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I'm thinking of getting a Windows Home Server for backups and shared file storage. The storage requirement is 2TB with growth of 0.5TB per year. (Fault-tolerant, of course.)

I am not sure whether to fill the WHS box with as many 2TB disks as it can take or connect a Drobo to it.

The advantage of using Drobo would be that if the WHS box dies one morning I can still access my files.

Cost differences aside, what would you recommend?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

But what happens if the Drobo dies? (Which, by the way, is much more likely than an off-the-shelf WHS box dying, in my experience.)

Just keep it simple. Get something like an HP MediaSmart Server and use its built-in drive bays.

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I'll go with that. At least for now. Thanks. – Arnold Zokas Aug 5 '09 at 15:46
If the Drobo dies, you replace it, move the drives, and you're good to go. No rebuilds required. On the WHS front, you can also look at the Acer units. – mikezx6r Aug 5 '09 at 18:19
@mikezx6r: move the drives to another Drobo, that is. What I'm saying is that you wouldn't be gaining anything in terms of reliability by adding a Drobo to the picture. – arathorn Aug 5 '09 at 18:57
Agreed (as you can see by my answer as well). I got the impression you thought one would be dead if one's Drobo died. Apologies for the misunderstanding. – mikezx6r Aug 6 '09 at 10:58

If all you want is backup and shared file storage, I would suggest the Drobo with the NAS add-on. Drobo provides fault-tolerance, and if the Drobo fails, you buy another one, move the drives, and you're good to go.

Getting WHS would be to use it's drive sharing/backup technology, plus all the add-ins it provides. I'm not sure why you'd consider using a Drobo as the drive technology, unless you weren't going to use WHS's ability to fault-tolerantly store data on drives.

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<q>The advantage of using Drobo would be that if the WHS box dies one morning I can still access my files.</q> – Arnold Zokas Aug 5 '09 at 12:47
I have both a Drobo with the NAS addon, as well as an HP MediaSmart WHS, both have failed, both catastrophically with data loss. I prefer the HP though because it performs significantly faster as a file server. The Drobo & DroboShare would be frustratingly slow. I'd be playing MP3s, and just browsing its network shares would cause the MP3's to stutter and stall. Over USB it wasn't an issue though. – travis Jul 22 '10 at 15:32
Also, the WHS drives (if they weren't the cause of the failure) are all accessible when placed in a USB enclosure since they're just NTFS. Just be sure the files that you recover from them are the actual files and not identically-sized files that just contain zeros. That's where I got burned. – travis Jul 22 '10 at 15:38

I'm successfully using a Drobo with Windows Home Server. I describe the experience here. I made this choice because it saves hard drive space. It also provides more stability for my system backups. With WHS all files you want backed up are duplicated and thus use 2x the space. With the Drobo, only 1 drive in 4 is used for parity. Additionally, WHS places the system backup files on only 1 drive so if any hard drive fails, you risk losing your imaged backups (but not the files you specifically mirror).

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Thanks for your input. I wasn't aware that Drobo is not supported. What you said about WHS system backup is a cause for concern though - reliable storage is a high priority for me. – Arnold Zokas Aug 13 '09 at 8:10

Another solution you also may want to consider is the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo. I believe it is a bit less expensive than the Drobo and has more built-in functionality. With the Drobo, you still need to purchase in the Drobo Share to make it accessible on the network apart from a computer. The ReadyNAS Duo has a dedicated faithful following with many positive reviews.

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From my experience with owning a ReadNAS Duo, its not very performant, and quite a PITA to get it to a usable state from out of the box. It has a number of outstanding issues with wireless networking on windows machines (especially vista) – mwjackson Nov 23 '09 at 22:06

I would recommend using something like a Lacie which comes with its own file server built in. You can connect to the device across the network so there is no need to use WHS. Just plug into the network, configure your IP address, connect to the file share and that is that.

Lacie NAS product page

Here are a couple of models that look like they will work for you.

alt text

1-4 TB Network Attached Storage

500 GB model

500 GB model.

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