Drobo Review


I have a long history with Drobos now! Here’s the super-short-version. Now, I like Drobo again! They are back on my Nice list and off my Naughty list.

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Check the latest prices on the Drobo Systems!

Quick History

I used to have 3 Drobos with the USB/Firewire connection. They were slow, but I didn’t know any better until I got the Promise Pegasus Thunderbolt drive. That blew me away. The speed, performance, and storage was beyond compare. Just recently, Drobo put out a thunderbolt version too, and they sent me one to play with… And it’s really amazing! It’s fast and stable and all the things I want with a backup system.

What is the Drobo, anyway?

Oh, let’s take a step back here before we get into the full review. I find that a lot of people out there in the world still have not heard of Big External Drives that are easy to use. People are scared by words like “Raid Arrays” and this sort of thing. But, really, you can think of the Drobo as a giant thumb drive that can hold many terabytes of information (instead of the megabytes you used to with a thumb drive).

You will plug this into your computer and it will act as a giant storage device. Now, there are many kinds of Drobos from the ultra-portable Drobo Mini to the sit-on-your-desk-forever Drobo 5D. You can pick and choose one based on your lifestyle.

The portable Mini Drobo can effectively hold about 2.7 TB of data. The bigger Drobo 5D can hold effectively 14.5 TB.

Word to the Wise

Okay, here’s something you won’t want to hear, especially if you are on a budget.

You’ll need to really think about buying not one, but TWO of the Drobos. Here’s the logic. These things have a ton of space – terabytes and terabytes. Chances are that you’ll start to fill up your backup drive over time, and then, it’s not REALLY a backup anymore, is it? We mistakenly call these Drobos a “backup drive” — but that is not accurate if it is actually holding the ONE and ONLY version of a file, right? So, you should really buy TWO of them so that you actually have a backup!

I recommend you bring your second Drobo in once a month and make a new backup, and then take it back off-site. This is really the safest and smartest way to backup your data. Of course, there is an extra expense, but you may just need to get your head around the idea that Your Data Is Worth A Lot of Money.

The Big Drobo

The Drobo 5D (one of the many systems I have) is the perfect workhorse for me. My current one holds up to 16TB, but this is configurable based upon one kind of drives you put inside. And this is one of the cool things about the Drobo. It allows you to swap out and replace drives at any time as your needs change. Also, sometimes 1/5 drives may fail. Your data isn’t gone, because it’s mirrored across the other 4 drives. You can then take out the bad drive and put in another good one. Simple! (and quite satisfying, frankly!)

If you fill your Drobo 5D with 4TB drives, here’s how you end up! It holds 20 TB, but the only space you can actually use is 14.52 TB.

Management Tools

The tools have come a long way too! It’s kind of cool to play with these and check out the status of all your data. Here is an example:

Field Testing

I’ve been using this for about a month. I’ve had no real problems except for one of the 5 hard drives failing. Note that it is not Drobo’s fault — probably just a bad drive. But I simply swap out the bad drive for a good one, then everything is okay again. This is exactly the way things are supposed to work!


As of right now, I am using my Drobo with 5 3TB drives as a Time Machine backup for everything… it’s behaving flawlessly.

Drobo Mini Review by John P.

Go check out my friend John P’s Drobo Mini Review! It’s crazy thorough… and he hits his Drobos much harder than I do!

  • work2snap

    I decided to go the Drobe route and have been dragging my feet .. due to drive hell… thanks .. I”ll place my order later in the day …
    I am going to start with four 1 TB drives… any thoughts?
    thanks so much …

  • Sounds good to me — that should get you by for a while! 🙂

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  • Ian Ragsdale

    Glad to see you’re enjoying your Drobo – we purchased one at my last job, and I think it’s a great device.

    However, as a guy with 10+ years experience in various IT environments, I’d highly recommend that you don’t consider a mirrored drive a form of backup. While it should ensure that you don’t lose the data on your Drobo, there are a number of things that the Drobo won’t protect you from. These include corrupted files, accidental deletion, and theft or destruction of your Drobo. Also, it’s not impossible for more than one drive to fail at once.

    Since your data is probably one of your most important (and irreplaceable) possessions, you should also be investing in some sort of off-site backup, at least on a weekly or monthly basis.

    Anyway, love your work and would hate to see you lose any of it. 🙂

    – Ian

  • We have a couple dozen of these at my work — we do a lot of DNA sequencing with the so called “next generation” technology and with this stuff generate terabyte after terabyte after terabyte…. The drobos are a godsend!! I’ve been oogleing them since they came out to manage my own burgeoning cache of digital photos…

  • I have 2 Drobo’s. I love how protective they are with the drives. I’ve had 2 drive failures and it made sure everything was ok. Be sure to upgrade the firmware to 1.3.0 as it fixed a connection bug. But it may not affect the Firewire Drobo. Mine are the USB2 based Drobo’s

  • I also bought a Drobo last week 🙂 For the moment I’m still in the testing phase.
    I would be careful to call your data backed up. It’s only safe now for a drive failure. It is still no protection for theft, fire, viruses and/or accidental deletion. Also keep in mind that when you are using four drives in the Drobo you have a four times bigger chance to get a drive failure. When this happens you are in the danger zone for several hours, even after inserting a new disk.

  • Hey, this is Tom from Data Robotics! Cool review! Glad to know Drobo is making your life easier. I use my Drobos for primary storage for my Aperture library.

    I’d echo some of the other posters and recommend also adding an offsite layer into your digital asset management process. Drobo is great, but unfortunately hurricanes, earthquakes, theft, accidental deletion and three year old children are hazards that can only be protected through offsite. I personally use and recommend a dual Drobo strategy. I have one at home and one at the office. I initially synced them both direct attached. I then took one offsite and now I use free software from Crashplan.com to sync the differentials between the two Drobos over the Internet (fully encrypted).

    Also to, Caddymob, the fellow who posted on this thread from the genetics labs with a couple dozen Drobos…Please drop me a line at tloverro {at} datarobotics [dot] com as I’d be interested in learning more about how you’re using them!

  • I really like the concept and the way it works, excellent product, it just seems to be an awful lot of money for what it realistically is, here in the UK it’s pretty much £400, which is crazy! I just couldn’t imagine paying more than £200 for it in my opinion.

  • Fairly standard Raid 1 Box IMO I have been using Ready Nas NV+ (http://www.readynas.com/?cat=4) for a few years now.

    I have moved all my files that I normally move from PC to New PC on it. The only difference I see is that this is USB where the Ready NAS is a Ether net solution. You just plug it into your network and every computer on your home network can access it.

    Also comes with some nice addons for sharing photos and a streaming video to your media center. Also set it up to be a web server for family and friends, IMO the performance of the web server is poor. but for storing files it is excelent.

  • Anand


    Thanks for the update. The only thing that is stopping me from drobo is their proprietary mirroring mechanism. If drobo fails, I read it is very expensive to retrieve the data from it, in case of failure.

  • Hya,
    I just wanted to say that the drobo is a really nice kit for redundant storage.
    It is a little expensive if you have a bit of experience with Linux and afford the time to maintain a server at home.
    But aside from that, the drobo is a solid, well thought out solution that offers some robust redundancy management with spectacular ease of use. Good stuff! [I don’t work for them]


  • I’ve got four drobos. They’re great. Replicated primary storage is the only way to go these days.

  • Gordon

    I am sure you make this part of your workflow, but just in case others decide to adopt a Drobo or any other type of solution like this, don’t forget to keep a 2nd or 3rd backup offsite. These machines are great, but this puts all you work in one basket, so get a second basket somewhere else in case of fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster.

    Good shooting.

  • peterd

    I’ve been looking at drobo for a home server. As compared to Windows Home Server (HP box is nice)

    Home Server Functionality required:
    1. Internet Access to Drobo & connectivity to all systems connected…
    2. DLNA – I would eventually like access to videos, music, pictures, etc from TVs located around house.

    Would love to hear experiences people have had with DroboApps: Yoics & Fuppes..

    Final – Would like to see Drobo cost reduction. Could instantly drop $200 if Gigi Ethernet were included in main box in place of Fire wire.

  • Hey Trey,
    Did you look into the Iomega IX4 NAS system at all? I am a few months from needing a new storage solution and trying to get honest reviews on both sides. This was a good review though (most reviews just say “I love it” but don’t explain why. Sigh.

  • Jeff

    I’ve had several photographers tell me these are great in concept, but too slow as primary working drives. The statement that all of your Photoshop work takes place in RAM and virtual ram is true if you have small files, but that doesn’t take into account opening, saving as you work and finally closing files, all of which are drive intensive. And, there are other apps than PS to consider.
    One question: if you have three or four drives and you pull a full drive to archive it, does it contain the complete contents of one drive, or is it partial?

  • zav

    I have a Drobo or two too. Please note that the Drobo protects against drive failure. But, someone can still open the Drobo, select all and throw the files in the trash.

    Also, when the Drobo’s volumes get fullish (mine report 30 Gig free), file processing grinds to a halt. My recommendation is to format the Drobo when you get it to 8 or 16 TB and then when you need more space, just pop in another drive and wait 48 hours while it does its thing.

  • PJ

    Hey Trey are you a MAC or PC. I enjoy reading your reviews, thanks.

  • Thx – I use both mac and pc — mac mostly for photography

  • Hi Trey,

    First and foremost I want to congratulate you for your awesome work.

    Now about the Drobo review, I got myself wondering how do you store your files while travelling, since you travel quite a lot.

    I imagine that, at the end of the day, when you get back to the hotel, you may want to empty your flash cards and store your daily work somewhere else. If that is the case, what kind of data storage equipment do you use to that purpose?

    I guess it’s easier to slip on your bag one of those 500GB Western Digital or iomega external drives, than taking the Drobo. But on the other hand, I am not sure if you can rely on these external drives, since they are prone to “catastrophes” (and I say this because I’ve had some nasty troubles with one of those little suckers).

