Drobo

Ease of use??? Set it and forget it???

Sorry if this is redundant, BUT.

Why does it seem like I need to be a network engineer to get any performance out of my new FS?

I think I should copy and publicly post the entire contents of this forum for prospective DROBO buyers. I don’t like to play with people who like to keep secrets…

Had I been able to access the info found herein, I would never have purchased a DRI product.

I get better performance from a USB drive attached to my Time Capsule over the air, or cabled.

Jumbo at 8182, 9000, standard 1500, doesn’t make a significant difference.

AFS, SMB, no significant difference.

Just for fun, I attached the FS directly to my computers ethernet port, and still had lousy performance.

Don’t ask for specs. and benchmark info, I don’t have time to repeat what lots of others have already found, this is a DROBO! It’s SIMPLE to use! Set it and forget it!

I’ve had no problem. I’m getting 30MB/s sustained. 240Mbits/s is nothing to sneeze at. Maybe you are getting better performance from your direct connected USB drive but I’m guessing your USB drive doesn’t protect you against drive failure. I’m also guessing your USB drive doesn’t act as a NAS and have to deal with SMB or AFS overhead issues.

If you are getting really poor performance that’s one thing. I mean, as long as you aren’t doing anything like trying to write from multiple instances at the same time or read and write at the same time (that causes disk contention which is a problem with any disk). And as long as you aren’t playing with any of the apps that suck up your processing power - like mediatomb while its building the DB (hitting the CPU at something like 80%. 25,000 songs sure, but it takes forever).

However, since you won’t tell anyone whats going on no one can help you with whatever your problem might be. That being said, you probably won’t see performance above 35-40MB/s under ideal conditions (especially with the slower ‘green’ drives). If you are getting significantly less than that you may have other issues that may have nothing to do with the NAS.

Also, I assume the OP has never had the displeasure of setting up, maintaining, and upgrading a RAID configuration.

Sorry to seem a bit flippant, but come back to us when you have lost enough data to unreliable hardware (such as USB drives) to understand that reliability > easy of setup/use > speed.

Given that for what it primarily is (a network-attached storage), the FS offers reliability and easy of setup/use, I would say that it is a pretty sweet deal.

As far as I understand, DRI ships the FS with very conservative settings to maximize reliability and compatibility. I applaud them for that. Of course, this means that in some setups it will not perform as fast as it can.

Heck, if you are not happy about performance, DRI is not even getting in your way to compile whatever you want to squeeze the maximum out of it. Short of giving us the secret BeyondRAID sauce, they gave us enough to almost recompile the kernel from scratch, plus having root access to the system, allowing you to disable whatever services bogging you down.

Now, if you care about giving us some details about your setup, we might help you get out of the performance pit you seem to be in. Also, a couple of measurements would be nice, just to figure out how bad it actually is for you.

First of all, WOW!

Second, I’m not asking for help.

Third, I’m currently running a RAID 5 setup on a rack-mount dell 2650/SBS 2003 The drives in the dell box are the 72Gig drives out of the 2450 it replaced about 8 years ago. The drives are about 10 YEARS OLD.
My old Dell workstation is about 12 Years old (620 Precision) with the original drives all SCSI, ALL STILL RUNNING STRONG.
At one point I ran four production servers, and rebuilt RAID stacks on 3 occasions…

So, I have to have lost a lot of data to poor hardware choices to gain your respect?

Now, let’s just skip to the measurements you asked about.

I’ll be as scientific as I can.

The movie stutters and stops to buffer a lot when streamed from the drobo. Movie fails. Drobo>Airport Extreme>Apple TV(2) via fuppes, or itunes. Even music stutters and stops to buffer a lot. firefly worked ok

Super Scientific Comparison:

watching movie now from USB drive.

First, understand the idiotic latency built into my network at present…

My users home folders reside on an external firewire drive, attached to the server (mac mini server version) Yeah, so, I log onto the imac via the server through the copper, start itunes, and connect to my library stored on a USB drive attached to an Airport Time Capsule, which is extending my wireless network. (in other words, it’s not cabled.) and play movies and music and even edit large RAW files in real time with very little latency. Think about it: the same movie from: USB drive>Wireless>iMac>Wired to server>Wireless to: Apple TV2, Laptop, >Wired back to iMac! and I have 21 mega pixel RAW photo open in Aperture that is also on the usb drive about EIGHT HOPS AWAY!

