Drobo CEO Tom Buiocchi Responds


Scott, thanks for the opportunity to put a few of my thoughts down for your readers. Not exactly the circumstances under which I envisioned being your guest blogger, but now I have a goal to do this again under different conditions.

First of all, I'm of the belief that direct customer input (any kind) is good, so I don't mind all the comments and ideas - they are all part of the journey to keep improving. We constantly strive to deliver the best customer experience to protect data, and we take this very seriously.  Better to know than not knowing.

Regarding your case Scott, the bottom line is that we made a bad judgment - our agents are trained to immediately swap or upgrade (regardless of warranty condition) if they see what you saw on your video - but we made a rookie mistake this time. I traced the call logs.  100% our bad this time.  As I mentioned on the phone, my apologies and it should not have happened. By the way, if any of your readers (or their readers or colleagues or friends or whatever) experiences what you saw on your video, just contact us or ping me directly (tom@drobo.com) and we will take care of it immediately.

Just to clarify, we currently offer a standard one-year warranty, and many of our customers opt for the extended care package. We are, of course, working on much faster, "next-gen" Drobos that take into consideration all of the customer feedback we've gotten since day 1, and we've been debating the 1-year vs. longer standard warranty period as part of these soon-to-be announced new products. This is where there is (!) a bit of a silver lining as the timing of your input could not have been more acute - vote(s) recognized, taken, counted!

Readers, the only comments that I want to strongly dispute are the ones that suggest that I only followed up with Scott because he is Scott. I (we) call customers every single day - small, large, happy, frustrated, domestic, international. We have a couple of hundred thousand to choose from, and there's always someone who wants to talk about their Drobo and/or their challenges of data protection and management. I enjoy it, I learn a lot, and it is important that our customers know that there are real people out here trying to help them figure it out. I ALWAYS end my emails (and my guest blogs) with an invitation to send me (tom@drobo.com) your thoughts or to drop me a line at 408-276-8621 (I am hardly ever at my desk, but leave a VM and I will get back to you).

OK - thanks again - I'm glad to have the opportunity to meet you all "directly," despite the circumstances. My personal goal now (mark it down) is to re-appear as Scott's guest blogger the day after he writes the "Drobo - I'm BACK" post. It's on us. I know what is coming, and I like our chances.

Best regards everyone,



      1.  Not Really Ken… I agree that it’s good on Tom to respond this way. The reality of the situation is that with such a high Publicity Factor as Scott Kelby has, he HAD to respond to it. Now the true test of this will be to see if Drobo changes how they do business to respond to market conditions.

      2. Agreed, I dont and never will own Drobo. I wasn’t aware the problem was this wide spread!

    1. A CEO should not blame this situation on bad decisions by his employees. (Quote:
      our agents are trained to immediately swap or upgrade (regardless of warranty condition) if they see what you saw on your video – but we made a rookie mistake this time. )  Why throw the employees under the train to save face?  Clearly the customer support staff were doing what they had been instructed to do.  Think about it – given a choice between dealing with an appeased customer or an angry customer, what path would the customer service staff member take?  I would always take the path that made my interaction with the customer the most pleasant.

  1. Mr. Buiocchi, I appreciate your response to Scott’s situation. I am a DROBO user and have experienced frustrations in the past. I have to confess that some of my troubles were from my not following instructions about powering down a DROBO correctly. Nevertheless, there are too many customers who have experienced the DROBO “brick” syndrome. I appreciate your consideration of a longer warranty period. I would also recommend that better reliability be designed into the DROBO.

    Thanks again. I, too, hope to see a “Drobo – I’m Back” blog from Scott.

  2. I bit of a misled response me thinks.  I have had the same issue with my Drobo (which was replaced twice after I was required to buy the service plan.  Bottom line for me is the Drobo LOST DATA due to a unit malfunction, not a drive failure.  Thank goodness for Crashplan.  Without Crashplan I would have lost some of my most cherished photos.

    It is a cool little unit.  Fairly priced for what it is.  It is however extremely slow particularly in recovery from drive failure. Its proprietary filesystem is also of great concern.

    If your data is your business, it can’t be recommended.  I am impressed he responded to you directly.


  3. I still follow along the lines that the contact was made to Scott because of who he is. PROOF: It was the CEO and not one of the regular employees. How many customers does TOM actually contact that are not high profile? My guess ZERO!

      1. To be fair most companies register many different variations of their name to protect themselves, so that’s hardly a smoking gun :)

      2. The first one I checked — godaddysucks.com — is registered to godaddy.

        No doubt there are more.

    1. Couldn’t agree more! If it was me with the issue I don’t think Tom would be phoning me to kiss but. I wondered why he waited to call till after the blog post was out and the crap hit the fan instead of “I (we) call customers every single day” and deal with his customers problems. It’s obvious to me the entire blog post is a complete LIE, can you say damage control.

    2. I have gone down this road before with drobo and received a computer generated email from Tom about my experience with drobo tek support.  I replied expressing my frustration.  A few days later I got an email from the same tek support that I was unhappy with.  This guy does NOT follow up as he states to Scott.  I’m still using my Drobo but would jump at the opportunity to find something better.  I have no confidence in this thing at all.

  4. If a company changes the way they do business because one of their high profile customers publicly calls them out, then we all benefit. 

    And I think it is great that Scott allowed Tom to reply and state his case directly.

    1.  Amen, Allan!  We all benefit from Scott and other people who have influence with companies.  It not only works in the electronic arena, but in every other industry.  Believe me I know!  Before I retired, I worked for Nestle as a Project Manager working with equipment mfg and software and etc.  When we had problems, we got them fix immediately, which I’m sure smaller companies would have struggle getting help.  But in the end … the smaller companies benefited from our influence … better design, better customer service and etc.

      Again, Allan Amen!


  5. Tom never called me when I had problems, but then, my name is not Scott.  Drobo is scary,  I cringe every time I turn it on hoping that all goes well.  I am looking for a new non-proprietary system.

  6. But really – what did Tom actually say? Sure – he publicly apologized, but it sounded – at least to me – like it was written by the PR department. The was no acknowledgment that there seems to be an on-going problem with a lot of Drobos (mine included). And as far as “the timing of your input” as it relates to the new products they’re about to release, well – the only input I’ve seen here is that the units are prone to serious problems and that the warranty is too short. So what’s Tom going to do prior to the new product introduction – suddenly make a more reliable Drobo? All in all, I’m not sold on the sincerity.

  7. When they announced the huge deal on Drobo S folks like Terry White and Scott shared it on twitter and I almost bit, but I have had too many friends bitten by the fact that these devices do exactly what Scott has shown.

    Drobo lost me because their devices have an overwhelmingly popular reputation to break and the burden is upon me, the customer, to deal with their known hardware issue.

    The only way Drobo will ever gain someone like me as a customer is when they announce that their product has an unimaginably rock solid warranty that says if I trust MY data in their reputation tainted equipment they will recover my data for free for life – otherwise why would anyone who can read buy one of their devices?  I should not have to pay for an extended warranty when your equipment is nearly guaranteed to fail during that extended warranty.

    What Tom Buiocchi wrote above is nothing more than “we have finally been embarrassed to the point that we have to make a public statement” — then turned it into an opportunity to plug his future devices and some yet to be announced warranty resolution.

    Opportunity lost Tom.  You’re the CEO – announce the new warranty when you have our attention because you’ve just lost mine.

    Simply not sold.

  8. Seems to me that the whole root of the problem is this whole crazy proprietary data read system.  Even under the best of circumstances (ie. free replacement, hyper fast shipping etc.) your [possibly] critical data is on lock down for at least a day or two.  That’s fine if it’s pictures of the family dog chasing a frisbee.  Not so much if it’s a complete project that’s due right now and your client says “pony up or else”.

