My Drobo died; no Drobo’s for sale. What to do?

When I went on vacation over Memorial Day week, I turned off both my Mac and my Drobo 5N. Upon returning, my Drobo would not power on. I get a quarter-second blip of the lights and that’s it. Dead in the water.

Okay, so I go to the Drobo store and look to replace the 5N with the 5N2 - good: twice as fast, better processor, etc. Go to buy it and it says it is sold out. Then I go through all the other products and they are all sold out as well. There is zero mention of any problems on the web site.

When I check some twitter activity, the Drobo response to no hardware to sell is that the complex chip sets that they use for their product are unavailable. This is my first run-in with chip shortages.

Going back, it looks like they ran out of product in late 2020. I’m now wondering if they will be in business since they haven’t sold anything since then.

My two questions for the group:

  1. Is there any way a different NAS solution will take my Drobo formatted disks and have them be used on that system (I doubt it, usually the first job is to format the disks…)?
  2. Do I give up the ghost and just bite the data loss — 7 TB of which are all of my 230 or so movies for Plex, my Time Machine backups for two computers, and a backup of my 7,000 pictures (which are also on iCloud, so no worries).

And if I need to get something different, what brand should I buy?

Thanks for the help!

Scot

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I’m pretty sure that only another Drobo will take drives from a Drobo.

You might look on eBay for a used one. Otherwise I think it’s a lost cause.

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sigh. a few months back i had a 5n i was trying to sell. failed. sent to the dump.

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A quick DuckDuckGo search for “data recovery of drobo drives” reveals at least a half dozen or more ways to recover data from Drobo drives, for example How to recover files from Drobo. Sounds like it is time consuming and likely is expensive as you need some place to put all that recovered data.

I’ve got a 5N I’m not using. PM me if you’re interested.

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Same thing happened to me a couple months ago. I found one on eBay and paid maybe $350 for it? Well worth the money since I couldn’t think of another way to salvage that data. I’d say if it’s not urgent, you’ll probably see one pop up for sale relatively soon. (Of course, you may not need it, if you find one here.)

Restoring data from a Drobo disk set is, from what I have read, difficult and expensive because of their proprietary data storage algorithm. I suspect you will find it cheaper to buy a used Drobo than to pay for data recovery (plus you will have that Drobo to use as well).

Like others, I also have a Drobo to sell. I actually have a Drobo 5D3 (TB-3 and USB-C 5 bay direct attached) that I am not using (which I actually just realized this weekend I had and never sold). If you are interested, PM me. HOWEVER, and very important: I do NOT know whether the internal data format is the same on Drobo’ s direct attached storage devices vs their network attached devices, the latter being a limited server running Linux. Therefore I am not sure your disk set from a 5N will work if inserted into any direct attached version of Drobo, so I would refer you to the Google before considering purchasing a unit like mine.

This is one of the biggest flaws with Drobo. I also have an 8D (8 bay TB3 DAS) and as much as I like it, that is the biggest downside and perhaps the biggest reason I am presently using a Synology for my large-scale storage.

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thanks. Not worth the risk on the network vs attached Drobo. One would think they would be the same, but that’s an assumption.

I’m checking with Chris above as he has a 5N.

Cheers…

Didn’t think about eBay, and that’s a great suggestion. I worked for a company once that had a way end-of-life server needed to finish drug study and they went on eBay to get parts needed when the server died. Crazy.

Thanks…

@Scotk9jy Agreed. You will be safer putting your disks into a 5N. Good luck!

When you get your data back don’t forget that your NAS needs to be backed up too.

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I was in the exact same situation (although I had the data fully replicated on another drive) and I decided to step up and get a Synology. I was able to reuse the drives (after reformatting into Synology Hybrid Raid). Haven’t looked back, it’s been a fantastic upgrade from the drobo.

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Methinks that is the direction I’ll be going. I’m not confident Drobo will still be going as a business without product to sell. How long can that go on before hitting the wall? Thanks for the comment.

Hi Glenn…how do you do that? I was all impressed with the disks not failing due to the technology, but totally missed the underlying Drobo failing. Regardless of the product, something additional to do now.

On a Synology you can connect a USB drive and there’s a utility to copy the data. I only copy one of my two drives as the 2nd one contains backups and I don’t make backups of backups.

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NAS backup is actually a sort of hard topic. You can make a local copy as @glenthompson had indicated relatively easily. However, offsite backup is a harder problem.

Synology does have a package you can install called HyperBackup, which can make offsite backups to another Synology located anywhere on the internet, or to a number of cloud providers including anything that provides an S3 compatible endpoint (which includes Amazon S3 and Glacier, but also BackBlaze (BackBlaze B2 buckets now support S3) and Wasabi, to name a few.

One solution which I have employed is that I have set up the shares on my Synology that need to be backed up to be replicated via SynolgyDrive to my external WD 14TB drive on my Mac Mini, and the Mini uses regular BackBlaze to back it up. Others have done a daily clone from the Synology to a drive attached to a Mac and again used BackBlaze. I do also use HyperBackup on the Synology as well, into B2, which is extra and probably unnecessary redundancy, so I will likely eliminate that at some point.

I don’t find the SynologyDrive or clone to a drive on a Mac to be a very elegant solution, since the point of the Synology (in part) is to have data that survives across replacement or death of any one Mac, but the cost is very high for sending everything on the Synology to the cloud vs the cost of a year of standard BackBlaze.

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I use Hyperback to backup all of the Synology stuff to an inexpensive/big USB disk connected to Synology, and the very important stuff to my Google Drive (because I have one that is hardly used). Could use other cloud service providers, but that’s how it is now.

I also use Synology CloudSynce to synce with BackBlaze B2.

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Just to follow-up here, I was able to secure a used Drobo 5N. Got it set up before this past weekend and all data and functions are fine.

Now…what should I transfer the data to?

Drobo is saying they will have a “few” models to sell in August, but I don’t want to be reliant on them any more.

Thanks to this group for all the support; it’s really appreciated.

Cheers…Scot

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I would get a big external drive and copy everything in the Drobo to it so you have a non-vendor dependent copy.

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I moved from Drobo to a Mac mini with a big OWC RAID array attached via Thunderbolt.

So many things on the Mac work better when they’re directly attached.

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