How I Added 6 TBs of Storage to My Drobo 5D


My Drobo 5D was on the edge. It was nearly out of space.

Here's the configuration after the upgrade with four 3 TB drives, one 1 TB HD, and the SSD chip.

My first Drobo setup featured two 3 TB hard drives and three 1 TB drives. And they held me nicely for a number of months. But recent checks of the Drobo Dashboard made me realize that it was time to upgrade a couple of those HDs. So I purchased a pair of Toshiba 3TB 7200 RPM SATA drives and began the nerve-wracking swapping process. (Nerve wracking only because when I tried this with my first Drobo, it wouldn't accept the upgrade. My hope was that things would be better with the 5D.)

The good news was, not only was I able to successfully add more space, but I was increasing speed too. The new Toshiba drives spin at 7200 RPM, replacing the slower 5400 RPM Segate Barracudas.

capacity-before-upgrade.jpg This is what my Drobo Dashboard looked like before the upgrade. Just a few more RAW files, and I would begin to see the yellow warning message.

The process was fairly simple. I shut down the Drobo, ejected the first 1 TB hard drive, replaced it with a 3 TB Toshiba, then rebooted. The Drobo formatted the new drive for me, then went about its business of adding it to the fold. Seven hours later, all the lights were green, and I was ready to go.

I did a little testing and was pleased with how it responded. So I went for round 2. Once again I shut down the Drobo, replaced a 1 TB drive with a 3 TB Toshiba, and waited another 7 hours for the process to run its course. This is what I was greeted with when I reopened the Drobo Dashboard.

capacity-after-upgrade.jpg Here's the capacity chart after the 6 TB upgrade.

I tested the new units by opening a large Aperture library that I store on the Drobo. Everything worked great. Browsing was fast, zooming was smooth, and image editing was performed without a hitch.

When you look at the Drobo capacity pie chart, you'll see that there's 9 TBs of available storage, even though I have 13 TBs of hardware in there. The other 4 TBs are used as part of Drobo's backup system. That's how you're protected if a drive goes bad. You won't lose any data. This same system allows you to upgrade the drive bays, as I've explained in this article.

The Drobo 5D can hold a maximum of 32 TBs of storage. For now, I'm happy with the four 3 TB drives and the lone 1 TB Seagate. I'll probably upgrade that bay with a 5 TB 7200 drive once the prices drop a bit more.

In the meantime, I'm back to backing up my Aperture and Lightroom libraries. In fact, with all of this additional storage space, I should go out and shoot a few more pictures.

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