I’m Done with drobo

UPDATE 2/24/2017: I’m back with drobo! When I originally wrote this post, 5-years ago, it was definitely with a different “drobo” — as a company, and “drobo” as a product. Last year I met with their new CEO Mihir Shah and I was able to fully “air my grievances” and the grievances of many drobo users at the time, even though none of it happened on his watch.

Mihir is the opposite of what I experienced before — he’s a CEO obsessed with customer service and their experience with drobo. He personally called over 500 drobo users last year to talk one-on-one about their drobo experience and what they can do to make it even better (btw: when was the last time a CEO of a big company called to ask you what you think?). Anyway, he convinced a very skeptical me to give them a 2nd chance, which I did over six months ago (I didn’t want to write about it until I had a good amount of time to evaluate the units — one at home, and one on my desk at the office, which is seen here where I’m posing with Mihir).

I’ll have a full review of their latest units coming soon, but they have updated the policies that I had written about below (which I felt were vastly unfair and needed addressing at the time), and more improvements along these lines are on the way, but I now see Drobo, their products, their customer service and their leadership in a new light, and I felt this post needed an update. More soon. 

I’ve finally reached the point that I’m done with my drobo, which I use for the archiving of my photos. I actually use three drobos: one in my office, one in Brad’s office (onsite backup), and one at home (offsite backup). Now sadly I’m going to have to move to a different platform altogether because drobo finally pushed me to the point of no return.

What I love about drobo
What drew me to drobo in the beginning was the fact that it constantly monitors the health of my hard drives. So if one starts going bad, or gets full, my drobo will warn me, and robotically shift my data to other drives installed in my drobo until I can replace that drive. Keeping a photo archive intact is very, very important to us photographers.

Why I’m done with drobo
Because for the fourth time one of my drobos is a brick.

Wait, are all the hard drives installed in my drobo still working? Yup. Can I access my photos? Nope. Not a one.

When I came into work a couple of days ago, I cringed when I saw an all too familiar problem — my drobo cycling on/off over and over again. It doesn’t mount, and I can’t access my photos — essentially it’s a brick. Again. (see the video of my drobo below, and you’ll see it cycling on/off in what we now call “The drobo death spiral.” Note: This is not an exciting video).

Scott, can’t you just pop those drives into something else and get your photos back?
Nope. It’s a proprietary system that only a drobo can read. Sigh.

I went to their site, followed their troubleshooting guide, and it still just cycles on/off (by the way, as I mentioned above, this isn’t the first time this has happened — drobo has had to replace my entire drobo unit [not including the drives] before).

In fact, this was the fourth recorded incident Brad and I have had with drobo so far. And while you’re waiting for your new drobo, you cannot access any of your photos or files on your bricked drobo. You’re basically locked out.

This is the moment that I knew I was done with drobo
When my photo assistant Brad called their tech support for me, they told him my dead drobo is out of warranty. To get my photos back, I would have to pay nearly $300 for drobocare (an extended warranty program). So basically, while my drobo is supposed to protect my photo archive, what it has actually done is hold my photo archive hostage for almost $300.

I know what some of you are saying right now: “We told you so.” When Brad told drobo how supremely unhappy we were with that $300 hostage-situation, they eventually emailed back and lowered the price to $100. We passed on the “deal.”

At this point, I’d rather give that $100 to you. Seriously.
Rather than sending $100 to drobo on a solution that I’m going to abandon shortly, I’d rather just give the money to you to help me find a better solution.

To that end I’m offering a $100 bounty to whomever can help me choose a new photo archival storage system now that I’m “dumping drobo” (by the way, that would make a great slogan for a t-shirt).

I need about 12 TB of storage, which sadly may be conservative thanks to my 36-megapixel Nikon D800 which eats up drive space like a plague of locusts.

Just leave me a comment here with any advice you have for big storage, and if I go with your suggestion I’ll cut you a $100 check for your time and research (I’m only doing this for one person, so if 50 people say “try dropbox” I’m only cutting one check to one person. Just so you know).

My plea to drobo
I’ve been using drobos for a few years now, and have recommended them to a number of my personal friends. A lot of photographers out here have drobos, and we count on drobo to keep our images safe. But obviously there can come a point where our hard drives are actually OK but our drobos have failed.

If the drobo is a truly well-made product, shouldn’t it work reliably for more than a year? We don’t expect it to last 20 years, but it should darn well work perfectly for at least two or three. In short, drobo (the company) should have enough confidence in their technology and their product to stand behind their product for more than 12 months

My plea to drobo is simple… If our drobo’s power supply goes bad, or our drobos won’t mount, or whatever the problem is (unless we caused it by immersing our drobo in water, or dropping it off a counter, etc.) — we need you to replace it free of charge for a more reasonable amount of time than just one year. Otherwise the whole thing is worthless. Like my drobo is now.

So, that’s my story
While I love a lot of things about the drobo (the industrial design, the idea behind it, and the ability to easily swap drives in/out as needed), I hate that often I can’t get it to mount (ask Brad about this one). And worse than that, I can’t have a solution that protects me when all is well, but when it gets a cold (which it clearly often does), it locks me out and then holds me hostage. That I can’t live with.

UPDATE: I wrote this Wednesday night and planned on releasing it today, but when I went to save the post as a draft, I accidentally released the post instead (not the first time I’ve done that sadly). Even though I immediately changed the post release status as soon as I realized the mistake, by Thursday morning news of it was already bouncing around the web, and it quickly made it’s way back to drobo. They contacted me directly to see how they could resolve the issue and I even talked with drobo’s CEO a number of times during the day. He really seems like a very down-to-earth guy who seems genuinely interested in addressing his customer’s issues, but of course just fixing my problem won’t fix the bigger problem of their warranty policy, so I once again declined. However, to his credit he listened to my ideas (and rants) about how drobo might address this going forward so other photographers that get in this situation might be protected, and I even offered him the opportunity to respond directly to my readers here on blog. Hey, it’s a start. :)

  1. Hey Scott,

    I’m not sure about a hard drive solution that works with Mac
    OSX, but Crashplan + Family Unlimited plan works great as an unlimited offsite
    backup solution. It backs up 10 computers and unlimited space to their cloud
    servers so you can even set it up for your wife and kids! You set it to back up
    which computers/hard drives you want it to back up and it uploads the data to
    their servers. You can also set it up to automatically back everything up to a separate
    hard drive connected to a computer. You can access any of your documents and
    pictures on it from any computer from a website or iPad/iPhone too by an app. If your
    computer crashes you have a complete backup just a download away. For only $120
    a year it’s a pretty good deal for always being able to get to your stuff and
    knowing your pictures are always safe. Best of all, your friend Terry White highly
    recommends it. :)

    Here’s the Crashplan website


    Here’s Terry’s Review of it


    And try Dropbox! Or SkyDrive has worked pretty well for me.

    1.  My online backup strategy starts with Backblaze – @ $5/month and unlimited storage it’s a screaming deal.  While my own desktop still consists of a Drobo (original), I know others have been wary of the system for both your experience and for other reasons (proprietary RAID being chief among them)…

      Other systems are out there that can supply hot swappable RAID solutions which were not out there when Drobo started piloting the theory of such storage options.  The two most common ones I know of that are used are:

      1.  The Buffalo Terastation


      2.  The Sans Digital Tower

      Each comes with varying levels of hard drive stacking, so do the math and figure out which combination works best for your needs and budget, because if you want the local and off-site backup, that could be pricey (enter Backblaze for off-site).

      If I ever have to move off Drobo – I’ll likely go the Sans Digital route…the 8 bay tower is only $600, and can take 8x3Gb drives for 24 Tera of storage in a single station.  (here’s one on newegg:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816111175 )  Not bad considering… :-)

      Good luck finding the replacement solution…

      1. Scott,

        I think you should look at NAS storage from Synology.

        Good reviews and very reliable. I think they will work well for you.

    2. Mr Kelby sir,
      I’d use the g-tech options, probably pay bit more then the drobos but they do what they say on the tin.

      I’ve gone for a hard wired version which is unbelievable fast, I too got Rid of my drobo but to due the wifi back up was so slow.

      Hope you rectify your problem and are happy with the new set up mate.


  2. I would go with an Unraid server. easy to build, buy. One parity drive keeps data for all other drives so you don’t have to waste space and money on redundant drives. I have a 23tb server right now with 5 more empty slots built into a standard PC case. I built it and configured it myself and I’m a mac person. the whole thing runs through my browser. If a drive crashes, you pop it out and pop another in. It then rebuilds all the data that was on the crashed drive from the parity drive. You can expand drive size at any time. Just take the smaller one out, put the bigger one in and it gets rebuilt from parity.

  3. Physical drives.. Expensive but I’d look at the Lacie 4big which has a 3 yr or Promise Pegasus which has a 2 yr except for the fans and power supply and that’s one year. I’ve always had good luck, because it’s always felt that way with WD but for a hot swappable and multi raid settings these two would fit the bill. Of course promise is thunderbolt only but the LaCie is fw800 and down.

  4. I have several terabytes of storage in various places (I’ve run a data center for a Fortune 25 company) and the bottom line is this… the **only** time you **ever** go with a proprietary system is when there is **positively** **absolutely** no other choice.

    In this case, there is… RAID.  It’s simple, effective, and if you plan it out correctly you negate Drobo’s only advantage of expandability.I’m not looking for Scott’s $100… but any of the standard Lacie systems will do the trick.  I believe the newer ones allow you to do NAS to NAS backup across the Internet.Get yourself into RAID-5 with a hot spare and you will have a fast, reliable system.  And again, if you plan your expansion needs correctly, you will be buying a new system (because the current one is old) around the time you are filling up hard drives.

  5. Mike K already beat me to it so I guess he might get the $100, but unRAID might be your solution. There’s a Macworld article on it by photographer Ben Long here: http://www.macworld.com/article/1146120/unraid_server.html

  6. Dang it!! Kody Kahle beat me to the punch (LOL)..but I’ll chime in anyway & give my vote for crashplan – for all the same reasons he outlined.  Good luck Kody! :)

  7. The Drobo CEO only contacted you because he realized the exposure you have due to your following and successful business.  If it were any other Joe, like the ones who listened to your referral to use Drobo, they would still be held hostage.  You made the right choice.  Your poor experiences need to be shared just as equally as your good, otherwise you don’t reflect the world as it truly is and you do your audience a dis-service, which is not why we subscribe to your services.  Thanks for being objective and sharing your experience.  That’s what I paid for!  ;-)

  8. G-Tech has been popular. Offers essentially the same product as a Drobo (a multi-drive RAID, the G-Speed). If you need to talk to someone, Jeremy Cowart and Vincent LaForet are listed as users on their website (you might have heard of them) and Chase Jarvis has quite the video on his workflow and storage, all using G-Tech (don’t know if he’s still using them). They even go up to Fiber Channel setups, which likely even hold what you’d shoot with a D800.

  9. Hi Scott, simplicity is The Key….the safe key….at least how I see it. Yes, it may take some “labour” to individually back up bunch of files after every shoot but that’s how I do it…the old fashioned way. 
    I run multiple Lacie 2TB drives – one master and 3 back ups. If one fails, just go and get a replacement….and once the set is full, I just get a new set of drives. I never had to pay any ransom….or stuck without files
    Yeah, I know, no rocket science of 21st century…
    Best of luck!

    1. Synology makes great stuff, but I’m really surprised how little mention the Pegasus units have received in this discussion.  Price may be the issue, but the performance.  Oooh baby!

