The vast majority of my data lives on a variety of Drobos. I currently have a Thunderbolt 3 enabled Drobo 5D3 as my primary storage device, stacked with 32TB of drives, and I also have the same set of data mirrored onto a Drobo 5N2 which I can access remotely from anywhere in the world. A further Drobo 5D is held offsite too. In chatting with one of Drobo’s technical gurus recently I learnt something that I didn’t know. Whilst a Drobo can protect your data as long as it has at least two drives in it, the data read and write speeds will increase significantly if you put more drives in it.
I was told that a Drobo with two or three drives in it will be much slower than one with 4 or 5 drives in it. In fact, it could be as much as a 10-20% speed increase for each additional drive that you add. I don’t fully understand the reasons for this, but I’m sure it’s similar to how regular RAID systems are striped so that data is pulled from multiple drives simultaneously, hence overcoming the bottleneck of mechanical hard drives speeds. If your mechanical drive has a read speed of 180mb/s, you can significantly increase the read speed of a file if portions of the file are read from different drives at the same time.
Perhaps in the back of my mind I was somewhat aware of this… but I just hadn’t really considered it before.
If you have a Drobo, or are looking to buy one and you’re using their handy calculator to try and figure out what size drives you might need, you’re going to want to pay close attention to this. Yes, maybe all of your data will fit onto three 8TB drives, but from a performance perspective you are going to be much better off with five 4TB drives. Both combinations would give you 14.52TB of useable space on the Drobo, but the latter combination would be considerably faster. Maybe even close to twice as fast!
Click here to read an article about my current photography backup routine.
What software are you using to mirror your data between your Drobo 5D3 and Drobo 5N2?
I use Carbon Copy Cloner ? LOVE it!! Use it for so many tasks like mirroring the Drobos and also creating a bootable backup of my boot disk every two days. Worth every penny.
There’s a subtle irony to this post.
Back in November I sent my friend of mine a message saying that someone was selling a Drobo 5N2 here in Whitehorse, Yukon. He instantly snatched it up … from you of all people.
5 days ago I bought that very same Drobo 5N2 from him because my old Drobo S was maxed out at 16TB. I loaded the 5N2 with 3 x 4TB WD Red (5400RPM) drives and the first thing I noticed was that even with both network ports enabled and bonded I was only getting between 35-45MB/S transfer rates at most.
So off I go on my way to scour google to find out why my Drobo S (With USB 2) has faster transfer speeds than this new Drobo 5N2 with dual gigabit ports. Low and behold of all the searches that could have produced results I got a result from someone who is most likely no more than a 15-20 minute drive away from me.
To make things even better I tried your suggestion and dropped in 2 more 4TB WD Blues because you mention in this article that more quantity is better than more in physical size, let the Drobo do it’s data protection rebuild and I’m now getting sustained rates of between 95-120MB/s.
I want to thank you for your article. It’s been a massive help, and want to let you know that your old Drobo is in good hands and will be well loved and cared for.
Thank you again.
Haha! No way. That’s a wild story. Glad it is still in use and doing some good out there.