How do you guys back up your Drobo?

I’m looking to use my Drobo for housing my media library, so will need to look at a method for backing it up. Given there could be 4TB of data, I’m not entirely sure what to do.

What does everyone else do about backing up such large amounts of data these days?

Buy another Drobo?!

Another Drobo or its big little brother DroboPro!
That’s what we are doing here in our office. 2 Drobo units connected via a DroboShare & a Pro USB to one of our W2K3R2 servers w/ 10 Smart Volumes each partitioned to 16TB but our Pro presently has less than 3TB aggregated space w/ 6 drives w/ in varying capacities. Oh, we run a full backup job over the weekends & incremental or differential or whatever during the weekdays.

I decided against getting a second Drobo for backing up (common mode failure & all that) and instead got an EdgeStore DAS200 fitted with 2 x 1TB HDD’s configured for RAID 1. The Drobo connects to a Mac Mini by Firewire & the DAS200 connects to the Mac Mini by USB2.

Using DroboCopy to do the scheduled back-ups & I must say it’s working great. The DAS200 drives are removable, so once I outgrow it & can increase the HDD size (likewise the Drobo).


I have a 2-bay RAID enclosure with two disks in a stripe set. Every Saturday I superduper the Drobo to it.

I am still toying with the idea to use a second Drobo for backup. However, given its poor performance and the significant price tag, that will not happen anytime soon.

Also, I think I once lost data due to the Drobo (during OS upgrade). Could have been my mistake, could have been the Drobos mistake. I don’t know for sure but I do not really trust my “trusted storage”. That is another reason why I am currently researching alternatives to the Drobo.

I use a 750GB external FW800 hard drive with Time Machine.

I have a bunch of stuff that is backed up elsewhere-mostly online-excluded from my Time Machine backup.

I keep a portable HD with a backup of my Aperture library at work. I update the vault once a month or so.

My important data is primarily stored on my NAS and my drobo serves me as a backup storage.

I use my drobo also for long term storage for other data that is not “mission critical” and would not cause tragedy if lost.

So my drobo is backup/storage point.

I don’t back all of it up.

I have a backup of my iPhoto library on the Drobo, which is backed up to my web hosting plan, and also to a 500G drive on a Linux box at a friend’s house. The Drobo also holds my music library in lossless format, which I also back up to the friend’s house. I still have the CDs, but the thought of feeding them in again is not a pleasant one! All of this is managed through rsync and cron jobs on the Mac it is attached to, so it’s completely transparent to me or my wife. If I wasn’t comfortable with the command line, I would probably use Crashplan to back up to the friend’s house for simplicity.

For the rest of the stuff on the Drobo, the redundancy of the Drobo is sufficient. I don’t want to lose the data, but I wouldn’t lose too much sleep if I did.

I use a combination of old 1TB WD Mybooks and 1TB bare drives installed in a BlacX dock, which reduces the cost by eliminating an enclosure for each drive. The Drobo is configured with 2TB volumes (I need it compatible with XP), but I have a top level folder in each volume that I limit to 1TB so I can easily sync the contents. I use SecondCopy and BeyondCompare to do the syncs.

Most of my important data is photo images. The first 1TB “volume” is stagnant (older images). The 2nd 1TB volume now has current images and all my selects (best images) and work images; that is the volume that needs regular backup. The 3rd volume is mainly shadow copies of my various laptops.

I don’t use a 2nd Drobo, partly due to cost, and partly due to some concerns about single/common point of failure. I keep two backup copies of each 1TB “volume”. I keep one about a month out of date, so hopefully anything accidentally lost will be found before the older backup is sync’d.