    Even if Drobo’s customer service had a halo, the whole proprietary thing is dicey when we’re talking personal data retrieval.  That all by itself is enough to make me consider the alternatives.

  9. I agree with others who are skeptical that Tom would have given the same
    response if unknown Customer X made the same complaint.   And quite frankly, it isn’t clear from this open letter what they’re doing in response.  He states, “we will take care of it immediately.”  But what does that really mean?  Are they replacing Scott’s unit?  Are they extending his warranty?  Does he get free Drobos for life? 

    If there’s a silver lining, as Alan Hess pointed out, “If a company changes the way they do business because one of their high
    profile customers publicly calls them out, then we all benefit.”  So let’s hope Drobo is really, truly changing and making things right.

  10. What I’d like to know is what Tom is actually saying.  If he is saying that when my Drobo gets the blinking  light problem then the Drobo warranty is extended indefinitely then it would be really good if he would actually say this.  Maybe he should put a clear statement on his website so there is no confusion.

    It is good of Tom to respond to Scott’s blog and defend himself publicly but I was hoping for a much clearer indication of what happens if we get the specified problem. What happens if there is another non-user induced problem (ie power supply just dies). Do we get the same warranty extension then?

    Who do we contact, the vendor? Will vendors (globally) all be sent a bulletin stating that they should have an ‘ask no questions’ return policy when this problem arises.

    If this has always been Drobo’s policy then why not publicise this? Will they now refund all those people who were charged for this fault? How quick will the turnaround be (bearing in mind that Drobo’s use proprietary technology so my data is useless until a new box arrives).

    Other than that Tom’s email is about a new generation of ‘better’ Drobos. Will the new warranty for these products be written in to the manual? How to the new products address the issued raised by Scott.

    Maybe I am being harsh. Tech always breaks and that is life. But when a Drobo is sold as a bullet proof solution that I have really come to depend on this comes as all a bit of a shock. I’ve got so much invested in my Drobo – I just can’t afford to have it die as often as Scott’s seems to have died.

  11. In my opinion, “too little – too late”. The Drobo CEO knows that a highly public negative review from someone with the admiration of the photo community such as Kelby has the power to literally turn the lights out for a Drobo. Everyone should do themselves a favor and steer far far away from the Drobo system. Let Drobo die the painful death that it deserves.  

  12. I have been using Drobo for over 5 years. I have used almost all of their versions and generations. Currently I use 2 Drobo S units (5 drives each). I have had bad experiences with Drobo over these years. I have given up and now have to unplug my eSTATA cable to my Drobo after I shut down, and only plug it back in after I boot up the next time. If I do not follow this procedure then my boot time goes from under 1 minutes to about 15 minutes. Also in most cases the drive will not mount under those normal circumstances. From my research it appears that this is a design flaw. The customer service has been awful to OK at various times during my ownership. Bottom line is that they do not understand their company mission, do NOT understand the critical mission standards that making a backup system entail, and in the end, their response to me many times has been, “You should have known that”. This last comment has to do with the fact that not every Drobo drive pack is compatible with other units. I own 2 Drobo S units now because one of them has to serve as a BACKUP Drobio  to my main drobo BACKUP. I ran out of time, effort and drive (no pun intended) dealing with these folks, but always tell the truth about them. Great design concept, bad implementation and customer support.

    I am waiting Tom…

    Michael Tapes
    Drobo S x2
    eSATA multiplier ports
    Win 7 64 bit

  13. Firstly I’d like to state that I’m not a Drobo customer, but I did consider it, as the concept initially sounded great! However, I cannot accept the concept of a proprietary system without guarantees. All hardware fails. The only question is when!

    Therefore the only safe backup solution is multiple industry standard copies, that can be read anywhere by any system.

    Your response seems to me to have been written (badly) by a PR!

    “our agents are trained to immediately swap or upgrade (regardless of warranty condition) if they see what you saw on your video ”

    Well why not tell us that? Are you now guaranteeing each and evry user that they will get replaced regardless of warranty?

    Later on we hit the PR speak! Why not get rid of that and speak to customers in clear and simple language without the hype?

    ” …. they are all part of the journey to keep improving ….”

    What the heck is a “journey”? My dictionary defines a journey as “An act of travelling from one place to another”

    ” …. deliver the best customer experience ….”

    I do not want a customer experience. I want a product that works.

    ” …. 100% our bad ….”


    ” …. or ping me  ….”


    We all suspect and believe that this repsonse would not have appeared if SK was not involved!

    So your email address is on all your emails. Big deal! If you can prove to us that the last 100 people that contacted you got the same reponse, I might start to look mor favourably!


  14. I’m just wondering if Scott purchased an extended warranty package.  If he’s using the Drobo to store mission-critical or important customer data, the extra money spent towards a care package can avoid out-of-warranty type problems down the road.

    1.  First off, the length of the warranty tells you what the company thinks of their product…their engineers have probably given advice that failure occurs not to long after the recommended warranty period. Secondly, offering a short “standard warranty” with an additional “extended warranty” available at extra cost is a common means of price competition. All too many people do not compare cost and warranty, much less a complete life cycle cost comparison.

      And then there is the matter of the quality of customer/tech support.There are some companies which simply are not worth dealing with because of this factor alone. While the Drobo CEO may be sincere his statement that what Scott experienced is “not the way it is supposed to be”, Scott’s experience seems all to commonplace for it to be considered an isolated experience or out of the norm. I can not accept the “rookie mistake” as being a plausible explanation. It seems self evident that Drobo’s tech support is in need of revitalization, if not a complete shake up. It is what contributes, in very large measure, to a company’s reputation…good or bad.

      It does appear that the message about problems with the company’s product have been slow in getting to the right people and resulting in action, at least as to the product’s lack of reliability. The company surely must have realized that their product was slow compared to competitive products from the outset. The question there is whether slow is an acceptable tradeoff when comparing performance and pricing. Obviously, the question about speed also should have been examined to determine why it is so slow at the prototyping stage rather than after a great many units were sold and the product’s reputation established.

      Obviously the CEO can not answer every tech support call. That is not his responsibility and the company would suffer in other ways if he did. It is his responsibility, however, to ensure that the customer service and tech support department is run in accordance with the policy guidance he and the BOD have provided. Plainly there is quite a difference between what the CEO says the company policy is and what the responses to “ordinary customers” has been.

      Memo to CEO: Take decisive action to change the situation now. Potential customers will judge the company by observed changes.

      Scott plainly needs to get a reliable storage system in place, and quickly. His experience to date indicates that the current generation of Drobo is not that solution. It might be that the replacement model under development might be such a solution at some point in the future after it is evaluated, tested, and used “in the field” long enough to qualify it as a reliable system, but that is not the case today.

      While I commend the Drobo CEO for acknowledging the problems users have experienced as valid, it remains to be seen what comes of this. Otherwise we are left to conclude that the response amounts to that of certain automobile dealers when they solemnly respond “they’re all that way”.

      Even keeping an open mind in the future, I certainly would not be a Drobo customer at this point in time.

  15. Scott’s issue with Dobro is not the first, nor probably the last, just the best responded to because he IS the 600 pound gorilla in the room.  Nothing wrong with that, we’d all like to have that much juice.  Hopefully things will change with Drobo, even if only by a degree or two, thanks to Scott being publicly vocal.  

  16. “Rookie mistake”??? Doesn’t sound like it at all! Sounds like Scott’s issue was handled exactly according to the Drobo policy. Reminds me of a politician’s response…staffer screwed up.
    They have a problem…they know it…while they debate whether to fix it their ship is sinking…they just don’t know it yet!

  17. I really hate living in such a cynical society where a person is a jerk if he doesn’t respond and he’s a jerk if he does. It sure does discourage people from being honest and helpful. Did Scott Kelby’s influence inspire this post? Probably to a certain degree, but who cares? It’s being fixed and it looks like everyone will benefit from it.

