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Drobo Tips and Techniques

Please note: In order to ensure a seamless transition between compatible Drobo units (including in the event of a hardware failure) it is important to keep the Drobo firmware up-to-date. Firmware updates include important migration information that allow disk packs to be transferred into compatible Drobo models. This can be managed through the Drobo Dashboard software on your PC or Mac.

What is Drobo?

Meet your new storage solution, the safe and expandable Drobo. It's so simple that anyone can use it, yet powerful enough for business. Drobo connects to your computer or network and provides redundant data protection without the complexities of traditional RAID.

Dynamically expand storage any time. Drobo currently holds up to 36TB, depending on the model, using any combination of 3.5" disk drives or 2.5" drives for the Drobo Mini. The Drobo family offers Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, Ethernet, iSCSI, and other connectivity options, so you get the data protection you need along with the speed and interface you want.

  • BeyondRAIDRedundant Protection, No Headaches
    Drobo provides the redundant protection of much more expensive storage in a format you don't have to configure or manage. Drobo BeyondRAID™ technology, built into every Drobo, delivers all of the benefits of traditional RAID, leaves many of the limitations behind, and brings together enhanced protection, reliability, expandability, and ease-of-use.

  • Incomparable Expandability
    Incomparable ExpandabilityWith Drobo, buy just the storage you need now and change it as your data grows. Mix and match drive brands, capacities, and speeds. Replace your smallest drive with a larger one and immediately use the new capacity in a matter of seconds, not hours! It's a simple as inserting the new drive into the slot. Expand up to 16 TB on a single volume as larger drive sizes become available. Drobo creates one large storage pool. Dive in and eliminate the need for multiple external storage drives and devices.

  • FireWire 800, USB 3.0, eSATA, iSCSI, Ethernet, File Sharing, Thunderbolt
    FireWire 800, USB 3.0, eSATA, iSCSI, Ethernet, File SharingSafety and quick access go hand in hand with Drobo. Whether directly attaching to your personal computer, sharing files with others over the network, or backing up a business application—Drobo's the optimal choice.

  • Storage on your Terms
    Safety access and quick access go hand in hand with Drobo. Whether you're directly attached to your personal computer, sharing files with others over the network, or backing up a business application—Drobo's the best choice. Drobo connects to Mac, Windows, Linux, and server virtualization systems with ease. Everyone can take advantage of simple, powerful, and complete Drobo data protection.

  • Windows and Mac OS
    Window and MACDrobo connects to Windows and Mac OS systems and supports NTFS, HFS+, and FAT32 file formats. Everyone can take advantage of simple, powerful, complete Drobo data protection.

Plug In Peace of Mind
Just plug in Drobo and your data protection is all set up. Add disks at any time for additional protected capacity. Drobo can even solve problems by itself. Lights on the front tell you what's happening—if you can read a traffic light, you're already a Drobo expert.

Protect the Drobo that’s protecting your data

Drobo protects your data from drive failure, and there are things you can do to protect your Drobo.  To reduce the risk of damage caused by voltage spikes and power outages, we recommend getting a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). To protect your data in case your Drobo is damaged due to fire, flood, theft, etc., we recommend that you have a backup copy of your data at a remote location.

Back up a small network to Drobo

You can automatically back up all the computers in your network with the DroboCopy feature built into the This works whether you have all PCs, all Macs, or a mix of both

  1. Enable file sharing on the computer to which Drobo is attached. This computer will act as a server for the purposes of backing up, and needs to be on for the DroboCopy backups to run.

  2. Install Drobo Dashboard on each computer that you want to back up. Open “DroboCopy Settings” from the Drobo Dashboard menu. Setup the backup job for that computer, making sure you select the computer as the backup target. You will need to make sure that this computer is able to share files and mount folders on your Drobo. If you aren’t sure how to set this up, consult your computer help files.

Plug Drobo B800I into a network switch

The easiest way to use Drobo B800I is to connect it to your computer using an Ethernet cable. But, if your computer only has one Ethernet port you may want to plug the Drobo B800I into a network switch. For Drobo B800I to work in this environment, you need to  assign it a static IP address. This is done in the Dashboard using Advanced Tools->Tools->Settings->iSCSI tab. If you don’t know how to get a static IP address, please consult the person who supports your computer or network.

Select drives for Drobo

A key factor that hard drive manufacturers use to differentiate between “consumer” and “enterprise”  is their “duty cycle.” This is amount of daily use they are expected to have. Enterprise-class drives are designed to be in use 24 hours a day with the drive head mechanism constantly moving. Consumer-class drives are designed for 8-10 hours of use per day. Idle time where the drive is just spinning does not factor into duty cycle.

Format the volume size on Drobo

You should select the largest size volume that your operating system supports, which is 16TB for Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OS X, and 2TB for Windows XP.

By setting a large volume size you will be able to keep adding drives to your Drobo while seeing all that capacity as a single drive on your desktop. If you select a smaller size, as drive capacity increases, you will see an additional volume each time protected capacity reaches another multiple of the size you selected.

Share Drobo on a network

There are three approaches to sharing your Drobo on a network:

  1. An easy, low-cost way is to turn on the file sharing built into the PC or Mac to which Drobo is connected. This method requires that this computer be turned on in order to access Drobo.