It’s not ideal, and as drive prices drop, and Drobo prices drop the idea of a 2nd Drobo is appealing because it would vastly simplify things. The problem, though, is upgrading drives. Right now a 1TB drive is about $80, a 2TB drive is about $200 or $210. My next TB will cost me $400+ (2x1TB drives) unless I go with 1.5TB drives but that would not be productive long term. If I had two Drobos, my next 1TB would cost me $800+, including just one more backup. If I did it all on 2 Drobos, the 2nd (backup) Drobo would have two sets of disks, which would be flipped. So now my next 1TB would cost me 6x2TB drives ($1200) to accomodate 2 backup sets. When I do eventually break down and start buying 2TB drives for the Drobo, the old 1TB drives will get added to the backup drives used in the BlacX dock.

Another advantage of the BlacX docks is that I have a pair of eSata docks. I can then quickly copy backup #1 to backup #2, or create a fresh copy, at eSata speeds, somewhat mitigating the performance issues of the Drobo when trying to sync and backup terabytes of data. You could do that with other enclosures, of course, and I’ve thought about a 5 disk AMS Venus enclosure to help simplify the mechanics and reduce drive swapping, which is probably not good for the bare drive’s SATA connectors.

Whoever said disk is cheap now has not thought through this upgrade cost :frowning:

Anyway, that’s my budget solution to all this.

The initial cost of any fault-tolerant unit is going to exceed that of a non-fault-tolerant solution because of the extra disk(s) required.

However, after that, it is fairly linear, and the nice thing about Drobo is that you don’t have to match drive capacities.

I’m a little confused on how your data is allocated though… My first inclination would be to suggest taking your existing 1TB drives and populating a second Drobo with them.

I definitely see your point on eSATA though… I really hope DRI comes out with an eSATA Drobo soon.
As for points of failure, I feel a little inclined to have a “backup” Drobo in case of a Drobo chassis fault. If at some point DRI stops making units compatible with Drobo’s disk pack I’ll be forced to do that, or move to a different solution.

The worst thing that can happen with any backup/storage solution is to have perfectly good data, but lose the ability to access it.

No, it is surely not linear, as my example illustrates. It cost me, at today’s prices, about $360 to put together a full 4x1TB array, yet it will cost me $440 for the next incemental (and sensible IMO) increase in storage size (skipping 1.5TB disks for discussion’s sake).

It is only linear after the 2nd slot is populated, and until the last slot (4th here) is populated. That’s a small window and I’ve got my 4 slots full. I guess if you have a DroboPro then the inevitable is staved off for a while longer :slight_smile:

To be clear, I am not complaining and this is certainly not “DRI’s Fault”. And in fact, it would cost me either $480 (for 4x1.5TB) or $840 (for 4x2TB) to add the next incremental byte if I were using any other storage system, even smarter raids, such as QNAP or ReadyNAS. The Drobo’s claim to fame is that it does the upgrades as cheaply as possible but it can’t overcome the basic economics of drives and the mathematics of parity redundancy. I am suggesting that setting up multiple Drobos and then periodically upgrading them is very expensive, and probably prohibitively expensive for most home users.

My example above uses the mixed capacity capability, upgrading just two drives (the minimum required to actually gain available storage) from 4x1TB to 2x2TB + 2x1TB.

If I do that then the 2nd Drobo will not have the same capacity as my primary Drobo and therefore cannot back it up. I don’t get your point there.

You’re suggesting you could wake up tomorrow with no Drobos available that are compatible with your Drobo disk packs, and DRI tells you to pound sand when you try to get it replaced via Drobocare? I plan on keeping my Drobo under Drobocare as long as I can (cheap insurance IMO. I worry about a lot of ways for lightning to strike, when it comes to my data, but I’m not concerned with this for many reasons, one of which is that DRI has given every indication that Drobos will always be backward compatible (e.g. DroboPro) for migration purposes. If I cared about 24x7 uninterrupted availability then a 2nd Drobo would make sense and in any event would be a nice thing to have, but at a price. We were talking here (at least I) about the economics of doing basic personal use backups.