  10. Some of us have satellite ISP’s and can’t depend on online backup systems. Seems that it would REALLY be in the interest of DROBO to come up with a better solution. Better reliability, better warranty, or both. I use DROBO (based on your recommendation), and would appreciate it if the company could find a way to do better. Brick hostage situations are in nobody’s best interest.

    Thanks for the candor, Scott.

  11. Scott – may not be the cheapest service out there but check out LiveDrive (feel free to use my referral code if you do sign up… http://www.livedrive.com/?tid=QMF7Q8PF )

    I’ve used their service for many years now and have never once had a problem.  It works perfectly on my Mac and Windows machines, gives me an online ‘hard drive’ that I can use like a local drive that’s also accessible via any web browser and also offers Continuous Backup Protection (CBP).

    I use it like this :
    1) I use the ‘Keep a Local Copy’ option on the Livedrive ‘hard drive’ for my ‘Work in Progress’ stuff, usually for me this about 3months worth as I’m terribly slow at getting to my photos.  This uses local physical disk space but means real-time access to my files with no delay.

    2) I use the ‘Don’t keep a Local Copy’ option for the older things I want to keep but don’t need to access instantly – the files still show on the drive but when I go to access them they are pulled from the Livedrive servers so this saves me local physical diskspace.  My internet connection at home is RUBBISH (thanks Telstra!) so there is a delay while it downloads the file but it’s manageable.

    3) I use the Online Backup option to provide me with CBP for my Lightroom Catalouge and associated directories.  That way I never have to think about backing up files, it just happens, real-time.  (Well as real-time as my RUBBISH internet connection allows!).  

    As an FYI – I shoot with a Sony A850 in RAW, so 24 Megapixels, I have 3TB of local storage as an external hard drive that provides the ‘local cache’ for my LiveDrive for anything I keep a local copy of.

    I hope you find a solution that works for you as well as this one works for me.

  12. … and a PS to my previous comment…. Years ago (late ’90’s) we were all using proprietary Iomega Zip drives… remember those?  Vile.

    Most of them developed the “click of death” when you loaded a disk… it would just mercilessly click as it tried to read an inserted disk to no avail.  Calls to the company may have gotten you a new drive and you could once again load your data- so it was better in that you didn’t lose anything.

    However, it was a flagrant example of why you didn’t use proprietary hardware when there are standards out there.  Virtually all the disks in my RAID systems have been replaced while on-line without my users ever knowing there was an issue (knock wood!).  And the new disks are the same specs, but different manufacturers, so you’re not locked in to a single brand of disk.

    12 TB of data might be a bit much for “cloud” storage, but I guess handled correctly with enough bandwidth it could work.

  13. Thanks for the post – I have a Drobo now after a bad experience with a Buffalo box ( died during a power surge, corrupted the data and Buffalo referred me to Drivesavers -$3K later I have my data – Buffalo would not fix my out of warranty drive at any price).

    Really alarmed to now hear that Drobo is unreliable. I do back up all my data on Backblaze and unlike Carbonite they do not throttle after 300M

  14. Backblaze.com will back up one computer for $3.96/month with unlimited backup. Of course even with a fast connection, it may take you a couple of months or more to upload it initially. I suggest this as a cheap insurance in addition to whatever physical drive you use. 

    1. I don’t think he’s looking for online backup, but more for local storage.  You know the first copy.  I suggested the system backblaze stores our data on.

  15. Dear Scott,
    Have you checked out the http://www.iosafe.com/ system?  They offer several sizes/capacity/commercial/personal/fan choices and an awesome warranty.  I just found out about them today…weird huh?  All in one…I can use a George Washington, I read for about an hour about http://www.iosafe.com/ and then I saw your blog.  That is what I call luck..Well, winning would really be lucky. Take care and thanks for all you do for photographers like me.  With Thanks, Margaret Woolard

  16. oh man…thanks God I didn’t get it, i was thinking about to buy drobo , but after reading this no way, well hope you find a better system of archiving, and I guess I have to look others too

  17. I think a few folks including Trey Ratclif and even Scott Bourne are working the Thunderbolt Raid systems from Promise Tech.  http://store.apple.com/us/product/H5187VC/A/Promise_Pegasus_R6_RAID_System?fnode=MTY1NDA0Nw

    Not cheap but pretty amazing for photos and video.

  18. Scott,

    I would consider getting an enterprise class solution for your studio as a whole. I cringe when I see RC trotting around his external drives onset.

  19. No matter what you go with there will be a yearly maintenance fee for enclosure replacement/repairs.  And you’ll never be able to just swap the drives into a different brand as they all do things slightly differently.   The only way to to get a generic system is to use Linux or FreeBSD and build your own NAS (e.g. FreeNAS) which means you get to support it yourself.
    I’ll admit I left Drobo about a year ago.  It wasn’t due to hardware issues (as my first Gen Drobo they replaced for free, and my second gen I’ve never had an issue with), but because of general performance issues.  No matter what I did it became painfully slow for doing rsyncing of photos and time machine backups.   So I ended up swapping over to a Netgear NAS which has been pretty decent to me so far.  It isn’t as mix-and-match friendly as Drobo (if you build it you use the SMALLEST drives first otherwise they will not accept them later), but over all it has been much better as well as being a nice platform supporting iSCSI, NFS, AFS, DLNA, and SMB all from one device.  Something Drobo wouldn’t let me do nicely.I wish you luck in finding something reasonable.

  20.  Hi Scott,

    maybe take a look at the Synology DS1512+

    GBit NAS system (can be directly connected via USB 3.0 as well).
    It’s a 5 bay system but can be extended with 2 DX510 boxes up to 15 drives.


    If you need an even bigger solution the DS1812+supports up to 18 drives (starting with 8 drives in the DS1812).


    Best regards
    Thomas Clemens

  21. I’ve had 2 drobos since they came out…and in fact, had the same experience…except that they wouldn’t cover mine in warranty, so I had to buy another drobo…so I own three…. I have had it…the hardware is dying and the software is unreliable and really really buggy… it’s time to move to something non-proprietary so I can ge at my photos… I have over 5 terabytes of photos and videos and they are all locked up in drobo’s proprietary operating system.

    Scott, please keep blogging this and tell us about your search for alternatives, what you decide to move to and why…and how it goes… there are many drobo owners that are looking for alternatives

  22. Scott,

    This is a california based company. I’ve actually visited them and in discussions brought up Drobo as a product that i use. They were reluctant to bad mouth them but did say it was a design that could be improved and hinted at “issues”.

    Anyway, check out; http://www.rocstor.com/Products/arcticroc-4t.html

    This is user upgradable to 12T.

  23. Hey Scott, I would suggest either a Desktop RAID device like Scotg Bourne uses ( mentioned by someone else) or if you want crazy storage expansion options, an HP P2000 G3 MSA Modular Storage Array. I would suggest RAID 6 with an online spare. 3 yr warranty. Like RAID 5, but RAID 6 allows for 2 drive failures, then you have the coverage of the online spare too.

    1. Dude, HP Lefthand is software raid and you need 3 copies to ensure there’s no data corruption. Buying 36TB of disk to store 12TB of data is a waste of money.

  24. i was looking for a good backup solution a few weeks ago and i ran across WD Sentinel… it has RAID options as well and you can swap the hard drives. the only thing that I wasn’t 100% certain about is that it’s powered by Windows, so not sure about the stability of the product during firmware updates. hope this helps.

  25. I use Synology and it is fantastic. 
    -You can install whatever hard-drives you want, Seagate, WD, etc. 
    -They are scalable in that you can add other units to them. 
    -They work seamlessly with Apple and Windows (and support Linux as well)
    -They have several different Raid options that you can choose from
    -They have an integrated backup solution that lets you back up to another network device or to a USB drive (In this case I would recommend formatting the USB drive before you use it for backup. I was having a lot of problems with this but once I formatted the external drive it worked well).
    -All of your interaction with the system is built into a web browser interface that is extremely easy to use.–It works over your network so if you attach it to a wireless router you can connect to it
    -They have many different options so that you can access your files over the internet from wherever you are.
    -They have setups for cloud computing options so you can set up your own cloud service.
    -It has software that lets you backup your network attached computers on a regular basis. I don’t know if it integrates with Time Capsule, but it may.

    There are many other options available in its operating system. It even works really well with iTunes collections.

    1. I too am very pleased with my Synology NAS. I own an original Drobo. It was way too slow even with firewire. So I decided to relegate it to Time Machine backups which it does quite well. Our Synology has proven to be a wonderful work horse. Trustworthy, fast, easily expandable and once setup it doesn’t need any extra tweaks. It just works!

    2. In my original reply I meant to say Time Machine, and yes, it does integrate with Time Machine, so you can use your Disk Station to not only hold your data but also as your back up solution.

      Another thing is that you can set up different user accounts and accesses, so that Brad and Matt and RC and… could have storage space without being able to access each others files. It also lets you allocate the amount of storage users can have, though I think it is a one size fits all setting, so if you allocate 5TB to one user, you can’t then allocate 2TB to a different user; everyone either gets one amount or the other.

      1. Lightroom does work with NAS! Your catalog files just have to be on the “local”
        machine, the actual files can be on NAS. You can get around the “local” machine problem by using iSCSI which is easily setup using the Synology disk station OS. I get 180 – 200 megs/sec transfer rates over the network which is way faster than USB 3 external drives. My files are backed up on another set of
        drives on a 2nd Synology unit.

  26. Scott,

    You should consider Freenas. It’s open source and has a very active community. Its quite versatile, expandable but does require a bit of DIY. It took me no time to set mine up and it has been running without a hitch for 2 years. Every night, my MacBook Pro syncs my entire Lightroom catalog and I’m confident that my data is safe.


  27. This is how you get your photos back off those drives if needed: You take all four  (or five) drives out and place them in one of the other drobo units as a set. check this page for that info you haven’t already seen it. http://www.drobo.com/products/migrations.php

    I own two drobos and was very happy with them. they are both the original USB 2 versions that hold 4 drives each.

    They are maxed out

    I am not getting another drobo 

    here is the reason why.. They have to be attached directly to the computer. Thats right, according to the Drobo tech I spoke to last year, the units have to be attached to the computer and not through a USB hub. So I use a Macbook Pro as my main machine, and it has two USB ports so I could plug one into each and be good to go, unless I want to add any peripherals. like a tablet or a USB hub or a card reader..  My solution was to buy a mac mini whose only job is to deal with my backups. It has 4 USB hubs so I can run both he old Drobos and start moving the files to other drives.

    When you find a good solution.. count me in.

  28. I don’t know the specifics of your needs (for photo storage), but I’ve been immensely satisfied with the unlimited storage of SmugMug. You can of course upload any type of file, though non-image files (unfortunately including raw) can be stored for a few pennies per GB. 

    A couple of things I like about SmugMug – offsite backup with a robust & diverse storage solution that even lasted through the Amazon snafu within the last couple of years. We’re also starting to see plenty of working pros taking a stand on behalf of the family-oriented company. (For instance, take a look at Trey Ratcliff’s review: http://www.stuckincustoms.com/smugmug-review/.) 

    I look forward to this thread developing further – seeing a variety of options keeps the mind fresh and the options open for our collective future!