    So I was wondering how do you manage to securely store your files while travelling.

    Thank you for sharing your work, tutorials and reviews, and I wish you the best!

  • Thanks! Well – what you are describing is a different process that does not include the drobo – I will talk about that some day! 🙂 Maybe make a quick video

  • Tim Donnelly

    I’m using two Drobo’s to store and backup my photos. They are great but as other’s have said above, just because your files are on a Drobo, that does not mean they are backed up. If two drives fail, all your files, including your Lightroom catalog will be lost. That’s why I have two Drobo’s, one for my Archives and one for backup. You should also have a copy of everything off site, so if something happens to your hardware, you don’t loose everything.

    Your HDR pictures are great. I’ve never taken one before, going to try it out.


  • StanleyCup99

    Just wanted to re-state the obvious in hope you don’t experience catastrophic loss in the case of a problem. Your statement:

    “I never have to think about the last time I backed up anything… because every move I make is duplicated on the Drobo.

    The emphasis should be on “duplicated”, really. That means that anything you perform on your filesystem, will be automagically duplicated onto the mirrored drive. That includes any changes you make to a file, or a deletion. A mirrored array should NEVER be used for backup. It is only used for reliability. A proper file backup would allow you to recover from an unwanted change or a deletion.

    Hope this helps.

  • Jon

    I’ve tried several NAS and RAID setups. I finally settled on the Drobo. 1st off – software RAID sucks – don’t even think about it. 2nd al the NAS/RAID solutions sucked for speed – example would be the Buffalo TeraStation. As one poster mentioned if you feel good about Linux then you could in fact throw together a NAS/RAID box yourself. Guess what? A decent hardware RAID controller will set you back $250 at least – then your other hardware will cost at least the same; motherboard, RAM, CPU, case, powersupply. By the time you finish you have a fairly large machine sitting there that does pretty much what the Drobo does for the same price – maybe even more. Nahhhh – my time’s worth more than that. Like Trey I copied over my entire Lightroom catalog to my Drobo with my initial 3×1.5TB drives. You know three days later one of those spanky new drives took a dive. Drobo recovered flawlessly when I plugged in a new drive. It’s got my vote! All the prices I used for comparison were at the local Fryes we have here in Austin.

  • Jon

    Oh – and the Drobo does not mirror – it is a form of RAID 5 to the best of my knowledge. Acts like RAID 5 anyway. The big difference is zero admin – the Drobo takes care of all that crap. Anyway a mirrored drive would use two drives and simple echo the info – in fact the Drobo uses about 1/3 of the available space for recovery *information* and this information is used to recover the data. Similar to the way a PAR file works.

  • Mario Rossi

    Coud you ask Data Robotics to enable the code also for the european store? 😉 Regards

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  • Since buying my Drobo I have never worried about backing up to external hard drives or burning to dvd’s etc. With 4 1 tera/b drives in my Drobo I now have 2.6 t/b of redundant storage. Life is good

  • Anthony Leffler

    The Drobo looks like an incredible solution to my dilema I’m in now actually. I’m actually starting out in design but I have most of my storage on board in an XPS system. Most tower systems do not have the space for 4 drives like what I currently have and they don’t have the ability to quickly back up or quickly disconnect. Having the ability to take the drives with you or quickly upgrade is a huge benefit. Granted Drobo has a bigger price tag, but the benefits are huge! And for someone with my qualifications in working with graphics, web, photos and video it is an essential.

  • Do note that the 4 disk Drobo has no fail safe in place during the time it is replicating data accross drives.

    When a drive fails and you put a new one in there, you won’t have a full redundant back-up until replication across the new drive has finished. The newer Drobo S does not have this problem IF you enable 2 drive redundancy.

    Also beware of the thought: “I got my nice little Drobo now, my back-up is all set now.” One power spike that fries your Drobo + contents and you still lost everything. If your data is too important to lose. Consider using a back-up service like Mozy, Carbonite or some similar solution.

  • Jeremy J

    This is awesome, I would use my Drabo to back up the 45,000 family pictures I have now. This would save my marriage in case of of hard drive failure.

  • mike

    I lost lots of important data when the 2 drive mirrored backup NAS suffered an electrical fault that fried both drives.

    You really need a second drobo at the other end of the house, or better yet one that gets stored elsewhere to protect against theft, fire, flood or electrical surge at your home/office. You haven’t averted single point failure yet of what is one of your most valuable possesions.

  • Stirling

    I have now had the Drobo for about a year now. I also have the Buffalo TeraStation and Netgear ReadyNAS NV+. The Buffalo is seriously lacking bells and whistles. It doesn’t support expandability but in the 2+ years I’ve had it, it has never lost or corrupted a file. The ReadyNAS is very loaded with features. It even allows you to hot swap and upgrade the drives. It is also very dependable and I have never lost a file on it (even though I have lost a drive). Drobo…is fancy and just a slick unit. Not to strong in features and certainly not very dependable. I have lost files…twice. The first time was because I filled up the drive too much. Instead of just refusing to accept new data, it corrupted the volume. When I called Drobo, they said that that was by design so that you could add a larger drive without resizing the drive. Bad design. I like ReadyNAS’s approach better. It just gives you a full drive error and then you can hot swap each of the drives (1 by 1 with a few hours reload in-between). The second time for losing everything on the volume was tonight. All I did was enable Apps. I haven’t called Drobo tech support yet because it’s Christmas today. But I have little hope of a recovery based upon what tech support told me last time. I don’t recommend Drobo. It’s a great unit on the surface and if you don’t compare it against the competition. But dig below the surfaced, its really not that impressive.

  • Do NOT rely on Drobo solely.

    Do NOT believe your data is totally safe.

    O.k….dramatic….but after my experience and research….and further to what others have already said….Drobo can lose your data. I have the version that Trey has shown above.

    The main problem is that the file structure can become corrupted easily. This may be due to various issues (improper shutdowns, pulling usb out etc.). What happens is that one day you have 500 GB of data and then zip….zilch…nada…..it reports that that no data is present and presents you with an empty root directory…..when this happened to me….it was a shock….I looked at drive recovery programs and various forums for a solution to recover the data……and nothing helped….except for one suggestion in an obscure forum somewhere…..swap the drives round…..I did and phew….it recovered…..BUT…..that was a shock…and others I’ve heard haven’t been so lucky……so the strategy for me, at least was that:

    1) I bought allsync synchronisation program…..extra hard drive….and set allsync to keep backup on the extra drive.

    2) Signed up with backblaze…and got some offsite back up. Problem here though is that upload speed is slow and over 6 months I’ve managed to only get 100Gb up…..so some prudence is required as to what you backup offsite to reduce volume.

    3) Bought an extra drive for Drobo

    It’s what everyone tells you…..have multiple backup strategies…..Drobo is fallible…..

    On a positive note, it has saved me from a drive failure….

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the Drobo but with caveats.

    The costs to you are more than the cost of the Drobo…you have additional drives to buy for it, then further drives to back up Drobo, offsite backup costs and additional software to help backup.

  • Hi Trey, thanks for all your suggestions and thanks for the further input from forum contributors,
    RE Back up.
    I was just wondering if it was possible to configure drobo so you can rotate Drives ie pull out one drive and store it remotely replacing it with another drive so providing you with a back up.
    one question it poses is what happens if you insert a drive into drobo with data already on does it assimilate the data or format the drive etc ?

    Most of the online backup suggestions are impractical for me , shooting in RAW 30MB file size and on an average week shooting over 2000 pics and here in aus upload speeds are slow and expensive.

    if the above suggestion is crazy , can anyone suggest any software that will back up and keep HDs in order, bearing in mind that i work in more than one location so i frequently disconnect hard drives and use them in other locations.

    Thanks in advance for you comments,
    Blue Skies!

  • Mark

    Well… hum… I have been through two USB Drobos and numerous problems. I’ve had to reformat the thing no less than 3 times. Recently their tech support has pretty much moved to Jupiter and they are using the long galaxy orbital path to return any kind of response.

    I’m not here to trash Drobo just to give a little heads up. Before you buy based on one review search the net. There are tons of Drobo failures, problems, issues. No system is perfect and online storage is unfortunately not cheap yet.

    I use Amazon S3 which runs about 15 cents per gigabyte per month with some transfer costs as well. While I’m not a huge photographer, my library, including iTunes is close to 200g. So my monthly cost would be about $30 a month or so. It seems the more you put on Amazon S3 the cheaper it gets. If you were to put 500 TB (yes thats TB… Terrabytes) up there you are now down to $0.10 per GB. I don’t even want to try to do the math on that…

    Anyway back to the issue at hand. I’m sitting here today with my noisy, slow, generation 1 Drobo 20 feet away from me annoying the hell out of me and I’m looking at replacing it with a Promise DS4600 4 bay RAID device. It has great reviews, good transfer speed, etc. Warrantied for 3 years. The cost of this device is $349. But I struggle because if I just said to hell with my own RAID backup and went Amazon all the way I’d be looking at probably close to 500 g so that would be: $75 per month or $900 per year. Thats like 2.5 Promise devices but I don’t have to worry about drive failures… Amazon takes care of all of that. Still $900 a year a a chunk of cash.

    So it is a tough decision. But search the web carefully regarding Drobo

  • Thank you for that info!

