A photographer’s review of the new Third Generation Drobo with USB 3.0

This week I purchased the just released new Gen 3 Drobo. I’ve been a Drobo user since not long after I started doing photography professionally. A Drobo is a proprietary raid system that holds multiple hard drives, and if one drive fails it’s easy to swap it out with no data loss or downtime. Of course a Drobo is only part of a good backup strategy, you always want multiple backups and one offsite as well. If you want to know more about the Drobo system you can check here http://www.drobo.com/storage-products/drobo/. You don’t always hear nice things about Drobo online recently, they seemed to have had some customer support and reliability issues. They even turned away some popular photographers from the system.  However, I’ve had my Drobo Gen 2 for about 4 years now, and except for replacing the fan myself, it’s been humming along just fine.  A Drobo has no moving parts except for the fan and of course the hard drives themselves, in my opinion you would expect drives to fail, but the Drobo itself should run for years without issues.  So I will see how it goes with the new USB 3.0 Drobo Generation 3 and report back if I have any issues.  I have a feeling Drobo will be a lot more responsive to customer issues now then they were in the past.

Even though my Gen 2 Drobo is reliable, the problem is that it’s slow, very slow. It doesn’t matter if it is attached with firewire or usb, about the best I would get was 40MB/s read and write.  The best way to work in Lightroom is to have your catalog on an SSD, in the case of my iMac I have the catalog on the 512GB internal SSD.  Then you store all your pictures on a large external raid or network attached drive with lots of storage.  I’m a do it yourself geeky guy, I’ve always built my own PC’s before switching to the Mac, so I have a PC server in my closet that I was using as my primary photo storage. I was using my old Drobo to back up that system.  OSX Mavericks has some serious networking issues, I was always having some kind of problem using my PC server as my primary photo storage.  I wanted something with speed and reliability that directly connected to my Mac instead of going over the network.  Then I saw the announcement for the Generation 3 Drobo, with the reasonable price and promise of 3x speed over the previous generation, I thought I would give it a try.   So did it deliver on the promise?

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