Monday, January 14, 2008

Playing with drobo

Okay, I'm a sucker for certain gizmos. I am now the proud owner of not one, but two Data Robotics "drobo" external storage devices.

I bought the first one from Dell for $409 +s/h. That's almost $100 off the current list price that everyone else posts. I picked up a pair of 750GB Western Digital drives from NewEgg, the Caviar SE16 WD7500AAKS. These drives are 7200RPM, 3.0Gb/s SATA Drives with a 3-year OEM warranty. Nice. With the >650GB of protected storage, I've been able to move a bunch of home video from tape (Digital8) to best-quality AVI on the drobo.

As a reward for purchase and registering the drobo, DataRobotics offered me another one for $299.

I couldn't resist.

I bought the second one along with another pair of the WD drives, and was prepared to be in storage nirvana before the end of the year.

But fate had different ideas...

One of the two new drives was DOA. The drobo failed it, and when I attached it to a USB dongle and tried to get it to work as a plain drive on my desktop, it also failed. Oh well, time to get the drive back to NewEgg for a replacement.

Yechh. 25% out-of-box failure rate on these drives. Good thing I'm using them in a protected storage array!

Anyway, by the time the replacement drive arrived and I got the drobo installed on my Vista system, it was 10 days into the new year.

And this is where things get to the point. My Vista machine is running four 320GB drives in a pair of RAID-1 volumes; I'm not using RAID-0/1 because of issues with the drivers and chipset, and I was wasting quite a bit of space in that configuration.

So I had the clever idea: swap the 4x320GB drives in my machine for the 2x750GB drives in the drobo.

I started by moving all the data in the second RAID-1 array to the drobo.

When that was done, I deleted the volume in Vista, removed the 2 drives for that array from my system, installed them in the drobo, and waited for it to incorporate the drives.

Then I swapped one of the new 750GB drives in the drobo for one of the remaining 320GB drives in the PC. Both the PC and the drobo went into 'degraded state' while the arrays were rebuilt with the swapped spindles, but everything eventually 'went green.'

Again, I swapped a 750GB in the drobo for a 320GB in the PC. Again, I went through the process of having the arrays rebuild themselves. Finally, I had to delete the 320GB RAID1 volume on the PC and create the 750GB volume without clearing the data in order to get the PC to use the entire space available on the new drives.

I now have a nearly 1TB storage volume on my drobo, coupled with a 750GB RAID-1 volume with my Vista installation on it. Now it's time to redo the volumes in Vista to take advantage of the additional space...