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Archive 2013 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?
  
 
Alan321
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p.1 #1 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


That probably sounds like a silly question but until I got the drobo 5D I had a very clear plan of what partitions I wanted for what reasons, and where they should be on the hard drives for best performance, and so on. My drobo is filled with five 3TB HDDs and a 64GB SSD.

The problem is that it works nothing like I imagined it would. Not even close.

The problems I face are:
1. I get no say as to where volumes go
2. I get to specify a single value that will be the maximum size to which all volumes may grow over time
3. That single value combined with the current total drive capacity determines the number of volumes that will be created.
4. Even though the volumes start out smaller than their eventual maximum size I cannot add another volume.
5. I cannot restrict some volumes to be smaller than others. Initially they are all equal in size.
6. If I choose a smaller volume size limit to get more volumes then some of them will never be allowed to grow as large as I want them to be.
7. Fewer huge volumes will take longer (each) to index than smaller volumes.

My entire strategy - and at least I did have a strategy - is now out the window.

Because I am using this with a MacBook Pro via thunderbolt I thought of creating Mac disk images (.dmg files) that could be "mounted" by OS X and behave like real volumes but then I realised that any tiny change within the .dmg file might require that whole .dmg file to be re-written by the drobo - and it could take a long time because it could be TBs in size. Frankly I don't know whether or not that is how .dmg files are normally managed and even if they are not, I don't know how drobo will manage them

I wanted to be able to have a working copy my MBP system volume on the drobo in case of SSD failure in the MBP. I also wanted to save multiple clones of the MBP drives as historic backups. I wanted a large volume for all photos that I have or soon will have plus another for Time Machine backups of the MBP, but smaller volumes would be used for the individual backup clones, Ps scratch, temporary working volumes for processing old archives, etc.

I want to be able to boot from and run my system from the drobo should my MBP die or be stolen, with only minimal effort to point some of the software at the different volume names as required.


I now realise that the drobo has full control of where data chunks are written and that they all go to three or more different drives to allow for dual drive redundancy. It's a pity that I can't force everything associated with say my photos to go on the outer tracks of the drives so that photo data transfers will be significantly faster than data that is used less frequently and can afford to be put on the innermost tracks of the HDDs (which can be half the sustained transfer speed of the outer tracks).


Does anyone have any advice on how I should proceed ?

How do you guys use all of that space on a drobo without turning it into one giant hold-all volume ?


- Alan



Jan 21, 2013 at 07:20 AM
15Bit
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p.1 #2 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


If he doesn't post, it might be worth sending Lars a PM - he seems to be the resident Drobo expert.

I am quite surprised that this functionality is missing. I'm pretty sure Drobo runs a Linux kernel, and i can do all of this with my Linux server using a combination of the RAID software and LVM, albeit via a command line interface. I would have expected the Drobo interface to have access to the same functionality.



Jan 21, 2013 at 08:05 AM
Alan321
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p.1 #3 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


RAIDs generally if not always have fixed-size volumes but the drobos work differently by allowing each volume to grow as needed up to some limit that you set on day one. It's probably because I have used RAID0 and RAID1 and RAID 0+1 (5?) in the past that I was so unprepared for drobo-think.

Some drobos - perhaps just the "business" models and not the "professional" models - do allow you to specify volumes of different sizes. Not the 5D.




Jan 21, 2013 at 08:45 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #4 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


I don't own the 5D, but I have 3 other Drobo's (but I'm no expert at all). I use PC and windows so I can't really answer most of your question that are about OS X. IMO you should format it to one big partition. (the standard format). I have one large drive on all my Drobo's. Why would you like to have one volume for each thing you save, backup or keep on your Drobo? Reading your post I understand it like you want to have 5-10 volumes on it?
One large volume is very easy to work with. Then you have hot swapping of your drives. Just pull it out and replace it. Your volume can grow all the time when you add larger drives.
I would say the main thing that makes people buying the Drobo's are that they just like to insert the drives and then start to work with it. The more technical people that like to do things your way, they often go for something else.
And a 5D like yours will be fast enough to edit pics from with one large volume, and the files wherever the Drobo will place them



Jan 22, 2013 at 06:55 AM
Alan321
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p.1 #5 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


Thanks Lars.

I thought that a single large volume would be relatively hard to manage by being too big and having too many files on it. That might just be an outdated notion that doesn't apply with the modern operating systems.

With Mac OS X we can very easily clone any volume to any other volume that is big enough to hold it - even bootable volumes. Of course they need to be kept separate or else they'll lose their independence and integrity. Hence the need for multiple volumes.

