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Raid array
Harvey Levine, Photographer
Harrisburg | PA | | Posted: 7:24 PM on 01.06.12
->> My son is going to set up a raid array system for me. Not being a techno geek, I know little about these but I have had recommendations to get a Drobo or Pegasus. All recommendations welcome.
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Scott Miller, Photographer
Sorrento | FL | | Posted: 7:52 PM on 01.06.12
->> I bought an OWC 12TB Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2.... about $1300.. it's already set up as a raid 5 straight out of the box.

Has work like a charm since I bought it last year.
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Kevin M. Cox, Photographer, Assistant
Galveston & Houston | TX | US | Posted: 8:04 PM on 01.06.12
->> The first thing to decide is if you need DAS (direct attached storage) using USB, FireWire, etc. or NAS (network attached storage) that you plug into the network and connect that way.

As to the units you mentioned, the main advantage I see that the Promise Pegasus has over the Drobo is the attachment method. The Thunderbolt connection should be much faster than the Drobo.

The other thing I notice is that the Pegasus appears to use standard RAID levels (which in theory could be recovered using different hardware if the box died but the drives were still OK) while the Drobo uses a proprietary RAID method which means in the event of a hardware failure the data can only be accessed if plugged into another Drobo.

Here is a detailed review:

From the article:
"Promise Pegasus R6. Without a doubt this is the highest performing external enclosure you can get for your 2011 MacBook Pro or iMac. Even using lowly mechanical hard drives you can get absolutely amazing sequential performance out of the R6."
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Gregory Greene, Photographer
Durham | NH | USA | Posted: 9:02 PM on 01.06.12
->> I would go with the Pegasus because of RAID6. Large drives in a RAID5 array take forever to rebuild and if you lose another one during that time you are toast. I used to have my main archive on a RAID5 volume but after a 3 day rebuild on a disk failure I decided that RAID10 is much safer.

Make sure you still do backups. RAID is not a substitute for good backups.
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Paul Nelson, Photographer
Temperance | MI | USA | Posted: 9:55 PM on 01.06.12
->> Just throwing this out there....

There's also another option to build a workstation/desktop with a RAID controller card & multiple hard drives in the chassis or to buy a server straight up. If you have the technical known-how on how to support a RAID controller card, this sometimes is the best option vs. picking an external where you may have little technical control over the config. It's not out of the question to use a server-like system as a primary machine if you highly value redundancy.

(and as mentioned above - never rely on RAID exclusively!)
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 10:02 PM on 01.06.12
->> I decided to go the non-proprietary route and I have two of these units......5 drives in each enclosure and you can configure them however you want. Very robust so far...
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 9:04 AM on 01.07.12
->> Drobo is probably the way to go for the less technologically-inclined.

There are many flavors of Drobo, from lowly USB 2.0 to Firewire to eSATA to USB 3.0 to Ethernet. The last three will be about as fast as the Pegasus with Thunderbolt (you can't transfer data any faster than the hard drives will run).

For years I have relied on a system I built much as Paul described and it worked very well...however I recently retired that machine and replaced it with an inexpensive USB 2.0 Drobo unit. In theory, simpler and easier to maintain and since I only use these for backup purposes speed is not a factor.

Robert, very interested in your experience with the firmtek enclosure...I have used a port-multiplier based enclosure before and found it to be seriously lacking and a real drag on overall system performance. Something tells me the driver is everything in these setups.
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 10:05 AM on 01.07.12
->> Chuck,

Here's some data on the port multiplier thingy:

I've never had a problem with speed - but it is definitely slower than if you cabled each drive to your computer.

I decided to make my system very simple: my working drives are raid 1 mirrors, and then I use the other slots for my LR library backup, my finished TIFF archive, etc. I've heard too many horror stories about proprietary Drobo and complex striped raids. If the zombie apocalypse comes, I want to be able to pull these out and use them in any machine without waiting for a 2 day rebuild, etc....
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Al Diaz, Photographer
Miami | Fl | USA | Posted: 11:05 AM on 01.07.12
->> Anyone have experience with the WiebeTech raid system?
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Jim Pierce, Photographer
Waltham | MA | USA | Posted: 1:38 PM on 01.07.12
->> This topic comes up all the time but I have yet to find a more economical and less compliacted back up/archival method than 2 external USB harddrives. After each event I just copy the event from my desktop HD's to one external drive then the other. Simple and quick!!!

Just bought 2, 2TB USB3.0 harddrives for something like $275 total. No extra hardware at all.

I am still looking at what the drobo/raid/etc offers that can validate the extra money.

Open to why a raid etc but I try and keep it simple, this might be an option.

