I decided it was time to upgrade from my Generation one Drobo to something else. I have been pretty happy with my Drobo, it has lasted for over 4 years and minus the terrible speed. Currently it takes over 29 hours to backup my photo library. The speed has finally annoyed me enough, it was time to upgrade to something new.
The latest models of Drobos had less than favorable reviews, extremely high prices, and other photographers like Scott Kelby dumping their Drobos for other solutions. This lead me to consider solutions from Netgear and Synology but couldn't find a solution that I felt would give me everything I wanted.
Next I began to research DIY solutions hoping there would be something I could build that was cheaper and more feature rich than an out of the box soution. After reading some reviews on different Open Source solutions I was very interested on a platform called FreeNas is a open source NAS software running on OpenBSD. It also has a pretty impressive feature set and has the ability to work with Time Machine (and since I'm lazy and forgetful I really like to use for my primary source for backing up my photo editing Mac). They even offer an appliance call a FreeNAS mini. It's a nice looking box which even has hot swap drives. I know, how often are you going to need this but when you do swap out drives it's makes it very nice! The only issue was it was very pricey, starting at $795 without drives!
After doing some Googeling about the FreeNAS mini I found a blog entry from a gent that loved the FreeNAS mini but didn't like the high price tag. Instead of buying one he found all the parts (including the case with hot swap drives) and built his own. With his blog post as a guide I did the same. You can check out his post here.
I have been running the NAS for almost two months now and I am extremely happy with it. It's not only feature rich, fast, and extremely easy to manage. I highly recommend checking out his post for details on how to build your own NAS and any questions send them my way and I'll try to help.