Rich’s Random Podcast Generator: CrashPlan, Drobo, Mac Mini, Backup Solutions – RRPG018

RRPG4_thumbNathaniel Lindley joins Jim Collison and Rich O’Neil on RRPG #18 to talk about how he uses a Mac Mini, CrashPlan and Drobo together for his home and social back up strategy.  A former CrashPlan employee, Nathaniel has a lot of interesting things to say about this solid and flexible backup solution.


Listen Mobile:

”In early 2008, my friend and I were looking for a way to backup our children’s photos to each other’s house. We didn’t want to trade external drives; we didn’t want DVD copies. We wanted to use the Internet to transfer. Tried setting up FTP or WebDAV without much success. Found CrashPlan when it was starting out, and it was the perfect solution for us. Encrypted, background, used existing storage, free or cheap, cross-platform. Now when friends or family ask about how to protect their files, I set them up with CrashPlan, and if I repair or fix their computer, it is a requirement.” -Nathaniel Lindley

Nathaniel’s CrashPlan+ and Drobo Setup at Home June 2012

Mac Mini

  • (Mid 2007)
  • OS X 10.6.8 (always on)
  • 2GB RAM
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
  • CrashPlan+


  • (2nd Gen) connected via Firewire
  • (2TB+2TB+2TB+3TB)  5.4 TB usable storage
  • 2.2 TB of CrashPlan archives on Drobo



  • Connected to home LAN and Internet through Comcast standard connection
  • My home computers backup using CrashPlan to the Mac mini and Drobo over the LAN
  • Never exceeded 250GB quota from Comcast
  • My 3 main computers (iMac, MacBook and Windows 7 desktop) backup to Mac Mini, CrashPlan Central and a friend’s home (he uses Windows Home Server 2011 for storage)
  • 20 friends and family backup to Mac Mini and Drobo  (some have more than one computer backing up to me)
  • 30 archives for about 2.2 TB
  • Have swapped out drives in Drobo to add more storage over time.


  • Upgrades for firmware and software is smooth
  • Replacing drives and growing storage is easy
  • Redundant and safe large storage looks like single disk to Mac OS
  • CrashPlan encrypts data and traffic for peace of mind
  • CrashPlan data de-duplication is efficient
  • Low power use  (about 65-70 watts when in use for Drobo and Mac Mini)


  • Drobo seems to kill Western Digital Green drives.  I’ve RMA’d 3 of them and replaced with WD Caviar Black.
  • Performance is slow, both on Read and Write operations through the Mac Mini.  Could be Firewire 400 connection limitation?
  • Hard to tell which CrashPlan which archive belongs to who
  • Can’t read SMART data on drive or identify by slot and serial number or model of drive in Drobo Dashboard

 Simple and clean setup

*Diagrams made by Drobo

Rich’s RPG is a show hosted by Jim Collison and Rich O’Neil in Google+ Hangout. We talk tech with like-minded folks, covering whatever’s interesting – hot or not, current or historical. No outlines, no agenda, no worries. We welcome newcomers. Got a headset and a bit of free time? Join us on the show by contacting us at: or

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