I’m done with Drobo, too…

I made a mistake. A big mistake. Something I can correct, and which I will correct very soon.

My mistake? I already teasered it in my last post about my pet project: I bought a Drobo S as a storage solution. The Drobo S is the predecessor of the current Drobo 5D.

The title of this post is a clone of the I’m done with Drobo post of Scott Kelby. In this post he describes that he had some issues with his Drobo. He eventually ended up in a situation where all drives in his Drobo were stillokay, the Drobo itself wasn’t and since his device was out of warranty he would have to buy into an extended support package to be able to access his data.

Well, my own situation is not (yet) that bad, but I have a strong feeling I may end up in a similar position.

Now, what are my issues with my Drobo S?

I already use my second replacement unit. The very first Drobo I received after ordering had a problem with the drive bay in the middle and wouldn’t recognize a disc in it. In the first replacement unit all five slots worked and that was fine for almost a year.

Then, as I already mentioned in my previous post, my server suddenly started loosing the connection to the Drobo. On a regular basis I came home and my home server would miss the drive. Only a reboot of the host computer would (most probably, but not always) fix this.

This of course was very annoying, but was not extremely critical because I only had media files stored in the Drobo which were available through a TVersity media server. I could not stream videos through my home when the drive was lost, but that was okay in the beginning. The connection was eSATA, because USB is too slow for streaming two full-HD streams at once.

It became more critical when I started to run my evaluation VM on that home server and placed the virtual hard disk of the server on drive D (my Drobo drive). A disconnect could leave the VM in an inconsistent state and probably damage my infrastructure.

Then the disconnects started to happened more frequently over time until I encountered this issue daily and even multiple times on a single evening. As a software developer I know how to troubleshoot and check for possible error sources: The Drobo also lost it’s eSATA connection to another machine. USB was fine on both, but as already mentioned not an option because of the slowness of USB.

The Drobo service tried hard to fix this and eventually sent me another replacement unit.
This was okay. Now – guess what happened then? The replacement unit starts to show the same issues too. Now, even the USB connection get’s dropped once in a while.

So, while I initially was extremely happy with my Drobo and it’s performance, I’m currently in a state of constant alert for when my Drobo will eventually fail and won’t be accessible anymore – together with all my data I stored on it.

Of course I have a backup of the important data (honestly, my terabyte large video archive isn’t important enough to keep it as a backup, so that would be a loss, but given the time I can spend on watching them it wouldn’t be that hard). But the main idea of a large storage, with a very fast connection directly attached to my home server is to have direct and instant, always-on access to the data. Something, that I thought my Drobo could provide. But something, that a Drobo obviously isn’t capable of providing in a reliable way.

So I’m done with Drobo, because I can’t trust my device to function properly any longer.
I need to check for alternatives soon. If anybody knows of a solution for my problem, that is holding currently about 6 TB of data, more incoming, with very good performance and data throughput (just like a normal internal HDD), so please tell me.

Author: Sebastian Gingter

Software Engineer at Thinktecture, Fulltime geek, loving father & husband, always learning.