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Gregory Greene, Photographer
Durham | NH | USA | Posted: 3:07 PM on 01.07.12
->> External drives are great for a backup and archive device but I like having my main data protected by RAID1 or preferably RAID10.
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Jim Pierce, Photographer
Waltham | MA | USA | Posted: 3:18 PM on 01.07.12
->> Greg,

The process I have is that my "main data' is in 3 places all independent of each other. HD on my desktop, then 2 external HD's, and this is prior to formating my CF cards.

In the end I have the data in 2 places when I delete the events from my desktop hard drives so that I can reuse the space for more events. I just buy new external HD's as space is needed. When the external drives get full I simply print out the windows explorer screen shot showing what events are on it and tape it to the side. I can find event from 4 years ago in 30 seconds, just hook up that drive and I am good to go.

very simple way and no need for maintenance or added costs for controllers and hardware, much less cost and no maintenance.

Still trying to find a valid reason for the raid/drobo etc approach and to spend the extra money

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Gregory Greene, Photographer
Durham | NH | USA | Posted: 4:20 PM on 01.07.12
->> RAID chipsets are standard on most motherboards these days so no real extra cost for a controller. My PC has enough internal space for 4 HD's and an SSD so it's a no brainer to set up RAID10. Takes maybe 2 mins at the setup screen. No maintenance other then swapping out a failed drive. I still have 2 external drives that I rotate offsite. Easy enough
to run a robocopy mirror script to sync them.

Jim, your way is perfectly valid I just don't think RAID is as complicated as you make it out to be.
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Baron Sekiya, Photographer, Photo Editor
Hilo | HI | USA | Posted: 7:10 PM on 01.08.12
->> @Chuck I have a Drobo Gen1 (USB2 only) and something bit the dust. Almost 6GB of data in the disk pack of four 2TB hard drives. I'm pretty optimistic that the data is still intact as I've gotten some flashes of life via Disk Utility on my Mac.

Although the Drobo has worked well, I've even had a drive failure and Drobo let me sail right through that so I could replace the drive, the proprietary nature is a fundamental problem.

My Drobo won't let me mount the partitions I have on the disk pack. I've been going around-and-round with Drobo tech support the past month, the drive has been down for over two months now. They sent me out a new power supply, new software (stuff not on their website) and corresponded via many emails with still no luck.

The biggest issue with my Drobo, early Drobo users take heed: The Gen1 Drobos initially shipped with a firmware that is not forwardly compatible. You can tell if you had that version if you had to partition your Drobo into 2TB partitions instead of one large one.

When I say it's not forward compatible I mean if your Drobo bites the dust you can't just put the disk pack into a newer Drobo, just won't work. Doesn't even matter if you've been constantly been updating the firmware of your Drobo.

If anyone has a Gen1 Drobo that had to partition into 2TB logical drives I suggest you bite the bullet, get a newer Drobo (or borrow a Drobo), some new drives and copy the data over while your older Drobo still works because once it stops working you're screwed.

From Drobo: "If you have been upgrading your 1st generation Drobo all along, you might not be aware of what the firmware version was when you first created the disk pack. Unfortunately, there is no full-proof way of determining this. However, if you recall that the largest volume size allowed was 2TB (i. e., 4TB, 8TB and 16TB were not available) AND you were running Windows Vista or OS X, then there is a good chance that you will not be able to migrate the disk pack. You can, however, copy the data to other media, add the drives from your 1st generation Drobo to your new Drobo storage device and then copy the data back to your newer Drobo. This will at least allow you to use the hard drives accordingly."
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Baron Sekiya, Photographer, Photo Editor
Hilo | HI | USA | Posted: 7:15 PM on 01.08.12
->> Note: I wouldn't hesitate to get one of the newer current Drobos as they don't suffer from this firmware issue. My tale was more of a warning for current Gen1 Drobo users.

Now if they would just come out with a Drobo with Thunderbolt on it too that would be nice.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 7:58 PM on 01.08.12
->> I had my Drobo Pro fail a drive last month. I pulled the bad drive and threw in a spare 2tb that I keep on hand for just such an occasion. It took 26 days for the Drobo to rebuild the volume. In those 26 days the lights blinked and flashed and did all kinds of funky dances. Tech support emailed every once in a while to keep up with the progress. Also in those 26 days I had full access to all the data (9tb worth).

The Drobo is only part of my DAM. For me, I have a bare drive in a hot swap drive tray that I ingest and keep the last 6 months of data to. That drive is also copied to the Drobo and on a (mostly) weekly/bi-weekly basis files are copied to another drive that is kept off site at a storage location where we store much of our event gear.

The advantage to a RAID is that when I got 'the' Applebee's call I was able to open files going back to 2006 while on the phone. Personally I HATE hanging up on any caller without closing the sale. I just made a sale of 2008 8th grade basketball. It all happened in minutes in great part because within minutes of the request I had thumbnails in the customer's lap.

