The Ultimate Photo/Video Storage Solution.

External HDD’s are great, we all have and use them. However, over time they can become a huge problem to backup and a nightmare of cables and wires. Take it from me, I have been through it many times. The solution is to just get a bigger drive… right? Well, sort of. We are going to take a universally better approach here.

External HDD’s will destroy you

The problem with Hard drives is that over time 100% of them will fail, taking with them every single thing you’ve put on them. All of your photos, videos, music, projects, and documents gone in a moment. This is a problem even if you’re not a professional photographer or videographer. Very few things are as devastating as losing all of your work.

Hard Drives have a 100% failure rate over time.

To maximize the security and convenience of our media storage, we have to solve a few key problems.

  1. There has to be enough space to fit all of our crap.
  2. It has to be expandable so we can add crap to it.
  3. It has to be protected from failure.
  4. It has to be fast enough to keep up with our workflow.
  5. It needs to be easy to use and manage.
  6. It should not be cost-prohibitive
  7. It should not create clutter and fill our desks with wires and boxes.

An external Hard drive solves only 1 or 2 of those problems at the same time. You can’t expand them, they aren’t protected from failure and over time they create a mess and are hard to manage. The more hard drives you accumulate, the worse things get. But there is a solution!

The solution is the Drobo.

Your storage solution has arrived!

What does a Drobo do and why is it important to me?

Back in the day RAID storage was expensive, slow and you needed a degree in IT to manage it. Today we have the Drobo, A plug-and-play storage device that holds multiple hard drives and makes life easy.

A Drobo uses something called RAID, which spreads the data from each drive across other drives to protect you from data-loss when (not if) one of those drives fails. Before we go on, I should note that this is not a backup solution, it is a safer storage solution. Backups are a complete duplicate of your data should be kept at a separate location from your storage.

There are many versions of the Drobo, but the one I recommend for all but higher-end working professionals is called the Drobo 5c. It contains 5 separate Hard drive bays and uses full-size internal hard drives (usually purchased separately.) This will grow with your needs. You can start out with as little as 2TB’s of storage and continually add bigger drives to it until you reach a maximum of 64TB’s. When inevitably one of the drives fails or might fail the Drobo warns you and you can replace it in under a minute. If you need more space all you have to do is add a larger drive. You don’t have to think about it or configure anything. It simply works.

You have the Drobo in your cart, now all you have to do is pick up some hard drives! Depending on your needs and budget, there are literally thousands of options to choose from.

Example #1: The Brand-New Photographer

Let’s say you are a brand new photographer or a hobbyist. You currently use the hard drive in your computer to store all of your photos and you just noticed you are about to run out of space. You only need about a TB of storage right now, but you know you’ll need to get more storage next year. I would recommend:

Drobo 5c: $349.99 at Adorama
2x Seagate 1TB HDD: $49.99 at Adorama

Why 2 drives though? The answer is simple, the Drobo needs a second drive to secure the data of the first. When one drive fails, the data is held secure on a second drive until you replace the one that took a dump. Is this a lot of money to spend on storage? Hell yeah it is, there’s no question about that, but only at first. External hard drives will cost you far more over time and the Drobo is an order of magnitude safer.

And let’s say next year you start really cranking out those photos and you need more storage, all you have to do is pick up another Hard Drive and put it into one of the 5 bays, boom. You’re good to go.

Example #2: The Wedding Photographer

You take a TON of photos and require mountains of storage space. Over time you’ve accumulated a dozen or so external hard drives and it’s getting overwhelming. The USB splitter you bought last year is flaking out (again) and you’re sick of plugging drive after drive into your computer until you find the folder you were looking for. One of your older drives fails, you have no clue what was on it and it’s causing unimaginable stress.

Listen, I’ve been here before and it’s a nightmare! My recommendation:

Drobo 5c: $349.99 at Adorama
5x 4tb Hard Drives: $99.00 each at Adorama

Just like anyone else, over time as you find yourself needing more space all you have to do is remove one of the 4TB drives and pop in a larger drive. The Drobo takes care of the rest!

How many of you can relate to this?

Example #3: The Working Videographer

Storage used to be simple until that 4k BS came along to ruin your day! Now you’re importing 10–50GB per shoot and you are getting a little TOO good at deleting your proxies and render files. Storage has become your single biggest expense and the biggest workflow problem you’ve ever experienced. You’re debating whether or not you should just start deleting last years original footage and project files to make room for your next import. The exports are up on YouTube and Vimeo already right?

This sucks. But there’s hope! Here’s my solution:

5x Seagate Ironwolf 10TB HDD’s: $279.99 at Adorama
1x Lexar 256GB M.2 SSD: $62.95 at Adorama
1x Drobo 5c

The SSD here is something videographers (and some photographers) will find to be extremely helpful. It can be used by the Drobo to accelerate your read/write speeds.

The Bottom Line.

There is nearly unlimited flexibility with Drobos. You can make them as big or as small as you’d like. The biggest expense is up-front: buying the Drobo and it’s accompanying Hard Drives, after that, you’ll find it’s far less expensive to maintain than your traditional external stand-alone drives. With this investment you’ll get solid peace of mind and your workflow will thank you!

There are other RAID storage solutions out there, I have tried most of them and none are as easy to use or as convenient as a Drobo. Many of them require the exact same drives to function, meaning if you want to add a drive 2 years from now you might be out of luck. They also require the same size drives, again, making it much harder to increase the size of your storage. They don’t let you hot-swap drives and, well, you get the point. The Drobo is as close to magic as you can get (boring magic, I’ll give you that!)

If you have questions or suggestions I’m all ears! Let me know in the comments! Good luck!

The Drobo 5c holds 5 Hard Drives



Jonathan Edwards | Contention Media

I make videos, photos and podcasts that don’t suck. I fly drones, travel, parent and I seriously enjoy life.