    1. A little melodramatic…I don’t see one single comment saying Tom is a jerk.  Personally, I don’t doubt that he responded because of who Scott is and I have no problem with that.  Whatever it takes to get a company to recognize an issue is a good thing for all.  I take issue with the fact that Tom’s response is far from a CEO-level response.  I’d expect such a response from a first line supervisor.  

      Tom’s response failed to own up to a known issue.  If their agents are “trained to immediately swap or upgrade…what you saw on your video” then they know they have a problem.  Beyond recognizing the flaw, they need to stop selling a flawed product and fix the issue in their product.  Lastly, a good faith offer such as recovery software is in order to reward their customers for sticking with them as they work through this error and to alleviate concerns caused by their use of proprietary data.  They should be in the business of making money from customers for a great product, not making money from them because their product failed to do what it is designed to do.

  18. It’s obvious to everyone that because Scott’s high profile and his blog is read by thousands it’s potentially damaging to any company he has a rant about, and thats not just Drobo. And forva CEO to come out and deny such a fact is almost embarrassing…
    I think the phrase ‘I wasn’t born yesterday’ spings to mind…

  19. Sure some people are heard more than others, but at least they seem to have listened – Maybe this is a good way of choosing equipment – choose stuff celebrity bloggers have as you may have someone who can help resolve the issue if needed.
    Sounds like Drobo are addressing the warranty issue which is much better than not addressing it.
    If they addressed proprietary storage as well it would be a great incentive.
    I’d hope to see other negative blog respondants come back soon with – “yes they fixed mine too” comments.

  20. We still use Drobos but their role within our orginization has changed from bank vault to big rusty storage shed. We have had too many corruptions and power supply issues to ever put 100% faith in them. That being said if you’re looking to store 16TB of ISO’s and Backups of Backups they do in fact work well when they work. I wish the company much success but I do recall more than one podcast singing the praises of Drobo and I was sitting back wondering what I was doing wrong (3 out of 4 Drobo Pros going into the reboot cycle). I do appreciate Scott bringing it to light!

  21. I will take Tom at his word and just say it is a classy move by him and his company. I will also stand by my thoughts that there is no need to go to a proprietary system (dobro) as opposed to the current standard of Raid for this purpose.

    This is akin to asking if I should use Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom for photo editing or should I use a product by another manufacturer (ex Corel). Both will do the job you want most of the time, but there are advantages to using the “standard”.

  22. When  I researched what NAS solution I was going to use for my new studio, I looked long and hard at Drobo because Scott spoke so well of them. But I was seriously  turned off by the “proprietary” formatting approach of Drobo as well as “if your data is lost because of our proprietary data approach we can recover it for a fee”. Every person who’s opinion I valued ranked Drobo at the bottom of the list and tech support even lower than bottom. Ultimately I chose Qnap. Every military IT person I asked said it was the only choice. I have to say I agree. I have two 20 TB servers that have been running 24/7 365 for the past 2 and a half years. No issues, no problems, no can’t read data. My images are not held hostage by a proprietary format approach. That when a failure occurs, always right out of warranty, I can buy back my data…

    I personally think Drobo’s CEO picked up the phone because Scott’s reach is long enough that he got touched by it. Being flamed like his product was on a blog with Scott’s reach? The way  see it It took being kicked in the teeth and then in the pocket book to get his attention.  Will Scott’s influence here cause a change in Drobo’s less than stellar practices with regard to this? I hope so and all who have Drobo devices that were being relegated to boat anchors may benefit by the company do the right thing, which they should have from the get go. Making a profit is one thing being greedy in what appears to be a planned for obsolescence is another. Lexar provides for free recovery software should anything happen to your images on ther flash media do to a bad card read. Not that this ever happens but if does, they don’t charge to recover lost data. They do the right thing.

  23. Funny, I was one of Drobo’s first customers. I have purchased 4 Drobos, 2 of which are dead bricks.

    I’ve never heard anything from the CEO.

    The true measure of a company is how it treats it’s customers when the eyes of the world are not watching.

  24. Scott, Brad and Tom,

    I guess I’m the only person in the world that hasn’t had a problem with my DROBO unit.  I have a Gen 2 4 bay unit that I use for Bkups with my iMac OS x Lion.  From experience with external hard drives, I never leave the unit on or plugged in when I’m not using it.  Power supplies are notorious for failure.  Ask any WD external drive user or Toshiba Computer user.  When I got my Drobo, the first thing I did was read how to turn it on and off properly.  Gen 2 units don’t have an on/off button … you have to put the unit in Standby thru the dashboard and then unplug it.  I only use it when I’ve installed a new program or worked on my photos, and I don’t run other programs while it does the first back up of the day.  I have it connected to my firewire port on the iMac and I use Time Machine for back ups.  It mounts just fine and works great with time machine.  I have 4TBs capacity with 3.64TBs free at this time and I only use Seagate Drives with 7200 rpms.  I personally think that mixing different drives is just asking for trouble.


  25. It’s a proprietary system. As long as data is locked in a proprietary system, it is less secure than in a standard RAID setup. My 2 cents. And I’m sure that Tom does follow up with customers, but not all customers. If this happened to me, I would want to be certain that it was made right, and that certainty just isn’t there.

  26. I love the fact that the CEO gets involved with customer service issues.  Not the most productive use of his time, perhaps, but if you lose touch with the customer, your product relevance will atrophy.

    It’s possible to be cynical about Scott’s popularity, but then the CEO gives his email address several times and asks that you challenge him on it.  From what I’m seeing, this is a solid customer service policy that comes from the top.  

  27. Brad, Scott, Readers, et-al,

    There seems to be quite a bit of focus/concern with not just the Drobo failures in operation, warranty policies but as to Scott’s rating being the reason for a (prized) response from Drobo CEO Tom Buiocchi.

    Frankly, I could care less who contacts me. Mr. Buiocchi stated his personal response and availability to customer issues. As Brad pointed out, these appear to be generated form letters, a technicality. I would hope that Mr. Buiocchi would have the common sense to get personally involved with a clients issues like the Kelby Team who do posses such a reaching influence to a client base.

    The real failing here to me is their inability in their SOP to handle these complaints with a client focused solution. They have just been put on notice. It is a wait and see if they will “walk the walk”. Unfortunately for them, it is left to the remaining Drobo owners who have a less reaching opinion then the Kelby blog, so we may never know.

    I guess I am fortunate that my images don’t yet rate archiving.

  28. I’ve been a Drobo Gen 1 owner. I’ve been disappointed at how they treat their loyal early adopters every since the first revision came out and there was no upgrade offer. Then when the fan died and I had to resort to other owners to figure out how to replace the fan with an after market I decided I would never buy another Drobo. You should see how much Drobos cost in Australia! And the support? ha ha.

    Looking forward to Scott telling us what his solution is – I’m looking at ZFS on non-proprietary hardware as a backup option.

    Disappointed original DROBO supporter.

  29. What else could he do?
    It’s Scott Kelby.
    Probably any photographic retailers kiss of death if a bad blog is posted.

    I am just glad Scott posted it, I am sure he thinks long and hard and has to be pretty disappointed by a product before anything critical goes up.

    And yes, Im a worried Drobo user….

    1. Marco: If you had actually read the post you would have read that I turned down their offer for a free replacement numerous times. By the way; nice touch using one of our employees’ email address. Hoping we would fire her, huh? Nice guy.

    2. Marco: If you had actually read the post you would have read that I turned down their offer for a free replacement numerous times. By the way; nice touch using one of our employees’ email address. Hoping we would fire her, huh? Nice guy.

  30. While I recognize and acknowledge that Drobo is in business to make money, the proprietary method they have chosen is too risky for me.  I am not, and will not ever be a Drobo customer. Tom’s response here has not changed that. 
    As someone who has paid thousands of dollars for data recovery I have learned my lessons the hard way.  Maybe Drobo has too and the new product Tom has mentioned won’t use a proprietary format.  I’d still be unlikely to change my mind about them, but at least it would alleviate issues like SK (and many others) have experienced.

