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I'm thinking about a RAID device and the Drobo is on top of my list (followed by the WD ShareSpace). But I don't want to be in another walled garden with Drobos BeyondRAID technology.

Can I use the Drobo with a plain RAID setup? So I can take my HDDs and connect it to another RAID controller and go on?


I want to give a little review because I'm using a Drobo for several weeks now. I'm happy with it except for 2 points:

  • It's way to loud to have it in the living room
  • I could not make it work with ext3 and my SheevaPlug Linux PC

I like the way I can add new drives, currently I have 2x1TB in it, but I plan to add another drive in the next weeks. If you don't need NAS, then Drobo with USB or Firewire is for you. :-)

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"D-r-o-b-o, D-r-o-b-o, Drobo! are you feeling drooby today?". Mandatory silly commercial ;) – RCIX Dec 3 '09 at 8:02
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Nope, the Drobo is setup to do their BeyondRAID stuff, so if you don't want that (and the automagic space expansion, hot swapping, special stuff that comes with it) you're better off getting a different NAS.

In general you can't switch RAID controllers easily anyway (an argument for software RAID) each controller deals with the drives differently, sometimes you can swap controllers and just need to rebuild the array other times it's a nightmare of Elm Street proportions with getting an identical controller being the easiest solution. So if you had a WD ShareSpace and it died on you, you'd probably be able to get the data off using some tools or a different controller, but it could very well be a pita; requiring chicken sacrifices and an RMA to WD. I should also point out that the ShareSpace doesn't do hot-swapping of drives.

You could always build a mini-pc and slap FreeNAS, Openfiler, NASLite, or your preferred flavor of server OS on it, using software RAID you'd have an extremely resilient, cost effective system.

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Thanks for your comment. I already thought about building my own NAS on a *BSD or *NIX, with Software RAID and maybe ZFS. But the easy replacement of HDDs in a Drobo is tempting. – cringe Dec 3 '09 at 8:27

Inserting a disk to Drobo, automatically deletes all of it's data without asking each and every time (as disk got out of sync when removed and needs format).

This is usually true for legacy RAID solutions too, with an exception of RAID 1 (mirror) on some systems, so if you really want to lose half of your bought capacity, then forget Drobo and any technology that doesn't employ RAID 1 protection.

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I don't see how that answers the question. – foraidt Dec 3 '09 at 7:42
Carsten asks to be able to move disks in and out of a Drobo, obviously Drobo formating disks is a deal breaker and this is what I am explaining in my answer. – Saxtus Dec 3 '09 at 7:54
No, he wants to be able to connect all disks, i.e. the full RAID setup, to another controller. – foraidt Dec 3 '09 at 9:02
Then why to take disks out of Drobo in the first place? He can move Drobo as-is and stop caring about the RAID system used. – Saxtus Dec 3 '09 at 10:12
In case the controller has a defect, he'll need a new drobo controller instead of any raid controller he might already have. – foraidt Dec 3 '09 at 15:58

My experience with Drobo is not positive. The actual appliance corrupted data across all 4 hard drives making them all go red at the same time. I worked with tech support over 2 months in trying to retrive data but no luck. I took the Drobo w/HD's into a data recovery service team and they too after 2 weeks if trying could not extract the data stating it was because of Drobo's proprietary RAID system. Drobo replaced the appliance but the data was never recovered. Lesson learned is always have a backup to a backup. I now use ReadyNas and happy with it and use Drobo as redundant backup.

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An excellent showcase for a common misunderstanding: storage != backup. RAID (and Drobo) is for storage but if you want backup then get another Drobo and back up one to the other. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 18 '10 at 14:30

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