An expandable Drobo backup system can be a great way to store and protect your images. The housing costs $699 and then you just need to buy two hard drives to get started, like two Western Digital WD Red 4TB NAS Internal Hard Drives.
Prior to 2008 I stored my data in all kinds of hard drives which would eventually just stop working and I would lose images. At some point I began burning CDs and then DVDs, and despite claims that they would last for 100 years, some of them didn’t even last five years. In fact, I recently tried to find some images that I had shot on film in the late ’90s only to discover they were completely lost.
In 2008, a friend who worked in IT suggested that I buy a Drobo, which essentially is a housing that holds multiple hard drives that mount to your computer as one disk, and as you copy files to that volume the Drobo splits your data into multiple pieces and stores it on more than one drive, so if a drive fails you just take that drive out and slide in a new one. The housing automatically backs-up your data using the new and old drives.
Similarly, if you need to expand your capacity, the Drobo will prompt you to replace a working drive with a larger disk, and again, it will remap your data automatically.
Over the course of 12 years, I have never lost any images using Drobos. Between 2008 and 2010, I filled up my first housing and bought a second one. Somewhere around 2014, one of those housings started having problems mounting after I restarted my computer. So, I ferried the data off of that Drobo and onto a new one. I saved or re-used the hard drives and threw out the housing. A few years later the same thing happened to my other 2008 era Drobo, but this time I got the data off and reformatted all of the drives and it worked perfectly. Today, the housing is my redundant back-up and Dropbox server.
Because of shooting videos like this one in RAW format with my C200, I’m currently storing over 10 TB of data per year and have approximately 62TB of data stored over four Drobos, which my friend calls, “the data center.” My older housings will only take 8TB drives, but my newest one will take drives up to 14TB, but only 12TB drives are reasonably economical per TB at this time, so based on replacing my current smaller drives with 14s, I could expand my capacity by over 30TB.
As my “data center” grew and I replaced old drives with larger ones, I stored the drives in my desk until I needed to buy a new housing, which I then populated with the old drives, and the cycle goes on. I’m sure over the course of the last decade I have used several of those old drives this way, and a few times I have given them to friends when they purchase their first Drobo.
A few years ago when I purchased my fifth Drobo. I researched other options and didn’t find a better solution. I’m sure there are several people who will say there is something better, and I have read comments that if your housing does fail with your data trapped inside that there is no way to get your data back without purchasing another Drobo or paying the company to recover the data. However, knock on wood, I’ve never actually had a housing fail, so I am hopeful that these naysayers just had a bad experience.