Right! I still have code on TK50 tapes but no VAX/Alpha to read it. Well, most likely the tapes wouldn’t be readable after 20+ years. I should probably dispose them off right now. :slight_smile:

[quote=“NeilR, post:10, topic:523”]
No, it is surely not linear, as my example illustrates. It cost me, at today’s prices, about $360 to put together a full 4x1TB array, yet it will cost me $440 for the next incemental (and sensible IMO) increase in storage size (skipping 1.5TB disks for discussion’s sake).[/quote]
I take the initial cost as being whatever is necessary to achieve redundancy.

I definitely see your small window point, especially if you stay near-capacity so you’re regularly upgrading.

I just moved from a 2TB array to a 3.6TB Drobo (3x2TB drives), so in my case I’ve suddenly almost doubled my capacity.

[quote=“NeilR, post:10, topic:523”]
If I do that then the 2nd Drobo will not have the same capacity as my primary Drobo and therefore cannot back it up. I don’t get your point there.[/quote]
That’s why I was wondering… It seemed to me that some of your data is static and could be “shelved” while there’s another 1TB that’s “active picks” and definitely needs backup.

[quote=“NeilR, post:10, topic:523”]
You’re suggesting you could wake up tomorrow with no Drobos available that are compatible with your Drobo disk packs, and DRI tells you to pound sand when you try to get it replaced via Drobocare? I plan on keeping my Drobo under Drobocare as long as I can (cheap insurance IMO.[/quote]
DroboCare definitely is a good thing (actually I need to re-look into that), but I’ve had companies disappear in the past, or not deliver on promises, so I guess I’m a bit jaded…

I do like that for the most part the disk pack is forward-compatible (or the Drobo units are backward-compatible). That’s definitely a comfort.

I don’t need 24/7 access, but I definitely couldn’t go more than a couple of days without my Drobo now that I’ve migrated a lot of my old array’s data into it.

If Carbonite Backup didn’t have the clause of “average user’s data size” then I would go for that as an off-site backup plan, but I think most of us here have more data than what they consider an “average” user. :slight_smile:

You are at the bleeding edge now, with a 3x2TB array, and with a (relatively) cheap 2TB in reserve (the 4th slot). The sweet spot. But whatever got you to needing a 4TB storage pool will ultimately get you to needing more than 6TB, and then you will better understand my comments :slight_smile:

There was a point in time, when 1TB drives were about $120 and 2TB drives were $299, that it would have actually been cheaper or about the same cost to just put a 2nd Drobo together (Drobos were about $400 net of rebates at the time).

The economics did get me to reviewing my data and purging and rearranging things to keep the 3TB pool viable for another 6 months or so (hopefully) since 2TB drives will inevitably head toward the $100 point. Every month I wait, I’m saving money, to the tune of about $10 per month per drive, roughly.

As I mentioned above, some of my data is static, but it is still very important data I don’t want to lose so it needs to be stored on multiple drives. The fact that it’s static makes the process of backing up less onerous but does affect the amount of total storage I need to truly protect it from all the evils that happen from time to time (many outside the control of the Drobo).

That makes sense - I didn’t get that you had >6TB of storage space… At that point I’d seriously need to consider DroboPro or something larger.

For me, my hope is that by the time I need that much space we’ll have 4TB+ drives. :slight_smile:

I got my Drobo for $299 after rebate so I could afford the extra drive (I was originally going to start with only 2x2TB).

Current plan is to get another Drobo for media storage, if I decide to go that route. The 2TB of data I have is about half video, and a lot of that video I could trim down if I bothered to sit and pull out the commercials. But you’re right - eventually I’m going to need either another Drobo or larger drives.

If only we could trade in our older, smaller drives for credit on larger ones!

I format mine for 2TB (largest current avail single drive) and live with the fact that filling the volume on the Drobo will spawn a second “2TB” volume.

But then I know that I can easily backup each volume to a 2TB drive.

For now my data hasn’t grown that large. I simply have a second firewire drive split into 2 partitions. One for TimeMachine, and the other for backing up the Drobo. I simply use the DroboCopy tool built into the DroboDashboard to backup the Drobo folders I need backed up, to the other firewire drive.