  31. Would the drives from the bricked Drobo be able to be taken from that Drobo and installed in a working Drobo in order to get your data?  It would seem to me that if drives did not fail then the working Drobo would read them.

    I have an original Drobo and for most part has worked fine over the years.  I have had to unplug it occasionally when it froze up.  While I keep my photos on it I still backup to another regular drive.

    The proof in the pudding will be how Drobo does business as many will be watching Drobo’s response.

  32. I don’t buy it. That guy can claim that this has nothing to do with Scott being Scott but I don’t believe that is the case. Is it good that this is getting resolved? YES. Will this affect how other users get treated…I certainly hope so.

  33. I’ll acknowledge that Tom owned this issue with Scott’s situation. My gripe was not only with the unit per se, but the customer service was really quite terrible. Save for one female who was responsive and helpful, there was as long as a WEEK that I waited for a response, multiple service reps jumping in without reading the background, or asking clarifying questions. Also, world class CS tech reps are trained and know how deal with customer frustration, and how to deal with the non-technical-speaking customer. I had a very dismal experience with the CS I received.

    Lastly, it felt to me like Tom was making an excuse with the “…couple of hundred thousand…” [customer responses]. Would’ve loved to read that Drobo screwed up, without the [perceived] excuses. While my Drobo FS now works, I will be keeping track of alternatives and will be making a different purchase decision when my D800 finally arrives and I must find a new way to store those large files. 

  34. On one hand, no company should be responsible for lifetime hardware support. Everything has a useful life and that has to be taken into account in your planning. Two, one backup is never enough. Especially if the house burns down. You always need to plan for redundant backups. 

    That being said, I have never been in favor of propriety solutions, especially when they come at a cost premium.

    And I agree that people in the public eye are going to get better service than the rest of us.

    My two cents…

    1. As a Scotsman who has traveled the world, a very dear friend of mine named Bruce told me a very ancient old Chinese dialectic: “Fool me once, Shame on you … Fool me twice Shame on me.” And wasn’t it George W. Bush who told everyone on the West Bank “Never again!” as Israel held their annual Holocaust memorial and then immediately bulldozed all their homes for their Kibutz settlements?

      I’ve never owned a Drobo but after this trashing of Drobo it’d be double dumb ass on me if I ever did before I die!!!

      1. This is priceless – so saddened by my recent an ongoing Drobo saga (hmmm opportunity for Drobo PR – get a series going on cable – Draga=Drobo Saga)

        ALL I can say is SHAME ON ME !!!!!! it is my fault that I invested in a PR product

  35. Ive owned Two drobos and have never lost an image.  I have had problems but customer service resolved it quickly, once with a new box.  I have never had any Photo or computer equipment NOT fail. But I have had worse customer Service.   My customer service has always been good at Drobo.  My 2 cents 

  36. Tom

    I don’t see anything in your reply of substance.

    Why did you not state in your blog post and on your website that:

    1) you have extended the warranty on all units to 3 years – no questions asked
    2) existing users will be given the opportunity to upgrade to new units at a reduced cost
    3) you have implemented a hot-swap program where you will courier a new enclosure to users if they experience problems
    4) you are redesigning the weak component (power supply) and will offer an EC to users

  37. The horses have left the barn at Drobo.  Tom should have heard everything he needs to know by now.I don’t think he addressed the technical issues in his post.  If I were him I would be scheduling a “Come to Jesus” meeting with the CTO and designers. I was just about to buy a drobo, it was in my shopping cart at B&H, and then I read Scott’s blog post and changed my mind. I sent the post to 240 other photographers in my Photography Guild. Right after Tom meets with the CTO he will need to have a serious discussion with his Chief Marketing Officer. 

  38. I commented down below about my battles with Drobo the company and Drobo the device over the past 5 years or so. Just got a call from Tom. KUDOS. While it is a year or 2 later than I would have wanted, the fact that he is apparently proactively  looking at these comments, is a great sign. I never look back, so I am looking forward to a renewed “relationship” with Drobo with a smile on my face rather than a “snarl”.

    Tom seems like a no nonsense guy with a mouth that speaks the truth. My compliments. The jury is not out, but this is sure a great “new” first step.

    I would suggest that all Drobo customers with a problem take Tom at his word and give him a call or send him an email.

    Michael Tapes
    Drobo S x2

  39. I am now maybe a little less weary of Drobo support but the fact that Drobo has a unique cluster of drives that cannot be read by any other system is my cause for concern.  I would need to have TWO backup systems if I used Drobo because I would not want to be caught with unusable drives or data. I am not a professional but I have years of photos that cannot be replaced.

  40. It would seem to me that the problem is not so much that a particular brand/unit may or may not be less reliable than another brand/unit (most if not all units will fail at some time). but more the use of a brand-specific disc format, which means that the discs are not usable with a “standard” IDE/SATA interface in the event of a failure of the caddy. 

  41. Tom,
    Thanks for your response. I’m not as cynical as some of the previous posters. I appreciate your taking the time out to address the issues at hand. With that said, I’m a fairly recent purchaser of your product due in large part to Scott’s and Terri White’s recommendations. Now that this has happened, I’m very concerned with my purchase decision. I hope you and your company take the steps to insure your customers have the best product possible with the best service in the industry. Sounds like you have a way to go to get there, but if you are really sincere with your statement, I think you can get there. 

    Great companies come out of these type of negative circumstances with greater drive and greater quality of product and service. Lesser companies cave to these pressures. I hope your’s winds up being in the “great” category.

  42. Folks, please. . . for your own sake. . . Backup your data.  It doesn’t matter if you’re using a Drobo, or a Symmetrix, you should never, ever have only one copy of your data.  

      1. Double Amen! And even if you have a backup, there’s a saying: One backup is NO backup. EVen backups fail, so there more backups you have, the safer your data is.

    1. How about when the Drobo IS your backup device? We have both a DroboElite and a B1200i. Neither of them can handle staying connected to a single host for more than a few days. Neither of them are currently in use anymore, either.

  43. I don’t know why everyone insists in using consumer devices for commercial/professional use.
    In other industries (medical, financial, law, etc, etc.) the data is many times more valuable than the hardware it resides. I see no difference with photographers. The money spent in producing unique images, the effort and sometimes the uniqueness of the moment should be taken seriously.
    Do all yourselves a favor and step up to professional equipment and quit using consumer stuff.
    At least for the data. It is important.


  44. I’m not biased in any way here, but I just wanted to throw in that I bought my Drobo in 2009 and have thrown it around between NYC and New Mexico, and never had any trouble with it.  I called customer service once to get info on adding another drive, and the agent stayed on the phone with me for about an hour to walk me through a long software upgrade (for free) prior to installing the new drive.  I was pretty happy with the effort to take care of my needs.  I’ve been a happy Drobo user, and I hope I’m not hexing that now.
    I’m glad this blog post came out, because I’m surprised (and now cautious) at what others’ experiences have been.  I hope Drobo gets rid of this “proprietary data hostage” ethic, and just relies on good business practices as well as reliable products to retain their cliental.  Until then, I’m keeping an eye out for other options.

  45. Good comment about the “jerk if you do and jerk if you don’t” by Brandon.
    Scott’s put Drobo in a tough position by calling them out. Not really much they can do about it – they are going to take a major hit either way.
    I for one will probably NOT be buying a drobo now. I was waiting for the thunderbolt version, but I think I’ll be going elsewhere after seeing the issues people have been having.

  46. A singularly unimpressive statement from a CEO. Where are the clear statements of restorative action that a Chief Executive Officer should give at time of genuine customer concerns?

