I have been experiencing an excess of failures with my own equipment this week. Mostly aged drives who’s working lifespan is winding down. Often the preverbal cobbler with no shoes, I rarely have time to maintain my own equipment. My usual quick fix is to throw more drives at the problem. Although that would certainly get me running again, it was more of a stop gap then a real solution. I have a number of aged drives and i wanted a solution not just for today, but something to make a difference moving forward. Enter the Drobo 5c. I have been a fan of Drobo for years. I have an 8 bay that holds my media library in it’s warm RAID-6 embrace. I had been eyeing the Drobo 5d for years waiting for the price to sink or my need to raise. Turns out the 5c is incredibly priced with only minor disadvantages over the 5d. One reason i love Drobo and the reason it was perfect for this project is the Drobo’s ability to expand in the future while operating at diminished capacity. I bought this enclosure with only 2 drives. Started up with mearly one 4TB drive and another 3TB. This got me started with about 2.7TB of usable space. Then i got to the task of offloading data from my healthy external drives. As each drive emptied into the Drobo’s volume, it was then fed into the Drobo enclosure to continue to expand the capacity. Now i have over 8TB of usable storage with both failover protection (a single drive can fail and I loose nothing) and expandability. It’s one big volume makes organizing and tidying a snap. That last bay will get a 4TB eventually and it’s doubtful the most recent 3TB i installed will be working this time next year.
The only catch to the Drobo is that in order to do it’s magic, the Drobo must lie to the operating system about the capacity of the array. You MUST go by the lights/dashboard and NOT what your file system says. This is usually only a problem for TimeMachine backups. (you must create a volume with hard boundaries for backup disks like this)