When I was looking for external storage for HD video, I very seriously considered Drobo. Automatic redundancy is a very valuable feature. But from internet research, I concluded that Drobo was probably too slow to provide acceptable performance for ProRes files in Final Cut. The least expensive model, which cost about half as much per drive as the newer models, had a particularly bad reputation for slow access.
I ended up getting several MacAlly firewire drives, and I manually ensure that all my original files are saved on more than one drive. The big prores files can always be regenerated if necessary.
I am sure that any Drobo would be just fine for system backup and for big Photoshop files. But has anyone had good results with it for video?
Your research serves you well -- the figures I have from Data Robotics on the FW-800/USB 2.0 Drobo show it topping out at 40MB/sec via FireWire-800. I don't have benchmarks for the eSATA version, but I wouldn't expect to see a dramatic increase over FW800.
If you ever get tired of manually managing your scratch and backup files, you might want to consider a LaCie 4big Quadra RAID drive -- a coworker has one that he uses for editing on a MacBook Pro -- I know he's worked with footage from the HVX-200, Red, as well as digitized 16mm film -- set it up as RAID 5 and you can sustain a disk failure without data loss.
On their web site, LaCie shows a screenshot of a Blackmagic Disk Speed Test of the drive -- 223.9MB/sec read, 181.7MB/sec write sustained via eSATA -- that's probably RAID 0. According to their web specs, RAID 0 is up to 230MB/sec burst, while RAID 5 is 220MB/sec burst.
In short, it should be able to handle a stream of ProRes over eSATA -- definitely more up to the task than the Drobo is. It's cost-competitive with Drobo S -- the LaCie is $799 for a 4TB, the Drobo S $690 without any drives (at the moment -- prices subject to change, yadda yadda yadda). Plus it looks cool, with the giant, blue HAL 9000 eye.
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