New to Drobo - not sure what to get?


I just came across Drobo and I have been navigating the site and looking at the products but I am not sure which direction to go as far as getting a Drobo, so if anyone could point me in the right direction, that would be great.

Currently, I have a MacBook Air with 500 GB of storage. I also have a 2 TB WD Passport for Mac external hard drive solely for backup using Time Machine. I also do a cloud backup.

The issue I have had the has arisen is that I have been doing a lot of video editing projects and want to be able to store all the footage and edit it in one place. I have two (2) 2 TB WD Passport for Mac EHDs in which I store videos and back up with each other. I also edit videos with my EHD as there is no room to edit directly on my laptop, and editing videos with iMovie on a WD Passport for Mac seems to be taking a toll on it, and I absolutely cannot lose the data that’s on that. I also try to backup my video files when I connect my EHD to my computer to back them up to the cloud.

Ideally, as my video library expands (currently it’s around 1 TB, but I also have 100 GB of photos/videos from my iPhone on my laptop), I want to be able to 1) free space in my laptop (because I am always approaching full capacity and it slows down as a result) and I want to 2) have all my “non-laptop” files in one place, and these would be mostly photos and videos, in which I can back them up to the cloud and somewhere off site so they are safe in multiple places. I would also like to store thousands of photos in Dropbox for easy access, but I don’t have enough room in my laptop to store them, so I thought some sort of EHD or server unit or something would be just what I need.

That’s when I stumbled across Drobo, and I really like what I see, but I am not sure what everything means or what model of Drobo to get.

Thanks for any help!

Hi amk152,

thank you for your post!

I am the channel manager here at Drobo and I am happy to point you in the right direction.

I typically recommend a direct attached storage model (DAS) for creative professionals for it’s faster connection options. If your MacBook Air has a Thunderbolt port, I highly recommend going with one of our Thunderbolt compatible models, such as the Drobo 5D or Mini, connected directly to your workstation.



Drobo and Apple Time Machine for Backup

My second recommendation has to do with drives; With any video/photo editing, you will at least want a couple 7200 RPM spindle speed drives such as WD Black or SeaGate Constellation. You also have the option to add an mSATA card, which the Drobo will use to store a hot-data cache to improve your read speeds by up to 30%. Here are some useful links with additional information on drives…

Why should I use an mSATA card in the Drobo 5D, Drobo 5N, Drobo Mini. Which ones will work?

mSATA Card recommendations:
Samsung · 250 GB · Solid State · mSATA · Internal · EVO Series · 840 EVO
CT4104902 Crucial M500 Series 120GB SATA 6Gbps mSATA MLC Solid State Drive
Intel 180 GB Internal SSD Serial ATA-600 mSATA Bulk SSD 525 Series

I hope this helps, but feel free to reach out to me directly with any additional questions.

Eden Thompson

Just be aware that currently a Drobo 5D (direct attach to your computer via Thunderbolt or USB 3) has a max volume size of 16TB. So even though it supports hard drive sizes which, when combined, support > 16TB it will create a second volume instead of increasing the size of the original volume. This is something Drobo marketing isn’t up front about it and came as an unpleasant surprise to a number of buyers including myself. Try the Drobo Capacity Calculator and add all the 6TB to the 5D. It indicates 21.78 TB is available for data but it doesn’t happen to mention that it must be across two volumes.

hi, just to mention i have done some projects on drobo too, such as having say 50-100GB of source files there, as well as editing. (this was on a gen1 and drobo-s mainly, and they are DAS models via usb.)

what you could do, is to store your source data on the drobo, (allowing a bit of time for the data to settle and be optimised etc), and then you can refer to them from your editing programs, and then save the output there as well.
(i did that several times, but what i offten did was to have the master source files on drobo, but then when saving the final project “output file”, it was to the local drive as can be a bit quicker, especially when you might need to “tweak” the edits a few times before getting the desired output file. then once happy, you can always copy that back to the drobo as the really final output.

sometimes if i made some output files that i knew would need merging later into a dvd structure, then i outputted them to local drive too, and then made an image for final burning etc.

depending on the programs that you use, (some programs like to pre-scan each and every file to build up a mini thumbnail and additional info about all files in a folder, so if you put the all into 1 huge folder, it could need some prep time to pre-scan, but if you work with smaller folder or tweak the configs it shouldnt be a problem)

if you did need only 1 drive letter / volume of more then 16tb like wfiveash mentioned, then am not sure how to achieve that without 3rd party software, but if you are already using multiple external drives as well as your laptop, then you probably wont mind some extra volumes…

… i set all of my drobos up with a max volume size of 2TB each, as that was what i preferred and what i needed in order to be compatible with some older computers, and i havent found any problems so far with those for any editing that i do…

please just remember that even if you put all your source files, or all your non-source files, onto a drobo (or any other device), that it is still a good idea not to have all those eggs in just 1 basket etc, and to set up your drobo with Dual drive redundancy (DDR) before you start using it for extra protection if you can.