    What we have is a lot of platitudinous business-babble. I am one Drobo owner who has lost confidence in his machine, and the company CEO who had an opportunity to restore that confidence, frankly, blew it.


  47. Scott, I am greatly interested in what storage system you eventually wind up with, how you use it and your experience setting it up, etc. I know you’ll keep all of us informed. Many thanks for this. I own two drobos and as my storage needs increase, I am definitely looking for my next step up.

  48. A whole lot of mindless minions complaining about someone else’s data loss….SAD. If you do not like how things are going, leave. PERIOD. Don’t sit around like some old cackling hens and try to pick apart what the ceo said. Scott has a valid point made, Tom the ceo had a pretty generic response, and that’s that. If you are all using a drobo, then stop, but how many of you that are bitching about it actually OWN a drobo? 

    And if Scott has 3 boxes, I’m sure there’s a copy somewhere, if not, pop the HDD set in the other unit….don’t take a support call to figure that out. #influential,not that much 

  49. I have been a Drobo user for a very long time and lucky enough to have always had a great experience. I think Mr. Kelby is a great teacher and instructor and has the right to his opinion.  I believe he has a great responsibility though not to over extend his celebrity and influence to vent his frustrations.  Drobo is a great company (but not perfect) and I think he could single handedly affect this company for better or worse with his isolated experiences.  Personalities like Oprah Winfrey to Leo Laporte all have the ability to KILL OR MAKE companies even if their opinion or experience is isolated or just plain wrong.  Mr. Kelby you are one of my favorites but be careful how you throw your weight around.  Luckily no large public figures have had a bad experience with you or your company and had a public forum to vent and maybe that is because you guys customer service is 100% customer satisfying but it only takes one to harm a business for a very long time.  I do recognize that you gave them an opportunity to respond first hand just as you did with Adobe, hopefully for Drobo the damage is not permanent.  I hope Mr. Kelby reads all of the posts on this Blog site.  Keep doing your best work!

  50. So, I’ve read through the prior post (and many of it’s comments) as well as this one. While this comment isn’t intended to support them and their business choices for how they market and provide warranties for their products, I feel it is important to clarify misunderstanding about their technology – and many other vendors as well.

    Repeatedly I kept seeing reference to a dislike for Drobo’s “proprietary” type of RAID. In the case of Drobo, I believe they call it “BeyondRAID”. The thing is though, is the last I checked, ALL RAID implementations could be considered proprietary. Even if you used a storage array that used the more traditional RAID 0,1,5,6,10, etc. systems, it is still implemented in a proprietary way for each vendor. Meaning, If you had a RAID 5 array in a QNAP, you are not going to be able to remove those drives and throw them into a Synology, HP, Iomega, ReadyNAS, or any other chassis from a different vendor and simply be able to read the data. Nor could you swap it into a hardware RAID card (such as an LSI MegaRAID) for your PC and expect things to just work.

    While the typical RAID implementations define the overall strategy of how your data is organized and protected on the discs, as well as dictate if reading vs writing is faster or are they balanced, it is up to each vendor to decide on the details of how they make that happen. Frequently, each vendor has a method of their choosing in which they write some data on a portion of each drive that identifies the drive and what portion of the data it contains. This is helpful so if you at least take all the drives out and put them into the same chassis or a similar one from the same vendor (that is meant to be compatible), then the system can figure out what drive is which even if you jumbled them up and put them into the wrong slots. But in any attempt I’ve ever tried over the years to put drives from one RAID system into a different one, the destination system simply says “Uh, I have no idea what you just gave to me – so I’m ready to format!”

    Over the years, companies that make these RAID storage devices have recognized that may have a variety of sizes when it comes to drives – or may want to change the method in which their data is protected (such as changing from a RAID 0 two drive system to RAID 5 four drive system). So to do this, each vendor has devised their own unique methods to improve upon the basic RAID systems and give you additional flexibility. Drobo calls their system BeyondRAID, Netgear’s ReadyNAS has X-RAID, and Synology (a popular system it seems from the comments) even offers a Hybrid RAID option. While I believe that Drobo is the only one who doesn’t let you pick your option (since they want to make their system very easy for anyone to use), it’s still fair to say that each vendor is proprietary and there is no interoperability between vendors. If there is a set of vendors in which you can safely swap drives between and NOT loose your data, then I’d love for people to share that – but I don’t believe that exists.

    So, please make your decisions on which RAID storage solution you’d like to use based on other features – it’s speed, ease of use, quality of the product, warranty, and so forth – but don’t get hung up on it being a “proprietary” method of writing your data to the disc, because in the end…. they all are.

    1.  I completely agree with you Jason. The “Proprietary” argument is a completely garbage arguement, since all RAID systems are proprietary. There is no way that I could use my Adaptec RAID 5 drives in a DELL PERC/6 system and have the data be useable. It just isn’t going to happen. So if you’re buying a new system, I would agree with you on basing it on the Other features.

    2. I must respectfully disagree with some of this.  Some NAS vendors use embedded linux (at least Qnap and the DNS 323) which if it’s using the software raid, *is* using a non-proprietary RAID system which if you have a linux box with the right number of cables, you could theoretically put the drives into and get access to the data.  Not something everyone can do, but far less proprietary than something completely in-house.  Also not something in *every* other NAS, but just the point that not “every” NAS solution is something you’re tied to.

      1. While that is not impossible, it’s a lot of “If’s” to line up in terms of vendors, their core OS, and implementation. Even QNAP doesn’t make claim that any flavors of RAID from another system could work with theirs. So it would be pure trial and error to attempt such a thing.

        From QNAP’s Presale FAQ at http://files.qnap.com/download/Storage/FAQ/FAQ_QNAP_Presales.pdf 

        Q. I currently have a non-QNAP NAS with disk configured as RAID 5 and I see the QNAP NAS also supports RAID 5 so if I purchase the QNAP is there a way for me to migrate the physical RAID disks over to the QNAP without losing the data?A: Every NAS vendor uses its own disk partition layout therefore the RAID configuration on your other NAS can not be used on QNAP directly by swapping the hard drives even though both NAS support the standard RAID disk configuration. In order to reuse your hard disks currently installed on the non-QNAP NAS and not losing any data stored on them you will have to transfer all the data to a temporary storage location, such as the PC or the USB external disk. Once the data transfer completes, setup your QNAP NAS with these hard disks as RAID then copy the data back from the temporary locations.

      2. Jason:  I think your post requires reposting.  The “proprietary” comments seem to be posted over and over, and quite honestly, seem to be from people that have never set up a raid … or at least tried to recover from a raid controller failure using a different brand hardware.  THANKS for posting this.

  51. Scott is the one who turned me on to OWC and I now own their QX2, so I’m a little surprised he hasn’t looked at an OWC solution. LLoyd Chambers warned everyone YEARS ago about the trouble of Drobo, it’s flaky software, and it’s non-raid backup. I would say I feel bad for Scott, but people who use consumer, proprietary solutions for backups are crazy and begging for trouble. 

    Keep it simple: Keep a Raid 5 box connected to your computer, rotate bootable backup disks of that data off-site, and finally, combine all of that with a Backblaze/Time Machine. Do it, folks!

  52. Why not try different brands as back-up? I’ve got 2 x Western Digital Passports as my main drive, a Fujitsu as a 2nd backup and a LaCie as my third back-up. I had bad experience with my Toshiba HD six years ago, so I decided to try 3 different brands and so far I haven’t got any hiccups for the last three years.

  53. I researched Drobo shortly after they hit the market and immediately heard bad reports. For me, I don’t like to tempt fate, so I went with the LaCie 2big Quadra solution.