    Good luck in finding an alternative solution to that expensive brick… 


    1. Eric that is a great suggestion.  I have been using FreeNAS for over 3 years and it has been rock solid.

      -Any older machine in the office that is not used any more with adequate 3.5 inch slots and you are ready. (There is one around every office today)  
      -There is no hardware dependancy.
      -You can access them as a network drive from a mac, pc or  iOS, android
      -FreeNAS OS can actually can run from a Compact Flash memory card.

      -does not support HFS/HFS+. 

      -You are the warranty

  29. Apple mac mini server with USB drives mounted and raided with the mac OS. You can also use the server for time machine for your laptop and whatever else you have around. My configuration is 4 quad HHD USB drives in raid and one internal SSD drive as my system drive and a 1gig internal drive for my time machine server for my laptop and editing station. If any drive crashes it is in raid with another quad drive and if the system fails all the drives are mac formatted so I have no downtime. I also hot swap out time machine backups of the drives and rotate them around for onsite and offsite storage. This also makes archiving a breeze with not having to go back to the server, you just pop out the 4 drives and label them and store them in two places. This is a way cheaper version of what Chase Jarvis is doing. 

  30. I have a CineRAID CR-H458 ordered from NewEgg and loaded it with four 2TB drives. You can load it with 3TB drives to get your. 12TBs. I am running RAID 5 on it since Christmas and no problems.

  31. Thanks for sharing your experience — I read the draft version in my RSS feed early on Thursday and then wondered what happened to it when it wasn’t on the blog. I thought maybe there was some kind of resolution to the issue and you pulled your story, but apparently not. I have considered getting a Drobo but a scenario like this where the proprietary nature of their system prevents you from getting to your data has always kept me from doing it. I have no solution to offer, which is why I’m paranoid about another one of my drives failing. How about taking a break from photography until SSD drives are cheap enough to store your 36 megapixel images? Or maybe you could go back to shooting film and buy a filing cabinet?

  32. I have an early 3 bay FW800 Drobo (circa 2007 I think) which is still going just fine. We don’t get the extended warranty outside the US anyway (or did not when I bought mine in Australia then – maybe you can now).

  33. For something more or less off the shelf, I would search out something like the QNAP TS-1079 Pro. As a NAS, gigabit Ethernet would be essential for decent transfer speeds, but it uses conventional file systems (Fat32, HFS, etc), supports a plethora of RAID options and has 10 drive bays. Not sure on cost, but there are lots of similar options.

  34. It may not be a Drobo problem. I’ve had that happen several times when accessing any external drive from both Windows and OS-X (Lion). It works fine with all PC’s or Mac only but something is happening and the finger seems to be pointing at the Mac OS. 

    As far as alternative hardware, I’d check out HP’s file servers which are available at several price points. They are basically cheap computers with LOTS of drive bays, at least on the higher priced units. I wouldn’t recommend Apple’s basic server solution, no extra drive bays and their big server is most likely out of your price range.

    OR, (and this is what I would do myself) you could do the same thing with an old PC you have laying around gathering dust. Install server software and as many drives as it can hold, hook it all up via Cat 6 Ethernet cable (much more reliable then Wi-Fi, and faster). The fine folks over at Revision3 did a podcast years ago showing how to put together the entire thing.

  35. I’ve used SansDigital external RAID enclosures.  I’ve had 3 enclosures, and the one that was faulty was replaced.  The beauty is that the drives are hotswappable.  I use NTFS formatted drives, so can’t say for certain if mac formatted drives will work with the systems.  Having said that, if you call OWC, they can configure a hotswappable RAID solution for the mac.  As for off the shelf commercial RAID solutions, Western Digital has the Sentinel DX4000 that has oodles of connectivity options that are Mac compatible.

  36. Hi Scott. 2 Promise Pegasus 12tb. One on site,one off, incrementally synced using good sync or chronosync. Gdrives also good. Be interesting to hear what you decide to go with. Good luck. Dermot.

  37. Hi Scott :)

    In my opinion you have to move on something more expensive, but a lot more reliabe. Call your local NetApp reseller or maybe Dell. I know, is a huge, huge investment but data’s healthy is everything …

  38. you need around 12TB of storage x 3? A backup and an offsite backup so 36TB? How much storage do you think you’ll need 2 years from now? Exactly! Welcome to the wonderful world of shooting digital ladies and gentleman. You thought you could shoot for free?

    I suggest you go back to shooting on film, Scott, seriously. You’ll be a better photographer, it’s more exciting and it’s more archival. That’s what I’ve done after getting fed up with all of the extra baggage that comes with digital. My D700 still gets a little use now and again but not nearly as much as a year ago and the quality of my photography stands out from the crowd because I’m not shooting with the same camera/lens combo as everyone else. There’s a ‘look’ you get with shooting on film cameras. Try it.


    1. Go watch the Kelby Training video with Jay Maisel where the dude stores his film and print archives in a giant bank vault in his building. Try doing that X3!! Hard drives are cheap and keep getting cheaper. I’ll stick with digital, thanks!

      1. Joseph, I did see Jay’s vault and his million frames of film. That’s what happens when you don’t edit your work and you insist on keeping everything including the stuff that should be trashed. Is every one of those million frames a keeper?

      2. Well, when you shoot as long as Jay… Can you imagine if Scott switched to film only? It might infringe on his “Photoshop Guy” enterprise a little!! Film is like analog recording and vinyl records, it’s not gonna go away, but it’s not feasible for the majority. Digital is at a point where the technology has surpassed its initial limitations and its more than 99% of what working photographers need. That won’t kill analog completely, but analog will be niche from now on.

      3. I agree with you but my original point was that in my experience when you shoot on film you shoot less than on digital so your storage needs are less. On a roll of medium format where I have 10 or 12 frames they are all different. The street portraits on my blog are made with one single frame and then I move on. Do you know anyone using digital that shoots like that?
        Yes, film will always be a niche but until you start using it you’ll never know how much fun it can be. So many wonderful cameras and lenses to choose from, all beautifully engineered. Seriously, the design and engineering is astounding on some of the medium format cameras out there and not a single menu to faff around with and in most cases you don’t even need batteries because they’re all mechanical. Compare that to shooting with the same DSLR day in day out. The two experiences don’t even compare. Anyway, shoot with what you enjoy but just keep your eyes open to the fact that shooting analogue cameras and film is a completely different experience and you can create incredible images without having to slave away in front of a computer trying to get digital images to look like film. Sometimes it’s more about the journey and not the destination.

      4. I’ve been to Jay’s studio a few times. I have known him since 1983. If there are a million keepers (dating back to the late 1950s) I guarantee you there are at least a hundred million frames that were trashed. 

        Jay is the living & breathing  epitome of three fundamental principles of making better photographs : trying harder, exploring a subject in many different ways  and editing ferociously. He doesn’t give up and is constantly curious about what his late friend Garry Winogrand described as “seeing what things look like with photographed”.  He simply doesn’t accept excuses or weaknesses in a photo whether it is his or someone else’s. 

    2. I’ve got to be honest with you Nashir –  I went to that website and all I could think to myself is that there wasnt really that much in any of the shots that: 

      a. couldnt be done with a Nikon 5100
      b. Stood out in terms of quality that made it seemed like film. 
      c. showed any benefit to getting back into the cost associated with developing and archiving film. 

      Believe me, I can totally appreciate film. I’m actually seriously considering getting an RZ67 to play with.  When I do, you know what will be my Polaroid back for it?

      A NIkon D40.  

      1. RC, there’s a huge difference between the optics and bokeh of medium and large format cameras and 35mm (ask Zack Arias). Some people can see it, others can’t. If you can’t then it doesn’t matter. I’d love to see you shoot things on a 5100 that look like images from an RZ, especially when you shoot lenses wide open. I’d be very curious to see you use an RZ :-)

        Vinyl and CD. Same thing. Some people can tell the difference, others can’t. My D700 is the Polaroid back for my RZ but shooting physical Polaroids (or Fujiroids) is a whole different experience ;-)

        The cost of developing and archiving film is a fraction compared to digital. Shoot a roll of film, get it processed, printed and scanned to CD. Done. How much does a DSLR, computer, software, memory cards and storage cost? Don’t forget to multiply your hard drive backups by 3. If you process your own film it adds to the excitement and you feel like you’re hand making your images. Try it :-)

      2. Nasir – I think we’ve all tried it. We’ve done it before. None of us just picked up a camera in the last 6 years. We’ve tried it… that’s why we like digital. Some people (the minority by the way) will continue to think film prevails… but the truth is it does not. If it did, everyone wouldn’t have switched. Just sayin’

      3. Matt, I’m curious, have you tried medium or large format cameras? Maybe when all someone has ever used is a 35mm they think that’s all there is to shoot with. If RC ever gets a Mamiya RZ67 to play with I’d love to know what you think of the viewfinder compared to your 35mm. Shoot some physical Polaroids and see what it’s like to peel the print :-) I hope no one thinks I’m trying to convert people because I’m not. Shoot with what makes you happy and so long as you’ve tried other formats then it’s all good. I know the love for digital, I too had it bad for 7+ years but in the end I missed the look of film. I guess Instagram is popular for a reason. I find it narrow minded when some people say one format prevails over the other, the best format is the one you prefer. Is Windows better than Mac simply because it’s got the greater market share?

    3. And how do you keep your negatives and prints safe from fire, floods, theft and more?
      Even in the analog world you have to arrange things to protect your photo’s from any disaster that can happen. 

      Every photographer needs to protect their photo’s, specially when they have to make money from it. It doesn’t matter if it analog or digital. 

      1. Mario, you can store your film in a bank vault if you want to protect them from just about everything. The scans can be duplicated and backed up/spread around just as you would with RAW files. The big difference is you’d shoot a whole lot less with film so you wouldn’t have such a hassle to back up so many TB’s.

      2. I don’t mess with digital or film. I set up an easel and use paints o. Canvas. No backup problems!

  39. Crowdsourcing at its best. haha nice.
    crowdsourcing |ˈkroudˌsôrsiNG|nounthe practice whereby an organization enlists a variety of freelancers, paid or unpaid, to work on a specific task or problem.

  40. Dear Scott, very sorryto hear. Go withbthe Promise Pegasus R6. It’s lightning fast, not proprietary where you can replace single disks easily and cheap. Mine is working flawlessly.

  41. Imagine how it is for us mere mortals, if someone of your celebrity status can’t get satisfaction then we have no chance. I had problems with my Drobo that went on for months. I waited for many days between emails from their support. I have been “researching” the same thing for a long time now. Synology certainly seems a better solution for a NAS, I went for a Newertech 3Gb mirrored unit that has many connection options and enterprise HDD’s. The backup software that came with it works better than all the others I have tried. I also use Crashplan but that is as a last resort. My latest thoughts are to use a number of Newertech units with a Mini Mac (waiting for the USB 3) as the network connection. If the Mini Mac was to die then the drives can be connected to anything that has USB or firewire. I also use a Voyager dock to write to bare drives that are loaded into pelican cases (waterproof and very rugged) and taken offsite.

  42. Scott, I came close to picking up a Drobo when I saw that that was your choice. A very good friend of mine did some serious research and concluded that Synology was a more reliable drive for less money. I’ve been using it for some time, never turn it off, and it operates under the same idea with multiple drives. Take a look at their site and talk to their customer service. I think you’ll be more then satisfied.

    Robert Yanasak

    (I’m actually a Zen priest that has been taking pictures since I was a kid…)

  43. You could use Raid 5 formatted disk array via a fibre channel connection. Then you’re only tied to the OS Raid management software and not a third party disk control SW. Fibre channel controller cards exist for both Mac & PC.

