Dead Drobo :-( ... Change to another platform?

Hi everyone!

Well, it finally happened to me. My Drobo died.

It lasted a long time and I was trouble-free along the way (it was at least 7-8 years old).

I’m puzzled by Drobo’s tech support reply to my query.

They sent an offer to rent a unit and move my data (not suggesting where to move it).

I expected, “Hey, you can buy a new one for $___.”

Do I take them up on this offer and not buy another Drobo?

Should I buy a new or used Drobo and just carry on w/ the drives & data I have?

Or buy something new and use this rental period to shift off the platform?

There was some online chatter about Drobo’s days (as a company) being limited; but it was obscure blog posts Google found due to digging through the internet.

I have about 10TB of info; so it’s going to be “interesting” to find a destination that can take the data without having ANOTHER device with multiple drives in it.

If I migrate to a new multi-drive device, I’m going to need to buy duplicate drives (just long enough for the transfer from old to new) and then have a lot of extra HDDs left over!

[Was a Drobo 5D, with Thunderbolt and USB, 5 drive capacity and plugged directly into my computer(s) – Had to shift from Thunderbolt connect to USB w/ the update to Bug Sur].

Bought it back when the MPU shows were talking-up Drobo AND I accidentally bought the “wrong one.” … I bought a direct-connect one when the show was mostly talking about networked attached ones.

Recs. on a new brand/device?

Can’t use NAS for a number of complex reason and, I’ve been using Backblaze and enjoy the free “backup your computer AND an attached drive” for some time now (regardless of external drive’s size).

Thanks for any advice!!

I’d used a QNAP TR-002 before and they have a 4 bay one as well, the TR-004. However, it’s USB, not Thunderbolt.

Terramaster do a Thunderbolt 5 bay if you need the speed, though they have cheaper USB devices if that’s needed instead.

Would it be cheaper to remove the drives, place fresh in to a new device and then get Backblaze to send a backup to you instead? They’ll refund you as well if you return within 30 days. Link (Just checked and that’s limited to 8TB though)

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Must confess that I am very curious as to why you “can’t use NAS”?

Your Drobo connected via Thundebolt, and then USB, you can connect
a NAS via Ethernet (You DON’T have to have a “network”, you can plug
it in directly, simply set your IP accordingly)

I know Drobo had disk management, but (IMHO) the hype never lived
up to the reality, so you could get a blank chassis and just do JBOD.

However as is so often mentioned in this forum, RAID is what the
enterprise uses. That seems like a good endorsement to me.

WRT your 10TB, you can get a Seagate 10TB USB 3.0 for around $225

(It could then be recycled into your chassis after migration is done,
a butter knife and a screwdriver is all you need)

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I’d be inclined to use this as an opportunity to buy a new enclosure and new drives, if your current drives are as old as the Drobo then they’re probably due for retirement too. This seems like a good time to have a complete refresh of the system. (assuming your budget will take that sort of a beating at the moment).

If you’ve been happy so far with Drobo then that seems like a good reason to stick with them.

I’d borrow the rental unit from Drobo to put your old drives into & use that to migrate everything to the new Drobo/drives. Lending you a unit seems like pretty decent customer service to me (maybe I’m easily please? :wink: ) .


I should have mentioned the “lending” = paying for a new Drobo plus $99 and then returning it; getting all but the $99 back.

I don’t know why I can’t just buy a new unit.

There were rumors on the Internet that Drobo was “on the way out” (as in a dying co.). … I don’t know. Those rumors were on an obscure blog somewhere and I didn’t save the link.

I think all of you are right, time to update the drives too; so I might need to take out my wallet and hit it with a hammer (to get it prepared for the beating to come!).


hummm, not quite a free loan to reward you for your loyalty then, puts a bit of a different spin on it.

Could you repopulate your replacement storage solution (what ever that ends up being) from your Backblaze back up - after allt - that’s what it’s there for!! I believe that Backblaze will ship you your data on a disk if you didn’t fancy seeing how your bandwidth copes with a 10TB download! :wink:

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If a NAS solution is not possible in your situation, then a JBOD seems like what I would do. I think I would check with OWC about an enclosure and new drives. It won’t give you RAID but if it is JBOD attached directly to your system then the Backblaze at least gives you a back up of the data.

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Unless you have all your data on separate disks already, I would use the rental to get all your data off of the Drobo. Then you can decide what’s next.

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I would buy a 10tb drive and use it to back up the Drobo (you ‘borrowed’), then get something. I’m really happy with my Synology; it’s plenty fast for near-line storage. Maybe you could use that for near-line, and a 1TB SSD for connected working storage? (I have some that are REALLY nice and fast. 1050MB/s is great.)

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I’m in the JBOD enclosure camp. OWC sells some enclosures that implement software RAID if that’s a requirement. I use an old Mac Mini with an OWC 2 drive enclosure for backup and as a media server.


