Well, my Drobo and the 2 500GB drives arrived on Monday. They’ve taken a leaf from Apple’s book and the packaging is very slick, the unit itself is very well finished and minimalistic. Set-up was a breeze, just slide the drives into the top slots (just like floppy disc drives of old, ask your parents), plug it in, install the software, format the drive and that’s it. Nothing else to it. The drive appears on your desktop and you can start dumping files on it.
The first thing that I did was use SuperDuper! to copy my Time Machine directory from my LaCie firewire drive to the Drobo. It was about 125GB and took about 5 and a half hours. USB 2.0 ports are not the fastest in the world. After I had pointed Time Machine to the Drobo drive it’s been fine. It does seem to make a clattering sound when it’s writing to the discs but that was only when it was doing the full copy. I pulled out the drives afterwards, one at a time and only after the optimisation had finished, there isn’t a problem with the drive being seated correctly. Maybe it will sound quieter when I put another two drives into the bottom bays.
After Time Machine was working fine I used SuperDuper! to make a full copy of my iMac drive. That’s alongside the Time Machine folder on the Drobo and took another 5 and a half hours. Luckily SuperDuper! does say what it will do, that it will leave Time Machine as it is. That saves you partitioning the Drobo drive, which I can’t see working very well if you add additional storage later.
So it is now a little over half full. There are 5 blue lights lit on the front out of a possible 10. The only thing that will fill it up are the Time Machine backups. I’ll just keep an eye on the drive lights, both of them now green, and add an additional drive when they change to yellow at 85% capacity. That could be quite a while. To be honest that may not be necessary as Time Machine will delete the oldest backup if it runs out of space.
One thing that could be done to improve the software, and this can’t be high on Data Robotics list, is to change the dull Drobo Dashboard icon on the dock so that it looks like the front of the Drobo itself. That way the pie-chart circle on the menu bar can be removed and the icon can show the drive lights as well as the blue capacity indicators. Just a thought.
People have complained that using USB 2.0 is too slow and that the unit should have been fitted with firewire as well. To be honest I don’t think that firewire ports are on that many PC’s and laptops, which has to be their main market. Yes, it would be nice to have a faster connection but for me I’m just using it for backups, I’m not trying to pull audio or video from it. For what I use it for it’s wonderful. Just don’t copy your iTunes library onto it and expect it to be as fast as your internal drive.
Just to recap… photos, purchased iTunes music and web-site backups are on Amazon’s S3. Time machine has backups from January 18th on the Drobo as well as a full backup that I’ll sync once a week.