Then on the weekend, I connect a portable USB drive, and mount the encrypted sparse volume on it (created with DiskUtility). At 1am, another set of DroboCopy items copy Drobo folders to that sparse volume. Monday morning, I eject the encrypted sparse volume, and the USB drive, and take it to work, and pop it in a drawer. Offsite backup, without any worry of data being exposed.

OK, here goes. This is a work in progress, as it has been for the last 18 months.

I presently have a DroboPro with two 2TB drives plus 6 1TB drives, with 3.9TB used (72%) and dual disk redundancy. I have two volumes on that drive, a 16 TB general use, and a 4TB Time Machine.

The general use volume has three DON’T TOUCH archives from Jan 2008, Aug 2008, and Sept 2009, created using File Copy, plus a fourth archive created using ChronoSync. All of these are replicas of my master files on the RAID 0 array in the Mac Pro.

Time Machine backs up everything except the Drobos, and excluding Virtual Machines (which take too much space). I used to use a Time Capsule for that purpose, but the power supply died, and I ended up salvaging the drive from within it. Never again will I buy a backup device without removable drives!

However, if some kind of a failure (hardware, firmware, or OS related) of the DroboPro should occur, I would want a backup of that data.

For that reason, I have a local duplicate of all of the archives (except for Time Machine) on a Drobo V2 with four 2TB drives, connected via FW 800. That is also synchronized with ChronoSync, and it is supposed to be bootable, although I haven’t tried that yet.

I normally don’t keep the Mac Pro up and running, for energy conservation reasons among others, but I would like to get to the point where I could download/synchronize my MacBook and/or my office XP with those files at any time, if need be. I’m not quite there yet, but for that reason I have a CrashPlan+ archive of the current data on another Drobo V2 connected to my Mac Mini.
In addition, that volume contains a current archive of all of the user data on my XP machine at work, synchronized via SyncBackPro.

A third Drobo (V1) has three 1 TB drives, and is generally used for temporary files if I’m moving things around. I might ultimately move that drive to my office, to back up my Mac Book.

Finally, a fourth Drobo with four 1TB drives is formatted with NTFS, and is used to backup my work laptop (XP). At one time, I had that synchronizing nicely with my Mac Mini, using SyncBackPro. However, because the Mac Mini is necessarily exposed to the Internet, I’m not crazy about keeping unencrypted files on it. For that reason, even though I am not at all enthusiastic about using proprietary encryption schemes such as Blowfish when AES is available, CrashPlan+ has some undeniable benefits.

From a usability and overall security perspective, I would almost kill to have SyncBackPro available on the Mac. Although it doesn’t end-to-end encrypt the files, and therefore the files at the storage location are potentially exposed, they probably do the best job of any in terms of being foolproof.

ChronoSync is getting there – certainly the current version is better than version 3. Likewise, CrashPlan+ isn’t necessarily bad, and it supports multiple platforms.

In summary, there are three problems to be dealt with:

  1. How to replicate the data conveniently to the backup drive, wherever it is
  2. How to ensure the confidentiality of the data en route and at the final resting place
  3. How to be absolutely sure of the integrity of the data in both the local and remote locations. That is the biggest challenge of all.

My plan is this:

Put 3 1TB drives into the Drobo getting me 1.8TB of storage. I have right at 1TB of data right now.

I have a 1TB drive for a USB enclosure and use that to backup the Drobo. The 1TB drive will really just be plugged in and running when I’m backing up and it’s the safety net. Buying another Drobo seems overkill and expensive. If a drive goes bad in the Drobo I replace it. If the ext USB drive goes bad, I just replace that and copy the Drobo contents back… It’s pretty unlikely they’ll both go back right at the same time.

So, as the Drobo starts to fill up (and prices of larger drives start to fall) I’ll just buy the largest capacity drive I can get for under $100 and move that to the USB enclosure and move the USB drive to the Drobo. That way I’m reusing drives, adding space, over time, to the Drobo, and have a reasonable/inexpensive backup system.