Get the rental. If you stick your existing drives in the raid should rebuild and data will be accessible again. Then buy a 16Tb drive and an enclosure to copy all the data to (with romm to spare/grow). Back both Mac and 16Tb up to Backblaze if you can’t do a NAS. Buy another 16Tb drive for a clone back up to keep offsite and refresh on a regular basis.
Copy a.s.a.p. to have a s short a rental as possible.

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This does fall squarely in a “test your backups” show somewhere doesn’t it?

I think I have most of the data elsewhere; so I am not freaking out (yet).

Did decide to use the Backblaze restore service. Been paying for it for years; seems dumb not to test it!

It’s def. limited to a max of an 8TB drive they send you (free, except for shipping, if you return it).

AWFUL interface and experience so far!!

If one has less than 8TB; it’s likely easy.

If you have more, it’s an awful experience (looking for the code to make each “awful” in this blink!! … Sigh. That would likely get me banned :wink: ).

If you happily click-away on their restore site, clicking on which files/directories you want sent, there is no “gas gauge” (showing how close you are to the limit)!

If you go the other way (starting smallish) and click to the next step, the site will take your payment – No way to go back and check a few more items, until you run-out of space (no way to keep tweaking your selections).

So, I chose “all” then unclicked until I got to the next step.

Took numerous attempts and kept series of screenshots along the way so I know what directories I unchecked.

There’s dumb stuff on the drive that I instantly knew I didn’t want. I followed some of Katie’s advice to transfer out some TiVo files. MONSTROUS files that I know I don’t need and was going to delete anyway.

If you’ve read this far, bless you!

Will put the rest of the story in a smaller reply to this…

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The short, “What else is he doing” update is:

The tech said I could buy the new Drobo 5D3 model and move my drives to it. It’s supposed to “just work.”

LOVE all the suggestions you all have posted here and this made me research new drive models and enclosures.

  1. This may not work.
  2. Will start replacing drives at most everyone’s suggestion! and
  3. If this does work, I think migrating to a newer/more “mainstream” platform is still in my future.
  4. If I do some solid de-duping and ditch junk like old TiVo shows; I really should have a lot less than 8TB and the next solution could be faster, better, less-expensive, etc.

Thank you again!

((I should post a “what finally happened” … We’ll see!))

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I’m always interested in what people are doing with their TiVo files. I have ctivo and I have it pull off the shows I care about. But that’s a discussion for a different thread.

I have a Drobo 5C (old, and possibly dying) and should back it up better. Maybe when I get home in a few days…

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I’m keeping Backblaze (for now, as it’s the least expensive of the services); but did not know how long it would take them to create my restore drive for shipping.

I clicked the (essentially) “create my drive” button two days ago and it’s 56% done creating it.

Do the other services take this long? – Is this just plain normal with any external HDD? I don’t want to be over-critical if this is just normal!!

re: TiVo files – @aland Yes, they were cTivo files (HUGE BTW). I use an HD antenna w/ my TiVo and a lot of the local stations broadcast in higher quality than the streaming services. Was excited about saving some things (TV Series); but on reflection, there wasn’t anything I needed to keep.

Quick screengrab of my “restore drive” (incomplete, as I had more than 8TB, but most of what I “need”):

I may have answered my own question – Copying some old files off of a thumb-drive to my MacMini and it’s going to take about 15 minutes to copy 12GB. Apple has spoiled me with many faster data connections! :slight_smile:


It has very little to do with the source. The limiting factor is the internet. Lotta competition for bandwidth…

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Update: After the tech said my drives would be compatible with the newer model of Drobo; I bought one.

Swapped my drives, everything started up and looks like ALL the data is indeed still there!

But the new Drobo marked two of the drives as bad(!). … Ordered some drives online and the Drobo is doing its thing. It’s re-running its “data protection” routine that duplicates data so any drive can fail.

That initially said “70 Hours Remaining” (6 hours ago); but now it says “approximately 9 hours remaining.”

I think the crisis was averted!! :grinning:

It’s all still backed up on Backblaze; but now I know about their drive-size limitation(s) on restore. Will do some data pruning and consider alternate ways to ensure my data is all safe.

Thank you all for your help and advice!!

This process has created more questions for me; but I’ll likely start a new thread.

Other stuff:

I hope to get around to testing/wiping those two “bad” drives this weekend.

Part of the comments in this thread and elsewhere on the internet warned me to start replacing drives and I’ll slowly do that – The two that (may have) failed had the same “Born on” date (29 May 2014) but seem to be from different batches. … I say “may have” because maybe they only failed as far as the Drobo enclosure was concerned. Will prob. update this thread after I’ve tested the drives; but it may take me a while to get around to it. If not this weekend, it might take a few weeks to have “tinker time” for this.