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Windows 7: How to create 'poor man's' RAID solution (like DROBO)?

22 Jan 2011   #1

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
How to create 'poor man's' RAID solution (like DROBO)?


There is a company called Drobo (, which has an enclosure for internal hard drives, so that they can be inserted and removed (hot swapped), while maintaining a dual redundant backup at all times across the RAID array.

I would like to create a RAID array utilizing some external USB 1.5TB HDDs, perhaps 3 of them, using their methodology, but without paying an arm and a leg for their tecnhology and hardware enclosure.

Is there software that accomplishes this, "backup across USB RAID array", or is it basically impractical?


P.S. I do not want 'images' or combined files, I want to be able to actually access the backup drives over the network, preferably by addressing the combination of drives as one drive letter.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jan 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

You "could" do this via USB, but (pardon this diversion from sanity) it would be more efficient to use eSATA.

One extreme danger that you create for yourself are multiple power sources for a single volume.

Check out Addonics 4SA or 3SA bays. Cost less than one arm.

You will need a RAID controller, but many modern mobos have some form of RAID onboard.

Anyway, what you have described is a sure fire method of losing all the data that you intend to store.

And 1.5TB drives in a RAID array is subject to the real-world manifestation of a phenomenon called Bit Error Rate. My personal habit is to limit RAID5 arrays to 500GB drives, RAID6 for larger drives. RAID6 is expensive.

I will not address the diff between hardware, software and/or firmware RAID in this thread.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jan 2011   #3

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1


:) Thank you for the helpful information. It sounds like setting up this type of system is more complicated than just adding drives and software to a computer and calling it safe for backing up my data.

The DROBO is just an elegant solution because it can be set up as a virtual drive (one drive letter) on a network, for file storage, and then it has a double redundant backup. It is deigned so that you can start out with 2 or 3 HDs (internal), pop them into the enclosure, and it just does its thing. If a drive is going bad, it will warn you and move the data to the other drive(s). Also, there is a 10 light indicator for each 10% of storage used. When the storage max is reached, it warns you, and you just pop in another drive. I think it holds 5 or 6 HDs.

But it is in the neighborhood of $600 without the drives. That is just the price for the enclosure and the 'system'. I thought I could circumvent paying that, but I guess not.

Any further input is more than welcome. Thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

22 Jan 2011   #4
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64


It sounds similar to a JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) configuration, but I don't know if its possible to build it using external USB or eSATA drives.

I suppose you could get an external enclosure, fill it with SATA disks, and then attach it via an iSCSI connector, but that sounds like considerable expense.

Perhaps others that have done that could offer more advice.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How to create 'poor man's' RAID solution (like DROBO)?

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