  44. Scott you should take a Synology DS1512. I has 5 room for 5 disk drives and can be expanded to more.

    So just use raid 5 with 5 3tb disks and you will have you 12 gb.

  45. There are a few options.
    1. I like the Synology DS1512+. Can scale up to 60TB with multiple units. Can be configured in multiple raid configuration. Can act as a time machine to backup Macs also.

    2. Multi backup approach. For home.
    A. Use Windows home server with raid attached device. Install crashplan on to the windows home server to backup to the cloud.
    B. Add sync software to windows home server to sync any files/ photos to a Synology NAS device.

    Let me know if you need more details. —— rvega17

  46. I have a similar issue with my 4 bay 2nd generous unit. I am still using windows 7 ( yea I know time to change to Mac), in that when my pc goes into either standby or hibernation mode the drobo wakes up from standby mode them goes back into standby mode by itself . Called Drobo tech support, they said its a windows thing ??
    Now they can’t help me anymore because warranty had expired and trying to make me purchase an additional Drobocare warranty.
    Totally disgusted with them and now looking for another solution to my back up needs.

  47. First off, read this blog post (http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2011/12/workflow-hardware-upgrade-wiebetech.html) by John Harrington and particularity the comment war between him and Peter Krough.  Second, I’d call up Peter Krough and ask him for some advice.

    An online backup solution for 12 Terabytes will not work.  It would take a week, at least,to do the initial upload and at least a couple of days to do a complete reinstall.  Remember, you have to plan for the WORST case scenario, not the loss of a couple of files.  That said, keeping your keeper files in the cloud would be a good part of a complete backup strategy. 

    Connection and connection speeds are important.  Firewire 800 is the minimum, esata and USB 3.0 are better, Thunderbolt is best.  Like you, I’ve been a happy Drobo user for some time and have done my part in recommending them to other photographers.  Drobo has one big advantage over the other RAID 5 & 6 companies.  Drobos have the ability to use any capacity esata hard drive in the array.  No other product can do that. The problem is that Drobo’s are slow.  Transfer speeds are half of the capacity of the connection.  That’s why I’m looking to switching to something else.  I can’t afford to be offline for a day or better to restore my data.

    Raid 5 and 6 is always a proprietary file system, so if you go that route you need to be aware of it.  RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirror) may not be.  So you have a choice, a bunch of disks in a tower setup with their own drive names and you manage the organization, a RAID 0 stripe where all the drives appear as one large array, a RAID 1 mirror where one disk is the exact duplicate of another, a combination of RAID 0 and 1 or a RAID 5 block level striping with parity.

    I’ve found two devices that I believe can be configured in any of these ways.  The Wiebetech RTX400-QR or the G-Technology G-Speed Q.  I sure that there are others that will be mentioned in this comment stream.  Of course, you must have the same capacity and speed drives in this devices which could be problematic to find in the future.

    To be honest, I’m surprised that you are relying on one backup device.  I have a RAID 1 mirror in my Mac Pro Tower for data redundancy and two Drobos and a g-technology g-raid for data backup. A drobo or the g-raid is always on the desk and the data from my tower is backed up nightly.  The other two backup devices sit in two different safe deposit boxes at two different banks and the backup on the desk is cycled out for another one every week.

    I hope this helps.  Good luck with your search.

    1. Drew: I read this post and giggled a little.  While I appreciate the schooling that you were trying to give everyone here.. I just kept thinking of these bank vaults, and whether they had guards standing present over a fingerprint reader.. the other hand on a 9mm.  I know… prob not helpful at this point.  But hey.. 

      1. aboutrc,

        I wish that my bank’s access to the safe deposit area was that sophisticated!

  48. I use several Synology units, too. With all the data synced on schedule, one for backup “out-of-the-house”, physically put in a safe on the bank when I’m on vacation. It gives me far more possibilities as all the brands I used before, and less hassle as all the Linux-boxes I used to built up for NAS storage.

  49. Been considering a Drobo.  Now I’m not.  Thanks Scott.  Storage issues are a constant problem for us…sometimes I yearn for the days of film.  Looking forward to hearing some solutions out there.

  50. I’ve been a fan of G-Technology products for several years. Have never had a problem with them. They’re solidly built and, in my experience, very reliable.

    I use the G-Safe RAID 1 storage system, but they offer a range of systems for various needs and in various sizes.

  51. QNAP servers – we use them at work and they are fantastic. You can fill them with drives of your choice to build your own custom system. Not badly priced either – my personal one is 8Tb and it was about £1300.

  52. I use a Windows Home Server to store all my files. I work on any pictures through Lightroom during the day and starting around 0100 in the morning, the Home Server starts archiving my computers. I like this because it takes ALL of my files, not just the photos. So, in case I dropped something on my Desktop, or another rogue file that I forgot exists is changed, I’m covered.

    When I’m finished working with/exporting photos, I drop the folder (through Lightroom) into the mapped share drive that is my Server. I have it built only with four 2TB drives, which are both mirrored (so if one tanks, I have a 100% backup). Two drives are for the file server function, and two are for backups. This could just as easily be scaled up, but more drives will be needed. In your scenario, that would mean 12 physical hard drives. The good thing is that the Server also takes external hard drives; since I’m close to my limit, I’m going to plug in a hard drive labeled 2009 and drop the photos on that drive. Lightroom will know where they are and will show me thumbnails, so I just grab the hard drive for 2009, 2010, etc. if needed.

    It’s a little bit to setup, but there are many guides to do this; this Windows setup was actually the easiest Windows I’ve ever done. And it’s accessible via Mac as well.

    Or, you could also hire a tech company and install a larger server with file storage/sharing. The overhead is bigger, but with larger capacities you need larger machines. The downside to this is that if that machine breaks, you might not have anyone on staff to handle it.

  53. Hi Scott, I finally end up after an incentive research for my storage with the NAS solution from QNAP. 
    http://www.qnap.com/en/  QNAP is a Taiwan company with a long history in making this kind of products. Even CISCO use their NAS solution and sell this with their own brand…  Drew Gardner ones made the switch from Drobo to QNAP as well: 

    Hope it helps you…. 
    Cheers, Matthias

  54. I’d drop Mr Tim Wallace a line, he recently set up his storage system & Tim does his research. He knows all about large file size so I’d have thought he would have some good advice for you… As well as all the info here of course. I think he went Lacie. Good luck Scott.

  55. So they encrypt your data then charge you to retrieve it when the hardware you spent a fortune on to avoid the same problem fails. Surely that’s extortion?

  56. So, I’m not here for the money. In fact, I’ve got to ask, why not just pay the $300 (or just $100 now) and repair the Drobo? I know it would be nice if they lasted longer and/or were under warranty longer, but isn’t that just a cost of doing business? You obviously spend a lot on drives, and the real value is in knowing the data itself is safe, isn’t it? I fear you’ll spend a lot of time and effort to switch to another system, and not really be much better off.

  57. My LG NAS went the same way, its great till it isn’t.

    QNAP is my preferred NAS, but may be out of budget. Look at the TS-559 Pro II Turbo NAS  for upto 15TB of storage.

    The inelegant approach i’ve had before is lots of separate iSATA enclosure mounded drives all with seperate copies of the same information – very time consuming.

  58. I surprised no-one seems to have mentioned archiving as well as back up.
    Archiving is making a copy of your work, that you then do not back up to or ever touch again, unless you are recovering your precious data. You then back up continuously in addition to your archive. The reason for this is that if you have issues with the originals such as data corruption then that also gets backed up so all you are doing is duplicating faulty files.

    Now the big problem with archiving versus back up is when do you do it. Do you archive as sooon as you copy photos off card, after you rename, after you label/rate, after you process, after you’ve completely finished working on all of the images. Which could be the same day or it could be years later as is the case with one enormous project I’m doing. If cost is no issue then I guess several archives can be made at each stage – if there is a long delay between them. Also a local and offline archive as well as back up would be needed too. Which is why ensuring complete data safety can be too expensive and faffy for most of us to do as thoroughly as it should be done.

    1. I’m so in agreement with you. I had a few JPG files go bad on me some years back and they had been propagated through my entire backup tree before I noticed. In the end I was saved by having the hard drives from my previous PC in a box. I remounted the drives and got the files back. Doing a periodic backup and leave well alone strategy is good but as you say, makes for a lot of planning and work. You need to remember to make these copies and to have enough money to afford the capacity to leave drives dormant for years.

  59. Hi Scott, I’m sorry to hear that you have problems with your Drobo system, especially I am using a Drobo to.
    But instead of giving a 100 dollars to a person which gives you a solution isn’t it better to donate the 100 dollars to the orphanage in Kenia?
    So people can give you tips for free and the orphanage can use the money!

  60. If you have three Drobos and one fails, why can’t you continue with the others?

    I’m surprised no one mentions the IBM storage solutions. Maybe they’re too expensive for single photographers. But for a small-size company like yours, Scott, I would expect it to be within range. Storage systems as the V7000 (Unified) run very well with small businesses.

  61. Hi Scott,

    I’m an amateur photographer starting out my own business in Perth Australia. I actually use drobo which one of my clients provided, and I absolutely hate it. It is so slow in reading and writing files, so for my home/office I opted for the synology ds1512+.
    Great cloud server and I can set up an account for clients to download images from a specific folder within the nas.
    Really fast read and write.
    5 bays for up to 15tb storage.

  62. I use a couple of QNap drives (TS-809 Pro).• Web interface;• Can automatically backup to another QNap drive;• Dual 1Gb Ethernet ports;• 5 USB 2 ports;• Supports raid 6 (allows 2 HDD failures at the same time);• SMART and  HDD health scanning• Works with Time Machine (I know you are a mac user);• UPS support;• Very nice power saving options (schedule power on/ off, HDD standby);• MyCloudNAS Service which allows me to connect to my QNap drive array from anywhere in the world;

  63. If you own one or more current Macs with Thunderbolt you could go for Promise Pegasus drives. Quite pricey, but blazing fast.
    An alternative would be the OWC Mercury Elite series or G-Technology, have heard godd things about both.

  64. I’ve used Synology Datastation for 2 years now with never a problem, knock on wood. Raid system, up to four 3tb drives, accessible worldwide, photo server, media server, security features. Another nice feature for me since I’m moving overseas is 110-240! It s really been a great system. Good luck!

  65. Hey Scott,
    I recommend Synology products. But don´t take the one of the consumer range because they are to slow. Take one with the “+”. On the Synology website you´ll also find a hardware compatibility list to choose the right harddisks.
    Greetings from Austria

  66. I’ll join the others who recommend that Synology is definitely the way to go.  We’ve had ours for a couple of years with no problems at all.  The interface is incredibly intuitive and the whole system is faultless.

    There’s so much that you can do with this system (including running home security!) but we use a unit to store images, document files and it’s also hooked into our TV so we store movies on it as well.

    We chose Western Digital 1TB drives and have had no problems with these.  As storage demands dictate, we’ll swap them out for bigger ones and use the old ones in laptops or as external storage drives.

    Wireless connection is a little slow, but our router could have a bearing on this.  Must replace router…

    You won’t go wrong with Synology, Scott.


  67. Like you, we use 3 ReadyNas Plus’s that have been used exactly as you used your drobo. An yes, you could use different size drives with their x-raid system. It is still proprietary software if we would have trouble.
    We have replaced a fan, before damage and a power supply, fully restored itself. They by today’s standards are slow like your Drobos ARe. I have loved that I have only needed support those 2 times in 6 years… Knock on wood. We have had 3 hd failures in last year on laptops. (1 MacBook, 2 on PC’s)

    I agree with prev post thAt I would fix it for 100 just to have the TB as a backup if nothing else. I too am looking, but because of speed. I am anxious to see where you head.