    I am thinking about using S3 as well — I have yet to have trouble with my Drobos – so I will keep my fingers crossed ! 🙂

  • Photography is a serious hobby for me, has been for over 40 years, but if I ever lost all my images, life would go on. I added a Drobo box last month as a fairly safe working environment for when I work on a Photoshop project. Out of the camera, all my files first go to mirrored SATA drives housed in FirmTek enclosures.
    These SATA drives are cabled to a SATA card on a G5 Mac. I have used SoftRaid software for the external SATA drives. So far, a five year period before my Drobo came along, nothing has ever failed.
    Whatever is on my Drobo box are copies of original RAW images.
    After I have worked on them, they go back to a different external SATA drive pair.
    What worries me is the whole proprietary “black box” file structure that Drobo uses. Data corruption might lose all Drobo-stored data or might cost a bundle, if some Drobo expert were to do the recovery. I feel with safe with my three “buckets” approach: original images saved on mirrored drives – working on files after they have been transferred to Drobo – store finished work on a different SATA pair.
    As many have people pointed out, I also use a secure off-site location for duplicate SATA drive pairs as an extra precaution, but that is as far as I want to go. Let’s not forget that 2TB drives are cheap. I use 2TB WD Green Caviar drives – currently $148 at Canada Computers stores.

  • LAW

    Why does everybody say that an external copy, or mirror, of you files is not a back up? After all, disk failures, theft and data corruption happen to ANY type of configuration. Redundancy vs backup is a distinction without a difference. Also, if you go to the trouble of using offsite, why the devil would you worry about a Drobo at home? Why wouldn’t you just back your stuff up to whatever and call things square???

  • I like having my data in various places… sure it can be stolen from anywhere — but the odds of it being stolen from two places at once are slim

  • LAW

    But that’s why I said that to use offsite and back up to whatever [any HDD you have] as being enough to reassure you of your data safety. Why use a Drobo?

  • Aha – I see your q. I use a drobo simply because I have too much data for a single drive, and it becomes confusing to store a contiguous photo library across multiple drives. I don’t want to store 2/3 on 1 2TB drive and the other 1/3 on another drive. It’s good to have them all on something that appears to be one huge 7 TB drive.

  • LAW

    OK that makes sense. The Drobo seems like a good solution to many such issues. However, what confuses me are posts on other blogs like the one where a user lost data after installing a firmware update to his Drobo. On a separate issue, La Cie has a software backup [Intego] that it includes with it’s large 4 HDD arrays that checks for file corruption as well as incremental backups. The operative word here is “seems” since I really have no more than average information about such RAID [1,5,etc] configurations. User reviews on Cnet about the Drobo are particularly disturbing notwithstanding the positive opinion of Cnet reviewers themselves. But, since you are happy with your Drobo, I guess I either accept peoples positive opinions or go with La Cie. Both are pigs in a poke to me at this point. Thanks for your feedback.

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  • Snapshot

    I’m a 2 Drobo v2 & Drobo S owner…. I will not go into details that can’t be Googled… but I do not use the Drobos as primary storage. They were bought before I knew better and some fellow photographer’s advice.

    The issue is the proprietary nature of the OS. Any NAS using MS Home Server preferably or Linux should be OK, as there is a lot of 3rd party support if the data gets corrupt. For Drobo…. zilch, nothing nada. All you will be told – as mentioned by Tom, any corruption, deletion or formatting, and poof your data is gone forever. Tom did not mention Drobo hardware failure, but that too jeopardizes your disk stack.

    I’m looking into LaCie 5big Network 2 (which has now seen the light and offer MS Server and TS-559 Pro Turbo NAS (only when and if they go with a standard OS).

    I can safely guaranty, sooner or later you will lose data with Drobo. Drobo closed it’s forum to public eyesight for good cause. Due diligence is in order.

    The Drobo SF (and I guess S which I do not own) is a big improvement over the Drobo v2’s. Time will tell….

  • Laurier ST.Onge

    This is NOT RAID, its a very lite software based RAID that DOES NOT guarantee
    that your data will NOT BE LOST!
    1) The drive is REALLY slow at startup and hence renders it useless as a music or otherwise server even when used with Firewire 800
    2) The Drobo DOES NOT Check the integrity of the DATA! No compare of the data coming from multiple drives is ever done… That requires hardware to do it and the Drobo uses a whimpy processor!
    3) Think you wont lose data??? Think again. After 1.5 years, one of the Drobo bays has stopped working properly (although no indication is provided — only Data Robotics Diag after they private decode can determine that) AND NOW I LOSE A MUSIC TRACK EVERY TIME THE DROBO COMES OUT OF SLEEP!!!
    5) This product SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN MADE! — IT IS ABSOLUTE TRASH… Wait for yourself and you will find out like I did that I just threw $500 out the window with this purchase!!

  • I have the Drobo as well as a Sans Digital Hardware 5 bay drive RAID5. I use my Drobo as an off site backup (leave at my son’s house) because with Windows 7 (64 bit), I have to boot it with the unit unplugged and then plug it in. If I leave it on at boot up, my system hangs at boot. A co-worker of mine did lose all his Drobo data when the unit failed 4 months ago. The unit does have a couple of single point of failure points in its design (in my opinion). Using dual mirrored 1 TB C and D drives (cavelier Black) 8 Gig of RAM on my base quad core workstation, I have a 55 MB/sec transfer rate with the Sans (eSATA external) and a 17-21 MB/sec with the Drobo (USB2). I have 4 spare Hitachi 1 TB drives for the 5 bay Sans unit and 4 spare Cavelier Blacks (1 TB each) for my Drobo Spares and mirrored internal disks. I also added the USB 3.0 single drive drop in unit with one 2 TB drive stored in my office at work and one in a book case at home. Remember, that one single photo storage unit is not sufficient even if it is a RAID; however, you do not have to be as protective as I am with my photos. An internal mirror with an external RAID is the minimum I would recommend for anyone to protect their photos.

  • I forgot to add a comment responding to how to back up on the road. I have more than 64 Gig of CF cards (yes I did purchase a Hoodman 16 Gig card after Trey’s review). I bring a laptop along in my photo bag with a 250 Gig small external hard drive. After the day’s shoot, I copy the images to the laptop’s internal hard drive. I then copy that to the external drive and I leave the images on the CF cards. Once I get home, I export the Lightroom catalog to the external drive, copy the job’s images to my workstation configured as enumerated above, and once I determine that all the images are transfered and client DVDs are created, I delete the images on the CF cards. I delete the images on the laptop and external drives only when needed for space for the next assignment. I do not trust any device to be the sole repository of my images regardless of whether they are Drobos or other RAID devices.

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  • one issue to think about is , normally a hard drive is only accesses when you need to transfer data from it or put data on it. With the drobo set up it it being accessed most of the time. so its not uncommon for drive to fail in the drobo array due to the usage its getting. i may be wrong but would love to know what others think
    Any thoughts.
    Photo Canvas Prints

  • Jeff

    I have used Drobo’s for years and have a few “from the trenches” comments. First – have a backup of what is one your drobo – if the drobo fails (and they do, 2 of mine have) there is NO practical/inexpensive way of getting you data back – so have a backup. There is no option to pull a disk from a drobo and plug it into a regular PC/Mac and browse for your files.

    Second, performance has always been my beef with the drobo. I use FW800 and primarily Macs, but my Aperture library is almost unusable on a drobo, so I use local disk and backup to the drobo.

    The bigger challenge is a drobo promotes a massive 2,3,4,8,16tb of storage for a user. Great promise but that is a HUGE amount of data to put into any one device.

    Just be warned, be safe and have a backup – multiple drives in a drobo is NOT A BACKUP!


  • Peteris Lehtla

    Sorry Tray, I have to do it since I have a feeling that it is the biggest scam in IT industry!
    As I bought my Drobo two years ago I thought I found the ultimate solution for storage and backups. Unfortunately all the time I had nothing but problems with it. And DataRobotics offers the worst service in the industry at least to my knowledge. I lost some data on it, managed to recover it with some third party applications but then two discs out of four stopped working within two months and were not repairable, I change them and the data was restored. And two month later it stopped working at all saying that there are no discs in the drobo… It appeared that all the 4 discs were gone and there is no way to recover any data from any of them! Now I tried to log in into my account at the Drobo site, but it didn’t recognize my login information. When I tried to get my login information sent to me by e-mail it appeared that my registration information is non-existant and my account is deleted. There is no way for me to contact their support. I found the local Asian office e-mail address but haven’t get any replies to any of my 3 e-mails. I wander how the company selling such a rubbish can be still in business and keeping sending me their promotional information about new products! Shame!

  • That sucks you had that experience. Maybe I’ve been lucky with my Drobos so far? I hope nothing bad happens to them… I did get a used one that had a bad drive (1 out of 8), but I have never tried to get it fixed so I don’t know… the others work fine in the meantime. Fingers crossed!

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  • I love my drobo. I have the 4 bay version that you have in the picture up there. I do it a little bit differently then you though. I still work off of my main HDD’s inside my computer, and my lightroom catalog is stored on there as well. I use the Windows 7 Backup and Restore program to run my backups. It’s built into Windows 7. I have it set to, at 8pm every night, check all of the files in my photography folders and if anything has been added or changed, to add or replace those files on my drobo. I used to worry about copying files over to an external every day but with the Backup and Restore and my drobo I don’t worry at all about it. Its fantastic.

  • As I posted earlier I have the SansDigital 5 Bay Hardware RAID box and the Drobo and with the SansDigital 3/4 full, I am considering a second unit. Yes I can not plug in a larger capacity drive on my existing RAID; however, a new one with eSATA and USB 3.0 interface for $349 and the Drobo S 5 drive unit $799 with a $100 coupon that expires today I can not justify the increased expense for the Drobo S. For $600 I can get another Sans Digital RAID 5 fully poputlated for less than the empty Drobo S (Hitachi 1TB drives for $50 each). I also can go with Hitachi 2TB drives for $110 each. I think I will purchase another Sansdigital over a 2nd Drobo.

  • Steve T

    Hi Trey –

    It’s been a couple years since your wrote your review. Are you still using it? Would you still recommend?

