we’re sadly dumping Drobo: recent problems, issues, nightmares

8 bay drobo unit and the 3rd generation drobo 4 bay unit

as you can imagine all this data, material and clips are stored somewhere. that somewhere was a drobo. we’ve been huge fans of drobo from day one. our current 3rd generation drobos served us well for years, and it was a genius solution. they allowed easy upgrades on drives and gave us dual protection we desperately needed with their proprietary RAID software. everyone we knew in the fashion and creative industry used them and swore by them. what we all didn’t know was the nightmare that was awaiting us.

i remember the day we bought our first of 3 drobo’s we now have, i asked the salesperson, “so you guys will continue to be around for some time, right?” i was concerned from day one that this proprietary RAID software could become an issue, simply because its proprietary. for those of you who don’t understand what that means, here it is, the layman’s version:

your drives can be read by your drobo, but once removed from the drobo they become expensive bricks, and your data is forever unreadable. unlike other drives were your data is simply accessible by any enclosure, with your drobo only drobo software can read the data. this is fine as long as drobo stays current with Mac and PC OS updates and continues to solve issues. it’s a problem if they don’t. they kept it running smoothly for years but apparently no more. calls, emails to drobo support have left us with no solution.

were not sure if drobo was originally the brainchild of some wiz who built this great brand, and sold it or left and now the current company couldn’t give a toss about its products that they’ve sold to us all, but its simply a horrible outcome. this is not some tech gadget you can throw away. your life’s work resides here and if you care about your data you should seriously reconsider where you’re going to store it off of the drobo.

drobo known problems and issues: (and you can google this and read others who are pulling their hair out now) – here’s what happened. your drobo icon on your desktop suddenly “greys” out or ghosts. in a few weeks the drobo icon disappears, gone missing from the desktop. drobo simply doesn’t mount. we managed to tap into the data by jerry-rigging it and could see it in apples disc utility but you could not get it to mount. now don’t bother telling drobo about the issues. a) they say they never heard of this and are not aware of it, meaning its an isolated case and b) even when we explained the issue and forwarded them the links to others having the same problem they could not give a damn. we’ve spent over 7 weeks trying to address this with drobo management and since no one but drobo can access the software code or understand it we have no other means to remedy the problem.

the initial calls to support resulted in nothing and we were eventually passed on to higher support via email ticketing.

drobo: “i know this may sound silly but on a new install of a Mac OSX the the connected server drives are hidden until re-enabled through the finder prefs.” we responded by: “yes, naturally this is checked as “on/ active’ in finder”

8 days later pass-the-buck and delay tactics:

drobo: “sorry for the delay. you are not connected to both firewire and Iscsi ? the drobo can only be connected with one option only. how is your IP managed DHCP or static ? whats the subnet mask ? can you tell me the version of your java?” we responded with: “connection: -we are only connected with firewire. IP: – we do not have a static ip for our internet, if that is what you are asking. but i can’t see how this relates to drobo, if the drobo have an ip, please let us know how to check. subnet mask: – we have googled this, but not sure how to find this out, please let us know what to check for and we will do so. java:- we have java 7 update 45”

no response to the above answers that we gave, they then asked us to switch firewire to usb and restart drobo even though we explained that we had our IT on the case and all standard tests were done. then it took them another week in between emails to respond. we had to send an email a week after asking what happened. finally they sent us this response:

drobo: “have you attempted to start from scratch (erase your data) and reconfigure your drop or at least revisit the steps? i would skim through the online users guide to match up screens” (they gave us a link to the drobo manual!!!!! unbelievable)”

getting nowhere with their uninterested staff and delayed tactics, we finally called drobo back via phone. we explained that the physical unit is in perfect condition and that there is clearly an issue now with the OSX updates and drobo proprietary software. we inquired if they were going to update the dashboard software and/or firmware any time soon? and if so in how long? we obviously cant wait for months with this problem… the gentleman told us that as of “yesterday” (i guess they finally realized the problem is wide), drobo will no longer issue updates for this unit and they recommended that we just buy a new one… which of course they will no longer support at some point! really great strategy guys, especially the “as of yesterday we no longer support your unit” line. we will surely spend our next hard earned $1,000+ on your product!!! really disappointing for a company that was so welcomed in our community. we’ve given up on drobo and will be on the search for a simpler system/enclosure. by ts