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cases two) drives without data loss, you cannot boot from any one or
two individual drives, nor can you use them apart from the entire set
to reconstruct your disk. That means the trick I described earlier with
SoftRAID—using two or more mirrored disks and rotating one offsite
in lieu of maintaining separate bootable duplicates—isn't feasible with
a Drobo. Drobo doesn't play particularly well with CrashPlan, either,
and I've read a troubling number of reports about hardware failures.
So, while it could be a valuable component of a backup system,
especially if you work with extremely large files, the Drobo alone
won't meet all your backup needs.
Network Storage Devices
Most of the devices I've covered so far connect directly to a Mac via
FireWire, USB, eSATA, or Thunderbolt. But you can also back up your
Mac over a network. One way to do this is to use a hard drive designed
to be used directly on a network without being attached to a computer.
The term NAS , or network attached storage, typically refers to one or
more hard drives with their own Ethernet (or wireless) interfaces—sort
of minimalist file servers. (Increasingly, they're simply called “network
drives” or “Ethernet drives.”)
Apple's Time Capsule is a type of NAS device, but because it has
some unique features, I discuss it separately (in Decide Whether to
Buy a Time Capsule , earlier). Similarly, an Apple AirPort Extreme
Base Station with an external USB drive (an AirPort Disk) could be
considered a NAS, but if you're using Time Machine, unfortunately
you can't use an AirPort Disk as a destination.
NAS devices are frequently marketed as backup (and all-purpose file
storage) solutions for small networks. The idea is that you can set up
a centralized file server without needing an additional computer, and
every computer on your network can back up files to it. Some NAS
equipment can also communicate with your home entertainment
system, providing storage for audio and video.
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