  68. I’ve got two bricked Drobo Pros.   I’ve tried calling them…been through all the troubleshooting… I’m done too.    I switched to OWC Mecury Elite from macsales.com – and not only has it been far more reliable than Drobo, it’s also much faster.  Thanks for posting, Scott!  

  69. I use a paid subscription to Livedrive (and a RAID locally) – pros are space is unlimited, cons are it’s online so initial uploading takes a while and if I ever have to re-download it will take a while. But otherwise its seamless, been 100% reliable in the two years I’ve used it and the web interface is pretty good.

    BTW – I don’t need $100 so if I win donate it to charity.

  70. I looked at the Drobo years ago and others (ReadyNas X-RAID).  My 20+ years in IT has taught me RUN FROM PROPRIETARY SOLUTIONS, AND RUN FAST.  Your business is looking for storage solution that allows.
    1) to maintain a backup of the work that is on your desk (laptop).
    2) that can be staged to a larger area that you can retrieve for older work
    3) that can be fully restored when the next hurricane runs through Florida and you have to work from your remote site in Wisconsin.

    Sadly there isn’t a single silver bullet that can conquer that beast.
    Local on your desktop:
    You are probably looking at some 5 to 10 TB small standalone like a ReadyNas (NOT FORMATTED WITH X-RAID), but with a standard RAID.  Only thing you lose is the PROPRIETARY “Seemless Expansion” which isn’t anything to write home about.  This runs an embedded UNIX OS

    Your 1GB (or 10GB coming soon) local network, is used to transfer the data to a EMC SanArray.  In a safe and protected area of your studio.  EMC is used by many companies for their SAP business data storage.  Your network people can link all you back to it through a VPN connection when you are remote.

    This is important as it’s the one that you will have to go back to.  Amazon-S3 cloud.  It’s a pay for what you use storage and it is replicated in Amazon’s cloud storage sites in at least 3 locations around the globe.

    So your Mac (or PC) is connected to a desktop box and it’s all happy
    one of the many servers you have runs a EMC backup process that moves data from your desktop box to the EMC SAN array on some schedule.  Finally the server pushes the data on the EMC to Amazon’s S3 cloud.

    Hope this helps and please for the love of all that is good.  RUN FROM PROPRIETARY SOLUTIONS.

    1. David,

      Great answer. I”m 40 yrs + in this field and teach disaster recovery classes (among others). I could not have said it better. 

      1. While those of us in the industry know far too well the needs of disaster recovery planning, it is very frequent that small business owners such as individual photographers, videographers, software developers and the like find DR to be expensive and they end up coming up with odd solutions (such as using three drobos for data integrity across multiple physical locations) when something such as what Dave has suggested would be better. Much better.

        Sometimes short term costs get the better of proprietors and they make decisions which are very costly for their long term protection.

        I’ve seen established Fortune rated companies with horrendous DR policies and practices. But I’ve send small and mid sized companies with great DR practices. It’s all in who’s handling the work, making the recommendations and paying the bills and how well they truly understand the cost benefit of properly protecting their technology and data assets.

        In some situations proprietary technology is difficult to get away from. Oracle database technology is proprietary, even if the language for retrieving data from those stores isn’t.

        In short, there are reasons proprietary technology can and in some cases should be used. And DR practices are different for every business. Large or small.

    2. I would agrer with Dave. I have about 20 years experience. I am sure Dell could hook you up with some enterprise storage solutions. EMC and Netapp are also great choices for storage. I think your upfront costs will go.up but good disaster recovery solutions are expensive but will pay off in the end with peace of mind at the very least.

    3. Sounds good to me too, proprietary may make it easy when things work, but when they go wrong they will go badly wrong.

      I don’t think $300 is a lot compared to what a data recovery firm will charge you.

      This is the dark side of these multi-drive units. I had a ReadyNAS for while which drove me mad as it actually needed to be maintained to keep it working. The manufacturers market these drives as simple solutions, but in fact they are not at all. They can be great solutions, but only if properly understood and with a proper backup in place.

    4. Drobo’s promise is no more than any other, in my opinion; if you take a regular raid array, and the unit breaks down, the only way to read those disks is in a same-brand, same-type, same-configuration unit with the disks in exactly the same order.

      With a drobo, yes you need another drobo, no difference there, you need the same type?? NO they say you can place the disks in any other drobo as long as it’s a complete set of disks and you can access your data. Same configuration?? NO. the disks ARE the configuration, at least, that’s what their website tells us. Same order?? Nope. disks can be swapped around without any problem.

      So in fact, Drobo would be the wiser choice.

      Now, mr. Kelby, I understand your anger, and I also understand that Drobo should improve product quality, stability and care, but seriously, you are better off with a Drobo than you are with any other conventional RAID system.

      Again, that’s what their website tells me.

      Perhaps you want to reflect on this and tell us what we should buy instead?!
      What RAID-like system would give us the stability we need, the flexibility to expand without having to recreate the RAID with all-same-size-and-speed drives etc?

      It’s easy to complaint and say don’t buy this, don’t buy that, but what’s the alternative?

      Thank you.

      1. Drobo “would” be the wiser choice, if it worked correctly. Problem is, it doesn’t. We’ve got 2 16TB arrays, and we’ve had nothing but problems with them over the course of the last 2 years. We’re now moving to a different solution and we’ll be launching our Drobos in a trebuchet.

      2. You made me laugh but I should cry. I got a DroboFS 5 months ago and although it’s a great looking product, it crashed with the power cyle mode described above a few days ago. The exchange process was smooth but I think I might be in trouble in the long term. They have a great concept but are going to kill their reputation and marketing on bad hardware. it’s sad but i’m surely not bringing this into my corporate environment.

      3. were you using enterprise grade drives? nobody mentions in these posts if they use enterprise grade drives or not which should last longer than regular cheaper drives. wondering if that makes a diff with people’s experiences with drobo’s

      4. Enterprise or not, hard drives are not to be trusted. If you’re concerned about reliability, it’s a better idea to use consumer drives as mirrored pairs rather than pay for the privilege of trusting single enterprise drives. If you were going to mirror enterprise drives, save a buck and amaze your friends with three way mirrors made from consumer drives

      5. Yet the problems were not with the drives, but with the Drobo units themselves – THAT is why the author is not happy.

      6. The drives should not matter one iota. The drobo should have made sure it could access it all redundantly, apparently it still doesn’t. I’d never use a drobo device again, it’s very bad at reassuring access to your device. For some reason, even with good drives, they manage to corrupt the map their beyondraid needs to put together your spread out data particles, so if that’s gone all is lost. For some reason they can’t invent a way to make that map redundantly stored. Not even in eprom or local nand, which would be a logical thing to do. I was really flabbergasted that it managed to lose access to my data, while not warning me about any error, all leds green and the blue leds still showing the right amount of data that was on it. Well, if you’re not even capable of doing that, what use is a drobo device?

      7. Unless you’ve got an mdadm array, in which case any hardware you get that can manage to boot Linux can put your data back together.

      8. This is off the wall and does not address the problem, but how many chances do you give someone to FAIL? Scott mentioned he has had multiple crashes and is finally fed up. Microsoft has announced it will no longer support Windows XP, which is what it has done with 2K, Millenium, 98, 95, and every previous version of Windows. Out of the box XP needed patches and every Tuesday for ELEVEN YEARS. Do I give them one more chance? NO, I need a honey badger for the software giant. I am calling for a bill from Congress to require Software makers to stand behind their software OR RELINQUISH all of those patents. If they sell off the software or patents the responsibility is transferred as well.
        AS we all know Microsoft rehashes the same stuff over and over and could not afford to give up it’s patents. That being said, let’s face it – constantly patching the same programs is NOT Customer Support at all. Making a quality product that does’t need to be fixed weekly IS support. Did anyone besides me notice that Microsoft has never included in any of their operating systems, Anti-Virus?
        Hmmm? I will not give Microsoft another chance – enough is enough.

      9. You really need to educate yourself. An operating system is no different then any other product. Do you expect to be able to bring any car Ford ever made in the past 100 years or so into any dealer and expect that any Tom, Dick or Harry knows the car like the back of his hand? Do you expect them to stock parts for every car they ever made. Of course not. Car Technology Changes. Operating System Technology Changes. As far as patches go hackers are always finding security holes in all sorts of products and Microsoft does a good job at patching them. Saying your upset because there is a lot of patches is like saying you are mad because the company that built your car comes forward with important recals that could impact your safefy. It’s just plain stupid to complain about that. There is also no operating system in existence that comes with free antivirus bundled. In fact Microsoft got sued in the past for bundling things with it’s Operating System because people wanted the choice to install the software they wanted. Microsoft has had both good versions of windows and mediocre versions, but no Version of Windows will be supported forever, just like no version of OSX will be supported forever and no version of Linux will be supported forever. Every single OS has monthly patches…and if they aren’t it means the OS is full of security holes.

        I been in IT for 15 years and work at a Managed Hosting provider that services over 80% of fortune 500 companies. Don’t even bother trying to come up justifications for your statements they are just stupid.

    5. Dave of course has it right. These concepts are not new, but what is missing are consumer level solutions that are affordable, easy to implement and that integrate with everyday applications. I don’t have near the data requirements of Scott, but I still want the same level of protection that he does. Unfortunately, Cloud services are expensive even for my level of data needs. And the consumer level solutions are SLOW. 

      What’s missing is hierarchical storage for the masses. I want a solution that integrates with Lightroom that automatically moves less used images to local backup then Cloud storage seamlessly and allows for retrieval from within the catalog with my only awareness of where that file resides reflected in a longer wait as the progress bar clues me in to the fact that the file is being retrieved from the cloud.

      You’ve gotta think that cloud services will get substantially cheaper as capacity grows and initial infrastructure costs are recouped. You’ve also got to assume that Apple’s massive data center investment is intended to be more than just music and photo streaming. (Hierarchical Time Machine?)

      From my perspective it can’t come too soon. For now I’ll be moving files by hand, cloning discs, writing CD’s, and sending off site with relatives until someone gives me a better way.

      1. Why do you suppose Department of Justice organizations — including local police intelligence units — prohibit storage of case data on ANY cloud based enterprises not created and maintained by DOJ affiliated enterprises?

        Unless you control your own cloud, your data is NOT secure.

    6. Dave, as you know, there’s backup and there’s replication. Say you were to have a 6-drive NAS in RAID 6 as your local storage. That’s 16TB max. If you then have another onsite copy that’s the same again. Is your offsite copy then a backup system (full + incrementals/differential) or is the onsite the backup system and the offsite a replication of that?
      The reason I ask is that replication does not deal with file corruption whereas backups do. However, with Scott’s need for 12+TB of storage the backup system is then much larger still to cope with full + incremental/differential.

      What would you advise?

      PS Personally I’d advise steering well clear of cloud services. Recent issues have shown that most don’t perform any backups and even the mighty Amazon has had issues with losing client data (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/29/amazon_ec2_outage_post_mortem/) and it’s just not practical for the volumes of data we’re talking about.