Like I said, the DROBO FS does not perform to the specs advertised, even with extremely “ByondUserfriendly” mods allowed but not supported.

“you might help me” lqtm…

Again, I just don’t like the sneaky way DRI hides these forums from prospective buyers.

I don’t like sneaky people…

Sorry ricardo, but your response to davedamit is nothing short of rediculous!

[quote=“ricardo, post:3, topic:2189”]
Also, I assume the OP has never had the displeasure of setting up, maintaining, and upgrading a RAID configuration.

Sorry to seem a bit flippant, but come back to us when you have lost enough data to unreliable hardware (such as USB drives) to understand that reliability > easy of setup/use > speed. [/quote]

What has that got to do with the Drobo? The caomprison to the Drobo is not commercial RAID set-ups, it is consumer level NAS devices, and high end ones at that! Compare the Drobo to offerings from Thecus or Synology,and theydo pretty much everything that the Drobo can do (with the exception of Beyond RAID), but at proper performance levels!

[quote=“ricardo, post:3, topic:2189”]
Given that for what it primarily is (a network-attached storage), the FS offers reliability and easy of setup/use, I would say that it is a pretty sweet deal.[/quote]

I would dissagree entirely! Have you tried to set-up an NFS connection to the Drobo? How about an uPNP server? These are all standard features on comparable device at the same price point, yet DRI wash their hands of them and leave user flailing about trying to get them to work.

[quote=“ricardo, post:3, topic:2189”]
As far as I understand, DRI ships the FS with very conservative settings to maximize reliability and compatibility. I applaud them for that. Of course, this means that in some setups it will not perform as fast as it can.[/quote]

I think you are missing the point. The issue here is that some Drobo users are seeing absolutely pathetic performance. I myself get (max) 10.5MB/sec write, and 8MB/sec read, and about 15-30Mbit/sec when streaming. If they (or I) were obtaining what is claimed to be standard Drobo performance (i.e. 25-40MB/sec), I’m sure they would be more than happy.

[quote=“ricardo, post:3, topic:2189”]
Heck, if you are not happy about performance, DRI is not even getting in your way to compile whatever you want to squeeze the maximum out of it. Short of giving us the secret BeyondRAID sauce, they gave us enough to almost recompile the kernel from scratch, plus having root access to the system, allowing you to disable whatever services bogging you down.[/quote]

You can’t be serious?! You need to get out of your little IT box, and into the real world. 90% of Drobo owners wouldn’t even understand what you just said, let alone be able to do it!

Do you seriously expect user who paid in excess of £500 for an empty NAS device to start hakcing around in the Linux operatibg system to get it to work at the performance level advertised by DRI??!!

Fair point, I believe davedamit has now done that. But you have to forgive him having a little rant. I am in the same boat having dropped a load of cash on a Drobo, and struggled for months to try and get basic functionality working, while suffering piss poor performance, you feel like throwing the damn thing off a high roof!

Thank you for posting this background info. As I stated before, from your tone in the previous message I assumed you had no experience running a properly replicated storage solution. From now on I’ll address your points as someone who knows what they are dealing with.

First of all, it seems that you and I have different definitions of “easy of use” and “set it and forget it”. Mine means: “plug in the power and network cables and it works as a reliable network attached storage”. Although I had no expectations about performance, I have to say that my (admittedly anecdotal) experience is that it performs just as fast under SMB, AFP or NFS. Personally, I have preferred NFS since it tunnels better than the other protocols. And by fast I mean the numbers rapier1 reported, i.e., around 30 MB/s or 240 Mb/s.

Given that my disk pack is a mishmash of old 500 GB disks salvaged from external USB drives and brand new “green” 1.5 TB drives, I’m confident that given the (average) performance of the drives I used I’m getting pretty good performance out of the whole thing.

This is why I mentioned reliability. I congratulate you on having the means to buy nothing but quality hardware, and I envy your good luck on not having any severe hardware failure in the last 10 years. I hope you do understand how outside the average you are on this aspect.

If you were to have a more average background, you would have had at least some mild hard disk troubles, and a few crash-stop incidents. Which was my original point: if you have enough crashes on those 72 GB disks, where are you going to find the replacements? Again, I assume you had the means to buy enough identical spares to replace on that array, or you are just wasting space on the new (thus bigger) drives?