- Alan



Jan 22, 2013 at 11:10 AM
Brit-007
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p.1 #6 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


When I first got my DROBO (Original 4 Bay 2nd edition) I set it up as I thought fit. I was having all sorts of problems. Within a few days I decided to reformat and set up as it was originally intended by DROBO. Since I have done that, several years ago, it has been on 7x24 without skipping a beat.

I just used it as one big drive and use folders to organize. I have upgraded the drives over time and once you get over the warnings it has been running great. For me it works great and takes very little maintenance time to keep going which I like. I have had no problems with it and I have several professional photographer friends who also use the DROBO and also have had no issues.



Jan 22, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #7 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


Use it as one large volume. There are no issues doing that, and don't hesitate to call Drobo tech support. They are really great and will walk you through whatever you need and patiently answer your silliest questions.


Jan 22, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Sven Jeppesen
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p.1 #8 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


Yes one large single volume is the way to go.


Jan 23, 2013 at 02:25 AM
 

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Alan321
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p.1 #9 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


I set mine up as a single volume and created (slowly) a couple of multi-TB disk images with OS X Mountain Lion. One I use to hold photos and the other will be for Time Machine backups.

I did run into one problem - ML will not let me make a bootable disk image whereas I believe that OS X Snow Leopard did (not confirmed by me but read somewhere). Nor can I boot from the drobo itself without creating a "Recovery HD partition" which of course I cannot do on the drobo. So the drobo is no longer a bootable backup option for the current Mac OS.


The biggest challenge to my intended use for the drobo may be that to benefit from any additional speed compared with the single internal HDD in my MacBook Pro I would have to actually use the data on the drobo in preference to the data that is in my MBP. I can't copy to or from the drobo any faster than the MBP drives allow but I may be able to read from it, use the data in RAM or in virtual memory on my SSD, and then write back to it faster than I can use the identical files on my internal HDD. I have yet to test that idea because it seems a bit foreign to tie myself to a home-based data store for a portable computer, but I expect that I will do it eventually.

First I'll concentrate on implementing my backups and file encryption. And second I need to come top grips with how my new OS handles its automatic file versioning and whether or not there will be conflicts if I occasionally transfer my main data location from computer to drobo, or back.

I would have much preferred to be dealing with the drobo as the only new variable on my system but the fact that it will not work with my older operating system (snow leopard) has forced my hand. Now many things are different at the same time.

- Alan



Jan 28, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Alan321
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p.1 #10 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


Well, poop ! Another setback.

It seems that I cannot use disk images for time machine backups, and I cannot use file encryption on non-Apple partitions such as drobo partitions.

Until I get my head around this it would seem that the drobo 5D has been largely an expensive flop for what I wanted to achieve with my laptop computer.

I wanted a fast and secure data backup facility but it won't allow file encryption in the normal Apple sense, it won't give me any appreciable speed advantage over a single backup drive except when backing up from an SSD, it won't give me the control over volumes/partitions that business grade drobos will, it may not be suitable as a speedy master data drive because I would have to update my internal laptop drive with changed data every time I want to go portable, and it pretty much forced me into an unwanted (though probably inevitable) OS upgrade.

Believe it or not I'm not whingeing about this - I'm just including the comments in this thread so that others might find it when they do a google search and be better informed about what the new drobo can or cannot do for them. It might be common knowledge anyway in a month or two but I bought my drobo very early because the thunderbolt interface seemed compelling and now I wish I had waited a bit longer to see what others found out about theirs. Some of the info I found before buying was outdated or not applicable or just plain wrong.




Jan 29, 2013 at 09:12 AM
Alan321
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p.1 #11 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


... and then, disaster.

It appears that you should never try to use an encrypted time machine backup on a drobo 5D partition. That was the last thing I did before the process failed and the drobo vanished. I cannot get my computer to see it now. I've uninstalled and reinstalled drobo dashboard (because that worked once before) but no joy. I've removed the drives from the drobo and put them back in a different order, hoping that the drobo will give up and accept them as new drives, but again no joy. All I've got now is an expensive paper weight with pretty lights.

Did time machine upset it or is it just unstable with OS X mountain lion ? Either way it's pretty bad for a large data store to go invisible. And more reason for drobo to support more flexible partitioning so that what I do on one partition is less likely to trash another.

- Alan




Jan 29, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #12 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


At this point, I'm pretty confused as to what you're trying to do. It seems like you're trying to do Time Machine backups with disk images, which probably won't work, as those are incremental backups that take place every hour. I could easily be mistaken as to what you're doing though.