Thanks for the help, I will look into what has been said.

One question though is regarding cloud storage, as in backing up any data I would have on a Drobo… what would work best? I use Backblaze for my cloud backup on my computer (as well as some external HD) but I would also like to access photos via something like Dropbox, but would like to store them on something like a Drobo.

Thanks again!

ok sure, for the online backups if you only wish to back things up selectively, then something like mozy can work quite well. (i use that for data on my DAS drobos, and depending on your configuration, you can simply rightclick on a folder to include it in the backup set or remove it from the set.)

if you wanted to back up tons of data, then it might become more cost effective to use something like crashplan that a lot of other users seem to like. (and if you had a computer attached, or with a DAS drobo then you would probably avoid most of the NAS related problems that users are having with crashplan being run as an app etc)

If you wanted a more mobile solution, maybe a transporter could help, but maybe if you have a bit of time you could list out what your definitely needed objectives would be, (or could likely be), and what you wouldnt be needing, and we can all see if there is a single solution to address that, or maybe a combination…

(…now where did i put that box of leftover mincepies…? ) :smiley:

Here is pretty much what I am trying to do:

A. Laptop
500 GB MacBook Air (primary computer)

  • 180 GB of photos (digital camera photos, iPhone photos & videos)
  • 145 GB of documents, database files, etc. for non-video projects
  • 15 GB audio and music files
  • 25 GB video clips (for projects) and iMovie projects
  • 25 GB of applications
  • the rest is pretty much miscellaneous, but I keep having to remove things from my computer to have space to operate programs and temporarily store video clips to work on those projects (actually, I have filled up much space, that I need to store and edit iMovie projects directly on an external hard drive, a 2 TB WD My Passport for Mac). I had to move all my iPad photos off my computer in order to install a game. Now, I have had a My Passport fail before, but it may have been due to transferring between Windows and Mac when I was switching computers. Often I would be down to less than 1 GB of free space.
  • 2 TB My Passport for Mac (only thing I use this EHD for is backup)
  • Backblaze cloud backup

B. “Video Work Drive” (formatted Mac OS extended (journaled))
2 TB WD My Passport for Mac

  • Currently using 400 GB to:
    – 1) Store videos
    – 2) Edit from
    I only use this drive to work from, and as I have yet to fill it up. I have run into problems with iMovie glitches, and it seems they are only from trying to edit a video with 175 GB of clips from both a video camera and an iPhone, and even after stabilization, I seem to have glitches. Sometimes it freezes and I worry about the drive overheating (as it does get very hot), as I don’t think the drive was intended for such intense use.

C. “Video Storage Drive” (never formatted)
2 TB WD My Passport for Mac

  • Currently storing 700 GB of videos.
    I specifically do not work on this drive, so that I don’t work the drive too much.

I am currently, and have been for a while, trying to backup “Video Work Drive” to the cloud and later “Video Storage Drive,” but often I am on the go and try not to take my EHD with me for they may be dropped or damaged, and often I will carry these drives around because I may need access to the projects/videos in other locations (as I do a lot of video stuff for my church as well).

D. Lexar flash drives
I also store videos on (2) 128 GB Lexar flash drives. Some are copies, many are transported.

E. SD cards
I have about 300 GB of videos stored on various SD cards that I have not yet put on a drive, most are family events and vacations.

-----BOTTOM LINE-----

  • I want to be able to store all my work in one place, instead on different drives, so it is more organized and I know where everything is (instead of trying to label everything and wonder what is in which drive).
  • I want to be able to back up to the cloud, all my videos directly from one place, instead of having to back up several different drives.
  • If I had something like a Drobo, I would want to be able to backup “sections” of files onto external hard drives in case of drive failure.
  • I want to be able to store something like Dropbox files on a large drive, so that I can easily access photos and videos when I remove them from my iPhone.

