Having recently upgraded both my main photo editing machine and my storage server, I have begun thinking about taking my entire backup system a step further. Bear in mind that I do run a photo business, so this is something in which I need to invest, and I should take my options seriously.
Right now, I have a separate server, still in my home, that has a RAID 5 array of currently 3 1TB drives. With RAID 5, I get 2TB of usable space, and 1 drive can fail without the entire array going down. I can add another 1TB and have 3TB of usable space, but I have to copy the entire contents elsewhere, then add the drive, rebuild the array from scratch, and then copy everything back. Not difficult, and certainly within my technical capabilities, but it has its downsides.
Now, I am considering a new option: the Drobo unit from Data Robotics. Reviews of some of the earlier, USB versions of the box are available from endgadget and from a particular user. Both are pretty good, and Drobo has since added a firewire 800 interface and an additional device that turns it essentially into a networked storage device, all on its own. Otherwise, you have to attach it to a computer.
The reasons why I’m considering the Drobo are:
- I can attach it as one big honkin’ drive to my main editing machine, and keep my entire catalog on there
- It’s fast enough with FW 800
- And yes, the fact that it can take drives of different capacities and dynamically rebuild to maximize capacity yet also be fault-tolerant is kind of the best of RAID 5 and JBOD (which just aggregates a bunch of discs into a giant since drive).
The reason I’m hesitant? Cost. $550 with a coupon is a lot when I still have to spend money on drives.
Now, I could just pull the drives out of my existing server but the fact is that one thing I don’t have is a good off-site storage option. Lots of people just carry external drives with them to, say, work, but now that I’m at about 1.3TB I’m getting beyond the capacity of a single external drive. Or at least really close to the biggest options available, or I gotta carry multiple drives.
Ideally, I’d like to put my current server off-site, and just connect to it remotely. Then use the Drobo at home. But who would let me put a file server on their network…?