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What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
10-12-2013, 03:29 PM
Post: #1
What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
According to this page on the Drobo support site, repartitioning your Drobo using OS X's built-in Disk Utility is not supported. Yet, when I called Drobo last week asking for help with setting up Time Machine, the phone tech instructed me to use Disk Utility to create a dedicated Time Machine partition.

So... which is it? Should I or shouldn't I use a dedicated Time Machine partition? I am absolutely not interested in doing all that nonsense with the disk image; what's the point of Time Machine if you can't "Enter Time Machine" and have to manually input a bunch of terminal commands just to restore?

I called Drobo support today and they were even more useless. Gave me a bunch of nonsense about using "best practices" and shutting the unit down before this and that. Ok... great... how about the partition situation? Dude had no idea what I was talking about.

Does anyone know?
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10-13-2013, 05:57 AM
Post: #2
RE: What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
hi bo, it might have been the dude's first day (we all have to start somewhere)...

please hang in there and hopefully someone can give you the info you need for your query soon.

(btw i have XP home SP2, a Drobo v1 with 2x 1TB/2x 1.5TB WD greens, & a bkp Drobo v2 with the same + a DroboShare: unused)
& a DroboS v2 with 3xWD15EADS &2x1TB in DDR mode on win7, & a drobo5D (all usb)
  • btw i did a sustained (write) operation for about 6 hours, and got 13.2MB / sec ...objection? "sustained" :)
    (16.7MB/s on a v2 & 47-96MB/s drobo-s)
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10-13-2013, 07:05 AM (This post was last modified: 10-13-2013 07:13 AM by Bojangles.)
Post: #3
RE: What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
I received an email reply stating that the best method for using Time Machine was the disk image thing and that partitioning the Drobo myself was "at my own risk" and not officially supported.

Alright, so obviously that's not going to work.

My question then is why? Why is partitioning the Drobo so risky? How common is it for people to actually lose data from it? I'm not going to try it now anyway, my backups are the last thing in the world I want to take risks with. What makes me angry is that the only reason I went with the 5D over the 5N was because it was direct-attached and therefore officially supported by Apple for Time Machine. I didn't realize that it would be impossible to have multiple partitions/shares on the damn thing. Because why would I realize that? Obviously I would be able to have multiple partitions on a massive 16TB storage array.

Meh.

So now I feel like I overpaid by about $200 and should return the 5D and go with the 5N. I have zero need for high transfer speeds on the "host" computer. My Drobo is hooked up to a headless Mac mini in my bedroom closet. It's a home server, nothing more. Now that I need to find a different solution for Time Machine, the Drobo's sole purpose in life is to host my iTunes library for home streaming on the network. I might as well just go with the 5N then, right? At least then I could get better transfer speeds from the different Macs in my house. I currently top out at 30mb/s for both reads and writes when accessing the 5D from different computers in my home.

Does anyone know if there any issues with hosting an iTunes library on the 5N and then home sharing it from another Mac on the network? I want rock solid, perfect reliability with iTunes sharing from my Mac mini. The 5D currently gives me that, so if there are any issues at all with the NAS box then I'll just stick with direct-attached. If it is reliable, though, then the extra functionality (apps!) and increased transfer speeds of the 5N are definitely appealing. Especially since it's $200 cheaper.

Thanks for your help...
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10-13-2013, 08:54 AM (This post was last modified: 10-13-2013 08:55 AM by rdo.)
Post: #4
RE: What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
There's a really simple solution to this: create a 2TB volume on your Drobo, and use that for Time Machine.

Time Machine is a bit of a special case because it will continue to take more space on the destination volume until that volume is full. That's not configurable. You can't even tell it "please free up space." If you point it to a thin-provisioned volume, that aggressive behavior can eventually eat you out of house and home. This is why it's recommended to "put a fence around" Time Machine's disk by creating a sparsebundle or the like.

I'm sure that most people will never have a problem with one giant volume on their Drobo (as long as they can manage how that space is used, which Time Machine cannot do.) A few people, like me, have had previous experience with filesystem corruption, and find it safer to use smaller volumes that are frequently backed up to external disks. (My experiences are from file servers, not Drobos. Home computers often use one big partition for convenience, but real-world servers separate the data for safety and recoverability.)

Edit: create the volumes using Drobo Dashboard, I mean; not with Disk Utility.

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10-13-2013, 10:45 AM (This post was last modified: 10-13-2013 10:52 AM by Bojangles.)
Post: #5
RE: What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
(10-13-2013 08:54 AM)rdo Wrote:  There's a really simple solution to this: create a 2TB volume on your Drobo, and use that for Time Machine.

Well sure, that's obviously what should be the best solution here. Before I bought the Drobo I just assumed that that's what I would do. Of course...

(10-13-2013 08:54 AM)rdo Wrote:  Edit: create the volumes using Drobo Dashboard, I mean; not with Disk Utility.