I hate to point out the obvious again, but the biggest selling point of the Drobo family is that it is not RAID. The whole point of their devices is that you can simply take any bunch of cheap SATA disks, put them together, upgrade them as needed and enjoy the added capacity immediately (to others reading this: in a RAID environment, you would have to move all the data out, rebuild the array from scratch with the added capacity and copy the data back in - good luck doing that with a few TB worth of data). In case of trouble, the Drobo will actually tell you about it (blinking lights, pop-up windows, and email if you configure it so).

That, I think, is what DRI means when they call it “easy to use” and “set it and forget it”.

I wonder if your fuppes is transcoding. If it is, then look no further since there is no way that the Drobo’s ARMv5 CPU at 400 MHz won’t stutter while transcoding anything. Firefly does not transcode, so no surprise there. As for iTunes, I’m not quite sure how you can stream directly from the Drobo directly to the AppleTV using “iTunes”. This has been the topic of many threads in this forum and the consensus is that the Drobo can’t pair with an AppleTV directly (due to Apple’s stupid encryption), there has to be a PC/Mac somewhere to link those two - look for your problem there, since iTunes can be glacially slow.

Finally, if you search the forums you’ll see that the Airport Extreme has been a huge pain in the butt with regards to Drobo compatibility. Lots of people complain that the Airport Extreme, for some unknown reason, messes up Drobo performance. See here and here. If anything, the evidence so far points to it being the fault of the Airport Extreme device.

Of course not. Apparently I spoiled your attempt at trolling the forums with your anecdotal “evidence” with my own anecdotal “evidence”. Instead of actually trying to understand the problem, which seems to be an unfortunate combination of things, you logged in and mounted on your soapbox to rant without even trying to see if there was a way to fix the problem.

Before coming here and venting all this rage, have you even tried to open a support ticket?

Yes, snarkiness and sarcasm will get you a lot of sympathy around here. Especially by underestimating the background and experience of other people here. I find it mildly amusing that you get very defensive and feel the need to write two paragraphs worth of text to detail your background in RAID technology and then dismiss my offer to help you in such a derisive way, as if you assumed that I knew nothing about what I am talking. Can you see the irony here?

No one is saying that Drobos are perfect, just that: 1) you might wanna low your expectations of what it can and cannot do based on its hardware, and 2) that this is a community forum of people that overall like the devices (despite its limitations), and that want to help each other get the most of it. If your complaint was that the Drobo is too expensive for what it offers (hardware-wise), I would fully agree with you (yes, DRI people, the whole Drobo product line could use a little price reduction).

I think that the point is to avoid internet trolls and spam.[hr]

I’m sorry if it read that way. English is not my primary language, so I might have sounded harsher than what I meant.

[quote=“Blade1001, post:5, topic:2189”]

And that is the whole point! BeyondRAID is the reason to get a Drobo. Period. If you feel like you want to setup a Linux box, configure RAID5, monitor the health of the array manually, spend hours fixing it when it breaks, and then have all the headache of moving data back and forth for every upgrade the array’s capacity, then why did you buy a Drobo in the first place?

Instead of that, DRI offers you a product that literally takes one click to replace, fix, and upgrade a reliable storage pool. If that is not worth more to you than raw performance, then I can’t really see why chose the Drobo over a simple RAID5 setup.

In other words, can we agree on the possibility that different people have different value propositions? For me, the fact that I do not have to waste my precious time baby-sitting a RAID5 device is worth much more than what I paid extra for the Drobo.

[quote=“Blade1001, post:5, topic:2189”]

Yes, been there, done both. I agree with you that NFS could have been part of the standard firmware. And actually, nothing prevents DRI from pushing out a new firmware update with kernel-level NFS (which would be fantastic, and leave both SMB and AFP eating dust). But I had no problem setting up NFS. Disclaimer: I do like to hack stuff, so YMMV. The point remains, however; with SMB and AFP you can connect with everything under the sun. Much more than NFS, anyways. How is that not easy to use?

[quote=“Blade1001, post:5, topic:2189”]

Nope, I got the point just fine. What I am saying is that instead of simply not working at all, DRI ships Drobos with settings that will at least work somewhat, which is better than nothing. With some connectivity you (a metaphorical you, could be DRI’s support team) can at least connect to it and see what is going on from the inside, instead of just having a dead box.

