Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Drobo Again

As previously discussed I've been gradually moving data over to my Drobo. I recently invested in a DroboShare, which lets me share the contents of the Drobo as NAS.

Although I run my data through a Windows Server, I have been toying with the idea of having a large majority of the content available through a NAS share rather than let the Windows box do the work. In this way, if the server is down, then I'm not affected. This is effectively what the Drobo can achieve, however configuring it wasn't as simple as it seems.

The first issue I encountered was understanding whether, when plugging a Drobo with data on it, I would need to reformat the Drobo to work with the DroboShare (turns out you don't reformat and the data just gets passed through). This "feature" wasn't at all clear in the manual so I decided not to use my primary disk storage and data to test the theory and I just plugged the Drobo alone into the network.

At this point, I'd expect the Drobo to get a DHCP address and be visible in the Drobo dashboard software, but it wasn't. A quick check of DHCP on the server and a trace from Ethereal and I was sure the Drobo had requested and successfully picked up an IP address, but it wouldn't appear on the dashboard.

With fingers, toes and anything else I could find, all crossed, I decided to plug the Drobo into the Droboshare. As if by magic, the drive appeared, presented through the Drobo - with all data intact.

I wouldn't advise anyone to try this kind of cavalier approach but I guess that is part of the underlying Drobo design of simplicity, however I think I like the idea of having a bit more control of my storage.

After a few days of use, I started to notice problems; firstly the DroboShare wasn't always visible; it wasn't clear in the first place how the Drobo would present itself and after tweaking the settings I managed to get it named as \\DROBO\ on my network, but it wasn't always accessible and it wasn't clear why.

The second problem was to do with security - or more precisely the lack of it. Anyone with children will recognise the desire to prevent little fingers tinkering where they shouldn't. For me, that means making my music, video and picture shares all read-only to everyone except me. I can't achieve that with DroboShare.

Eventually the teething problems caused me to take the DroboShare out and resort to my previous configuration. I'm disappointed but perhaps I shouldn't have expected anything over and above a basic NAS setup. Since reverting to plain Drobo, I've had seamless operations once again.

Second hand DroboShare anyone?


Globe Treader - Kiran Ghag said...

I am not using Drobo, but a cheap GBP40 Landrive NAS box. I can plug in any HDD in it and its first partition will be available on my subnet. can use DHCP and make the share available over FTP and CIFS.
Also managed to make it available over net by configuring my router.
has worked well so far...

booyaa said...

that's a real shame to hear that the nas side of the drobo is weak. i'd been eyeing up these devices for some time now...