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My Drobo Experience

I started to hear a lot about Drobo so I decided to look at it more closely.

From what I have seen and heard it sounds like a great storage solution. The question I had was how well would it be in a corporate environment?

I had a conversation with a Drobo representative and they told me that they do have customers using it in a corporate environment. Not sure if the representative told me this just to get me to purchase one. I like to think the representative was being honest with me.

At work we definitely had an ideal use for the Drobo. One department copies large graphic files from a server and they work on them locally and then send the image back to the server when done. The server started to run low on space and we needed to find a good solution that was affordable.

The Drobo device seemed like the perfect fit for this!

So I ordered the Drobo with 4 1 TB drives given us 2.7 TB of usable space. Plenty of room for awhile! I also ordered the Drobo Share so that we could easily put the device on the network. Setup was a breeze, we had the device up and running in no time and even copied around 60 GB of data to it and soon after 600 GB of data.

Now the fun begins…..

After a few days the Drobo went into this “reboot loop”. We looked on the Drobo web site for a fix and we found the steps we needed to do in order to stop the device from it’s continuos reboot. The steps worked and our Drobo was up and running again. Article ID 0234 on the Drobo support site if anyone else needs the instructions.

With the time difference between us and Drobo we sent in a support request via email. I wanted to know what could cause this type of behavior. A day went by and we heard nothing.

Within 2 days the Drobo went into the “reboot loop” again. We followed the steps to get out of the loop. I decided to wait until the Drobo offices opened and called into support.

Support suggested we update the firmware and showed us how to download it from the Drobo web site and then apply it to the device. During the conversation with support I mentioned that I sent in a support request 2 days ago and have yet to hear a reply. The answer I was given was that my email address was not associated yet with our registered account and that was the reason why I wasn’t contacted. Umm ok I guess.

The Drobo device was running fine for about 4 days after applying the firmware and then once again it went into the “reboot loop”.

Once again I contacted Drobo support, via Email, and I did get a reply! Great! The support person asked us for some information about the Drobo, you know the usual serial number, firmware version..etc.

We happily supplied the information right away. We did receive a reply back asking some more questions and then asking us to send a copy of the Drobo diagnostics log (or something like that). We obliged and sent in the requested information. As of today that was 8 days ago!

I sent an email yesterday to Drobo asking for an update and no reply!

We did our own troubleshooting at work and thought perhaps it was a power issue that was causing the Drobo to go into this “reboot loop”. We moved the Drobo to a different power source and it has been 7 days now with no (knock on wood) Drobo “reboot loop”.

This experience with Drobo support has me concerned. If this intial use of Drobo was a success we had plans of purchasing additional devices and using them throughout our environment. But, if I can’t get a reply from Drobo support, how responsive will they or would they be if we had a critical support issue?

UPDATE
Received a reply from Drobo, a day after blogging this. They are sending us a beefier power supply.

UPDATE received a beefier power supply from Drobo and so far so good. Drobo support has been following up consistently with me on this. Hats off to them for that.

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19 Responses

  1. Keep us posted. I’m going on three months with my Drobo. No complaints so far, but I did have the reboot loop happen a couple times, which was disconcerting.

  2. Thanks for updating. I wonder why they went to market with such a crappy power supply, especially given this is the Drobo 2!

  3. My experience with Drobo is as follows:

    Worked OK for a while. I went with 2 partitions… one for Time Machine and one for iTunes.

    Then after about 6 months of use, POOF! My drives would no longer mount due to software error. I used discwarrior, and nothing could be recovered (would not have been the case with RAID). I lost 10 years worth of music, tv, and movies which were meticulously cataloged and organized.

    I have learned my lesson. I will only use drobo as a Time Machine backup from now on. It cannot be trusted.

  4. Yes!
    I have exactly the same problem as you describe. I will try to get a better power supply. I have decided that I will not purchase no more product from Drobo. There product really sucks.

  5. I still have these Drobo, and two Drobo Pro’s that have been perfect so far, and it has been working fine for quite awhile now. The difference is I am no longer using the Drobo Share and have it connected directly to a Mac Pro. My feeling is the Drobo Share wasn’t all that great.

  6. Just FYI, I had my power supply and Drobo replaced (through support). It was a bit of a hassle, but they fully replaced my system and, while slow, were decent about it. Been loving it ever since, simply because I don’t know it’s there. Nice.

  7. First off, I should tell you that I have an original Drobo, i.e., not Drobo 2. I made the mistake of listening to Apple and purchasing an Airport Extreme. They told me all would be well if I plugged the Drobo into the AEX and used it as an afp: mount. Well, I have had nothing but heartache with this combination. The AEX “disappears” when I make it busy (reads and writes simultaneously). Only power cycling the AEX will get it back. This, of course means that I am running the risk of corrupting the Drobo filesystem (if not already corrupted when the AEX “walks away”). Over time, the number of filesystem errors mounts up and I have to DiskWarrior it. I once lost several music/video files I’d paid for and had to recover them at additional cost. The last time it happened, I lost my iTunes “database,” forcing me to recover everything other than the media files. You can imagine how long that takes with over 30,000 pieces of media!

    I am so sick to death of both the AEX (which may be the main or only problem) and the Drobo. At the least, do NOT set it up this way for it will let you down. Last comment: how retarded is it to have the Drobo sit on an IP address that only a magician could remember? How about 192.168.[01]., idiots! One has to plug the Drobo into a computer and access it via the (never can find it) Drobo Dashboard software.

    All in all, I am so unhappy with this, I realize I’ve not fully explained all the ins and outs, but I can’t stand explaining it once more.