Here is what I am thinking, what I think I might be able to do, let me know if this is the best route to go and what would be the best way to go about doing this:
*Store all my documents, music, and some photos/videos right on my laptop, hopefully allowing 200 GB of free space as opposed to less than 10 GB. This I would have 2 backups: an EHD and cloud backup.
*Store all my “non laptop” videos and projects on a Drobo, and edit them right on there. (Currently, this would be about 1.8 TB, and I expect it to grow larger) This would have a cloud backup and back up to another drive (external hard drive by category of video files, or I read something about Drobo being able to recognize drive failure and moving the files accordingly.)
*Store Dropbox files (or something else) on Drobo so that I can access them online/phone app/etc.)

Thanks again!

thank you for detailing the scenario,

i think most of this is possible, and probably the easiest way for me to explain is to quote you in the following way (what You Said: and My thoughts) :slight_smile:

for bottom line:

What you said 1)
“I want to be able to store all my work in one place, instead on different drives, so it is more organized and I know where everything is (instead of trying to label everything and wonder what is in which drive).”

my thoughts 1)
this makes sense, and i have copied lots of data from various sources onto my drobo, so that i can locally access them from 1 central location and sort them into categories or folders etc etc.

what you said 2)
" I want to be able to back up to the cloud, all my videos directly from one place, instead of having to back up several different drives."

my thoughts 2)
this sure sounds easier than managing several drives or swapping flash drives/usb sticks etc, and i have been able to back up from das drobo onto the cloud (via a computer).

what you said 3)
“If I had something like a Drobo, I would want to be able to backup “sections” of files onto external hard drives in case of drive failure.”

my thoughts 3)
i didnt know what you meant by “sections”, but you should be able to backup individual files or selected folders onto external drives as a backup. one of the many ways i use, is also including backing up selected data onto a usb hard drive as a backup.

what you said 4)
“I want to be able to store something like Dropbox files on a large drive, so that I can easily access photos and videos when I remove them from my iPhone.”

my thoughts 5)
a friend of mine has dropbox installed on his computer. i have been able to upload a photo into his account via the dropbox website, and shortly after it appeared on his computer. (while he doesnt have a drobo, there probably is a way to specify a folder on drobo as the destination folder / dropbox folder upon installation and configuration of dropbox on the computer). i dont know for sure, but even if not, there should be a way to have it replicate to your laptop at the least, when online, and some tools could semi or fully automate it onto your drobo folder.

additionally, depending on how your internet is secured and setup, then you could reverse the process, and simply upload some files to your synced drobo/dropbox folder, and go to your friends house, and then by the time you get their, the data might become available on your web-based drobbox account for access, such as via your friends computer, or your phone using a dropbox app (which probably exists), and then if you modify the files and reupload them to your dropbox account, such as via a different name to play safe, then it should ultimately sync back or save back to your computer/drobo.

i hope this helps a bit but if anything unclear or unsure and have more questions please feel free to post back and we can try and help.

one thing i would definitely suggest though, is that you try to copy, paste and verify files if you can, especially when using flash drives, because i have had photo corruptions from a camera flash drive or older usb stick transferring data to a computer (on windows) - nothing to do with drobo just that it can happen and if you have time its usually good to use checksums or quickpar to verify the data before deleting from source :slight_smile:

  1. “Sections” I mean yeah, selecting a certain group of files for additional backup.

  2. Yeah, I was thinking of storing my Dropbox folder on Drobo or maybe use something similar.

I have copied and pasted things before and have had a couple corrupt images, which doesn’t happen often, but I have seen it before, usually a couple years after I last checked the file.

ok cool for 3 and 4 (sorry i pressed 5 by mistake above so 5 means 4) :slight_smile:
please let us know how things go with your drobo and hopefully santa sends one your way soon :slight_smile:

Hello everybody,

I’m writing into this thread because I’m currently thinking to get a Drobo 5D and was doing some research. I guess I’ll also want to install the mSATA drive but am now quite confused about what drive will work with the Drobo. After all I don’t want to buy one only to find out it won’t work.

I saw edent1028’s list of recommended drives. When searching for them, it looks like they are all a bit outdated and cost much more than newer drives. Often they aren’t even on stock any more.

So I’d like to ask what current drives you suggest at the moment?


hi, one thing that seems to be a problem is any msata based on sandforce controllers, so if you see that sandForce is mentioned, then those seem to be incompatible.

i know this does not give you a definite green list, though please hang in there in case there is an updated list…