Not possible with Drobo 5D. The 5D lets you rename your one massive volume in Drobo Dashboard... that's it. End of volume options. The only way to create multiple volumes is with Disk Utility.

Absolutely ridiculous restriction. It makes no sense.
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10-13-2013, 11:21 AM
Post: #6
RE: What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
(10-13-2013 10:45 AM)Bojangles Wrote:  
(10-13-2013 08:54 AM)rdo Wrote:  Edit: create the volumes using Drobo Dashboard, I mean; not with Disk Utility.

Not possible with Drobo 5D. The 5D lets you rename your one massive volume in Drobo Dashboard... that's it. End of volume options. The only way to create multiple volumes is with Disk Utility.

Previous Drobos let you choose the size of your first volume, and then added new volumes (of that same size) when your actual disk space grew beyond the size of that first volume. If Drobo 5D doesn't let you choose volume size, I lack words to describe such stupidity.

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10-13-2013, 12:48 PM
Post: #7
RE: What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
(10-13-2013 11:21 AM)rdo Wrote:  Previous Drobos let you choose the size of your first volume, and then added new volumes (of that same size) when your actual disk space grew beyond the size of that first volume. If Drobo 5D doesn't let you choose volume size, I lack words to describe such stupidity.

It lets you choose your volume size initially, but I just selected the max possible for future proofing. Even if it let me make two of the same size that wouldn't work... I want about 2 TB for Time Machine, nothing more. What I need is the ability to create "shares" like you can with the 5N. No such functionality. Sad
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10-13-2013, 01:29 PM
Post: #8
RE: What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
(10-13-2013 12:48 PM)Bojangles Wrote:  It lets you choose your volume size initially, but I just selected the max possible for future proofing. Even if it let me make two of the same size that wouldn't work... I want about 2 TB for Time Machine, nothing more. What I need is the ability to create "shares" like you can with the 5N. No such functionality. Sad

Yes, it would be nice to be able to create different-sized volumes. On the other hand, this is exactly what I meant about trading convenience for safety. If you have one bad event that messes your filesystem, how much data could you lose?

I use 2TB volumes because:
  • They're easy to back up to external 2TB drives.
  • If Windows eats dirt, or the cable goes awry and the MFT gets screwed, I can deal with restoring the contents of one partition.
  • I considered how to balance my current storage needs versus my future needs. I can deal with maybe 10-15 LUNs, and I don't expect to use more than that many 2TB volumes on this Drobo.

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10-13-2013, 01:47 PM (This post was last modified: 10-13-2013 02:56 PM by Bojangles.)
Post: #9
RE: What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
(10-13-2013 01:29 PM)rdo Wrote:  Yes, it would be nice to be able to create different-sized volumes. On the other hand, this is exactly what I meant about trading convenience for safety. If you have one bad event that messes your filesystem, how much data could you lose?

I use 2TB volumes because:
  • They're easy to back up to external 2TB drives.
  • If Windows eats dirt, or the cable goes awry and the MFT gets screwed, I can deal with restoring the contents of one partition.
  • I considered how to balance my current storage needs versus my future needs. I can deal with maybe 10-15 LUNs, and I don't expect to use more than that many 2TB volumes on this Drobo.

Multiple volumes just makes managing my iTunes library a pain.

...unless Drobo plays nice with symbolic links. For example, once my 2TB Volume "Media" fills up, could I simply point iTunes to look for my library on the new "Media II" volume and then symlink all the content from the original Media into the library folder? Then "Media III" when that fills up, etc.

Would that work? Something tells me Drobo would flip the hell out if I did that... and it also kinda defeats the purpose of the Drobo, since this is basically what I was doing before with external HDD's.
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10-13-2013, 02:34 PM
Post: #10
RE: What's the deal with repartitioning using Disk Utility?
(10-13-2013 01:47 PM)Bojangles Wrote:  Multiple volumes just makes managing my iTunes library a pain.

...unless Drobo plays nice with symbolic links. For example, once my 2TB Volume "Media" fills up, could I simply point iTunes to look for my library on the new "Media II" volume and then symlink all the content from the original Media into the library folder? Then "Media III" when that fills up, etc.

Yeah, I see your point. Drobo offers one giant drive-redundant storage place, so why not use it that way? If I had a "lump of data" like iTunes, I would put it all on one partition too. That said, I think that symlinks might work (Drobo won't blow its cookies, at least), as would just "organizing" media (I'm not sure of the right term, but it's when I hold the option key and drag something into iTunes. That doesn't copy it into my Library, but just makes a link to the original file.)

I like 2TB volumes because that matches my 2TB USB drives. I rsync my Drobo to a BlacX dock, and I keep the Important Stuff backed up to CrashPlan's service. How will you back up your Drobo?

Anyway, I certainly agree that "able to partition it as we like" is so obvious that we kind of assume that with a new storage product. Because Drobo offers that on their higher-end (8-bay and larger) BeyondRAID products, I guess they use the feature to differentiate their more expensive products. I don't know if that's enough to upsell someone from a 5D to a B800i.

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