  • Yes – I have 4 drobos now… still use em! 🙂

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  • iirc it was Drew Gardner who first caught my attention with his Drobo disaster area articles, http://photography-thedarkart.blogspot.com/2010/07/drobo-pro-my-new-full-time-job-with.html

    A bit of poking around on the net confirmed that his experience was far from unique. Seems that a drobo is just a way of pouring money at a problem to get a groundless sense of security. I cancelled my plans to get a couple.

    Not sure what to suggest instead. I’m thinking maybe FreeNas.


  • Trey, you had indicated that you maintain some of your images on line as a backup. I would like to call your attention to the Amazon cloud crashed that destroyed its customer’s data. http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/04/28/6549775-amazons-cloud-crash-destroyed-many-customers-data
    Do not depend upon that methodology. I use it as a point of last resort; however, I have other back up strategies.

  • phil homer

    we have a Drobo 4-bay unit for long-term storage of photographs including commercial work.

    the unit is now presenting us with a column of lights alternating green/orange despite the fact that yesterday it was fine and had c. 1TB space

    also, whilst attempting to resolve the matter today, it simply decided to shut down completely.

    any help or advice would be greatly appreciated

  • Aristocracies

    To be really honest, the Drobo was the biggest waste of money I could have made at the time. I bought the 4-bay second revision with FW800. Besides the rather painful lack of eSATA I chose because this kit looked ‘easier’ than a qNAP so far as getting things up and running, little things like missing a power button (they eventually fixed this), the native lack of Wake-On LAN with their PAINFULLY slow/anemic DroboShare device… their SDK is just a single text file with ‘lol good luck’ in it, the DroboShare’s own shipping firmware (a Busybox Linux setup) actually shipped with tools that cause data corruption when you use them (the wget command corrupts downloads) and other things missing from its toolset you’d expect from the environment. The array itself has actually has already corrupted itself once on me. It’s also a painfully slow piece of equipment when used with the DroboShare and the Drobo itself wasn’t as fast as the QNap I later tested when attached directly.

    Really, Drobo is just selling some lights and curved black plastic with an otherwise ho-hum set of hardware and software backing it. The fact the RAID method itself is proprietary should be a red flag enough, but that’s what I get for trusting some folks whom weren’t that computer literate in the first place who wound up with one. I wouldn’t even suggest the Drobo as a ‘simple to use’ toy to someone due to how incredibly half-assed and lackluster DataRobotics has treated their users and their own product. I’m sure there’s plenty of people who will find it ‘good enough’ and that equates to ‘omg I love it’ because it has yet to bite them in the ass, but honestly at this price premium it’s pretty ridiculous that anyone is buying these things.

  • Martin

    I’ve just moved my entire Lightroom Catalogue & Images from my Mac HD on to my Brand new Drobo S it has 2 2TB in at the moment and the total data moved is about 500GB.

    Now that all the data is now on the Drobo I can run the catalogue and have access to all my images.
    My problem is that when I ‘Import’ new images off a CF card into the catalogue on the Drobo, lightroom brings some of them in and then gives me a list of the files that for some reason it could not copy, also I have noticed that the images that have been imported to the library have been corrupted.
    I have tried importing different images for another card and the same happens, however when I re point it back to the master HD instead of the Drobo, it works fine.
    PLEASE help, this is stopping me from working today!
    Drobo S is connected via firewire 800 to a mac and I have set up a Data pool of 16TB max for future usage.

  • For me that condition has been card related (Hoodman 16 gig). It could be your card reader or the Drobo itself. I would test the import of your cards to your internal hard drive with/ and without lightroom as well as copying them directly to the Drobo without lightroom to try to isolate the component that is causing the failure. I can not speak to the Mac interface; however, some computers have issues of passing data between two USB devices. Using your internal drive might help pin point the issue. My experience with Drobo has not been wonderful and I currently have my device used as off site storage with my Sans Digital RAID as my large external drive which for me has performed better than the Drobo.

  • Larry

    I was equally enthused and excited about my Drobo until one of the drives died. The whole purpose behind purchasing a Drobo was to allow hot swaps, unfortunately, anything but that has been the case. One of my drives failed and now 3 weeks later DROBO still doesn’t have a clue how to fix it other than for me to copy everything off to alternate drives and reformat. The difficult part is that with the drive failing, it slows everything down and is taking days (45 to be exact) to copy everything off. My point is that you still need a backup of your DROBO backup and you must keep the amount of storage to less than 1/2 of the capacity to minimize the chance you will lose data. It certainly sounded like the ideal solution. FYI, I’ve interacted with others who have experienced this problem. So, my Drobo will now be my secondary backup, such a shame!

  • Joe

    What a disapointment! Have a drobo S connected to a new Core i7 desktop system via USB3. Installed 5x 2TB HDD about 4 months ago. Had anoying ‘hang’ problems that caused me to turn off the drobo during boot and shutdown but today it got worse. Now the PC won’t recognize the drobo S at all. Called tech support, they want me to purchase third party s/w to ‘rebuild the index’ on the drobo S. Geesh, first of all, why doesn’t the drobo come with this s/w? Second, I purchase s/w from Stellar Phoenix per their recommendation, and it doesn’t see my drobo-S either. I am stuck with no data. This SUCKS! I WILL NEVER PURCHASE ANOTHER PRODUCT FROM DROBO.

  • Prof. Peabody

    I have the drobo FS and I am far less enthused about it than this author. The hardware is well made and very simple to use, the software no the other hand is a nightmare. I actually thought it was a joke when I started using it and was looking for the “real” software that coms with it. It’s a bad port of some really funky windows software but it barely works at all on the Mac. It hangs sometimes for two or three minutes at at time, it freezes, and it crashes once or twice out of every five times you use it, it’s slow as molasses (*days* to transfer a few terabytes). It’s so poorly designed, it looks like a ten year old was left alone with XCode. They’ve just shovelled all the settings onto a few completely unrelated sheets that leave you hunting here or there for functionality. Nothing makes any sense as to where they put it.

    Worst of all, the “DroboCopy” software with which you *attempt* your backups will not operate when the computer is asleep. So doing the obvious thing which is moving the giant backup of your hard drive to the middle of the night, will not work at all! Yikes!

    Oh, and yes …. noisy as hell. Sounds like a vacuum cleaner on your desktop. Probably 10 times as loud as my computer itself.

  • Yep – I hear these complaints loud and clear… It’s hard to know — some people love them and some people are really upset with them. So far, I have 4 and they have been good (but noisy)… I hope they make a Thunderbolt one soon!

  • I just purchased a 2nd Sans Digital Tower Raid (TR5Ut(-B)P device from Micro Center for $369.99. Populating it with 1.5 TB Hitachi Drives (5 for RAID 5) at 54.99 each, I have 6 TB of extra storage and I am copying my earlier model (5 1TB drives) within 10 minutes of plugging the device into my workstation. For those willing to put up with the Drobo they are at Micro Center for $799 for the Drobo S and $699 for the Drobo FS (do not forget to purchase the hard disks). That puts the 1.5 TB drive Hitachi (plus one extra spare drive for a total of 6 drives) plus the Hardware RAID device at $748 for less than the Drobo S (without any drives.) I still use the Drobo once a month (or more frequently as required) for my off site storage. The two Sans Digital devices will be cloning while I sleep.

  • Dr. G.

    I have 2 FW800 model Drobos. I have been using one for 3 years and the other for more than 2. Truthfully, they have functioned well, with a minor hiccup here and there, for that time.
    The night before last the older of the two “dismounted” itself. I am not sure why or how. It was working before I went to bed and did not when I tried to use it the next day. The Drobo was accessible to the Drobo Dashboard. I could see the stats, blink the lights, and put it on standby all from the Dashboard, but it did not show up in the Finder so that I could access my folders and files. No big deal! Reboot and all will be well. EXCEPT after numerous reboots, unplugging and plugging data cables and power cords multiple times the Drobo still failed to mount. Connecting it to another computer produced the same result, Drobo seen by the Dashboard, but not the Finder. Therefore, NO access to the files on the Drobo. Attempting to mount the Drobo by using the Disk Utility had negative results and further added to the frustration of possibly having lost about 2.5 TB of pictures when it reported the drive as being “broken” and not repairable. Further attempts to repair the disk only met with more messages about the dire condition of the Drobo (disk).
    At that point a call to Drobo support was made. The technician was polite and seemed knowledgeable. However, the final diagnosis was that the files on the Drobo had somehow become corrupted. That is, the Drobo itself was working normally while the files it was protecting were inaccessible via the Drobo. I was directed to try Disk Warrior to “fix” the corrupted files in the Drobo. It might occur to you that simply removing the individual drives from the Drobo and mounting them by a means other than the Drobo might allow access to some or all of the files. The proprietary nature of the files put on the drives by Drobo prohibits that from happening. So, if one cannot access the files on the drive via the Drobo and the files cannot be read outside the Drobo enclosure what’s left?
    Therein lies the problem with Drobo, in my opinion. It writes files unintelligible to any device other than the Drobo. You cannot remove a drive or drives and store them away from the Drobo with the idea that you have a backup copy. Without putting those drives in the Drobo in precisely the same configuration as they were when the files were written the data is both inaccessible and unusable.
    After I had spent two-thirds of the day trying to find ways to save my pictures, I was at a point where it seemed my data was lost (not recoverable). Disk Warrior had refused to repair the directory saying there was a mechanical problem which prevented it. Disk Utility had reported a problem which prevented mounting and was not repairable. Feeling there was nothing to lose and out of frustration I continued to try to repair the disk and remount the Drobo using DU. Attempts to repair the disk had largely been unsuccessful, but it appeared the repair process and the result was slightly different each time it was run. At one point the repair sequence came back “disk repaired” yet DU still would not mount it. A couple more repairs also came back as repaired. I decided to try Disk Warrior again. Magically (and thankfully), it was now able to read and build a new directory.
    The Disk Warrior report: ” DiskWarrior has successfully built a new directory for the disk named “JerrysDrobo 1.” The new directory cannot replace the original directory because of a disk malfunction. A disk malfunction is a failure of or damage to any mechanical component of the disk device, or any component connected to it. The malfunction will likely worsen. Therefore, recovering your files from the DiskWarrior Preview as quickly as possible is essential” I must point out here that Drobo has NOT reported any of the 4 drives it contains as having malfunctioned and I am still unsure as to what has malfunctioned..
    My experience today coupled with earlier concerns about the proprietary nature of the files Drobo writes have made me believe that, while convenient, Drobo can be a huge liability standing in the way of accessing files should something go wrong like what happened today or if the Drobo itself dies. I feel Drobo has taken too much control of the welfare and accessibility of my files. The convenience is not worth losing control of my files.
    Anyone want to buy a couple of used Drobo boxes?