      1.  What I have read so far suggests that a RAID 10 (1+0) has better performance than a RAID 6 array and slightly better fault tolerance than a RAID 5 array (RAID 10 may lose all data if the wrong 2 drives go down, but can survive the loss of multiple drives if they are the right ones). I don’t know about configuring hot spares to deal with automated recovery, but that is apparently one option with some systems. Supposedly a RAID 50 (5+0) offers performance which is less than a RAID 10 array, but has other advantages. Its downfall is apparently degraded performance during recovery from a drive loss compared to a RAID 10 array.

        None of these systems offer protection from data corruption though…they are not backups in that sense. They provide performance and redundancy against down time only.

        It does appear that virtually all of the commercial enclosure systems are proprietary in nature in one respect or another. If hardware fails, one is in basically the same situation as a Drobo…you need more of the same hardware for data recovery. That seems to present a decision point where one either is prepared to commit to a system for the long term and be satisfied with the reliability of the system,, knowing that it will need replacement at some point in time as nothing works forever, or move to a generic system using linux or unix with commodity hardware with individually replaceable components. Taking this direction probably requires a greater commitment to lean to do things the turnkey systems can configure more simply.

        If Scott wants to free himself of proprietary systems, it seems that he needs to either spend time learning how to configure a system or, more practically, find someone to do it for him. Such a system, perhaps with ZFS file systems, would seem to offer him what he really wants, freedom from being tied to a proprietary hardware and file system. An 8 drive RAID 10 array using 3 TB drives would require 10 drives to achieve his desired 12 TB of storage. A 12 bay enclosure would provide the option to mount at least one hot spare. He still needs at least two, and preferably three rotating backups. It is not cheap, but then he has to determine the value of his image files and his time lost during disaster recovery.

        Among the turnkey solutions, Synology and QNap seem to have a fair number of satisfied users.

        Now it is time for Scott to take a decision.

    7. well said! I was bitten by my Drobo 5D dying after 12months and 2 weeks of operation, and I realized that since my cloud backup had not completed, I had not way to recovery my data. I just ordered another Drobo to use to recover my data. I’ll probably replace it with the hp micro server running raid 5 since I can easily swap the drives to another low cost computer if I cannot repair the computer. They cost maybe $300 to replace, less than half what a drobo costs.

    8. Stay away from proprietary systems?
      Seriously, what is OSX, Windows and, to a lesser extent, Unix?

      We had huge data issues and lots of companies wanted to help us – sometimes for as little as $50,000 entry.

      Not counting Avid and Apple solutions. ($$$) Some places had racks and racks of blades – but each cost too much for us.

      We bought Drobo 8 bay, added some 1TB drives. When it filled, we replaced the 1TBs with 2TB drives. One at a time.

      Eventually it had eight 3TB drives.

      We also bought cheap caddys ($50) to use the liberated 1TB and 2TB drives to individual workstations. Eventually this was a good solution for local data (also on Drobo) which could be accessed locally, taking some load off Drobo. Editors would have “current job” on their local drive.

  71. Scott, I have a QNAP TS-659 Pro II.  It has 6 bays which I have 3TB Hitachi drives.  I have mine setup in RAID 6 so I can have 2 drives fail and it can still rebuild the RAID when the bad drives are replaced.

  72. Scott, contact Peter Krogh in Kensington, MD, the author of The DAM Book and former NG photographer. He has made the most complete study of archiving photographs that I am aware of. Give him the $100.

  73. I work with the Lacie Big quadra, same type of system but with normal drives. Not a problem in 3 years!
    Next step would be towards the Chase Jarvis solution: http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2010/10/photo-workflow-backup-chasejarvi/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ChaseJarvis+%28Chase+Jarvis+Blog%29

  74. I’d just build a tower and load it with hard drives, use something like freenas. I haven’t had a chance to play around with a drobo to see how easy they are to fix but you might be able to mount it with linux to get your files off. then you could reformat those drive to fill the freeness tower. If i lived in florida I’d offer to see if I could get it going for you. (no charge i’m just curious to see if i could do it) But i’m in SC. I’m sure you have some tech guys who could give it a try.

  75. Scott – Thank you for going public with this – it is with some comfort that I read your comments about Drobo as it confirms an opinion I have drawn.  As I read your posting I am watching my Drobo flashing in a brick state.   They even sent me another box but it would not mount the drives.  2 weeks later they were able to send me custom firmware to allow me to get everything out of the box and copy to another hard drive but honestly I have not had the time, or interest, to want to get this working again. 

    This is my second bout with them with such a situation – the last time it cost me $160 bucks to be able to get my data back – this time thankfully I had my warranty up to date and they did respond without need to spend any more.

    Like you I have rethought my storage needs too as a result and am no longer recommending Drobo to my friends.   

    Your writing could light a fire at Drobo to rethink their philosophies but honestly they don’t seem to get the gravity of this situation – I’m with you that I don’t intend to pay anything more to them.

    I await the winning solution that I hope will be both compatible for all platforms.

    Again thank you for going public with this – I am sure by doing so you have saved a lot of people from making a decision that they might later regret.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Mike Leonard
    Yarmouth, Maine

    1. I’ve been a very happy customer of BackBlaze for a couple of years. Very easy, and they don’t charge extra to back up external drives. 

      But it’s not practical as a local backup. Offsite backup for sure, but not local.

  76. Sorry to hear that Scott, I feel for you not a good position to be in.

    Personally I use crashplan online backup for the most important stuff (Will be more when I get a faster net connection) the total recovery time may be a while if I need to pull down everything down but atleast for me it is on a different continent and is there if I lose everything locally. I also use a windows home server for local backups (Made by HP) it has a mac connector as well as PC but I have not used it. Not sure I would recommend it for the amount you need to backup though.

    If you are looking at more expensive solutions at work we use an HP P2000 SAN which has been very reliable and robust and can support much larger disk arrays. And for the really concerned you can install a second one and have one snapshot itself on to the other, either on site or offsite.

    I am sure you already do this but the best advice I have had though is to have atleast 2 different backup systems using different technologies so a bug/virus/user error is less likely to affect everything at the same time.

    Hope it all works out.

  77. I use Synology’s DiskStation DS1511+ (though I believe they have a newer version now, the DS1512+. There is a base unit which houses up to 5 3 TB drives (I have 5 2 TB drives in mine), and you can also add up to 2 additional 5-drive bays so you could have a whopping 45 TB in this thing! I have one expansion bay with 5 additional 2 TB drives. My base unit is configured as RAID 5 and then the expansion unit is configured as backup to the base unit. You can configure as non-RAID, RAID 0, 1, 5, 5+, 6, and more. I believe you can hot-swap a drive if one dies, though I’ve never had to need to.

    The unit is fast and reliable (I’ve been using mine for about a year and a half always on with never so much as a hiccup). There are two gigabit network connections and it really flies.

    Check out http://www.synology.com. I was turned onto them by a Microsoft employee as I used to use a different product. I’m absolutely delighted with the synology.

    1. You should use RAID 6 if you have 1.5TB+ drives.
      The long time to rebuild the array in the event of a single drive failure could expose you to a second drive failure and then your data is gone.

  78. We wouldn’t be facing all these problems with film!!!!!!…..What do people like iStock or Getty use to store their millions of images??? I back up on a lot of WD hard drives (which haven’t let me down by the way) and DVD’s…..lots of DVD’s….otherwise I’m at a lost…..

  79. Thanks for putting this out there, Scott!  I thought about getting a drobo, but now I’m glad I never followed through on actually getting one.  I know this won’t help you, but I just use a simple backup solution where I back up to two locations using two programs; one is called AllwaySync which just does a file sync from one of my main computer to another older computer running Linux that I use just for backups and another program called Acronis True Image that backs up and compresses my data to an external HDD that I keep at work.  I don’t have as many photos as you so this solution probably isn’t the fastest or as convenient as what you need, but it works for me.  someday as my library goes, I’ll have to expand, but I’ll probably just go with larger drives..  I currently use just 500G, but soon I’ll need larger.  Since you probably use Apple, maybe you should look at one of their RAID solutions.. http://www.apple.com/server/storage/

    Good luck and I look forward to what you choose!

  80. I am a small time photographer with a camera that shoots 10.1 mega-pixels so I use “The Book”. Only 1TB of storage but ask yourself this. How many photos do you save that should be deleted? I think we all have them and we find it hard to delete them so they go in storage.

    1. Do you mean Western Digital… I have had 3 of those brick on me. It cost me nearly 3K to recover data from DriveSavers and I still have a suspicion that I lost data. If that is what you are talking about, go out and buy yourself a Seagate, format it (the preformatting for whatever reason seems to cause major conflicts), and copy your data to it. Then use The Book as a back up drive. When it eventually bricks use it as a doorstop.

  81. Wow… all these comments, and nobody seems to have mentioned ZFS.

    ZFS employs 256 bit checksums end-to-end to validate data stored under its protection. Most filesystems depend on the underlying hardware to detect corrupted data and then can only nag about it *IF* they get such a message … with ZFS, it will actively reconstruct the block from the available redundancy and go on about its job.

    Adding more storage to your ZFS pool is also incredibly easy. Like one-command and you’re done easy.

    In any case, you should run a REAL version of ZFS, not a “port”. I’d recommend a system based around NexentaStor http://nexenta.com/corp/nexentastor. The “Community Edition” http://nexentastor.org is FREE for up to 18TB of storage.

      1. To not get stuck, you simply need a backup copy of your scratch disk, which every pro shooter / content creater should have.  It doesn’t have to be a USB3.0/eSATA connected drive.  The largest USB drive or even some BR discs will suffice.  Relying on one drive to hold everything is Scotts real problem.

  82. Isn’t digital fun?  I’m in the same boat Scott.  Having started shooting pixels more than a decade ago I’ve gone thru almost every kind of storage you can think of from disks to zips to hard drives in bags.  Finally, maybe, I’ve settled on the G Speed eS drive array.  I’m not a huge gear geek so maybe “array” may be the wrong term.  Sorry.  But basically it’s four, three TB drives in a stack.  You can set them up a number of ways from just 12TB of basic storage to nine TB of RAID storage.  Check them out, they just might be your ticket to safe storage and easy access.  Good luck brother!

  83. Scott maybe try Windows Home Server 2011 it works with mac too I just read. if you want to try ti there a great site about it at http://www.mswhs.com/

    and you can keep your $100 you do more for me posting stuff I feel as I should pay you$100

  84. After a period of time all drives, or their interfaces, can fail. I don’t think there’s any one good solution. I had a LaCie 2Big Network drive fail on me last year, but fortunately was able to recover my photos & other data. LaCie customer service was pretty helpful, and even sent me a larger drive as a replacement. I was thinking of shifting to Drobo when I need to expand archival capability, but after your post, Scott, I think I’ll stick with LaCie. Worth checking out, sir. But I’m also going to go to the cloud soon as a fail-safe. Multiple options are key!

  85. This is not the first story I’ve read like this from a big-time photographer and exactly why I have continued to resist going to a drobo.  I’m (just an amature wildlife/nature photographyer) currently using a Windows Home Server, but would not recommend that for a business.  Thanks for sharing your experiance.  The drobo looks temping, but it is stories (plural) like this that keep me from going there.

  86. Scott, you’ve heard plenty of recs here on using a server. Here’s the top reason- What device is used to store and serve up the entire web all over the entire planet?  What device is used universally by big and small business to store data and run their intranets?