Now having said ALL that.... During this last failure it was pointed out that Data Robotics now lists enterprise class drives as required for the Drobo Pro. That will push me to other manufacturers for my next raid. The very notion of a RAID is to use INEXPENSIVE drives, that's what the "I" in raid stands for. Enterprise class drives are hardly 'inexpensive'. And for that reason I'd like to thank Harvey for starting the thread and all the info it has generated.
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Israel Shirk, Photographer, Assistant
Boise | ID | US | Posted: 9:12 PM on 01.08.12
->> Drobo isn't real RAID... As Eric mentioned above, there are a few issues with how they do things.

Something people miss about RAID is that it'll make a huge improvement in the throughput over just the drives. So a higher-end RAID like a Pegasus is going to perform significantly faster than a RAID technology that's motherboard-integrated, especially on reads. You'll see your throughput go up by the amount of redundancy with the nicer ones - so if you have 3 mirrors of your data, it'll run 3 times as fast on reads as long as you aren't maxing out your SATA or Thunderbolt bus. Cheaper RAIDs will just pick a drive to read off of, so you won't see any speedups at all, and usually with cheaper RAIDs they'll also have all the drives in the same internal bus so writes will slow down by the amount of redundancy as well. On nicer RAIDs you won't notice the difference in write speed.

Also, some have mentioned using external port multiplier enclosures - these work well with dedicated RAID cards, but sometimes have crappy performance depending on your motherboard. You can also hit some performance issues if you max out the SATA bus. You also have to be pretty decent at setting them up as well or you'll run into reliability issues/difficulty recovering your data - it's effectively the same as software RAID in that department.

One other factor to consider is fan redundancy in the enclosures - this is pretty important. You need good cooling or you will the rest of your drives when one fails. I've watched it happen a few times as a sysadmin. It sucks, but there's not much you can do other than point a desk fan at the thing. With nicer systems it's much less of a problem because there's ventilation everywhere. This is why DROBO enclosures are all plastic, which is an insulator, while real RAIDs are metal and have larger drive bays to help dissipate heat in case of a fan failure or a piece of lint blocking airflow.

So, your money is not wasted by buying a Pegasus or a SATA equivalent. If you're using USB2, don't waste your money on a nice RAID - it won't perform. Nicer RAID platforms will auto-heal as well, when you give them an extra drive they can put online when they do experience a failure.

In the next few months I'm going to be doing either a Pegasus or a higher-end 8-drive SATA RAID piped through a Sonnet thunderbolt-to-sata adapter, just so I won't have to worry about what data is on which drive and whether things are backed up. Pretty expensive but worth it.
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Northwest Missouri | MO | USA | Posted: 11:32 PM on 01.08.12
->> The Drobo is very expensive on the front end. If you're a Mac user, it's a Windows shared disk, not a OSX-based share when used as a NAS. That means using the Finder to run a search on it will take much longer than if it's formatted as Mac HFS with an OSX machine sharing it on the network. Using Windows to find files on a Drobo as NAS is fast.
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Brian Tietz, Photographer
Fort Myers | FL | USA | Posted: 8:57 AM on 01.09.12
->> A simple inexpensive Raid 1 archive solution for me was getting the Newer Tech Guardian Maximus 2 disk raid Mirror from OWC. With a 3rd bare drive in a Newer Tech Voyager.

When those get filled up I replace the drives with new ones and store the bare drives in Muki Zipo cases, with starting and ending dates inside Pelican cases with desiccant packets. 1 set kept off site just in case. When I need to go back I plop the bare drive in the Voyager and voila, I also have the Aperture libraries for the selects from those shoots stored on there.

It beats having to keep track of a bunch of different sized external drives and their power cables etc.

I also have a 2 disk Raid 0 set-up on a Mac Pro for Speeding up current projects, that is backed up to Time Machine.
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Baron Sekiya, Photographer, Photo Editor
Hilo | HI | USA | Posted: 5:12 PM on 01.16.12
->> Just fixed my Drobo issue. Turned out the desktop software accidentally flashed the wrong firmware onto the Drobo unit which is why it stopped working even though it did work for awhile with the wrong firmware.

Drobo Tech Support was excellent, no data loss, things are working as they should again. Tech support worked me up a custom firmware to flash the drive to get it working again.

I know folks are waiting for Drobo to offer Thunderbolt on their units and that's probably coming in the future. Their current units do have eSATA so the eSATA to Thunderbolt adapters shown at CES should work fine.
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Mark Kauzlarich, Photo Editor, Student/Intern
Madison | WI | | Posted: 12:09 AM on 05.03.12
->> Sorry to bump an old thread here, but I've finally maxed out my hard drives and need space to back things up, and would like to get my harddrives on hand to be used for other things and move to a RAID system (or maybe Drobo?).

