Why I’m not buying a Drobo. Or: How social media influences buying decisions.

OK, I think we all agree that doing backups is a good idea. I’m an amateur photographer, I have a huge MP3 library – days and weeks of my life have surely gone into creating the data that is on my iMac. I was using two 1TB Western Digital MyBook drives connected thorugh Firewire, but unfortunately TimeMachine can’t be configured to write to both drives simultaneously. I was always afraid one of the disks might die and the backups would be gone. I needed something like a RAID.

Being a long term listener of Leo Laporte’s podcasts I couldn’t avoid hearing about Drobo. And I have to say, it sounds really really good – something easy and painless. My only rational fear was that it’s not a standard RAID 1, so if the Drobo itself fails you can’t just pull out the drive and put it into a different case.

Add to that that using discount codes (listening to podcasts CAN save you money) I could get a 4 bay Drobo for a bit more than 200 Euros and I was getting seriously interested.

So I started asking the Google.

Unfortunately I mostly found horror stories, like this one:

(Through the comments I found out that Data Robotics own the domain “drobosucks.com”, which doesn’t really make me confident, either).

Now, of course bloggers like to rant, so the negative experiences are much more likely to end up on the web compared to happy users. Next step: set up a Twitter search and look what people are tweeting about Drobo over a few days.
To my disappointment, 90% were retweets of “retweet and win a Drobo” posts. But then the interesting ones appeared:

[quotetweet tweetid=5553790467964928]


[quotetweet tweetid=5403470874021888]


[quotetweet tweetid=5141854546829312]

That doesn’t sound good, does it? I mean, I’m happy to live with a few quirks in software, but NOT IN MY BACKUP DEVICE!

Then I stumbled over this site which settled it once and for all: http://amplicate.com/hate/drobo

Oh. My. God.

I ended up buying a Western Digital WDH2NC40000E My Book World Edition II 4TB NAS which sits quietly in my cabinet, backing up to two mirrored 2TB drives in RAID1 configuration via TimeMachine. I found this blog that explains the setup, and I heard nothing bad about the drive so far.

To me this was an example of social media HEAVILY influencing my buying decision. I also posted several tweets asking for people recommending the Drobo but only got sarcastic comments back. Now the only question left to ask is: why do Leo Laporte and his guests promote Drobo that much…?

NAS: what to do when your hardware breaks?

I have bought a Zyxel NSA-220 NAS case last year to have a secure backup of my pictures, videos and MP3s. I have set up two 500 GB SATA drives in RAID1 mode (mirror).

Now, this works all very well. If one of the disks breaks down, there’s always the other one.

But there are still things that worry me:

  • If I really have to replace a drive, will any drive with equal capacity work? What if there are no drives with equal capacity on the market?
  • What if the NAS hardware itself breaks down – will I be able to just attach the drives to a PC and rescue the contents (I guess they’re Linux EXT3 formatted)?

Backups are still a difficult thing to plan. What do you think – is a NAS system the way to go, or is it easier to just put the drives into a PC (which would have a higher power consumption)? Any ides appreciated. What do you do?