Drobo FS - 1st Thoughts

I’m a iMac/Win7 user transiting away from Windows Home Server to handle the 7 systems we have. WHS works and the only reason for the move is the dropping of drive extender in V2 and the belief MS will abandon the software in the near future.

The ability to combine WIN/OSX backups on one server also makes sense.

I’ve had the Drobo FS for about 3 days and most of the problems I had getting everything set up were my own fault.

Looking at the technology - really a great piece of equipment. Mechanically and electronically well designed. The fit and finish is superb.

On the other side, the software is the pits.

It’s fairly clear that Drobo is a hardward company with software tacked on.

While the latest Dashboard is a great improvement, it’s still all beauty and no brains. DroboApps is virtually worthless and one wonders why the development community hasn’t embraced the Drobo more than it has.

It needs a web interface, it needs a way to sync local files (as they change) besides DroboCopy and it needs a system wide backup/restore option.

One only need to look to Apple for an example of good software to go with good hardware, or to MS Windows Home Server for a dashboard that beings everything together.

Am I sorry I bought it?

As Drobo moves from a local storage option to a network mindset I expect those improvements to come.
I hope.

Ah, welcome to the love-hate relationship we all have with these maddening little lovely boxes.

Well said :slight_smile:
I’m already a fanboy of Drobo.
Now, if we could just convince them to add some decent seats to that superior automobile they made.

I moved from WHSv1 to WHS 2011. I do share your concern that MS may drop WHS though, especially given the deep discounts as of late (for a while you could get it for $49.99 on Newegg with promo code).

That said, I’ve been running Drive Bender (still in beta) for 6+ weeks now and it’s been working quite well with my Drobo Gen 2’s as a unified storage pool for WHS 2011. In fact, Drive Bender’s storage balancing works better than WHS v1’s balancing, not to mention WHS 2011 not needing hackery to support GPT volumes.

I hope you can find the time to follow up after it clears beta.
There has to be a significant number of people that would like to run WHS 2011 on the Drobo but don’t have any idea how to make it happen.
You’d be the magic man :slight_smile:

…probably the biggest thing so far is that my DVD playback doesn’t skip/stutter like it did in WHSv1 when DEMigrator ran.

DB seems to be in the home stretch now… but they’ve been saying this for the past 3-4 builds now. Will keep you updated.

Sorry for derailing the topic a bit.

I moved from a Drobo 2nd gen to a WHS v1 year ago ( before the FS) and then bought a Drobo FS. I still use the WHS v1 with a Drobo (gen1) as backup. I do not use DE. The WHS system sees the Drobo just fine and it backs the whole system up great. No trickery for that gpt system as it’s server 2003 and it is not added to the drive pool.

The latest fiasco with Lion and the Drobo FS has me wondering where to go. All the WHS vendors seems to be leaving the platform with very few exceptions. As you noted the $50 price does not inspire confidence ( mind you Lion is cheaper so …). It’s more the lack of support from Microsoft’s hardware partners. I guess there is still Acer but who else? Even Microsoft doesn’t seem to know what to target with WHS ( which I think is really nice).

I don’t really want to get into managing a RAID system at home so that leaves out higher end NAS units. Eve the Drobo FS has pushed me to wondering about high cost network backup systems. After all, there is no easy way of backing up the Drobo FS.

It’s all confusing at this point to me.


I think a lot of the vendors are shying away from WHS 2011 because it’s more standard than its predecessor, and on the flip side, without a “standard” DE replacement, there’s not much marketing-wise that can be said about having a number of hot-swap drive bays.

It may change once one of the DE replacements comes out of beta… looks like at Tranquil PC is waiting for Drive Bender to complete before it ships WHS 2011 machines.

IMO the whole Server 2008 platform is a lot nicer than Server 2003 was. The use of RemoteFX for the dashboard functions really gives it a more-seamless (albeit occasionally bewildering) feel.

Now how Drobo FS will fit in with it… I’m not sure. I was always a bit confused as to why Drobo FS, rather than an direct-attach Drobo, was being promoted to go along with WHS…

Please do. I’d like to try WHS2011 on the FS too once the DE issue is resolved.[hr]

[quote=“pmcd, post:7, topic:2825”]

I still use my Acer WHS with v1 but it’s getting tired. That was the reason I got the FS. How did you install the WHS 2011 version?
I admit I’m too lazy to experiment without someone saying, “Do this, then this, followed by that. Show time.”[hr]

We’ll get our money’s worth out of these things yet…

I haven’t installed WHS2011. I have an Acer H340 with v1. It runs fine. No skipping at all because I never use DE. I have 4 drives in the Acer and the Acer itself is backed up to a Drobo attached via USB. The Drobo was formatted not with the WHS console ( that would split up the one volume) which sees the Drobo as a 16TB drive, even though I have 4TB’s in the Drobo.

There was no real incentive to even think of WHS2011 as I also had a Drobo FS. But I have had a rather rough patch with Lion and the FS and the FS is still not working right with my Lion Mac’s. This got me thinking about the whole backup strategy. I really like the Drobo, but it’s not exactly been plug and play with Lion. In addition a lot of things are moving to the “cloud” so to speak, drives are getting smaller, etc … and so having a 5 bay 3.5" drive holder is less appealing than a year ago.

I am sure the Lion thing will get fixed but there still is that nagging longer term issue. Perhaps something like a Time capsule would be simpler ( for me).

There are many things I like about WHS v1. It backs up and wakes up my PC wirelessly, the WHS itself is easily backed up ( which is something I am uneasy with about the Drobo FS). The network speed of the Acer is faster than the FS. The advantage of the Drobo was its simplicity and reliability. That has taken a small hit with me.


WHS 2011 was pure simplicity to install on my AspireRevo R1600 (this is just a small form factor “chunky CD player” size machine)… I didn’t even have to hunt for textmode SATA drivers like I did for WHSv1. :slight_smile:

Of course since WHS 2011 imports nothing, you are starting from zero so you’ll have to redefine user accounts, re-add computers (but this is done via web browser now), acquire and install new add-ins to replace your old ones (nice thing is you can install add-ins from any registered client - no having to transfer the install package or open the Dashboard), and of course restore - or at least re-share - your data.

One small annoyance - WHS 2011 forces itself onto the WORKGROUP workgroup. No changing it like you could in WHSv1. You can still change the name of the machine, though.

As the (Drobo) FS units share data directly, I agree with pmcd that there isn’t much to gain pairing the two, though I suppose you could have WHS of either generation use the FS as storage for whatever.

Getting my direct-attach Drobo Gen 2’s connected initially is easy. You just plug them in, they mount as normal, and you can tell WHS 2011 what, if any, server shared folders you want to place on them.

The Drive Bender install document details what you need to do for WHS installs. The installer actually creates a storage pool for you, then it’s just a matter of adding drives to the drive pool, getting rid of the existing D: drive letter, and having the drive pool mount as D: and moving the existing server folders on there. It looks and sounds more complicated than it really is.

After that, you just use WHS as normal and it’s none-the-wiser that the D: drive is really virtualized across one or more drives.

Overall WHS 2011 feels smoother on the same hardware config that WHS v1 worked on, but it’s an entirely different animal.