  54. Wow….tough crowd…I guess Drobo should have done nothing to fix the problem. I have used the Drobo for the past few years and am very pleased. Yes, they should have responded better. No, I don’t think Tom would have called me if I had a problem. Rather it is Bank of America with new charges or Drobo being accountable to the customer to fix a problem…this  is the benefit of this new instant world of social media. Companies have always worried about word of mouth…now….the word can instantly reach millions of hits in a moment.
    Everyone is accountable. The impact that Scott has is amazing! Thanks Scott…Thanks Tom! Keep making service better!


  55. Sorry to say, I think Tom’s response was only because it was Scott Kelby that put it on his blog, and becuase of the number of people Scott can reach with a single post.  Like others here, I have experienced quite different treatment by companies like Drobo, Adorama and others because my name does not carry any weight.  But that does not mean I can’t vote with my wallet and feet, my money is just as green as anybody else.  Adorama has missed out on over $30k in purchases becuase of the poor handling of my account, that should have been a no-brainer.  The only way these companies will
    get the message is when the dollars coming in the door slows.

    It’s a well established fact that it is far more expensive to attract new customers then it is to keep current customers.  having a satisfied customer is not good enough, a satisfied customer will shop many organizations, these companies should being shooting for customer loyalty, the loyal customer sell you to others and prefer’s your service over the many others in your space.  A lesson not learned by most.



  56. Tom missed the whole point.  Warranty is a great backup, but any failure is going to be a loss of billable hours.  The real rule is that if it works, great, but if it fails, find another product.  Downtime is expensive.

    And I will never consider Drobo going forward for that reason.

    1. Drobo (or any other system for that matter) should not be your only source.  If you have a loss of billable hours, your storage system is broken, irrespective of technology used.  If something goes down, use the backup.

  57. I just received a personal call from Tom who had reviewed a past case and wanted both present and future product feedback.  Neat guy and we had a great conversation on a variety of topics.  Definitely seems to be an engaged and concerned CEO.  Much appreciated and I wish he and his company great success in the future.  It is valuable when a customer community can provide influence to one of its enabling technologies.  Storage is important to photographers.  My take away is that the interest in customer satisfaction and our industries use of Drobo products is very genuine.


  58. I can’t tell you how many times a big, important CEO jumped through his watchpocket to help me with a problem – yes I can, NEVER! Which gives us the added incentive to become as creative and well-known as Scott Kelby (or at least ride on his coattails).

  59. I just save my stuff in floppy disks, keep them in a little cupboard between the microwave, oven and uranium :)

    In all seriousness, I love apple and I’ve had issues with every apple product I’ve owned, had 2 iPad replacements and about 6 phone replacements, iMac screen is got burn in badly for the second time which they won’t replace but I still love them, all companies mess up. Yeah the drobo thing needs sorted (and it has stalled me buying one, which I was due to this week) Ive been using time machine and a manual back up filing system I maintain up until now.

    But people commenting going mental about the CEO, yeah of course he replied because it was Scott, but he knows about the mess up and is trying to fix it. As long as drobo kept the images safe (which it has) then its done it’s job and now he said they’ll hook up anyone who’s drobo bricks.

    Thanks to Scott for his clout and getting it sorted and thanks to tom for stepping up, both legends for doing so

  60. We have in the past used these units. only to be placed on this very path of break downs. Isn’t it ironic that Scott of all people gets sucked down the hole that a lot of us have been on for some time… And isn’t it even more ironic that he posts… They respond…. But really poorly. So although Scott got a personal response, it was more or less the same one we’ve been getting, only packaged differently.

    Our Bad ! Seriously !. Rookie mistake… I’m speechless.

    Our 6 month projection had us upgrading off-line storage substantially in that time frame, and although Drobo was not going to be a part of that due to our past issues and dealings with their low-forehead tech support, I’m quite happy to see that others are now aware of the mediocre products that this firm produces and won’t be pulled into that smelly rabbit hole they call storage.

    DVD’s people.. I know it’s a PITA to do it, but if you do it after every shoot, they are easily cataloged and filed. I’ve not lost an image in 8 years.

  61. I’m going to reconsider my storage options now. I’ve lost trust in Drobo. Looking at that black box on my desk makes me shutter with fear. I spent hard earned money on it, and it’s not easy to switch now. Are there any company’s that make RAID systems that will take a trade in? Hmmm, could be a great opportunity for adding new customers!!!

  62. Well I too was recently forced to pay for an upgrade to get a new Drobo when it was doing the rebooting thing.  Seems like I’m entitled to a refund on that upgrade fee if, as Tom says, that was a mistake to charge that and their agents are trained to swap those out regardless of warranty state.  Tom you will be getting an e-mail……

    Are there any other people out there who were forced to pay the upgrade fee ?

    Sadly it’s not the only problem I’ve had with Drobo, the list is too long and the fact that Tom tries to make is sound like this contact didn’t happen because Scott is Scott makes me quite angry. I wish I could get a phone call from someone at Drobo at all, let alone the CEO. Then I wouldn’t have to continually deal with their infuriating online support system.

  63. Tom’s company made a mistake. Was called on it and they owned up to it in a public forum. People STILL bashing them for that…please tell me what company you run? what product have you engineered and/or developed? No one has ever made a product that was 100% successful for 100% of their customers. It is impossible. Get over yourselves. If you don’t like a product or a service then simply don’t buy it. We don’t need to hear all of the theories as to why you think this or that happened. They made a mistake and are trying their best to make it better. You know how many company’s WONT do that? Even if a problem was posted to this blog or one even bigger? Not many…

  64. Simple. LaCie 4big. 230mb/s good old proven RAID 5. Take a 12TB leaves you 9TB. Single place for support, full 3 year warranty and can be extended to 5 year advance warranty for half of Drobo 3 year price. Add a $200 thunderbolt to eSATA LaCie hub and you can use it with every interface tht exists and you get 230MB/s on eSATA and on thunderbolt. All for way less then Promise R4. Who wants high capacity without speed today? Who wants to pay for an empty drobo plus warranty same price as full solutions with drive? Who wants to buy a product from a company who pushes drive support to drive manufacturer and forces customers to deal with potentially two or more tech support centers?

    Let’s be honest, mixing drive size on drobo is a bad idea and bad practice, reinventing RAID is pointless. If beyond raid is so great why do you not see it on any enterprise class product? Their marketing message has captured users but the slow performance proprietary system is a big weakness. Someone please tell me MB/s for any of their products please. You can’t, even they won’t admit the performance on their site. Any $300 NAS box is faster and gives users more access options to data and way more features.

    Final note – backup and have at least 3 copies.

  65. I commented in the other post as well as Vincent pointed out (and I did in the previous “I’m done with Drobo post) the propietary nature of drobo should be a HUGE red flag to anyone looking to archive your photos.   The simple idea of archiving your photos means it’s for long term.   Who wants a proprietary format for someting you might need 5 years down the road. What if Drobo doesn’t exist in 3 years?

    But an Acer or HP windows home server package for about the same price.  The server will have 3, 4, 5, 6 drives, you can have them mirrored and it will also back up any computer on yor network.   But the big part, lets say the hardware in the server crashes.  Bad power supply, motherboard, RAM…not only can you easily replace that hardware on Newegg or Amazon, but you can easily take that drive out and toss it into any windows or even Mac computer and read it.  It’s windows.  So what are the chances of the company that owns the OS on what, 75%-80% of the PCs in the world going out of business?   Although it doesn’t matter because your files are still YOUR files.  Not Drobo’s files.  So you still have your Nikon RAW files, or your DNG files, or your .JPG files.

    I’m not trying to bash Drobo, I just hate proprietary formats, like Vincent apparently.  There is really no reason for them to make the data stroed on the drives in some other format other than to force you to pay them even more when their hardware fails.

  66. “… and we’ve been debating the 1-year vs. longer standard warranty period as part of these soon-to-be announced new products….”

    Well, apparently they’ve made up their mind: the standard warranty is still 1 year on the new Drobo Mini and 5D. It’s not listed on their Web site but I used the chat feature to talk with a Drobo employee and they said it’s only a year. 

