive, which incredibly fast, but is so at the expense of storage space.  My previous HDD was 320GB, so I needed a place to put all of my large files.  Images and videos are the biggest concern (literally and emotionally), so the Drobo is where all those files now live.

I’ve only owned the product briefly, but so far so good.

Here are three ups and downs on it so far:


  1. Magnetically held front cover for easy drive access.  This is extremely cool, since the very idea of the Drobo is that you can pull drives in and out as you need to expand storage or replace bad drives.
  2. FireWire Daisy Chaining.  What this means in that there are two FireWire ports on the back of the Drobo, which allows me to hook up my dedicated Time Machine backup drive (which is also FireWire) to the Drobo, which in turn passes that through to my MacBook Pro.
  3. Relatively Small Size.  It still has to fit four 3.5” drives and the silicon necessary to control those drives, but as far as hard drive arrays go, this is pretty reasonable.


  1. Fan noise.  It’s not super loud, but that fan goes off and on quite a bit, and this is still very noticeable to me.
  2. Drobo Dashboard.  The software is functionally very useful but kind of inelegant.
  3. Cost.  Buying one of these and filling it with hard drives would be enormously expensive for a regular consumer to do.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay for my Drobo because I had rewards to spend from the company I work for, but the two hard drives I put in it ran me over $160.  And there are still two more bays for me to fill eventually.

In referring back to my original post on the importance of backing up, here is my strategy:

Primary: shared by the solid state drive (which is highly resistant to the problems regular hard drives are vulnerable too, especially physical shock) and the Drobo.

Local backup: shared by the Drobo (which is internally redundant) as well as a Time Machine drive (500GB in size, whose task is to maintain a history of all the major documents, applications, and music.  Larger media like photos and videos reside on the Drobo.

Off-site backup: important documents are kept in the cloud on Dropbox.  In the future, I would like to back up my music, video, and pictures in this manner, but I haven’t yet invested in a more robust service.


Written by Michael

7 December 2010 at 10:46 pm

Posted in Technology

Tagged with , , , ,

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