Pre-purchase configuration questions

My business has grown to the point where I need to implement a robust storage solution. I’m not an IT techie so I want it to be easy to set up and maintain, and for that reason I’m obviously attracted to the Drobo product range. But before I jump in, I’d be really grateful if somebody could help make sure I’m choosing the right solution.

The basic setup is that I have 5 Windows-based PCs in the office. The volume of user data isn’t particularly large - probably no more than 1-2 TB. Here’s what I want to do:
(1) Make files accessible from all the PCs in the office.
(2) Ensure that a single hard disk failure doesn’t cause me any grief.
(3) Automatically back up the contents of each PC’s hard disk (programs, configuration, etc. - not user data which is covered by (1)) so that if a PC dies I can configure a replacement with the minimum of hassle.
(4) Back up or replicate everything off site.

The Drobo product selector suggests that I want a 5N. Fair enough. But I’m not sure about whether - and if so how - that will enable me to achieve (3) and (4). I would consider the next model up - the 800FS - if that offered extra functionality in this respect.

So I guess my key questions are:

  • How do I achieve (3), backing up the office PCs? Is there software to do this built into the Drobo machines? Or do I need to use an external utility like Acronis on each PC, with the images and backups stored on the Drobo?

  • How do I achieve (4), offsite backup? It occurs to me that, rather than use a cloud-based solution, it might be more cost-effective if I could have a second Drobo at home and backup / sync with that. Is that possible? If I used the home Drobo to provide storage and backup for my home network (2 PCs), could I then get each Drobo to sync with or back up the other?

Any advice welcome. Thanks in advance for your help.

hi stewart, here are a few (quick) thoughts before i dash off for lunch :slight_smile:

in short, it should be possible with a drobo.
(and the nature of your data/working process/and throughput requirements might dictate a certain model)

Ramblings: :slight_smile:
If you have 5 pc’s (users) who are generating their own new content each day (locally on their machine),
and if you want to backup that content somewhere more central,
and if you would like some protection from drive failure,
and want it nice and simple,
then a DAS (directly-attached drobo, such as a 5d might serve you well)

you could have your main server,
and usb attach a drobo-s to it with 5 drives of say 4tb,
and map a drobo volume share on their computers.
and your team can either manually backup their content to the mapped network drive share, (or you can automate it using tools such as syncback)
and the drobo can protect your drobo data against up to 2 drive failures,

The nature of your work, and files and filesizes, might work fine, or you might need a networked NAS model, but the above would work.

The data file backups could be automated (once youve done a trial manual test etc) and could be scheduled so that each computer does it’s backup at a slightly different time of the night,

and for peace of mind, it would probably be good to run a full acronis of the host computer, once per computer, after youve got it all setup up/configured/with tools installed etc and patched up, (so that you could essentially get a replacement hardware and do a bare metal recovery of it),

and you could periodically run another snapshot/incremental acronis say 4 times a year or when you wish, and all this could be stored onto the drobo. (it might be worth also getting a smaller temp usb drive, to actually run the acronis backup onto a simple 1 drive usb, which you can later plug into the main server where your drobo is connected, and do a copy and paste - this way your drobo never has to be disconnected, and you are making a local acronis backup, rather than ‘over the network’)

the above setups, should be a way to provide you with your points (1,2,3) above,
and (4) could be achieved by essentially backing up a copy of your local drobo’s data, to another one somewhere else
(or possibly via just another computer and transporter product).

syncback should be able to do remote backups for you as well, but might need some configuring.

All in all, i have a local drobo, which gets syncback’ed to a 2nd drobo
and i have a drobo-s (the 5 drive model, previous to the 5d),
and i also have selective backups either online, or onto extra single drives/usb sticks as felt necessary.

sorry for some ramblings, but i hope it helps a bit, and i better go before something starts its rumblings :slight_smile:
if you need more info just reply back and someone will try to address things further.

Drobo itself won’t handle points 3 and 4. That’s up to software.

Paul pretty much covered it. :slight_smile:


I’d recommend a DroboN for the network stuff. Make things simple. A Drobo N is fast as well.

If you want to backup everything on the PCs, I’d go with acronis to locally attached drives. After all, if you want a minimum of fuss, then just do a daily clone to a separate drive. If you need to do a restore, swap the drive. No easier way to restore a bootable drive.

If you want offsite then do offsite with Crashplan (I recommend) or similar service. Buying a separate drobo and installing it at your house isn’t really effective. The limitations will be your personal ISP’s & business ISP’s transfer rate. Since your limited by that anyway, then put your data where it is really safe; a commercial data center.