Here's what I would do: Get a separate one, two or three TB external drive and use that exclusively for your Time Machine. Then use a single volume on your Drobo with appropriate folders for your data files. Then, you'll need a backup for your Drobo, which could be another Drobo or a completely different brand. But you absolutely need to back up whatever is on the Drobo in case you have a catastrophic directory failure and lose all the data. That shit can and does happen. Much different than losing a single drive and popping in a new one. Of course, all that ain't cheap, but unfortunately, it's pretty necessary. Then, when you fill those up, you get to do it all over again. Fun!



Jan 29, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Alan321
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p.1 #13 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


Hi Peter. I'm sorry about the late response but here goes...

1. I don't yet know the cause but it seems that my drobo is now dead. Another computer also could not see it. You could call it part of that shit that you said can and does happen.

2. In a sense I was trying to use the drobo as my final backup device so that I could rely on its dual drive redundancy. I already use other drives for backups but they are not automatically covered against drive failure except by my doing even more backups on more drives.

My primary backup strategy mainly comprises automated time machine and archived CCC (carbon copy cloner) backups of files to set destinations, and multiple ad-hoc CCC clones of entire MBP volumes (bootable if the original was bootable), repeated on different drives. In particular, I want to be able to swap a dead drive for a good one and use a bootable backup to fire up my system and clone a good version of the affected volumes onto the new drive without having to reinstall the OS and all of my software and tweaks.

It has worked for me but the drobo seemed like it would be easier and somewhat more secure for backups and would save me messing around with as many different individual drives - so long as I had control of the creation of volumes on the drobo.

I also wanted to introduce the use of file encryption to my backup strategy but for the moment that idea is on hold too.

3. I have yet to determine why time machine backups to disk images do not work. Someone told me that they need to go to a sparse bundle disk image, whereas I was using a fixed size disk image. The encryption problem that I encountered with the last TM backup may have just been a coincidence with the independent failure of the drobo but I don't know.

The only reason I tried doing tm backups to disk images was that I discovered did not have sufficient control over the size and number of separate volumes on the drobo. The disk images seemed like the next best option that still used the drobo and its inherent drive redundancy.

4. By using separate volumes on the drobo I had hoped to minimise the impact of file system errors on any single volume, as well as any cross-contamination of data files from different backups. I don't particularly trust gigantic single volumes to stay healthy. Multiple volumes can and have died on me previously when a partition table got scrambled or a RAID controller went bad, but it was still less common than individual file system problems and hard drive / ssd failures.

5. My drobo is now back where I bought it from. I'm waiting to see whether it gets fixed or replaced. I told them it was low-ish priority because it had no usable data on it and I've still got my other backup options, so it might be a while before I know the outcome.

- Alan



Feb 01, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Sarsfield
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p.1 #14 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


I am still trying to understand why anyone would use a DROBO vs a dedicated NAS from Synology, QNAP, Thecus, etc. I haven't found one advantage that a DROBO offers other than maybe brain-dead simplicity (which is also up to debate). I have read nothing but horror stories all over the internet about the DROBO units and that is why I chose my first NAS in 2010 and just purchased another last week.

Can someone tell me the supposed advantages? They are slower, most not network capable,etc. Makes no sense to me.



Feb 01, 2013 at 10:15 PM
ericrhall
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p.1 #15 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


I too am struggling with this issue. My main reason to want separate "volumes" was to keep Time Machine backups from filling the disk. It seems that the Apple TM management strategy is limited without creation and configuration of sparsedisk files which I have never been able to successfully implement. I also wanted to create a 1TB swap/scratch disk for Photoshop and FCPX. I was amazed when I saw that each volume had to me limited to a single value and there was no way to "partition" it into different sizes.


Feb 03, 2014 at 10:10 PM
EB-1
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p.1 #16 · help! How should I use my new drobo 5D ?


Sarsfield wrote:
I am still trying to understand why anyone would use a DROBO vs a dedicated NAS from Synology, QNAP, Thecus, etc. I haven't found one advantage that a DROBO offers other than maybe brain-dead simplicity (which is also up to debate). I have read nothing but horror stories all over the internet about the DROBO units and that is why I chose my first NAS in 2010 and just purchased another last week.

Can someone tell me the supposed advantages? They are slower, most not network capable,etc. Makes no sense to me.


They are marketed to people with limited computer skills.

EBH



Feb 04, 2014 at 01:04 AM





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