  2. The most complex way is to use a network router that supports sharing of a USB-connected hard drive, such as Apple’s Airport Extreme Base Station or various Linksys routers. You will need to access the management utilities on the router to turn on its file sharing. Also, because these devices don’t run the right interface software, the Drobo Dashboard will not be able to communicate with Drobo.

  3. The most complex way is to use a network router that supports sharing of a USB-connected hard drive, such as Apple's Airport Extreme Base Station or various Linksys routers. You will need to access the management utilities on the router to turn on its file sharing. Also, because these devices don't run the right interface software, the Drobo Dashboard will not be able to communicate with Drobo.

Transport Drobo

When you want to transport Drobo, you will need to take out the drives and disconnect the power. Pelican cases offer a safe way to take Drobo with you. For Drobo use model 1510, for DroboPro use model 1610.

These cases come in two varieties, with or without internal protective foam. Be sure to order the one with foam. The foam is scored so that you can easily create pockets for the Drobo/DroboPro, its disk drives, and the power supply.

Use Drobo with Time Machine

Drobo is a great storage choice for Apple’s Time Machine. Just open Time Machine’s preference pane and select your Drobo. The DroboApp called Time Tamer lets you limit the amount of Drobo space that Time Machine will use, and automatically walks you through a few steps to implement it. Just download the script from the DroboApps part of the website.

Jumbo Frames for Drobo

A "frame" is a general networking term used in standard TCP/IP networking; it is a unit of measure for the transferring of data between one computer and another. Sometimes this "frame" is called a "packet". We all use TCP/IP networking to connect our computers to the company Local Area Network (LAN) or WiFi (wireless). Basically a "frame" is a block of data that is exchanged between systems on a network. "Frame Size" is the capacity of the frame or how much data can the "frame" transfer at one time. Standard frame size in typical networks is a default of 1500 bytes (give or take a few). So what happens when you copy a file over the network from one computer to another is that the file is broken down into 1500 byte chunks and transferred over the wire. Then those chunks are reassembled into the complete file at the receiving end. These operations takes a certain amount of CPU overhead to break down the file into pieces and transfer the data and then reassemble the data on the other end.

A "Jumbo Frame" is an increased frame size, typically set to 9000 bytes, to transfer larger chunks of data across the wire at one time. An advantage of a larger frame size is that it reduces CPU overhead on the sending and receiving systems because there are fewer chunks to break down and reassemble for a file transfer. The problem with Jumbo Frames is that if you have any errors on the network that causes a retransmission of the network packet then you need to retransmit the complete 9000 bytes instead of the 1500 bytes within a standard frame. This could cause more saturated networks if you have many errors during transfer.

The other issue is that to successfully use Jumbo Frames, all the networking infrastructure end-to-end needs to support that technology needs to support Jumbo Frames. That means the sending system, including the network interface card (NIC); the switches; the routers; the receiving system, including the NIC, all need to be set to accept Jumbo Frames. Many newer technologies do this automatically but it's always good to be sure before you set your frame size to 9000 to take advantage of Jumbo Frames.

Unlimited Storage for your AppleTV!

Here at Drobo HQ we get questions from folks putting their Drobo's in all sorts of situations. One common way of deploying Drobo's is in a media center. Many of our customers happily connect Drobo's to their Microsoft Windows based media centers, however many AppleTV users are left in the cold, and stuck with the tiny amount of storage (160GB) Apple chose to put in the device. And to further exacerbate the issue, Apple has decided to disable the USB port on the AppleTV. Why? Who knows, but if you're like most of us you have Terabytes of movies and music that far exceed the size of the standard hard drive in the AppleTV.

So, the problem is... a growing media collection, fixed hard drive size. You already know how this movie ends. Enter the Drobo... and its hip new sidekick, Atv Flash!

This useful piece of software transforms your AppleTV into a "real" media center. Giving AppleTV the capability to not only plays dozens of media types (natively it only lets you play Quicktime files)... but it also... gets this, IT ENABLES THE USB PORT!! So, now thankfully you can attach a Drobo to your AppleTV, and have unlimited storage!

This is a perfect use for Drobo technology -- you need your movies and music to always be available and protected, but you also need the flexibility of growing your storage as your media collection grows. aTV Flash + Drobo provide all of this, and more.

Installing Atv Flash on your AppleTV is a simple process, and once installed you simply plug in a Drobo filled with your favorite media, and boom... media heaven. It's movie time -- grab a big bowl of Orville Redenbachers because you're gonna be a while. Heck, the software will even go out on the Internet and find album and movie art for the files stored on the Drobo.

Drobo S, AppleTV and Atv Flash... the perfect combination for the ultimate in media center flexibility.

How to setup Drobo without installing Drobo Dashboard

Did you know you can operate your Drobo without installing Drobo Dashboard? The Drobo products are so intelligent that they manage themselves. When you connect a Drobo to your computer (with drives inserted) it will present just as any "normal" FireWire drive would. You can format the drive, and access it as you would any other volume connected to the computer. You can fire up Drobo Dashboard at any time to administer the drive, install firmware updates, etc.