I can't really followup much on Drobo since i no longer have it, so this post will be more about my changing storage solutions over the past few years.
I was really quite pleased with the Drobo for a couple of years but in the end my needs changed and i ended up selling it around the beginning of 2011.
I was using the second-gen Drobo connected directly to my Mac. It worked great for my files but i eventually wanted to share access to those file with other machines in the house.
I could have done this several ways:
- Set up a share on the Mac (leaving it always on)
- Buy DroboShare (an expensive NAS extension unit)
- Switch to something else
I decided to go with something other than a Drobo and I purchased an HP Microserver N36L. It had 4 hard drive bays plus an optical bay and it was possible to run the OS (i chose Debian Squeeze) from a USB stick inside the server.
I out fitted the server with 5x 1.5TB drives and, using MDADM, i created a 6TB RAID5 array with XFS on top.
Files were shared out over SMB (Samba) and media files were made accessible on game consoles by using MiniDLNA.
This worked great for the whole household for a good 18 months but then i started to run out of space.
I then purchased a second Microserver, this time an N40L. In the time i'd been using the first Microserver FreeNAS 8 had been released and it seemed a lot less work to just run that than keep my home-brewed Debian server up.
This second Microserver was outfitted with 8GiB of ECC RAM and 5x 2TB drives in a RAIDZ, giving 8TB of usable disk space.
The second Microserver has been serving the household needs for the past couple of years but is almost full now, so i've been planning an upgrade for the past several months.
The new server is a 4u Rack Mount chassis (in a LackRack) with an Intel S1200BTLR motherboard and i3-3225 CPU (left over after a desktop upgrade). It's currently reusing the 8GiB of ECC and 5x 2TB drives from the microserver.
The new server is still a work in progress but i'm hoping that by the end of this year it will have 32GiB of ECC RAM and 8x 4TB drives in RAIDZ2 for 24TB of usable disk space.
Depending on my needs i'm also thinking of adding a second array made up of SSDs for FreeBSD jails and virtualisation purposes.
The i3 CPU should be enough for my needs for a couple of years by which time i'm hoping i can pick up a Xeon E3 on eBay for a reasonable price.
I'm building this new server with a view to servicing my needs for the next 5 years, if not longer.