  • Joe

    I have used the 4 bay drobo with my mac for a while. Slow and noisy, but as a large storage and backup drive, it does the job, and it is more resistant to total failure than a single disk. Plus, it makes disk management easy. Not bad.

    I moved up to the 5 bay drobo FS. I am in the process of file-copying because it wouldn’t let me simply insert the drives from old to new. Yeah, that’s a hassle, but it’s a one time thing and it’s worth it for the convenience and safety I’ve come to expect from the unit.

    We have 3 macbook pro laptops in the house and use an airport extreme. The Drobo FS plugs into the airport router by ethernet and shows up as a very late single shared network volume to all the machines. All the machines do time machine backups over the air. Also, if we ever need a movie, song, or photo, it’s as easy as going to that volume, just like a local drive. Yeah, we have fast machines and 802.11 n, so our wireless link is good enough to make this painless.

    I can’t speak for the PCs, but Drobo FS + Macs is a winning combination.

  • Joe

    CORRECTION – “shows up as a very [large] single shard network volume”…

  • ROB

    Dr. G., good one, same same here and no much pro-active support from the Drobo team (Data Robotics). They seem to have shares in the Disk Warrior selling for $99 providing a service that the one or other tool offers of some $9.99.

    Quite frustrating just good the harddrives can after a data transfer be checked for failure and then used in other solutions.

    Anyone wants to buy some Drobo Pro box?

  • The one advantage Drobo has for storing a Lightroom library is that all you have to do is add larger hard drives to create more space. With a raid setup, once the system is full, I believe you have to recreate another disk array with new drives and hardware. So instead of one box connected to your computer you would have many external enclosures to deal with.

  • “With a raid setup, once the system is full, I believe you have to recreate another disk array with new drives and hardware. So instead of one box connected to your computer you would have many external enclosures to deal with.” While that is true, I purchased a 2nd Sans Digital device (used 5 1.5 TB drives) for 6 TB usable which holds all the files of my earlier Sans Digital and that unit is being used on my wife’s computer to assist her in scanning 50 years of prints. Also, I was able to start the Sans Digital unit and start copying files within 10 minutes and not the hours required for my Drobo. I also have three backups of my source images (drobo at my son’s house, original Sans Digital upstairs in my wife’s study, and downstairs in my domain. – as well as some on smugmug.com)

  • Chris Baude

    Drobo is great when it works, that is a truism for any device. The issue is that Drobo NEVER made any contingency plans for a recovery software.

    It is only a matter of time when you will loose all your data. Unlike LaCie or Synology, and others, that use Linux or MS Server operating system, there is no third party recovery software. I had crashed with othe RAID system, and with a little patience and ‘savoir faire’ full or partial recovery is possible. No so with Drobo. Their Tech support’s position, is that you needed to back up your files. But the issue is not the back up, but the lack of recovery program if disaster strike.

    Owners of the older v2 series, check the backplane of your Drobo. I had/have two, and both had mis aligned power & USB connectors. The plugs went in, but not fully by 1/8 to 1/16″. Hence, and vibration or jossling of the Black Box, would cause loss of connectivity, worse case, intermittent contact and total data wipe out.

    Good luck.. I would recommend Drobo to all my competitors

  • I have a brand new Drobo S equipped with 5 – 1TB HD’s. I see you guys aren’t having any issues with opening or even creating new LightRoom catalogs on the network drives. Every time I go to access a catalog or create on on the Drobo it gives me an error saying LR Catalogs can not be opened from a network volumes, removable storage, or read only volumes. Can someone help me out and explain how to accomplish this. Thank you in advance and have a great day!


  • Paul

    I have one of these and have been using it for the last couple of years, since the first hit the marker. I enjoy the peace of mind that my data is safe, and have not had a drive fail or other problems with data. However, the Drobo is in no way a solution for a working drive, it is simply too slow. My lightroom backups are on it, and I access them if I need to find a certain photo, but I hate working in those catalogs. The drobo just crawls when reading, and makes editing on it nearly impossible. As a backup solution though, that I rarely access, it works just fine.

  • Gregg

    Currently I use 2 external drives for (1) main photo file storage and (2) photo file backup. My LR catalogs are stored on an internal drive and backed up there. If I get a Drobo I can see where I can eliminate the external primary drive. But RAID (or Drobo) is not backup. Lets say Lightroom database becomes damaged and refuses to open. Neither a RAID nor a Drobo will save you. You can’t go back in time and pull back an older version—if your Lightroom catalogue became corrupt yesterday, it’s the corrupt version that’s now safely duplicated across the RAID. So what do you use as a backup plan?

  • For backup of the Lightroom catalog, go to Edit / catalog settings. Note the file name and catalog location and copy the catalog to another location each time you make a signficant change to your content. Name the file with a date tag and you will have a series of catalogs and you can find the last good catalog.

  • Axel

    I have entrusted DroboS data (double redundancy protected) I have collected, arranged and put in xxx of hours of work in the last 4 years – Now, the data ist lost! (90% of about 5 TB).
    How this could happen? – I am not sure but the story began when Drobo showed a red light at one of its bays (this light indiactes *add a drive here”). I should have been alerted at this time as the bay already had a drive inserted. Nevertheless, I followed the instructions, then the next bay showed a red light, so another drive was inserted. After the “rebuilding” process (all lights greeen) the Drobo was not showing on the Desktop anymore (although mounted).
    Drobo “Support” recommended to buy recovery software (of which I tried R-Studio and Data Rescue 3 – about 180.- U$ value) to no success – after over a month of writing emails, investing time and money and occupying my Mac with scaning (7d) and recovering the result was shattering: most of the data was lost!
    I have not given up as R-Studio shows the files with their correct name and size, so for me the data still exists. Is there any “expert” out there who could help – at any costs?

  • Dionysis

    Having made the transition from DroboGen2/Droboshare to a Synology DS1511+, I cannot believe how I have been able, for two years, to put up with such a slow, unreliable and badly managed product such as the Drobo. Within this time, I’ve had two data corruption incidents and performance the speed of the turtle. The difference of the Synology in speed, reliability and manageability is astronomical! Drobo Dashboard is so plain and spartan, that it seems like the difference between DOS and Windows 7! Especially the ability of the Synology GUI to multitask and relegate tasks to the background, continuing to run them while offline is fantastic. I copied 2 TB of data from an external USB disk to the Synology unattended, without having even to have a computer present. Gone are the days of waiting for copies to complete. You may say that Drobo/Droboshare is the lowest product of Drobo, however Synology has the same functionality across their product line, from the lowest end to the highest end! And if you read the experiences of Drobo FS users, they’re just as bad as mine. I once was a great advocate of Drobo, even recommended it for business use a couple of times. I am now afraid of being accused for it. I am very sorry to say that Drobo is the classic case of a brilliant idea executed in the worst possible way…

  • I have considered a Drobo on multiple occasions but it did not fit me needs.
    Here is a description of my needs as well as my plans:- I need to have some easily accessible backups as well as offsite backup (this is the main failure of Drobo and most NAS). For a while, I have relied on drives connected to an Airport Extreme (USB), but that does not insure against failed drives. I currently run Time machine backup of my HDD and external passport drive to a drive available over the network. This allows me to have a second always upto date (very important) copy of my Mac and the external drive. So all my work and photos are always on the Timemachine.

    For offsite backup, I can configured my Mac to backup the SSD and the passport HDD to Backblaze. That way if I loose my Mac, Passport, and even the Networked Time-Machine backups (both drives should not fail on the same day), I can always order my realtime backups to be FedEx’d to me next-day. Granted, my strategy is not as effortless as Drobo, but both Backblaze and TimeMachine make versioned backups, so if I delete a file, I can always get it from either source.

    Better backups:
    My current setup requires that I buy the biggest drives available at any one time to avoid the chore of replicating once a drive is filled up. The reason I have not bought a Drobo to save me from this is because for the price of a Drobo and an Apple TV (350 or 500 +100), I can buy myself a Mac-Mini that will far exceed the capabilities I have now. Here is what I am planning for once I have 500-700 to spare:
    – Buy a Mac-mini and set it up as a media player connected
    – Setup several levels of RAID to consolidate all the small FireWire and USB drives I have around the house to provide RAID1 and RAID0. This will do what a Drobo can do with the ability to daisy-chain all the drives in the world
    – The Mac-Mini (unlike any NAS device like Drobo or Airport Extreme) can run Backblaze, I will be able to effortlessly maintain a backup of my contraption in realtime offsite

    Amazon S3 – plan D
    – I have S3 running over MacFUSE and Panic Transmit. I have set it to mirror some crucial directories from my Mac with encryption. As such, I am not paying millions to keep yet another copy of my 2TB of data, but I have enough pieces to rebuild my life is all my equipment disappeared or if I was far far away and needed to get some data from one of those mirrored directories.

    Granted, my approach to this is not for the non-geek at heart or for people who want to plug and leave, but it allows me extra flexibility and power without having to buy each new version of a given storage device.