    You can buy a used mini-monster of a server off of ebay for a few hundred dollars with hot swappable drive bays. They have their own motherboard, basically it’s a PC designed specifically to move data on and off of hard drives. Sure it’s not a cute little box, but it’s the world wide industry standard for doing exactly what Drobo does, only better; and perchance it goes south only you, all the data is standard format and exactly what you sent it, thereby avoiding any hostage situations.

  87. Although it was not made clear in this post, it wasn’t one device failing 3 times, it was each device failing once.  That’s an important distinction.  After 4 years of heavy, continuous use, no matter what you buy, if it has moving parts or consumes electricity, its going to break down or need maintenance.  

    You’re photos are unavailable on *that* device, they are not being “held hostage”.  Pull your work product from one of the other two drives while you are researching a replacement purchase (of another brand?).

    This was a surprisingly negative and unnecessary post.  The only device ever created that doesn’t break down is the sundial.  Unless it’s cloudy.

      1. Immaterial.  He has 2 other backups, irrespective of brand.  He is lucky any device lasts for 4 years.  This is a lesson about using disparate backup systems, not the failings of a single system.  Every system fails.  Thats why he has two other backups.  This is not a hostage situation.

      2.  So, no problem using a Drobo if it bricks… supposedly, as long as you have more than one. What if Kelby just finished working on a few dozen photos and they haven’t been backed up to the other two units, is that a hostage situation? What if your at home working on a deadline at 3 AM and it fails? Drag it to the office, which could be an hour away, is that a hostage situation? What if a user only has a single Drobo unit that then goes south, is that a hostage situation? In fact, it’s obvious that Scott is referring to a single unit Drobo user when he cautions: “And while you’re waiting for your new drobo, you cannot access any of your photos or files on your bricked drobo. You’re basically locked out.”

        Go back and read the post and tell me where the “four years” comes from. What he wrote was, “I’ve been using drobos for a few years now…,” “this was the fourth recorded incident…” and “shouldn’t it work reliably for more than a year?” Your claim of things breaking is true. However, some longer duty cycle items, like a data server are built to last beyond a normal PC life and certainly longer than a Drobo, which as a data server/storage device should be built to a higher standard, imo.

      3. The comment about “4 years” is based on when Scott first started recommending Drobo.  I believe it was about 4 years ago when he mentioned it at a meet I attended with him in Houston.  The question about “what if it’s 3am”: this device is a backup storage system.  If any other critical device dumped at 3am, he would be in the same boat.  Any device will fail, including RAID, SAN, flash, floppy and stone tablet.

        Dear “Scot says it, then it must be so” people: do you believe Scott entrust his award-winning, photographic career-making, work product to a single storage device?  Saying all of his photography is “held hostage” is overstatement at best, dishonest at worst.

      4.  “…at a meet I attended with him in Houston.” LOL!

        “If any other critical device dumped at 3am, he would be in the same boat.”

        Um, no he wouldn’t because with most other devices available one simply pulls the drive(s) out and plug them into any PC/mac via USB or SATA cable and you have access to all your data, unlike the proprietary Drobo.

  88. Hi Scott, I’m a phd student, and we use a company called Penguin Computing to back up our data. We purchased an enterprise class raid array from them for $3-4k. It provides RAID 6 (meaning you can lose two drives and still keep everything, and is scalable up to 34TB. If your photos are worth as much as I think they are, this might be a way to go.

  89. Hi Scott! I’m using Drobo as well (I actually bought it because I saw it in your equipment list) but no matter what you use I’d recommend to always sign-up for extended warranty. 

    Apple makes great devices and I never had any issues with one, but I’m still on AppleCare on all my devices to extend the warranty and support beyond the 12 months they offer (here in the US at least).

    So that’s my recommendation :)

    I’m sure you have your backup strategy covered, but for anyone else who has not, I’ve just wrote a short article about my updated backup strategy at http://www.michaelkummer.com/2012/06/15/my-updated-backup-strategy/ (which still includes Drobo but I’ll double check my warranty after having read your post) :)

    Thanks for sharing your issues!


  90. Check out the G-Technology G-speed series. Up to 12 TB of storage, 3 year warranty, e-sata, and great reviews from everyone using them. Cross that with Pictage or SmugMug back up and another off site or two drive system, and you should be solid.

  91. Setup a Tower Raid 1 and then backup to CRASHPLAN. I’ve used this system for years and hasn’t failed yet. If the raid fails you have all your images stored offsite at CRASHPLAN. Highly recommend them!

  92. Scott,  Are you keeping all of your photos on the Array?  I’d look at this problem in two segments – 1) The stuff that I am working on regularly and 2) The archival stuff.   

    With 36 mp files of the D800 throughput should be your #1 concern – that is a TON of data to load- so make sure you get an eSATA/Thunderbolt/USB 3 RAID Array for that.  That’s your expensive storage.

    For your archival stuff (or even smaller files) you want to go for a NAS solution – that is your cheaper, but highly reliable stuff. 

    For “real time” fast storage.  YOUR A MAC GUY! Check Apple’s web site (but don’t order form them – too $$) (
     Seagate 3TB GoFlex Desk for Mac Thunderbolt Hard Drive [Add $409.95] LaCie 4TB 2big Thunderbolt Series RAID Hard Drive [Add $599.95] Promise Pegasus R4 4TB (4x1TB) RAID System [Add $1,149.00] Promise Pegasus 12TB (6x2TB) R6 RAID System [Add $2,499.00]

    Apple’s get a little shaky with external Raid arrays so make sure it says “for mac”.  The other thing to consider is Thunderbolt is getting pretty big and the new sexy Retina display laptop supports it (so do Imacs).  

    For archival – If you want this to be reliable think about going for a full blown server – its reliable, the backup software is better its not proprietary, and you probably have a smart IT guy on staff who can set this up….And you can even mirror it in “The Cloud” if you’d want. A much more pricey option that someone else was referring too is a “SAN” and are available from EMC,HP, IBM, etc,

  93. Ultimately it comes down to what your budget is for a back-up solution. There are some serious enterprise class back-up options out there that are pretty much bullet proof if you are willing to lay down the cash. If money is not the concern I would look seriously at the Dell Powervault SAN storage units as a first tier back-up and a data center cloud based storage system to back that up.

  94. Like some others, I use Synology. Check out their site, and you’ll see they cover the gamut from consumers to small enterprises. They’ve been great about constantly updating their software (free upgrades), have more bells/whistles than you’ll ever use, and they use a normal Linux filesystem. Mine sends me email when there are alerts – you’d have known there was a problem before arriving at your office. They need a bit more IT-savvy than Drobo, but I think in your office, you likely have that covered!

    Anyway – good luck!

  95. Exactly because of what you experience I will never, for personal or for company recommendation, allow my data to be under a closed-source proprietary solution. What if the company goes out of business?  What if they discontinue the line?  Your SOL.  Completely COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.

    My current storage is 4×1.5TB drive in RAID-0 driven by linux software raid in our small business server.  This is backed up to 4 identical 1.5 TB discs in a SansDigital eSATA enclosure (maybe the TR5M-B), also configured by the linux software RAID.  I’m running out of space.

    I am planning on upgrading my own storage solution right now.  I am thinking about something like a LSI MegaRAID SAS 9285CV-8e connecting to something like a Sans Digital TR8X-B external tower/backplane populated with 6 or 7 high capacity (4TB+) consumer disks in RAID 5 or 6 backed up to 4 or 5 disks on the JBOD array driven by linux software RAID (COMPLETELY NON PROPRIETARY).  Probably XFS file system for both.

    It will take 1/2 a day of geeking out to set up and configure, then another overnight to transfer the storage over.  After that I’ll have a lot of reliable space.

    1.  Oh … almost forgot … I’m thinking of buying a tape drive as the 3rd level of off-site backup.  LTO-5 drives are expensive, but the cartridges aren’t horrible and you can keep dropping them in the safe deposit box every shoot or week or month or quarter depending on your level of paranoia.

  96. Your post is the reason I gave up on Iomega products years ago. The were always image over substance. I will never use an Iomega product ever again even if they were giving them away. 

  97. Scott, I had a Drobo FS.  After Lion came out it became unusable.  My Drobo was under warranty.  I refused to be ignored and I did everything they asked of me to fix the problem-logs, tests, etc., nothing worked.  Finally, after three months of failure, I demanded my  money back.  To their credit, they did reimburse me.  I moved on to the Synology DS1511+ and never looked back.  It just works, that  simple.  I dont have time nor the inclination to learn about the intricacies of storage, I just want it to store stuff and it does that.  Hope this helps. Cary

  98. Hey Scott! Sorry to hear about your luck. I have a drobo as well that I won from a contest but haven’t invested yet in the hard drives. Think I may find an alternative since a few other photographers having problems with theirs.

    Trey Ratcliff used to use drobos as well, but switch over to the “Promise Pegasus 12TB R6 RAID System with Thunderbolt Port”. I haven’t used one yet since they are a little pricey, but Trey usually is right about the stuff he likes.

    Here’s a link to find out more:

    Best of luck to you in your choice. :D

    1. P.S.: You can daisy-chain multiple R6s using Firewire, if 5TB is not enough. I also use Smugmug’s Amazon backup service as an online backup, but I am not sure I’ll continue using that, since it’s just too slow over my Internet connection – especially with the D800 files…

  99. Scott, I’m sorry to hear of your troubles. Likewise, I’m saddened by the fact that when ‘Scott Kelby’ has a problem, the CEO jumps right in. when lil’ ol’ me has the problem, nobody would care. I don’t mean this negatively. I applaud you Scott for making this public. It’s simply a sad commentary on how much of the business world works.

    In any event, Kelby Media Group is a multi million dollar enterprise (that I would love to work for!) and needs enterprise level backup solutions. Solicit four bids from Enterprise level vendors, Figure out which fits your needs best, and go with it.

    Scott, you have the luxury of using an enterprise level solution for your personal backup. That’s one of the bonuses of being a successful businessman. Embrace it and run with it!
    -Mark R.

  100. Scott,

    When the Nikon D3X came out I felt your storage pain big
    time!  Luckily none of my data was held
    hostage by a proprietary system, which originally kept me from the Drobo system.  In 10+ years of shooting digital, I have
    never lost any data.  Here is the deal
    you not only need storage, but you also need SPEED!  There are a lot of systems out there that can
    provide storage, but with large files speed is a big issue.  I spent about 6 months looking a solution and
    found one:  Synology NAS! 

    I currently have a Synology 1511+ with a 1510 piggy
    attached.  I am getting ready to add
    another unit with larger dive capacity because with the bigger files space gets
    eaten up fast.  My system is fast, affordable
    and most important reliable.

    SPEED:  I use my NAS
    with Lightroom and yes the catalog files and image files are on the network and
    it is fast!  Let me repeat and this is
    big:  the catalog files are on the
    network!  The Synology units are very versatile
    with a large number of configuration setups available! The key is
    configuration.   The iSCSI interface allows your computer to
    see the configured network drive as a local drive thus it works extremely well.  I am getting 200+MB/sec transfer rates over
    the network:  That is faster than my
    internal drive to drive rates.  The configuration
    does not stop with ISCSI.  I use RAID 10:  2TB, 7200rpm drives in a striped
    configuration.  This gives me speed and
    redundancy.  RAID is not backup, it is
    redundancy in case of drive failure. 
    Backup is accomplished with NexStar Hard drive dock using USB 3 and 2TB
    external drives that just drop into the station.  The external drives then go off site.  Don’t let RAID scare you, it is not
    proprietary, and Synology makes it easy to setup and maintain.

