[See the UPDATE at the end of this post!]
Watch the video on Drobo’s website that explains why this device is so awesome!
To make it short: Drobo has 4 drive bays. You slide in any SATA drive (no screwdriver needed), any make, any model, any size. Even when your Drobo is running! The data is stored redundantly, means your data is spread over different drives. If one drive fails you can access it on another drive. You don’t even notice. Just that Drobo gives you a red light to tell you there is a problem with a certain drive. You buy a new SATA drive and replace the broken one. Drobo re-arranges the data. You don’t have to do anything else than replacing the broken drive, Drobo does the rest automatically. And the best: your data is NOT lost!
If you need more space: You just slide in another SATA drive in an empty bay. Or if you already installed 4 drives in your Drobo, it tells you which drive to replace. Go to a shop, buy a (bigger) SATA drive and just replace the recommended drive in your Drobo. That’s it. You don’t have to copy around data from one drive to another. Drobo cares about that automatically.
To make it shorter: You don’t have to care about your data anymore. Drobo does.
To make it shortest: Great! Highly recommended :)
Meanwhile there is a ethernet solution for the drobo. You can get a “DroboShare” accessory that will let you connect Drobo to your network. Read more about it **HERE**
Because Philippe was commenting his concerns about the Drobo speed, let me shortly point out my workflow. I had the same concerns before I bought my Drobo. But infact Drobo’s speed doesn’t slow down my work in any way. It just makes it a whole safer.
Drobo is a backup solution. It holds my image archive. That’s it.
When I’m back in my office after a shooting I first transfer all my CF cards directly to the drobo. This is the backup of the original RAW files. I never touch them again. Then as second step I transfer the CF cards once again directly to the internal SATA drives of my computer and import the images into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. The images on the internal SATA drives are the ones I work with. I do my post production, Photoshop work etc. When the job is done, the CD burnt and shipped with the invoice to the client, I archive the job. On the Drobo. This is a background process and I don’t care if it will take 20 minutes or 35 minutes to transfer the folder from the internal SATA drive to the Drobo. Later I have to access my image archive on the Drobo only very seldom. And even if I have to re-open and re-work an archived PSD file on the Drobo, I never had a problem with the time it took to access it.
In my workflow Drobo works great. With its redundant storage it gives me the best security and the least worry and maintaining. I will soon be buying another one.
I did myself a Firewire 800 test. I bought the fastest card reader (Sandisk Extreme Reader with Firewire 800 interface) in the meaning that I would save on valuable time while importing. Yes, and that was really proved in my test! As long as I just imported one image folder from the CF card to the internal SATA drive on my computer (just a plain copy-paste process done with normal OS capability). The transfer speed was between 20 and 30 MB/s! Wow! But then I did the test again. Not just copying the files onto the internal SATA drives, but at the same time also importing them directly into Lightroom. And the transfer speed dropped down to 10 MB/s. The same I normally got with my old USB 2.0 cardreader…
This test gave me another point of view of the transfer speed.
About the Firewire 800 speed, you may be interested to read this test and do your own test. Post your results in the comments, I’m interested to hear what you found out!