    I think that’s a huge mistake. If it had been three years, I would have almost certainly bought one of the new Drobo products but their decision to still offer only 1 year speaks volumes about the confidence they have in their own product. LaCie seems like a safer choice. 

    1. I might have been too hasty: I’d sent a separate email to Drobo (before I used the chat option) and just got a reply. Seem like they are still considering support options for the new products. That’s good news! A Thunderbolt Drobo with a 3 year warranty would be very appealing.

    2. You can’t be serious?  It’s more of the same with Drobo 5D.  You just illustrated what I dislike about this company – hiding the truth from the customer.  I mean – before you buy you have to contact support to find out what the warranty is because they don’t put it on the webiste?  Are you kidding me?  Also, look at the 5D page – again, NO PERFORMANCE, just some blank statement like “Thunderbolt I/O technology provides performance that’s up to 5x faster than the previous-generation Drobos”  Well, if it’s 5x faster than the 25MB/s stuff they have been selling then we are talking about 125MB/s here aren’t we?  And that is the speed I can get out of a single eSATA hard drive fro $100.  Why would I hand over $850 (as estimated by engadget) to Drobo for the pleasure of a propriatary solution which is no faster than a single eSATA drive?  And which is EMPTY!  No storage capacity, no drives.  $850 for an empty box!

      FYI to all of you Photographers who aren’t technical – There are Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 solutions out there fully populated with capacity pushing 300-350MB/s sustained for less than $800.  Let’s get real and learn some basics about storage.  Let’s remember that Scott has had 3 units of Drobo and 100% failure rate on all 3 units.  Need I say more about how good Drobos are at protecting your data? 

      And Photograhers – remember, any RAID protects your data against hard drive failure.  It does not protect your data against theft, fire, loss, accidental deletion, virus. 

      “Dude, what are you doing?”
      “Making copies.  Copies dude.  Of my data.”

      Be sure to make copies too. 

  67. Dear Tom,

    There seems to be a fundamental flaw in your business model.  You’re putting Drobo’s interests first, ahead of your customers’ interests. Yes, of course, you need to look after the company’s interests, but successful companies are always focused, first and foremost, on what the customer needs, and working to fill those needs. 

    That’s the real genius of Scott Kelby.  By staying focused on what his customers needs are, and then working to fill those needs, he’s built a very successful business. You’d do well to follow his business model.

    No one enjoys being held hostage, and it appears your business model was structured to do just that.

    Good luck with working your way through this mess. I’d also suggest you take Mr. Kelby’s message to heart.  He’s done you a favor by forcing you to look closely at your flawed business design, though I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way at the moment.

    Ron Carroll

  68. The “proprietary” comments being posted over and over must be people who have never tried to recover from a RAID controller failure by putting the drives in a different brand hardware.  If your QNAP (or other) device fails, you most likely will have to buy another EXACT brand/model box or it will distroy your data.

    Jason Kitch posted this and think it bares repeating.

    From QNAP’s Presale FAQ at http://files.qnap.com/download/Storage/FAQ/FAQ_QNAP_Presales.pdf 

    Q. I currently have a non-QNAP NAS with disk configured as RAID 5 and I see the QNAP NAS also supports RAID 5 so if I purchase the QNAP is there a way for me to migrate the physical RAID disks over to the QNAP without losing the data?
    A: Every NAS vendor uses its own disk partition layout therefore the RAID configuration on your other NAS can not be used on QNAP directly by swapping the hard drives even though both NAS support the standard RAID disk configuration. In order to reuse your hard disks currently installed on the non-QNAP NAS and not losing any data stored on them you will have to transfer all the data to a temporary storage location, such as the PC or the USB external disk. Once the data transfer completes, setup your QNAP NAS with these hard disks as RAID then copy the data back from the temporary locations.

      1. LOL, because I don’t follow the crowd, I must be the enemy. I am a Drobo device owner for 4 years, and find the comments in this thread to be exceedingly entertaining.

  69. Interesting, being a DROBO user for about 6 months I’ll be ditching it for another solution.  If this problem is a known, common problem, why isn’t there some kind of recall.  If you buy a car and there is a known defect uncovered, guess what… they issue a recall and fix it for free.  So I’m in the camp with others, the issue hasn’t been addressed for existing customers and my future with DROBO has been terminated. When you factor in the cost and time wasted building and maintaining your own backup system no matter what it is, using a cloud storage solution is looking more promising.  For now, I’ll roll back to my previous solution of using my SATA docking station and just mirroring my drives.  Much faster and cheaper.

  70. So who here has Apple products? They too, like most every hardware product, have a one year warranty. For a hefty price you can buy Apple Care for ongoing technical support. Even then I think it unlikely Apple will send you a brand new MacBook if yours fails after several years, but I bet most people pay to have extended Apple support
    Stuff breaks. Frankly I’m disappointed Scott chose to bash a hardware provider just because he has a popular venue to do so. I think it’s comical that some people think he should get special treatment, I mean really he just has two little Drobos, it’s not like he’s a real world enterprise customer.
    I have my little Drobo and it works great. My one year warranty isn’t up yet, but one good thing that came out of this is that I can quote this little blog and get extended support for $100. I wonder if I can get Apple to reduce my Apple Care by 2/3rds too. After all I do have 2 iMacs, an iPad, 2 iPhones, and a MacBook. That warrants special treatment doesn’t it.

    1. I’ll be honest and would also like to add I work at Drobo. We believe that Drobo products are just like Apple, well atleast try to be as cool as Apple. I’m disappointed to see such a high failure rate unlike Apple, but that’s why you buy Drobo Care it helps you when your Drobo bricks, all products fail what do you expect.

      1.  Glenn, first, thanks for identifying that you work at Drobo.

        What I believe a lot of people conclude about warranties is that a short warranty represents an opinion of the manufacturer that their product isn’t very good. Add to that the fact that Drobo, like other competitive products, markets itself as something to rely upon.

        I don’t know about the idea of NAS storage as “cool”. Frankly, thing of it as something like UPS equipment that is unglamorous and frequently overlooked until things go bad. OK, given a choice between something that looks like a pile of junk and something that looks purposeful I suppose most people would opt for purposeful, if the looks like a pile of junk were not actually a better solution. You just don’t sit there and look at equipment like this.

        Cheaping out on such things is a big gamble. I recall a regional ISP which was attempting to market itself and its services to businesses as well as computers. An email server, in point of fact the only email server, went into a “Microsoft Moment”. The team from Redmond flew down and solemnly pronounced that the problem would go away in 72 hours. Then they had an incident where a power outage crashed the only server because they hadn’t bought UPSes after having been warned. Does it occur to you that they have had difficulty selling their services to people who know the background.

        I see the probability that Drobo have not done adequate testing or that there is a QA deficiency in the products allowing the problems various posters have encountered to be present in shipping product. Sometimes manufacturers are the victim of bad parts such as the problem with bogus capacitors that made their way into CRT monitors years ago which caused a variety of problems. Sometimes it is a batch of flash chips that are either defective or perhaps from a supplier providing them at a price which should scream out “this is too good to be true”. Inadequate acceptance testing of components that are thought never to be a problem can contribute to such a situation.

        My personal favorite is poor thermal design. Apple are occasionally guilty of this as are many other manufacturers. Products which are intended to run for extended periods of time, whether 24/7 or not, need special attention to this as there are components which do not take well to exceeding certain temperature levels which are not always know with a high degree of certainty.

        Although it is certainly fair to say that anything made by man will fail at some point in time, the repeated nature of the failures encountered by the people who have posted on Scott’s blog should be very troubling to Drobo. Even with proper backups and even if the company were to ship a replacement unit before receiving the defective unit, there is an unsettling aspect to losing one layer of protection in one’s backup strategy.