I'm hearing a lot of "Drobo is great except for when its a complete pain in the ass..." kind of things here. From my perspective it seems like quick and easy to set up. Set it and forget it, kind of.

I'd like something with the option that I can use for backups, but work off of and have images on hand. If that means keeping one smaller drive by the Drobo for live work, I can handle that.

- Is that the best way to go? A Drobo, and then copy the images of the Drobo that you need for live work, or keep a 3-6 month backlog of most recent images on a hard drive that you work off?

- Is it possible to construct a drive off of the information in the Drobo to keep all your information off-site for a backup, and do so easily?

I've read so many opinions and arguments. I just want someone to easily lay this out, please?
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Kevin M. Cox, Photographer
Galveston & Houston | TX | US | Posted: 12:52 AM on 05.03.12
->> I'm a fan of the Netgear ReadyNAS line. We have three including a new Pro 6 which is easily fast enough to work off of directly.
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Allen Murabayashi, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 2:23 AM on 05.03.12
->> I have a ReadyNAS and a Pegasus. The Pegasus is significantly faster than any RAID that I've run at home (shockingly so). I would highly recommend it -- have had it for about a year, and no problems so far.
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Andrew Fielding, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 8:20 AM on 05.03.12
->> Big warning for RAID 0 and RAID 5 arrays,
they actually increase your chance for data loss since there is no redundancy.

RAID 1 provides redundancy..think of it as a live backup.

Just wanted to put that out there before someone loses their data due to getting the wrong type of setup.
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Mike Isler, Photographer, Assistant
New York | NY | US | Posted: 9:32 AM on 05.03.12
->> Andrew, RAID 5 is redundant. It's striping with parity, and the array can be rebuilt automatically after failure of a single disk with no data loss. Additionally, with RAID 5 you have the ability to have an array that's larger than the size of any single disk, unlike a pure RAID 1 configuration (mirroring).
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Kent Miller, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 8:40 PM on 05.03.12
->> In case your interested in a RAID solution.

I have a few for sale.
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Joshua Brown, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 12:25 AM on 05.04.12
->> I've owned a couple generations of Drobo's, both had issues. Moved to the Pegasus last year and its been rock solid and shockingly fast over Thunderbolt. Two thumbs up.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 10:46 AM on 05.17.12
->> Eric Canha said, "It took 26 days for the Drobo to rebuild the volume."

Man, that scares the hell outta me. My last tower I had setup with a mirror. One drive failed, I put in another and it started to rebuild. A couple hours later the machine was off. Turned it on and went into the BIOS to see that the second original drive had died, too. It had gottne my C: partition copied so I can boot up the machine but much of what was on my data partition is gone or scrambled. I'd be in a world of hurt if I hadn't always kept a fairly good backup on externals.

Makes me think that several smaller RAID boxes are a better idea than one HUUUUGE array...
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 11:33 AM on 05.17.12
->> Michael I'd still stick to one HUGE array and use a RAID 5 or RAID 6 (or newer) schema. In my case at the time that the Drobo was doing the rebuild I was running the box in what Drobo calls 'Dual Redundancy' (RAID6) mode. I could have (and according the to the error log was on the verge of) a second drive failure and not have lost any of my data. It sounds like you had two drives running in a RAID 1 environment.

Also keep in mind that over that 26 day period I still had access to all my data. The only indication that anything was amiss was a blinding array of led's blinking green/yellow and a small icon on my desktop.

While some of my love for the Drobo has tarnished over time, it is still a viable RAID solution for people who don't want to be IT experts. I really think that is where the Drobo's shine. The small to mid size boxes are perfect for the folks who just want dump files to the box without knowledge of bits and bytes.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 12:02 PM on 05.17.12
->> Yeah, it was just a mirror. For years I'd run a 5 in a different box but that was back when I was running 9, 18, and 36 gig SCSI drives and even before SATA. When I upgraded computers I figured I'd just get a couple 250s mirrored, have two to three times the storage I had before for a fraction of the cost.

If it would've worked (it had before) I would have still had access to my data albeit at a slightly slower rate since it's a motherboard array and not too much faster than a software RAID solution at rebuilding.

Someday I'll get another nice array and with the sizes of today's disks it will either be a 6, 10, or Drobo. Only one drive of parity is not really an option nowadays.
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Tim Lester, Photographer
Edwards | IL | USA | Posted: 8:33 AM on 05.18.12
->> For those who like to read specs and compare systems, here's a good site -

They normally have speed test comparisons for different RAID levels supported and performance charts comparing different systems. Not a complete listing of devices but a majority of the bigger names.
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Thread Title: Raid array
Thread Started By: Harvey Levine
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