  • Ed Kneler

    I am trying to get an external storage device for pictures ( I am an amateur photographer) I thought I could settle for a Drobo but got discouraged from the problems I read about. Just about all the alternatives mentioned here also have problems if you go to amazon for feedback. I wanted to have a simple way just to store pictures safely, but NAS are slow and external raids unreliable. I run windows 7, have at my disposal USB3, Firewire and Esata ports. What I dont have is a reliable and SIMPLE way to store pictures. What a shame.

  • Stephen Priest

    I have been reading this huge thread with great interest.

    I am a photographer and currently have a pile of NAS drives as backup. So if one goes (they do) I am never sure what files are where and what I need to copy to the new NAS. As you can imagine the Drobo system seems like a dream.

    However some of you have said how some people methods are not true backup, and I want true backup.
    This is what I intend. I do all my work on my iMac in my office which is 70m away from the house. The new Drobo (I am about to purchase) will reside in the house, connected to the office by Gigabit Ethernet. If there is theft or fire in either building the data is safe as the other version is in the other building.

    So do I have proper backup? Is there a flaw in the plan?

    Finally which is the Drobo for me – the 5 bay one? I need to backup a total of 5Tb for now but that will increase.

    Many thanks in advance.

  • Dionysis

    To Ed Kneler and Stephen Priest
    Do yourself a favor and don’t buy Drobo. They are unreliable, slow as a turtle and have a very plain management PC-based UI. All other major small business NAS manufacturers (Synology, QNAP, Thecus etc) have very solid, fast and manageable products that do remote sync with others of their kind or Amazon S3 or Elephant Drive, for of-site backup. They are perfect for picture/movie storage (my archive is more than 2.3 TB and million of files and I have had NO problem with my Synology. I also do backup using Acronis Backup and Recovery 11 (can do bare metal recovery and P2V) with no problem whatsoever. I once was a great fan of Drobo, but I have been let down and will never return.

  • Anonymous

    Take it from a guy who lost 10 years worth of digital photos, get a secondary storage device as a backup for your Drobo. It can be another Drobo, the chances of both quiting on you are slim. But it would be better to get another brand if you can. Something similar in [carrying] size with multiple drives but using a different operating system (Windows Home Server, Iomega, Netgear, Synology, etc.) so if the problem is due to the OS you won’t have it duplicated to your second storage unit. Some of those units can be accessed from the web (securely) so you can get to them from the road or maintained at a remote location like your parents’ house. I mean a meteor can’t hit both homes simultaneously… right?

    PS: CDs/DVDs can go bad after 5 years. Online services can get costly if you store a lot, plus it takes a long time to upload them.

  • I’ve been trying to sort out how to backup robustly and archive — meaning stuff one wants to access, read/write, change more regularly. It seems to me that one misconception is that DROBO or Synology (two I’ve dug into some, have acquired a Synology NAS) are backup systems. Or that RAID is a backup solution.

    This is a misconception. At least Synology hammers this point pretty hard.

    Having a nice RAID or SHR or newfangled RAID-like system is great but it does not amount to backup. That requires another copy of everything, or more than one additional copy, preferably kept somewhere else.

    As to slowness and other quirks that seems par. The solution is a fast direct-attached external drive. Thunderbolt obviously. 

    But I’m not certain whether the owner of this blog has considered that having the T-Bolt products he lists is possibly a recipe for disaster still. Probably better he’d kept the DROBO servers to BACK UP the nice, fast, direct T-Bolt system.

    2 cents

  • Brian Botticelli

    There is no perfect backup solution.  Actually, there is but we can’t afford it.  Basically, the idea is to have the data you work on stored, then that stored data backed up (preferably off site).  I use a combination of Dropbox (for immediate cloud backup), Drobo Pro RAID for storage, then a secondary Drobo Pro RAID w/dual redundancy to backup the storage.  It’s the best you can do for under $10,000 and it’s 99.999% effective.  

    If you don’t have any hardware yet, consider using Dropbox as a professional.  I think it’s $795/year for 2 TB of storage and unlimited access to previous versions of files.  Cloud storage will be the what we will all rely on a few years down the road.

  • David Anderson

    I’m also a photographer and use Drobo and online backup.  My problem with Drobo is the software – it just doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, and never has.  Initially it didn’t back up all the files it was set to do.  I uninstalled and finally installed an older version which solved that problem.  Then, another problem.  Although it’s set for auto backup, that has stopped working and I have to go in and manually backup (when I remember, of course).  I love the drive system, but the software sucks.  I plan to try different software.    

    I use Backblaze as my online backup.  As with any online storage, it’s painfully slow for the initial backup (can take weeks), but then works seamlessly in the background to write new or changed files.  You can access your files from any computer anywhere, and if you ever lose all your on-site data, you can pay a couple of hundred bucks to have your backup files sent overnight on a hard drive.  The price is right at about $50/yr. for unlimited data from one computer (including external drives).   

  • Reading these comments makes it clear that the best backup solution is one that includes many backups. Here’s what I do:

    1. Keep work files in a Dropbox folder on my iMac (which is thus already a backup to the cloud and to my Macbook)
    2. Every night Super Duper makes an exact bootable copy of my hard drive to an external LaCie drive. (Bootable is the key here).
    3. I use Chrono Sync to make a daily copy of my disk to my Drobo. Chrono Sync has the advantage that it keeps archives, meaning no files are thrown out. Note that now my Dropbox folder is also backed up to my LaCie Drive as well as the Drobo.
    4. I have portable drives that I use to make copies of my home folder and I lock them up in my safe.
    5. I have a LaCie NAS to which I backup home folders of the other computers in our household.

  • Chris Baude

    See my previous post, about 3 months ago below.

    I have yet to read from any user on the net, of a successful Drobo data recovery.  The issue is clear –  with ANY other NAS, data can be recovered using easily available recovery tools, NOT SO with a Drobo.  nce lost, it is lost forever.  Why? Because the proprietary nature of the Drobo precludes any recovery.

    With a Drobo error, I tried everything to recover, and Zilch.  Previous failures with Linux or MS Server OS have been recovered easily, albeit after running 24+ hours.  Drobo 8tb, after 7 days, nothing….  Furthermore, their claim that “Read Only” mode is just that, is not true.  I connected my Drobo via Zentimo USB, and Zentimo left data on the Drobo!  An track reader showed data was change, even when in Read Only mode.  (I initially made clones, and the clones also were changed, and some data not copied correctly).

    Wish Drobo on your competitors…. .

  • Anonymous

    I have had a Drobo S for a couple of years now, running on Windows 7. Other than the occasional reboot causing Windows 7 to not see the externally-connected-via-eSATA Drobo, necessitating unplugging/reinserting the eSATA cable, I have been very happy with the drive unit. I have upgraded various drives in the unit as I started running out of space, and everything has worked very well.

    Now, I use this unit as my working drive for my Lightroom catalog and some video work. I have a separate backup drive, and I have a Backblaze account for off-site backup (which, incidentally, is now allowing ISO images to be backed up–important for me due to video work I’ve done). If somebody buys a Drobo and is using that as the sole repository of data–relying on it to both hold the data AND be a backup–that’s a foolhardy course of action. ALL hardware breaks. It’s a given. Any reliable system will have the working copy, an on-site backup, and an off-site backup, AT THE VERY LEAST. While I sympathize with those that have had a Drobo fail and lost all their data, all I can really say is, where was your backup? In my case, when my Drobo eventually fails, if I cannot recover the data directly from the unit, then I will just install a new unit (be it Drobo or some other provider) and restore everything from my backups. Worst case, I’ll have to get everything shipped from Backblaze. I don’t use DroboCopy, and rarely open the Dashboard. While I think the current version of the Dashboard is pretty slick (it’s much better than the SI3726 software I used on my last enclosure!), I really haven’t used the software all that much, so I can’t comment on that accurately.

    I don’t even notice the noise from the unit–it seems very quiet to me. However, I *am* using it connected to a Windows PC, which is (by comparison) a bit louder, even given the noise-reducing NZXT case. Of course, in perfectly quiet room, even the ceiling fan, or the central AC, seems loud.

    Based on my experience with my current unit, I am planning on buying another unit at some point.

  • Anonymous

    Just a quick note to everyone here. Many people here recommend ‘cloud’ storage solutions but I would strongly advise anyone NOT to trust your data to any ‘cloud’ provider, including Apple and other similarly ‘safe’ names.
    The problem is that you’ll never know where exactly your data is stored and if it’s the US your data isn’t safe from government demands for access to it. Similarly with many other jurisdictions around the world.
    And think about this: If the company storing your cloud data goes broke what happens to your data? You’ll have lost access (and probably ownership) to your data and think about what THAT MEANS TO YOUR BUSINESS!

  • Ok. I’m getting fed up with constant Drobo issues. I’m a photographer, not an IT systems engineer. Would appreciate any recommendations to replace a Drobo S with five 2TB drives installed. Is there a system that will just connect to a Mac Pro via FW800 or eSata that just reliably backs stuff up and works?

  • Anonymous

    I have been running a signwriting business for just on 20 years and for the last 6 have been into photography as well as numerous other data producing pursuits. I can still have about 18 years of data instantly access able. I currently run 2 drobos, an original 4 bay drobo and a new FS. The original drobo has had a few hick ups but I have never lost any data, it is very slow but is just used as a backup device. It is on a vista system using USB2. It causes the system to be very slow to reboot, not to big a problem. The new FS I have just setup. We have a QNAP raid as our main data storage with the new FS as a back up. I have done a couple of tests and the DROBO FS appears to be faster than the older QNAP. Over the years I have had a 3 different raid systems as well as the DROBOs, the QNAP has been going for the last 3-4 years without problems. A Freendom 9 system has failed twice, data unrecoverable due to a hardware failure. (This now replaced with the new DROBO FS) an older propriety system in a PC which also failed with a hardware problem. I have had numerous hard discs fail, the DROBO has been great there, just plug in a new disc. With the raid systems I lost all the data. I have always had 2 or 3 extra backups so easily recovered the data. Over the years I have only lost a handful of files. The moral of this story is hardware will always fail so have multiple backups and always have a backup at a different location.