        A large number of posters have lost confidence in the reliability of Drobo hardware as well as the company’s ability to resolve the problems which they have encountered. While I wish Drobo well in resolving these problems, like a number of people, I would not be inclined to purchase a system which appears to be experiencing an ongoing series of failures.


  71. I’ve had a fair amount of pain with Drobo, too. Most issues are around it not being recognized and having to repeatedly plug-unplug it to connect it.

    Nuances aside, the one time I had a really big problem–a Saturday night, Drobo crash, zero data, nada, zip–I called Drobo support expecting to leave a message. They answered. 

    They spent almost three hours helping me get things back up and running. Removed drives, reset Drobo–everything! I was out of warranty and they didn’t ask for money until the entire process was over and my Drobo was back up running. I then paid for extended warranty and swapped Drobos.

    Three hours on a Saturday night is something I would never expected… but I sure appreciated it.

  72. Let’s cut this Tom guy some slack. I personally have no idea how complex and difficult it is to run a business like this, but I can only imagine. It’s totally ridiculous to think a CEO of a consumer tech company is out there calling tons of customers like Santa Claus checking in on all of them.

    I used to use a Drobo before our studio upgraded to more robust enterprise NAS. Didn’t have issues, didn’t hear from the CEO, didn’t care.

    Great that Scott let us know about his experience, I won’t probably buy one in the future unless reviews are rockstar, but I also think infantile castigation of a CEO is below the normal professional tenor of this crew.

  73. I wasn’t thrilled to see that the warranty period on Drobo’s new Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 product has been increased to 3 years, but no change on their existing Drobo S warranty period. I think if the CEO was really sorry, perhaps they’d increase the warranty period for all those of us with earlier (but by no means old) machines.

    In reading Glen’s post, I don’t see anything comparable in comparing Apple’s warranty to Drobo’s. When my Drobo S (16 months old) failed I had no repair options at all; when I had problems with my Mac Pro (3 years old at the time) I was able to pay to replace the graphics card which had failed.

    I wouldn’t mind paying for a repair, but to pay $700 for an enclosure which is only warrantied for one year and then have the only option to be to buy a new one, I think that’s an indication of a poor quality product. 

    I haven’t had a drive fail yet in the Drobo, so i don’t know how gracefully that is handled, but in all the Drobo failures I’ve had (with the 2 units), it’s inevitably a support nighmare that starts with a hung Mac, Drobo dashboard unable to tell me anything even in the cases where the Drobo mounts. I thought I was paying for a reliable, quality device. I hoped that the software and hardware would make management of any failures reasonably straightforward to handle. 

    Bottom line for me is that this expensive device is unreliable.

  74. I had a very similar situation here in Singapore where I entrusted a Drobo unit to keep my precious photographs safe. After installing a Drobo software update, I started discovered Drobo would no longer mount on my iMac. After numerous correspondence back and forth with Drobo support- we finally got ito mount only to discovery that some of my photos had become corrupt- sadly with no backup (as that’s what I was entrusting Drobo to do for me). At the end of the day, my faith in Drobo had been lost as I explained to their head honcho in Asia. Amends were made, but in the form of a complimentary 2nd Drobo unit which I could use to back up my main Drobo to. I was sincerely hoping that Drobo would have rectified these problems, but it appears not… Sadly it’s now on a VERY public forum.

  75. What can I say I have had mine for about 2 years, the fan dies in 4 months, I sent it back under warranty and was told nothing was wrong with it, what the service guys deaf because the stinking fan was so loud, I replaced it myself with a high quality fan and never heard the fan again. First Problem,
    Second problem I have had it do it’s death roll 3 times in 6 months. I’m glad this was not my only backup as I had 8 unedited weddings on the thing.

    Third. It now is accessing the HD non stop, the only way I can get it to stop is put it in standby or unplug it. I’ve had it with Drobo and will never buy another unit again. 

    I’m also from Australia where there is no support for it. Useless brick. And if anyone thinks that the CEO didn’t come here because of the backlash from such a high profile photographers post think again. I’ve photographed a few CEO’s and they don’t give anyone the time of day unless it effects them, usually in the pocket

  76. I have been pondering the purchase of a Drobo S. I like the potential in the system because modern hard drives, non-raid, are an invitation to disaster even with backups as something is nearly always lost. I like the CEO’s commitment to its customers and the possibility of lengthening the standard warranty.

  77. I had a Drobo FS that had intermittent failures with drives in one specific bay. Drobo support were very quick to respond and very helpful. After juggling drives around, the FS seemed to stabilise. It limped along until it was six months out of warranty and then same problem.

    Tom (CEO) was true to his word. The unit has been replaced. Thank you Tom!

  78. I wrote to Tom over 2 weeks ago and he has yet to respond…. Makes you wonder….
    The new 2 year warranty makes no sense since you only get 90 days phone support. In other words if your Drobo fails after 90 days you have to pay to get any support. Any at all!
    I had a small problem, I called, they wouldn’t help me. Turns out the solution was simple. I did a firmware upgrade. Then the Drobo stopped working. I restarted it several times and nothing. Called them up, they refused to help. After a while I just decided to unplug it and re-plug. Voila it worked!! Simple and they could have suggested that but wouldn’t unless I paid….
    Not cool

  79. After reading this several months ago, I sent an e-mail to Tom and never heard back. I really believed him but I’m now not sure how sincere this letter was.
    Drobo did raise the warranty out a bit but as I found out, if you call to ask about any problems after 30 or 90 days (can’t remember exactly) then you have to pay for any technical support.
    In other words the warranty doesn’t really seem to do much for you if you have problems. I guess the only solution at that point if you don’t want to spend more money is to send it in for repairs….
    Drobo is an option for your backup (its slow, even the thunderbolt version) and if it works it’s fine but you really are in trouble if (when) it fails.

  80. Find it funny that I have emailed Tom directly as above and still haven’t heard a reply after a week. Ongoing issues with my drobo for over 3 weeks now and have been bounced around the world in support channels. Drobo is better as a paper weight rather than backup device.

  81. 1 Dead Drobo and I too never anything from the company, let alone the CEO.
    What a crock, I tried to get help in live chat mode as to why I could not get the live update to work. Drobo’s reply was you are out of your coverage, but for a fee we can help you.

    Well Sad to say that after two Drobo’s I’m so done with them. I could have sold them but I’m not going to screw over another as I was. It’s now a garage door stop. A good talking point when others see it as I advise them all to stay far, far away from them.

    Like other’s have said. When it’s in print and the company suffers a beatdown, you tend to do damage control to make your company look like you care. Yeah, you care all right.

  82. Too bad the email and phone number for the CEO of Drobo no longer work. Phone is disconnected and email bounces. Tells you all you need to know about the company. – Steve

  83. This is a very timely situation for me, as I’m currently shopping for an alternate solution for my storage.

    I’ve been using really inexpensive Mediasonic RAID boxes, and I’m disappointed that I ‘only’ get 3-4 years before the enclosures crap out. Hearing that a little over a year seems to be the norm for a Drobo makes them a non-starter for me. Also, when the Mediasonics die, I just pull the drives and put them in a SATA dock, and OSX can access the files on the drives. That last one is an absolute for me — I MUST be able to pull the drive and still use it while I wait for the replacement box.

    So thanks Scott for saving me from making a mistake by switching to Drobo. The search continues.

  84. I am finally giving up on Drobo. I’m on my 2nd 5d and it is now a brick. I have Drobo Care and they are pretty useless. I’ve been on the phone with them every day for a week. And my Drobo is less than a year old. Just emailed the new CEO. Will be interesting to see if he responds. Time to look for a new solution. After trying to get Drobo to work after a year of struggles, I’m done.

Leave a Reply
Previous Post

I’m Done with drobo

Next Post

Today I’m Launching My New Photoshop CS6 Photographers Live Seminar Tour