Feb 14, 2012

Drobo Detected a Hard Drive Failure [RAID]

tl;dr Had a drive failure. Wasn't sure if the issue was due to my Drobo or the Western Digital drive. Turns out it was the WD drive that failed. Installed a new 2TB drive. All is well. RMAing the WD drive. Drobo 1 : Data Loss 0. Yay Drobo.

Yesterday, I began a scheduled backup from my Drobo to tape drive, and when I woke up this morning, I had the Red Blinking Light Of Death. At first, I thought the WD 1TB green drive was just old, so I took it out of the Drobo to plug into my computer. The drive booted up, formatted, and held data. With years worth of photos and video adding up to 1.4TB of data, I'm a little nervous about touching the Drobo.

First step will be to research this issue, and then back up my data. Then troubleshoot the Drobo from there. I will update this post when new developments arise. Wish me luck.

Update 2/15/12:
"Why does a drive work in my computer when my Drobo storage device flags it as a bad drive?
It is understandable that you would be confused or suspicious if your Drobo product flags a bad drive when the drive works fine in your computer.
If a drive produces a lot of errors in a short amount of time (it's going bad soon), Drobo storage devices display a red blinking light to indicate a failed drive. Your computer may not catch the bad drive as early in its failure process as your Drobo product can. This difference in perception is especially exaggerated if you format the disk before testing it in the computer and/or it has just a small amount of data. Eventually, the computer will also flag the drive as bad."
Update 2/16/12:
I downloaded Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows and performed an extended test. The test results showed some bad sectors. Then I did a "repair sectors." Shut down, and tried the drive in the Drobo, but the drive did not work.

I've ordered another WD 2TB Caviar Green drive from Amazon, and it should arrive in a day. Amazon Prime rocks.

Update 2/20/12:
The new WD 2TB drive arrived. I popped the drive into the Drobo, and the Drobo started rebuilding the array. A day later, my drives show all green, so my data is safe once again.

The failed WD 1TB drive is still under warranty. I've created a RMA from Western Digital, and I hope to see a replacement within the next few weeks.

Overall, I will continue to use the Drobo alongside my scheduled LTO2 tape backups. Btw, my Drobo is around 4 years old now.

Best features:
  • seamless rebuilding process
  • early drive failure detection
  • easy as pop in a drive and wait
  • still have access to the data during a drive failure
The Drobo worked great for me, and the Drobo protected my data throughout a drive failure.

Update 3/1/12:
Western Digital approved my RMA warranty request, and they've sent a new drive. Big thumbs up for the ease of Western Digital's warranty process. Excellent customer service and communication.

Update 3/2/12:
New WD warranty replacement drive arrived. I'm now using the 1TB drive in my Drobo.

Feb 1, 2012

Adobe CS5.5 Mercury Playback Engine [NVIDIA CUDA Acceleration]

Adobe and Nvidia worked together to include Nvidia CUDA support in CS5 and CS5.5, which gave birth to the Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration. Essentially MPE GPU Acceleration drastically cuts down video encode times and enables real timeline editing with multiple layers of video and effects! No more choppy video playback, no more render to preview, and no more transcoding because it can be done in real time. What this means for us normal folk is that the price of a professional video editing machine is now attainable, and all for the price of a video card upgrade.* 

For some real world usage, at the beginning of 2010, I took a backpacking trip through Vietnam, and I wanted to video blog the entire trip. Armed with an Asus G60VX w/Nvidia GTX260M laptop and a Canon 5D Mark II, I was able to capture 1080p footage and import the raw files straight into Premiere to edit. Recording was done during the day, and at night the footage was edited, encoded, and uploaded. The encoding times were unbelievably fast. Yes, and all on a portable laptop! If you were to ask me to do this 2 years ago, I'd tell you I'd need thousands of dollars worth of equipment and a team to lug it around.
Fast forward to today, I upgraded my old trustworthy Dell XPS 420 rig with a Gigabyte Nvidia GTX 560 1GB DDR5/336 CUDA cores/256-bit and a 600 watt OCZ ModXStream Pro power supply. I took a video project that I encoded before, which encoded via CPU around 20 minutes, and with GPU acceleration encoded the project in under 5 minutes. The yellow render bar was racing to the right to completion--this still amazes me today.

Dell XPS 420                                                      
Intel Q6600 2.4GHz CPU
Western Digital Velociraptor 10K 300GB drive
Transcend 32GB SSD
Tandberg TS400 LTO2Tape Drive

*Upgrade must be to a base system that's decent i.e. at least Quad Core CPU, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM drive. You may need to upgrade your power supply to power the new graphic card. Check out Studio 1 Productions for all the info on card comparisons, instructions to enabling GPU accleration, and more.