  • Jeff Brown

    I’ve gradually learned to trust the Drobo Pro, HOWEVER there are some really important facts that most people don’t know about RAID in general and Drobos in particular.

    RAID boxes aren’t backup unless you have two of them. You can lose everything if you don’t have a second copy of your stuff on another device. Every file is smeared across all the drives in the array so if the array goes south you’ve lost everything. That’s how RAID works.You can’t trust consumer disk drives. If you buy four large (say 3TB) consumer disk drives for your Drobo, there is likely a bad bit somewhere on one of those drives–this is based on the manufacturer’s own published specs (1 nonrecoverable bit error in 10^14). RAID 5 is designed to fix one bad bit in a stripe of the array. So your consumer disk drives just ate up all the redundancy in your RAID array. Now if a drive fails, the Drobo probably doesn’t have enough parity information to recover all the data. So set up your Drobo for Dual Disk Redundancy–sometimes called RAID 6. This eats two drives in the array just for parity data but gives you twice the protection–and you absolutely need it. That allows you to cope with two failed drives at once or a failed drive combined with a bad bit on another drive. Enterprise-class drives (e.g. Hitachi Ultrastar) cost twice as much but they have literally ten times less likelihood of developing a bad bit. Bear in mind that the Thailand flooding disaster has knocked out a lot of the drive factories so in early 2012, enterprise-class drives are hard to come by.RAID arrays (including Drobos) get drastically slower if you fill them more than about 85% full. So add bigger drives or stop adding files after that eighth capacity light appears on the front panel. And remember, you won’t get any more usable capacity until you add at least two larger drives since the first large drive you add is used for parity data (the first two drives if you are running dual disk redundancy).The various Drobo models have drastically different speed charactersitics. I bought two Drobo FS boxes and have found them to be unusably slow. It’s taken three months just to copy the 5TB of data off a Drobo FS to my new Drobo Pro. The Drobo Pro is radically faster over Gigabit Ethernet (using its iSCSI setup option) than it is over Firewire or USB. It can transfer data at 500 Mbps to 680 Mbps depending on how fast your computer is. The iSCSI option also lets you put the Drobo in a safer or more convenient spot since it attaches via Ethernet cable.The newest Drobo Dashboard software seems much more reliable in doing high volumes of data transfer than the previous versions.

    While you’re at it, get a good power backup system with Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) for your Drobo or RAID box and attach it to a properly grounded power outlet. Your data are valuable, right?

  • Hi Axel, I am happy to have a quick chat if you like, email me [email protected]

  • Phil Atencio

    Trey, what it be? I can’t access the latest blog of the FW. Where’s the link? I’m probably not seeing it as usual. I have heard a lot of good things about the Drobos from Leo and the gang. Now you and others are coming out with all this negative stuff. What gives? I was just going to plunk down the cash to buy it from Amazon…lucky me! am I glad I saw the post. Now if I could only read it…Geeeesh!! $4000 on hard drive back up Holy Moly. 

  • Phil Atencio

    Axel, just wondering how did things work out? This sounds like a real f’n disaster I feel for you…If it’s not to much trouble i’m curious. If it’s too fresh of a wound I’ll understand if you don’t reply…

    later, phil

  • Nothing but trouble for 3 years from my Drobo gen 2 (and replacement Drobo gen2). Most recently, I had two drive failures simultaneously. Well, one drive failed and another just didn’t respond in time so the Drobo decided to label that drive as bad rather than recover from the real single drive failure. So here I am with a 3TB archive totally unaccessible. Tech support had me pull the drives and block-level copy to new drives to fake out the Drobo. Worked and I’m back online but hair is grayer. Should I have a backup of the backup? Well, I do but they are spanned across 100 BD-R disks so I wouldn’t lose data but I’d lose a TON of time rebuilding the archive.

    Add to that consistent transfer speeds south of 5MB/sec on a good day. Even worse, the firmware doesn’t handle other FW800 devices coming and going very well and predictably resets the box when my card reader ejects a memory card. Yeah, that’s no good when I’m making a backup to the Drobo and it dies midway. Icing on the cake is a flakey Dashboard and the Drobo constantly coming and going from Finder giving me the “Device not ejected properly” message in OS X. Ugh.

  • Hi, I have heard that you can put the drives into a new drobo unit and that drobo will recognise them and hopefully you will see all your data. Worth a try. Sorry I only just consider these units. Hope this works for you if you havent already recycled orreused the drives elsewhere

  • morriline

    Here’s my latest. I have a DroboPro which hasn’t been backing up to time machine. I called A WEEK AGO to Drobo. They are always friendly (with they were as helpful). Nothing that they have had me do has helped. In fact, they had me add a new volume as a test, then delete it. When it was removed, the drobo lost ALL of my backups. Not sure how but I have verified that the test was removed, not the original, but all the data is gone. This was over TWO DAYS ago. I asked to be moved up to a tier 3, they haven’t called. I have told them that this is my business and they just don’t seem to care. I am waiting here in limbo. They are clowns. I say this as a once proud owner of a Drobo. I have always love the ease of use (when working), but this is absurd. I have had far too many issues. Looking for a new and proper solution with a company that might care about there clients. Now to paste this all over the internet so that others are safe.

  • Hey Trey, we saw you’d reviewed this. After we got this product to review – we had 2 units fail in 4 ways on us. Wow this product is poorly engineered and sadly sold as being portable but we couldnt get one that didnt survive shipping I guess. My review is here. I’ve never seen so many problems or failures in all my reviewing time. I would recommend Drobo to my enemies though! http://thechrisvossshow.com/drobo-mini-review/

  • Chris

    Trey, I would be very careful using Drobo if I were you. Even Scott Kelby has seen the light. The key is ‘recovery’. Sure the Drobo works fine, when it works…. but when it crashes, all is lost. Drobo will just tell you, “restore from your backups”. Linux based NAS OS or MS Server (even better, but more $$) have 3rd party recovery software, NOT DROBO. Are you recomending Drobo to your competitors?? See, and comments at: http://scottkelby.com/2012/im-done-with-drobo/

  • Scotty Graham

    I will never ever trust a Drobo again. My last Drobo without warning, erased all of my disks leaving all of my files corrupted….I lost over 2TB of my precious photos. Never again. Drobo is a bad word in my house.

  • t_linn

    Sorry if this has already been said but I’ll repeat it anyway: While using 2 Drobos is unquestionably better than 1, even this is not true backup. If one Drobo develops corruption, that can be propogated to the backup Drobo. If you accidentally delete a file, that deletion may be propogated to the other Drobo. Of course this isn’t limited to Drobos either. The best solution is expensive to get into: LTO-6 tape backup. But it is the most archival solution currently available and if used with the correct backup routine it eliminates both the issue of data corruption and accidental deletion (along with hardware failure). Throughput is fast enough to saturate a Gigabit network connection and then some with the ability to store 2.5TB of uncompressed data per $110 tape cartridge.

  • Had nothing but problems with drobo 5D in PC with USB 3.0 connectivity to differ ports and cards.
    Drobo service was great swapping boxes and finally refunding purchase.

  • DroboCop

    Just found this thread so don’t know if its still active but I can report a 100% data recovery from a failed DroboPro (seems a power cut can corrupt the the Windows file index on the Drobo and even Microsoft couldn’t tell me how to repair it in situ if chkdsk doesn’t work properly) and it was a lot of data (over 10TB) – it took a long time, several days, and top recovery software, but it all came back onto my newly acquired separate backup box (lesson learned!). I know its all the fashion to talk about different NASs etc but I have setup a relatively simple (and cheap!) DAS box attached by eSata that does the backup job. Generally happy with the Drobo,overall just the very slow speeds when its got filled up.

  • I ran out of space on the internal Macintosh HD for photos, movies and music. Several reviews indicated the Drobo could be an effective working drive – a place to store the Aperture and iTunes libraries for instance. What a load of bullshit that turned out to be – at least in my case – connected via Firewire800. My DroboS has a USB 3.0 port but the iMac only has USB 2.0 and Firewire 800.

    Time to upgrade the desktop I suppose. Currently using an early 2009 iMac, which is still fine for most LOCAL photo editing tasks. An upgrade to system with USB 3.0 might allow me to use the Drobo S as I had originally intended. If the DroboS is STILL too slow, maybe I should get Thunderbolt drive like a Drobo5D, Pegasus, Synology or just the largest single stand alone external hard disk (in an enclosure) I can find.

    I would hope I could still make use of the DroboS to back up the new stand alone working data drive connected to the iMac via Thunderbolt.

    How would I connect the DroboS, via a USB 3.0 port in the back of the working data drive or directly to the new iMac?

    I suppose I would turn the DroboS into an expandable Time Machine.

    I had hoped the working data drive would be expandable but I suppose I could transfer the data to a larger hard disk when required. So, once a 3TB HDD was full, I could copy the data to a 5TB drive and then add the 3TB disk to an empty bay in the DroboS a I’m only using three bays at the moment.

    All this data management is a pain in the arse. I like the Promise drives but what happens when a drive fails?

    Might use the DroboS as a true back up of a new external working data drive because it’s too bloody noisy. 🙂 The fan annoys me. 🙂

    Thanks. 🙂

  • Hello, My intention was to use my DroboS as a working data drive but this has become almost impossible because it’s just too slow. Either the DroboS is faulty in some way – as I bought it used off eBay – or Firewire800 is too slow.