[quote=“Blade1001, post:5, topic:2189”]

We have to make one thing clear here. I was answering to davedamit, who seems to be quite well-versed in the area of replicated storage and linux servers. At no point I mentioned the average user, since he does not seem to be one.

For the average user, there is the support page of DRI, where you can open a support ticket and, although not having used it myself (my Drobo has performed just fine so far) I read in this forum that lots of people are satisfied with their service.

And again, as anecdotal “evidence” goes, we have several dozens (hundreds?) of people in this forum with Drobos that perform just fine (i.e., in the 30-40 MB/s for both read and writes). How’s that for the average case? As I have pointed out to davedamit, one of the common factors that seems to pop up over and over again is the presence of an Airport Extreme in the network.

Let me speculate for a moment: I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some incompatibility between Drobos and Airport Extremes, since Drobos do try to appear as TimeMachine-compliant devices. I wonder if that is causing some kind of background traffic between the Airport Extreme and the Drobo, maybe because the Airport Extreme keeps asking the Drobo for something that is not there (since it is not an Apple device). This extra traffic is just enough to bog the Drobo’s CPU down to a point where network throughput is affected. Unfortunately, I can’t test that hypothesis because I do not own an Airport Extreme.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure what your performance problem is, but if you think that NFS is going to solve it I can tell you that you are mistaken. NFS for the Drobo, under its current implementation (via uNFS, a userland server) has no performance gain over SMB or AFP. If it were made available as a kernel server, then that would be a different story altogether.

Has anyone looked in to the possiblity of a kernel loadable module? I’m sure they have but I’m wondering what became of it.[hr]
Also, with the new firmware upgrade my speed improved by around 10%. I’m pretty happy with this. Obviously I’d like more but I’m peaking at 37MB/s now. One of the things I did, which may help, is completely remove my router from the equation. I bought a couple of decent switch (5 port switches that can handle 9K packets are only like $30/now) and am using them as the internal networking and I’m only using the router as a router.

I’m pretty sure that unless you have the source code DRI used to compile the kernel (headers, in particular), you won’t be able to compile a compatible kernel module from scratch. That, of course, is assuming that the FS kernel supports modules in the first place. There is no reason why it shouldn’t, but we never know (there is a /lib/modules folder, so it looks promising).

If anyone has any info about this, it would be most welcome.

Not bad! I’ll have to update mine and see what I get. Although since I have already so much crap compiled for mine that I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t much difference.

Aye, that is what I thought as well. My setup is very much like yours is now. I have the FS connected to a D-Link 8-port gigabit switch, whose uplink goes to the router. The other computers are connected to the switch as well. I don’t use Jumbo frames (9k packets), since it would screw up the wireless clients.

You can email DRI to get the GPL source.

http://support.datarobotics.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/434

Hmm, that is a tempting offer… the problem is that this will probably be a huge effort for a single person.

Let me investigate it a bit to see if it is possible to cross-compile just the module instead of the whole kernel (which would be a daunting task).

Just to add something to this marvelous thread, if your read and write performance is in the toilet did you ever stop to think that it might be something OTHER than the Drobo that’s the problem?

Over the past few months I’ve had one 1GbE switch basically perform at 100Mbit speeds and Windows set to MTU of 9000 that didn’t actually set the TCP/IP stack to 9000.

In other words, I was able to improve performance with the Drobo without actually touching it. Replacing the switch and fixing/changing various Windows settings I was able to get my DroboFS write performance up to 35MB/sec and read performance up to 40-45MB/sec. By changing one kernel parameter on the Drobo the read performance went up to 60+MB/sec.

When I first started I was getting less than 20MB/sec both ways and it was not the fault of the Drobo.

Could you please share the settings, or link to a post where the info is available?

My changes and results are in the following thread…

http://www.drobospace.com/forums/showthread.php?tid=2137

I just want to correct something here. I have managed to figure out exactly the hardware inside the DroboFS. It is a Marvell MV78200, whose full spec sheet can be found here.

Turns out I was wrong about the CPU speed. The FS runs at 800 MHz, but only one of the two cores is actually used by the Linux OS. It probably still won’t be enough to do transcoding, but at least it is not that bad.