August 14th, 2010
[Warning: This post may contain materials of a technical and geeky nature. Read on at your own risk.]
A few weeks ago, Henry declared that he needed some space. Hard drive space, that is. Since getting his fancy new camera, his computer hard drive has been filling up fast. With each pic he takes weighing in at around 25MB each, and with each day he shoots averaging around 50-100 new pics, you can see how it adds up pretty darn quick…
In the past, Henry had been burning his most important files to disks, and used a simple external hard drive to store the bulk of his pictures - but those are not really the most reliable methods of storage. Disks have limited space and can be easily damaged, and external hard drives can up and die. Trust me, I know first-hand… An innocent mix up of similar looking power cords between my higher voltage laptop and lower voltage external hard drive resulted in a power surge and ultimately, a completely fried hard drive (I lost everything!) That was quite a sad day, indeed. Because the pictures Henry takes are irreplaceable, it’s super important that he makes sure wherever he stores his stuff is on par with Fort Knox.
Introducing: THE DROBO…. [*cue the choir of angels singing*]
We first heard about Drobo through a photography podcast that Henry listens to religiously (This Week In Photography – or TWIP.) In fact, as I type this, the latest TWIP podcast is playing in the background… kind of an obsession for him. The TWIP guys all swear by Drobo and it also came highly recommended through photography and tech blogs, so the more I researched it, the more I decided that it was worth the investment.
What is Drobo? Well, I’m not really an expert on what exactly goes on inside it, but from what I understand, the Drobo is an iron-clad expandable storage solution which double-secures his pictures. If one hard drive fails, a second one jumps in and takes over so no data is lost – ever. It’s the safest and easiest way to protect Henry’s files. To start with, we got two 1TB SATA drives (energy efficient too!), but we have the ability to swap them out for larger drives or add more (our Drobo has 4 drive slots) at any time. Which was a major plus for me because I wanted to invest in something that would be able to grow with him.
If Henry wanted to, he could stick a 4TB drive into each of those spots and have more storage than he could anticipate needing for quite some time. Drives are relatively inexpensive (right now, a 2TB drive will run you around $100 on Amazon… but prices are constantly dropping as the technology evolves), so upgrading one pair of drives at a time in the future won’t cost us too much at once. The Drobo itself retails for $300 to $1,000+ depending on the model you get (that’s without drives), so it is a bit of an up-front cost – but we think it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. I cut a check for $450 every six months for my car insurance (which thankfully I’ve never had to use), and this is no different. The Drobo is like insurance for Henry’s photography career – except it’s more of a one-time cost.
We’ve only had the Drobo set up since Wednesday, but so far it’s been working like a charm. The sleek black box sits on Henry’s desk and just does its thing without any effort on our part. (It looks kind of cool, too.) Now that he knows his files are 100% safe over there, Henry is able to free up more space on his computer, making everything run smoother and faster.
Different Drobo models have bonus options like networking and sharing between computers, but we opted to keep the Drobo on Henry’s computer only. At first, Henry thought it was important to hook my computer into it too, but the difference in price between the models was more than I could justify spending to save my work on it as well.
BUT, I realized that I couldn’t go without my own backup either. At the recommendation of a co-worker, I ordered a copy of “My So-Called Freelance Life“ - a book all about successful freelancing for women… and one of the first chapters stresses that rather than set yourself up with cute desk calendars and fun mousepads, your first priority should be securing your work. After reading that, I felt a little guilty looking at my side of the office… with my cute lamp, fun storage boxes, artwork, and other cool personal effects – I realized that I’d done myself wrong. My office looks pretty cool, but what matters most is what I do there. (I’m only about halfway through the book, but I highly recommend it for anyone trying to balance life and work at home – whether full time or in your spare time. It’s a good read with a lot of humor and some very practical advice.)
As luck would have it, that same day the Amazon Gold Box deal happened to be a 1TB external hard drive, on sale for $20 off. Score! Not wanting to be outdone by Henry’s Drobo, I promptly claimed my order before the deal expired without a second thought. It arrived three days later, and now it’s hard at work backing up my computer automatically as well. While it’s not nearly as secure as Henry’s Drobo (if it fails, it’s curtains for whatever was on it), but it’s better than nothing. And you can’t beat the price at only $60…
(Oh yeah, and don’t worry – I took the time to label all of my cords so I know what’s supposed to be connected to what. …I shouldn’t ever have another cord mix up again.)
I guess you could say this week we’ve cornered the market on “synchronized geeking” with our excitement over dual backup investments. Sure, they’re just storage devices – but given my affinity for safety and organizational systems, I couldn’t be happier. So now it’s time to wrap this up and get to work!