DroboPro FS and 6TB Drives

I helped a customer recently that was using a DroboPro FS, a small business NAS (Network Attached Storage) device, that let’s you easily add and swap in drives as your storage needs grow. Three bays had 4TB drives, and five bays had 3TB drives. We needed to swap a 3TB for the largest drive we can, which is 6TB currently. However there was no conclusive documentation on how large of a drive the DroboPro FS will take. Drobo did have an old (also the latest) firmware update that allowed for 2TB and higher, but this isn’t exactly very confidence building when you’re trying the bleeding edge of hdd storage capacity. Furthermore, the Drobo was originally fitted with four 3GB drives, then, the largest drives available. They added single drives as needed, of the highest available over the years. The manufacturer “end-of-lifed” this Drobo despite only being a few years old. Google searches resulted in many of the same questions in forums at the manufacturer’s website and elsewhere: what’s the largest drive this will take? Well, the best course of action was to buy local and try a 6TB drive. If it didn’t work, I could return the drive and try a 5TB.  And if that didn’t work, well, we know 4TB works as it already has three installed now.  For the benefit of anyone searching for a similar answer, yes, the DroboPro FS handles 6TB drives fine! At least a HGST Deskstar NAS that I used does. So I swapped a 3TB for the 6TB. My immediate storage needs were met with the addition, but soon after the Drobo made the 6TB drive usable, and after I copied the data over (the point of all this), I received a warning to upgrade the next 3TB drive (pictured in yellow) as disk space was low again.

droboThis was to be expected though. One can use Drobo’s space calculator to see what drive configuration yield what kind of capacity. Before buying the 6TB drive, I used Drobo’s Capacity Calculator. By doing several if-then scenarios, you can understand how Drobo maximizes your different configurations. It does seem one should have even numbers of the same drive capacity, but the BeyondRAID they use is their own black box magic and is hard to say. The 6TB I just added will not be fully utilized until I add another 6TB drive. I then won’t need to replace any more drives for a while. The 6TB are expensive, but a better deal to buy 2 drives, versus four 5TB, for future expansion. The next 6TB we add will be cheaper in a month and will maximize the 6TB drive just added, but using all its reserved capacity.

drobo 1

Original customer configuration

63333444

After replacing one 3TB drive with a 6TB.

66333444

Next step is to add a second 6TB. Notice no more purple in the Capacity chart. The first 6TB drive’s reserve will be maximized.

What other drive models have you found to be compatible in the DroboPro FS?  Please post your comments below. 8TB are just now starting to come out, but are at an extreme cost premium.

 

To Use SSL or Not?

Traditionally, SSL certificates been an optional security measure for websites that do not take payment or other sensitive information over the Internet.  However, last year Google started a push to encourage all websites to make the move to SSL, for a variety of reasons.  For one, the search results they provide are arguably of better quality when they can steer you to a site that encrypts its traffic between the customer and the website.  Google also says they will provide a tiny bump in search engine results for those that go to SSL.  For this reason, and for myself to understand the technology a bit better.  You can see in your browser address, that pcrequest.com now begins will https (previously just http).  The “s” is for “secure”.  All the traffic between this site and its visitors is now encrypted.  Please contact me if you would like to know if your site should be secured this way, and I can help you out.
 

Install Prey Anti-theft Software Now and Help Recover your Devices Later

 

anti theft software

 

A free anti-theft software program that I recommend all tablet, smartphone, and laptop users set up right now is Prey. Prey helps you recover your device in the in event it gets stolen, provided you set it up in advance. You can install it on up to 3 devices per account. If your device is stolen (or lost), you can log into your account via the Prey website, and enable tracking. It will start collecting reports about its location and take pictures from the cameras. You can then provide these reports to the police to help recover your device. The software is open source meaning the public can inspect the source code and see what it does, meaning, there are unlikely to be any shenanigans on the part of Prey. Premium plans exist if you want to add more devices or log more than 10 reports, which can be purchased in the event your device is stolen for a nominal fee. After installing it, I recommend testing it out by listing your device as missing so it will start collecting reports. On laptops, you should have a guest account activated. That way, a thief can log onto your computer and connect it to the internet, sending its location, screenshots and webcam pictures of themselves using your computer. The Prey anti-theft software is also useful for helping you locate your device if you misplaced it, by sounding an alarm.

Read more and download Prey anti-theft software for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, IOS at https://preyproject.com/

Please contact me if you would like help setting this up on your devices.

Here is what a sample report looks like after I temporarily set the device as missing.  The Prey Project site’s formatting looks a bit nicer; this was a quick copy and paste to give you an idea.  I was on the Metro Green Line at the time in Minneapolis, where it was cold and I was wearing my balaclava.  Hopefully, your thief would not be, but this illustrates why you would want to upgrade services for logging more than 10 reports.  Doing so increases your odds of getting more location data points and more useful pictures of the thief.

Sample Report

OWNER Aaron Lewis
DEVICE MODEL LGE Nexus 4
REPORT DATE 2015-01-30 01:37:33 UTC
MISSING SINCE2015-01-29 18:45:30 UTC

LOCATION

Minneapolis anti-theft report

Near 509 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, 55414, Minnesota, United States

PRIMARY CAMERA

thief test

HARDWARE INFORMATION

PROCESSOR
1.512 GHzARMv7 Processor rev 2 (v7l)
MEMORY
1835MB
SERIAL_NUMBER
1234567890
UUID
1234567890
BIOS_VENDOR
LGE

NETWORK INFORMATION

PUBLIC_IP
32.160.xx.xx

Are Surge Protectors Worthwhile? UPS?

Do Surge Protectors really do anything?  Summer’s a ways off and so are lightning and thunderstorms, but electrical surges can happen at anytime of the year. I recall after lightning storms I always got service calls for modems that stopped working. This is because an electrical surge moved through their phone line and toasted their modem (you’re lucky if the damage limited to just the modem and not the rest of the computer).  Those were the days of dial-up when land-lines were more common, but it still applies today to cable and DSL modems and even apartment buildings.  Many apartments, especially around the university, offer an ethernet jack and provide internet as an amenity.  These lines are grounded according to building codes, but lightning  strikes are hard to engineer protection for and any of these wires into your home are a path for an electrical surge that can damage your computer. I recommend a surge protector like this APC SurgeArrest. You sandwich it between your valuable gear and your wall outlets–electrical or otherwise be it cable, DSL, or ethernet.  With ethernet jack, don’t forget to protect your WiFi router. A surge can also travel to your electrical outlet and damage your computer. This is the primary reason a surge protector is necessary.  Note that power strips provide no protection at all.

If you need additional protection, the next step up from a surge protector is a UPS–uninterruptible power supply, usually used by businesses.  The internal battery pack needs to be recycled about every two years, otherwise the UPS may actually cause a power outage.  They not only protect against spikes and surges, but they also provide a battery to power your computer or wifi router through a brownout, short blackout, and provides time to shut down the machine safely. Software can automate this. UPS prices are usually a matter of the size of the battery, and the amperage the equipment needs to draw.  Contact me if you have any questions and I’ll be glad to help you out.  None of this means you can forgo a backup plan, which I will cover at a later time.

What has your experience been?  I welcome your comments below.