    My aging desktop has no eSATA or USB 3.0 input so I can’t try these options. Might have to upgrade the desktop just to get Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. Seems a pity. Firewire800 was described as fast in reviews I’d seen at the time I was looking at getting a Drobo.

    One B&G seminar described how students were unaware the files they were working on were on a shared Drobo. Maybe it was sharing over Gigabit ethernet. Other reviewers seemed to indicate no connectivity issues.

    I’m learning it’s best to read the comments of end users in forum such as this. 🙂

    I need to determine if Firewire800 is too slow for my needs when used with non-Drobo drives.

    I also need to see if I could connect a drive via the network input in the back of my computer.

    I don’t want to upgrade my computer if it’s not really necessary.

  • If a disk in a Synology array fails, can be be easily replaced? Thanks. 🙂

  • As a working data drive or as a backup of something like a Pegasus?

  • What did you replace the Drobo with, Pegasus or Synology or similar? Thanks. 🙂

  • I’m having the same experience in Aperture 3. Take FOREVER to open the Aperture Library, which I keep on the DroboS until I find a better solution. I don’t know if it’s the DroboS or the Firewire800 connection that is slowing everything down.

  • Mario Blandini

    Thanks for sharing the John P review of Drobo Mini, the review (like him) is crazy in a good way!

  • Darren

    Great article! I’ve been using the Drobo FS and DroboPro at home and am looking forward to purchasing the new Drobo 5D for the use of Thunderbolt with my new MAC. Great product, Great Company, fantastic support!

  • Another 2 years. Still going? 🙂

  • Hey Trey: thanks for the interesting review! I have a 4-Bay Drobo, and 4X 3 Terabyte drives installed. It’s all running off Mountain Lion 10.8.3. with the latest Drobo Dashboard (4.2.3). One drive failed a few weeks back, and when I finally had a replacement put in, it took forever “to rebuild”. It has now been running the past 10 hours or so, and I am not sure if it has done anything: it still shows as taking 100 hours to complete (and no green line moving at all).

    Any pointers much appreciated!

  • jen

    I remember when you got fed up with drobos and read that arcticle but now you like them again. why change from pegasus? what was wrong wit that. I have a FS and its so slow and now want a 5D to upgrade it. but I dont want to by new drives too, I need to migrate, but I guess is should use the Fs as a second, what would you do? Is the 5d that good?

  • Late last year my Drobo started to flash, so I called them in the US and they said dont worry do this exactly and follow our instructions. Ok I said thanks, after three days it wasn’t looking good and after sending them a diagnostic zip file they said I needed to order a new drive and also Data Rescue 3 to clone one of the drives. Cost around $350 USD. I did exactly what they said and then a second drive started to have problems. It got elevated in Drobo to the top of Tech support with a guy called Stephen P. After days on the the phone with him he said. Sorry cant help you. I was like what? He said yeh well the Drobos FS and 5 where old technology and they act up and there is nothing we can do. I lost my entire commercial image library. DROBO never ever ever by them or support them. The worst customer care I have ever come across in 23 years of being in this business.

  • We have two drobos in our office. Both crashed and lost their data within 6 months. Now we got “new” ones from their center and they aren’t working properly either. Can’t say I’d ever recommend them.

  • Devin Slick

    I disagree. Automatic synchronizing would definitely cause the problem you mentioned and manual copies made between the devices could, but hardware itself doesn’t ever provide the kind of backups you’ve described. You need scheduled backups. Those can be stored on a Drobo, LTO tapes, or floppy disks. Either way, the process is what makes or breaks a backup system, not the hardware. Also, LTO tapes are a terrible solution to recommend for any new backup system.

  • Arnold Newman

    I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with, Devin. There is no disagreement that the process, or correct backup routine as I put it, is critical. I certainly disagree with the suggestion that the hardware used to implement that routine doesn’t matter. Hardware determines the cost and time effectiveness of any system. As for LTO, I work for a major university system in the US and part of what I do is oversee the backup of massive amounts of data. If you have a faster, more cost effective recommendation I am certainly open to it. One thing I can tell you for sure: Drobos are not it.

  • Beno Saradzic

    I have a library of my work archived on CDs. All CDs were stored in a dark, temperature controlled room. There’s about 400 of these CDs and some date back to 1993. Every single CD I tested so far worked fine. I had 0% read failure.

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  • treyratcliff

    Whoa! @Beno!

  • Beno Saradzic

    true story Trey. I think that CD-Rs are the closest tech we have to a ‘hard copy’ of the digital data. Best media you can buy is from Sony with 24 karat pure gold layer. They are guaranteed to hold your data for 100 years. Mine have held data for the past 21 years with 0% failure. Certified.


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  • Love_is_Power

    it’s junk.. completely unreliable. mine went tits up and I lost all my photos. The propriatary RAID is horrible. never again

  • get a secondary storage device as a backup for your Drobo

    I’m looking into that now. Does anyone know if SuperDuper plays nicely with Drobo, such that I can copy the Drobo to another external unit?

  • hiredranger2014

    So many posts across so many forums like this. They seem to be maximising profit from poorly performing product. The potential of the product is secured behind a linux structure that allows precious little opportunity for IT people to implement solutions of their own for functionality or crisis management.

  • hiredranger2014

    Could not agree more but for a different reason. I learned recently, almost by accident, that some of our own key customers, including one that is very close to us indeed, had a policy which they did not disclose to third party vendors. We see proprietary material every day, yet this was never openly discussed with even us.

    We learned that they were moving away from anyone using certain services, these included google hosting and Gmail, Dropbox, Apple and other cloud based storage solutions. I was very fortunate that I learned of this almost by accident. The businesses we deal with place great stock in their security. One presumes this is related to the value of their IP but that is just a suspicion.

    I learned of this just as we were comparing solutions from Dropbox and Google hosting as part of a pilot. Obviously, we did not proceed to roll them out and were fortunate enough not to have gone so far down that path that we could not relatively painlessly disengage.

    I wonder how many companies are not recognizing this quiet filtering of opportunity and seeing companies slowly disengage with them over a period of time while they scratch their heads wondering what they did wrong.

  • showtime33

    drobo is definitely junk…the support is terrible and costly….they only offer 1 year warranty…lol…the software has numerous problems and haven’t been fixed(drobo dashboard)…I just got off the phone for the second time I ever had to call support and they denied me service because after 90days I need to buy support. HAHA…ebay here comes a drobo for sale. Other companies offer FASTER products with LONGER warranties and SUPPORT! so costly yet so foolish…I hope drobo fails in the future….their sales would go down if people would listen to other admins that use this in the business world…such as myself. TRUST me QNAP is a lot better…..and I have heard others….but i only qnap and drobo, and drobo is a snail in speed…about 1/4 the speed of qnap. Thats my 2 cents..

  • Chris

    Everyone…keep backups of your data always. Learn this lesson.

  • Andreas Duess

    I don’t often say this about any product, but as far as I am concerned, drobos are a piece of garbage. We had four drobos fail on us. Four. Ethernet not working, drives not mounting, data loss. Support is a joke, so don’t even go there. Never, ever, again.

  • jakeblackgoat

    can you use the drobo as a monitor stand? or will it break something?

  • Anyone have a 3rd Gen show a missing drive where a drive is installed? I have a 3rd Gen in data recovery, where I swapped out a 2TB for a 3TB.. and my 4TB… which was sitting in the unit for some time is showing as an empty bay… I doubt it is bad… unless the Drobo killed it… cause it wasn’t touched during the swap… wish me luck… or tell me your story?

  • Heinz

    After reading 1 10th of these posts, I’ve concluded that I would have to be flat out STUPID to buy one of these products. 7 years ago I put together a FreeNAS server from left over parts by using an old outdated axonix mediamax media server home theater 4U server box that I gutted. Total out of pocket was about 600 bucks! Gigabit mother board, 6 2TB drives in RAID 10, 750W supply and a serious UPS backup power. I’ve got this running on my network and has about 2,500 hours power on time sitting on my intranet, totally, physically disconnected from my internet network. Not one single issue EVER! Let me repeat this……7 years of flawless service…. The FreeNAS is installed on a 2GB CF card that is mounted inside the box with an adapter and BIOS set to boot from it. Guys, it doesn’t take much to set this up and get it on your network. Guys, Its built on the FreeBSD UNIX file system and OS….. ROCK SOLID.

  • Guys! RAID (Drobo) is NOT A BACKUP. You need to backup your Drobo to somewhere.
    I see so many comments that you lost all your photos because your hardware went dead. Well what did you expect? Backup to cloud and to a second disk.

  • Lisa

    I HATE my Drobo S that I purchased in 2011. Perhaps they are much better now, but based on my poor experience with it and with Drobo, I would never invest in another one. Too much money, too many hours trying to make it work, so slow and the only choices that drobo offers me is to purchase support for 100 or upgrade to a new one. Sorry, there are lots of better options out there for me with better customer support policies. 🙁

  • thanks for this post

  • Lynnea Kleinschmidt

    I have a 1st generation Drobo which I bought in 2007. It was my main backup for many years. I have four drives now and I recently replaced one drive. It is now serves as the scratch drive for Photoshop. I never lost any data from the Drobo, and I had have several support tickets to take care of problems, but still, it has been a good workhorse for me. I now have a WD Sentinel and four LaCie drives for backing up all my work.

  • There’s a FreeNAS guy on every NAS site. LOL
    Building a system is out of the realm of most. I can do it and I still prefer a turnkey solution. I ran a Drobo Gen1 for 6 years non-stop between 50-90 degree temperatures. It’s 7 years old so that extra year was spent completely off. I had 2 PCs and 1 server burn out in that period. Now I just turn it on for massive dumps. A Windows Home Server, which I don’t trust for long term archives, handles the daily backup of my PCs.

  • Firmware upgrade?

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