In this second article of “getting my new pair of Drobos” series, I’m openly sharing the steps it took to enhance my backup data system from single hard drives to protected storage. Click here to read part one.

Picking the right size *for me*

The Drobo team had provided me with a pair of units (a 5D3 and a 5C) for my upgrade. These were the high-quality hard drive enclosures that I had to fill to make them functional. I had the liberty to decide exactly which quantity of hard drives I wanted to put in and which size I wanted my total amount backup to be. I could go anywhere between two and five hard drives per unit and from 1TB to … 14TB per drive!

To put it simply, I could start with a very small 1TB capacity or go straight to the ultimate enhancement with a 50TB backup (we’re talkin’ about seriously big volume storage here — the 5-drive Drobos are formatted to a maximum volume size of 64TB as even larger drives arrive in stores).

Customizable to each and every one

A personal choice based on my actual and expected needs was crucial. I calculated the total storage currently scattered in my 10 external drives as a starting point (remember the pancake drawer of shame?). That already made 8TB of RAW files. I then knew I needed at least this amount of capacity in my Drobo to have the equivalent of what I was already used to have. And as I am keeping on actively taking photographs, I knew I’d soon need a little more before long.

Seagate 6TB external hard drive Drobo backup

I chose to insert three 6TB internal hard drives into the units. That made me a nice total of 10TB capacity. You can determine your very own needs with this cool capacity calculator test.

The beauty of it is that Drobo allowed me to start smaller (with as little as two hard drives per device if I wanted) to then gradually expand them throughout the months/years as my budget/needs increases. That is very practical. Not every backup storage company offers that option. Sometimes, we have to go all-in at once and fill all the hard drive slots or it just won’t work. I was definitely not willing — or able — to carry the load of 50TB worth of new hard drives on my shoulders just yet. This is a very unique approach and I felt like this respected where I was willing to take my transformation at the moment.

Getting ready for the big day

I carefully followed the instructions for my preparation in order to have a smooth transition by ordering — or course! — my internal hard drives. The Seagate IronWolf has been my choice but there are many other options are available as well. Because I have a 2015 MacBook Pro, I purchased a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter and a Thunderbolt cable. This would allow me to have a faster transfer rate and also free up a regular USB port. That’s been pretty much all I had to do to be fully ready.

Thunderbolt Apple adapter USB cable

Pre-procedure nervousness

Just like any serious decisions in life, exchanging my tiny, flat external hard drives for a brand new pair of Drobos got me a little apprehensive. I am a simple girl and I’ve always used a simple workflow… I’ve never had to take “extra” or “special measures” to take care of my data. I basically plugged the drives on my computer and that was all. I was afraid that upgrading my assets would change my habits and get me out of my comfort zone.

The operation

Exactly like planned, everything went very well. Once I’ve been ready and had all the equipment I needed, I sat down to my computer and calmly opened Drobo’s interactive setup guide. I followed the step-by-step (and foolproof) indications and downloaded the Drobo Dashboard. I’ll show you what this dashboard looks like a little later.

Then — the most important part — I transferred the data from my all old external hard drives to the Drobo. In my case, it took something like 15 hours total. Remember, I had 8TB of files and I had an old(er) USB 2 transfer rate. The best tip I can give is to plug a drive and then forget it. Go out and do things just like in your normal life. Then come back a few hours later and keep going with the next drive. It also works overnight so you can even sleep on it the very first day. How convenient is that?

So what happened after?

In my next article, I’ll share my post-operation experience, my new routine (rest assured, I still recognize myself) and my overall appreciation. Keep on following my “upgrading” series and until next time!

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