  8. I bought a Drobo 4 weeks ago. I wish I had read this page before I made the purchase. I also have the problems described above :-(

  9. Nothing but good so far. A year ago, I bought 2 of the Drobo 1’s, one for my Dad, and one for me. So far, they have both been working perfectly. Mine has gone through 2 or 3 hard drive swaps, as I have increased my capacity. Ditto for my Dad’s.

    My Dad did cause the Drobo some problems recently. After being powered off and transported, he plugged the drive in and all the drive lights came up as red. He didn’t realize that the drive had entered “repair mode”, and had started fixing everything up. So, while it was trying to repair the file system, he went and meticulously reseated each and every drive. At this point, it stayed red, and he shutdown and brought it to me. The solution was simple: Just wait and give it time. I plugged it in to my system, and about 8 hours later, it had recovered everything. All is good. Whew!

  10. Thanks for the post James! My Drobo has started going into these reboot loops and this post came up on Google and helped me find the support article on breaking the loop. Unfortunately this is not the first problem my Drobo has had and support already sent me the beefier power supply in response to my last issue. Moreover, my Drobo has now re-entered the reboot loop. *sigh*

  11. Hey Michael,

    Make sure the firmware is up to date as well. I am still using the Drobo that I posted about here. Currently it’s directly attached to a MacPro, via Firewire, and it has had the reboot issue in months.

    -James

  12. Wow. So they’ve been having these problems for a year? Our DroboPro has been in service less than two months, and after my unit failed over the weekend (hardware lockup, on reboot not recognizing any of 8 drives installed), it’s now stuck in endless reboot *no matter what* I do.

    *grumble*

    • I have a DROBO S.

      Mine is stuck in a continous reboot cycle. Does anyone else’s power supply make a little noise while it is plugged in?

  13. In the past month now, I’ve had 2 Drobo S units go into ‘infinite reboot loop’ and have had to return them both. I own 2 other 2nd gen Drobo units and have not had problems with those, but as someone who was really in love with the simplicity of these backups, I can say that I’ll never buy another Drobo. I have 4 of these and use them in our small design business, but I can’t afford to lose data or have to return these Drobo S units (which also have very poor eSATA functionality) ever couple of months when they decide to perpetually reboot.

  14. Just to add on, these reboot loop problems still exist. I bought my Drobo/DroboShare combo in Sep 2009, and in the past 3 months I’ve had this reboot looping problem twice. Both times have been after the Drobo was shut down, moved, and then hooked back up. (once it’s up and running, I don’t seem to have any problems )

    The first time started one evening, and I just let it run and went to bed; when I got up the next morning, everything was fine.

    The second time it was still looping after 15 hours, so I unlplugged the “shared” power connectors from both the Drobo and the DroboShare, and reconnected the Drobo only, using the connector that had been on the DroboShare (theoretically it shouldn’t make any difference, since it’s just a “Y”). The Drobo booted up almost immediately, and without any problems at all. I then plugged the DroboShare in using the power connector that had been on the Drobo, and it also powered right up without any problem. Been running just fine for nearly a week so far .

    Because the faulty power supply problem is somewhat well documented on the internet, I went ahead and filed a trouble report with Drobo Support, and rather than just sending me a replacement power supply, they’ve been having me jump thru all sorts of hoops, sending various bits of information, firmware versions, serial numbers, un-hooking, re-connecting, generating “diagnostic reports” for nearly a week now. They seem determined to prove that the problem is with the Drobo itself (which, conveniently for them, is now out of warranty), instead of just admitting to the known power supply problems and sending me a replacement.

    I finally told them that I didn’t have any more time to spend on this, and if they just didn’t want to send me a replacement power supply, they should just say so.

    Honestly, if the power supply fails again, I’ll probably just replace the Drobo with something else, because I’ve never been very impressed with the performance of the Drobo, and regret spending the money on it in the first place.

  15. Drobo Pro, Drobo 2, Droboshare.. All have failed at one time or another. Great for storing large amounts of data that are not that important. When Drobo’s solution seems to be just reformat the drives and try again it doesnt give alot of confidence..

  16. I have 3 Drobo Pros and 2 Dorobs. I have had them since day 1. I have had to get 3 drobo pro’s replaced due to reboot loop but I have never lost ANY data.

    2 BIG WORDS OF ADVICE:

    1. Always keep them on a UPS. All of my reboot loops have been due to loss of power.

    2. If you get stuck in a reboot loop and your device is out of warranty here is the fix. Open the case by removing the 6 screws on bottom. FLip it over and remove the 4 screws on top panel. Then disconnect the battery pack for a couple minutes. Viola! No more reboot loop.

    Your disk pack is always valid and if you swap devices keep them in the same order and you have no problem.

    Yes the annoying errors suck but the customer support has been amazing AND you cant beat the ability to mismatch drives and add bigger ones as they come out. My Drobo Pro with 8 x 2tb’s were full so I have been replacing them with 3 tb’s and it works amazing. Then I take those 2tb’s and pass them down to another drobo so that aspect is unbeatable by any raid device. You can only find those features in a Zraid ZFS file system (OpenSolaris) which is MUCH harder to admin and fix if errors arise.

    Cheers!

  17. I’m IT administrator and work with a lot of kind of data storage.
    Drobo is the worst product I never see
    I have two Drobo, the first one fail, I have to recover all my data from other medium because I loosing all my stuff on my unit.
    The second, I had replacement unit two time for rebooting loop reason. The last unit that send me have working only one month and now it fail for the third time. I always have good backup of my data but I’m boring of losing time about this scrap.

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