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Adding hard drives to a Drobo 5D3

Drobo sent me a 5D3 direct-attached storage (DAS) unit for me to explore and play with and I wanted to share with you what I discovered. First, the 5D3 has five 3.5″ drive bays which means I can put five hard drives into it. It also has two Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports for connecting it my Mac, which is very fast. Another feature it has is called BeyondRaid™ technology. This protects your data without you having to do anything. It handles drive failures automatically for you. The 5D3 is for those of us who need a large amount of fast storage for photo and video editing.

Set up

In setting up and working with the 5DC my favorite thing is that it allows me to decide how many hard drives I put into the unit. Rather than being forced to fill it with five hard drives right off, I can decide how many drives I need based upon my storage requirements and what I can afford. Now it’s important to notes that if transfer speeds are most important to you, you’ll get the best performance by putting in five drives. Also larger capacity, 7200 rpm drives will also improve data transfer performance.

Add drives as needed

My being on a budget, I decided I’d use the Drobo Capacity Calculator located here, to determine what size and how many hard drives I’d start with. I figured that I’d want at least 4TB drives and so I added those to the Capacity Calculator and it showed me this.

So you can see that adding two 4TB drives will give me 3.63TB and that the Protection System is using 3.64TB. This Protection System is what allows one hard drive to fail and I won’t lose my data. Here is more information on how Drobo handles a failed drive.

Now I wanted to see the impact of adding additional hard drives and how that would affect the storage space available.

With three 4TB hard drives, I get 7.26TB of usable storage space

Capacity doubles when the third drive is added to the Drobo. When only two drives are installed, Drobo automatically mirrors them.

With four 4TB hard drives, I get 10.89TB of usable storage space

Drobo holds the capacity of the equivalent of one drive in this case, for protection against any drive failing.

With five 4TB hard drives, I get 14.52TB of usable storage spac3

So this gave me my road map for when I’d most likely need to add another hard drive to the system based upon how much space I would be needing.

Size doesn’t matter

Drobo’s BeyondRAID™ system allows any size drive to be added. For simplicity’s sake, my examples show the same size drives. As more capacity is needed, smaller drives may be changed out for larger ones. Currently, the Drobo 5D3 can have a volume size of 64 terabytes

Speed matters

So starting with two 4TB, 7200 rpm hard drives gave me 3.63TB of storage space with the protection and it gave me this performance measured with Black Magic Speed Test.

These speeds are in full megabytes per second (Mbps).

What I learned

  • To start with use your existing 3.5″ SATA hard drives, plug them into the system and the Drobo configures everything for you.
  • Add new hard drives as your needs require it and bank account allows
  • As you add additional hard drives of similar or greater capacity, performance will improve.
  • Note that larger capacity, 7200 rpm hard drives will give you faster data transfer performance and that having all 5 drive bays filled will give you the best performance
  • You can find drives that Drobo recommends for each product here.

I hope you found this article helpful and thanks for reading it!

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