    This info only touches the tip of the iceberg:  I could write a whole blog post on my storage
    journey.  But some other things I
    learned:  Stay away from 3TB drives.  (I used groups of both Seagate & Western
    Digital Drives), they are not very stable, when I used them my RAID volumes
    crashed about 2 times per month.  Because
    of RAID I did not lose data, but the volume had to be rebuilt which takes some
    time.  I went back to 2TB drives and have
    never had a volume crash1000rpm drives are faster but generate a lot of heat –
    heat:  bad for electronic devices!  My network is configured with GiG interface
    and I use CAT6 cables.  There are a lot
    more details but this should put you on the right track.  If you have any questions let me know.

    With the new cameras storage is an issue new users will have
    to deal with sooner than later.

  101. Scott, everything will break; remember Murphy?  What is the value (and real cost) of your and Brads time to ‘change’ to a different storage system?  What will you do the next time your storage system fails and the vendor wants mucho $$$ to repair it.  Another ‘new’ investment?  I suggest you take advantage of your conversations with Drobo’s CEO, et.al., and do two things.  1.  Let Drobo ‘repair’ your system, regardless of the cost.  2.  After they fix your system, then work with them to improve their system as it will help all of us.  Hope this helps.

      1. Mike, I don’t disagree with your comment, however, eventually we (and Scott, et.al.) will have failures with whoever our vendor is.  Whether it is one year, two years, etc. it is very costly to change vendors as the same or similar issue ‘will’ arise in the future.  Then the cycle starts again.
        As in the auto industry were we have ‘Lemon Laws’, I haven’t heard of an auto company that is out of business, etc. because they had to replace a car under the Lemon Law statue.  The auto company usually tries to learn from the problem (at least I hope they do) and based on the fact that ‘we’ are still buying cars, most folks seem to believe the auto companies are learning.  I believe the same holds true for the ‘drobos’ of the world. 

      2. It is also worth noting that the failures were across several devices.  If the same car died 4 times in 4 years, that would be a problem.  If you bought four cars and they all had an issue after year #4 … well … that’s what happens with things that have moving parts and consume electricity!

      3. $100 for Scott is nothing. $300 is also nothing. His time writing this is probably worth more. I’d pay $1000 to get my files back

      4. I did pay $1,000 to get my files back on a lousy 500GB drive that had less than 100GB of data on it, but it was important data. It is not cheap to recover data from a bad drive. If they had told me $300, I would have heaved a sigh of relief.

  102. I’d echo the sentiments of having three stages of storage:
    1) Fast local drive, thunderbolt LaCie or similar
    2) Relatively inexpensive (read: slower) NAS solution for archival (Thecus)
    3) Cloud backup for all.  I really like BackBlaze for $5/mo unlimited.  The client is written natively for mac os, so it’s not bloatware.http://www.backblaze.com/

    If you RAID the Thecus, and mirror it automatically to another device as you are with the Drobo locally, you’ll have local copy backup in addition to fault tolerance.  Worth noting, fault tolerance (RAID) and local backup are not interchangeable.  Then, back everything up to the cloud (Backblaze, Amazon S3, or similar) and you’ve got off site with the addition of that off site having a great degree of fault tolerance and availability.

    This is not unlike what large enterprise customers do with their SAN.  The difference is that the SAN has fast storage (perhaps SSD) medium storage (traditional spindle) and then can be augmented by an Amazon S3 type solution.  

  103. I’m actually surprised you like the Drobo at all. Never made any sense to me. Why not just use a RAID 5 NAS? No need for a proprietary system when we have standards for these things.  I like the LaCie 5Big Network 2 – 5, 10 or 15 TB – 5 drives, capacity equal to 4. A drive goes, you replace it and it restripes your data. Also, I’ve never had a drive go. Solid, quiet, quality. They also have a great feature that will sync your NAS to a NAS in another location over the Internet so you have an offsite backup as well. 

  104. Scott,

    I have some extra zip disks/ jazz drives laying around I would be more then happy to send them your way. On the serious note… I scanned the forum and one person already mentioned probably the best one

    QNAP… not alot of people have heard of it but its seriously the best storage device out there. Not only is it based on the raid system but you can build in a secondary built in remote replication and it can be back up on the Amazon S3 cloud storage. So basically this is what it means for you. Hey…. I am in cuba, paris, canada, the bathroom…. you can jump on your Amazon S3 cloud drive and know you can access your photos when you want them.

    This might be over kill… but it really opens you to having your data just a click away…. as well as backed up and supported with a great staff

  105. Gee, I don’t know this is a tough one! Particularly if you are a PRIMA DONA (albeit a talented one that I religiously follow).
    Answer: Do what the rest of us mere mortals do, BUY THE FREAKING EXTENDED WARRANTY!
    Thanks: Give the $100 to Drobo, now go solve reals problems for us, by the way great webinar on Cuba!!

  106. Have you heard of big data lately? have a look at HDFS (http://hadoop.apache.org/hdfs/)
    this is a file system that manages your files across a distributed system.

    The good: it does exactly what you like from your Drobo. It manages spaces on disks automatically, it also manages duplication of files (x2 or 3 or 4, you can tailor) so that when one of your disk crashes (they will) or one of your PC/Server dies, you always have other copies of your files on a different disk/system. It’s open source. It is expandable, in 2 years you’ll need another 4 Tb extra? no problem, add a PC/server to the cluster.

    The bad: it could be an overkill for you, you may need a small IT department or a strong IT person (but hey, you’re the one deciding on that). you may also need quite some room to store PCs/Servers. And finally it’ not a polished tool, it’s made by geeks for geeks, you’ll need some java coding to manage transfer from your computers to HDFS and back. It’s linux based, not sure how that works with your Macs. It has one single point of failure (will be fixed soon though)

    This one is both good and bad: 
    good: $400 PC + few hard disk is good enough for your need (no need for a power house, just storage)
    bad: you’ll need between 4 to 8 of these machines to cover your 12Tb

  107. Hi Scott

    Check this web-site : http://macperformanceguide.com/index_topics.html

    It’s written by a photographer working on a Mac. There is ton of article how to backup / clone / your hard-drive.
    There is also a backup strategy etc etc etc ….

    Very good

  108. Time to go with emc or netapp type solutions. Big data, pay the maintenance. I never lost data or had a service outage with them. You’re a commercial enterprise of fairly large data requirements, by the time the rest of your staff shares in the same pooled resources, your net costs will decrease. Scale up buddy, you’re a big success now.

  109. This is very interesting Scott.  I’ve been using several Drobo products for a few years now and I
    too have experienced a “Drobo brick” situation once where they had to send me a new unit overnight to then have the drives reinserted and re-obtain my data.  I realize how absolutely frustrating it is to go through situations such as these.  I’ve been in technology professionally for over 13 years and I think that I can lend some light on this situation.

    What is important to note, and I think you should have stressed this point, is that when this
    happens, your data isn’t lost.  Yes, it absolutely requires another Drobo unit as a replacement in order to get your drive back, but guess what, that’s how RAID works.  Drobo is EXCELLENT at ensuring that the data on the drives is recoverable.  While annoying to have to wait for an overnight shipment if you have a Drobocare package, your data will be back up and running within 24 hours.  Try to get that sort of guarantee from HP, Apple, or Dell.  Won’t happen my fine friend.  The reason for this is because
    of the way that the TECHNOLOGY works.  Please allow me to explain.

    Let me give you an example.  If you have a RAID 5 array set up on a server somewhere and that hard drive chassis, or server dies, guess what you have to do in order to get your data back (without a guarantee btw), that’s right, you have to do the EXACT same thing that Drobo requires you to do.  You have to replace the unit or failed part.  Drobocare essentially is Drobo’s way of receiving ongoing revenue.  This ensures you get full tech support and hardware replacement.  For a Drive that you paid $2,500(ish) for, you MUST value your data quite highly.  Being in technology as a profession for the last 13 years, I’d like to point out one flaw in your design, you have a single point of failure. While the hard disks are redundant, as you’ve learned, you only have one chassis, so the chassis and all of the components in the chassis are subject to a single point of failure.

    I agree with you completely that at the price point Drobo is asking for, they need to seriously address this issue where their chassis fail as it appears that this is far more common than they would like to admit.  That being said however you must remember the goal of what you bought wasn’t simply
    storage….what you truly purchased was DATA PROTECTION and Drobo has given you just that.  You even stated that this has occurred to you on multiple occasions and on those occasions you were always able to get your data back nearly immediately upon receiving your new replacement unit.

    Not only does Drobo ensure that your data is protected, but it doesn’t matter which ORDER your put the drives back in.  You can’t do that with any standard RAID configuration for ENTERPRISE level protection.

    I’m not suggesting to you my friend that you are incorrect to have your frustration.  I am fully supportive of your plea and greatly appreciate your candor and objectivity when it comes to your discussions with Drobo.  That being said, I think you are at a bit of a disadvantage when you are weighing your options for localized data protection because other than Thunderbolt support, Drobo’s professional level (versus their business class products such as the B800i & B1200i) products are worth every penny and yes, it’s imperative that you obtain the Drobocare pack.

    I would however like to offer you an alternative to Drobo which was your plea. If I were you I would take a good hard look at the G-Series hard disk configurations.  You can find it at http://www.g-technology.com/

    I GREATLY value all that you, Matt, and your staff do for the photography industry and I have seen so much personal and professional value from the products that you put out, I simply wanted to add to the conversation and try to educate and offer potential solutions to you.  

    Thank you so much for all that you do and I hope that you find a solution to your problem immediately! As for me, I’m going to hold onto my 3 Drobo professional series drives and 1 Drobo B1200i as they have served me incredibly well as compared to the alternatives.

    You Rock!


  110. Scott - 

    Sorry to hear about your Drobo woes. It is never fun when a hard drive won’t start up or connect. I have had five or six HDs over the years go bad on me. I just hope you didn’t lose any images. 

    I have been using the 12 TB G-Tech G-Speed Q for a while now and it seems super solid. It is just normal RAID 5 and not proprietary. Here is a link to it:


    And if Apple ever revamps the MacPro I would love to try the Pegasus R6 Thunderbolt RAID 5. It looks amazing – a bit pricey – but wicked fast. 

    if these work for you, save your $100 and put it towards the hard drives. 

  111. Drobo bit my butt a year ago, when my computer refused to recognize the drive. They replaced the Drobo (it was in warranty) but offered no way to recover data. Not a disaster because I had adequate backup on non-Drobo drives and didn’t lose any data. I use a combination of onsite and offsite non-Drobo hard drives, and Crashplan for the cloud. It would be very slow to download all my data at once from Crashplan, but if I could get anything I had to, from any computer.

    I also keep a hard drive that’s about six months out of date. In case of major computer disaster, I’d at least have everything up to six months ago. I may be a little compulsive about my backup….

  112. Sadly, the inexpensive online storage products are not appropriate because they do not GUARANTEE retrieval of your stored data.  Assuring availability means off-site duplication of data with verification.  Additionally, the storage companies should be able to provide to you with a SAS-70 upon request (document that a third-party has reviewed and verified the procedures as stated in the SAS-70).

    That said, for a professional photographer, offsite storage still makes sense and can be considered as overhead.

    My recommendation:  Iron Mountain, IBM, Amazon S3

    If you need realtime access, I’ve been happy with the Icy Dock raids; however you still need to ensure your data is safe.

    The above services might offer realtime, online continuous backup services after an initial load.

    The most important thing about backups is not that you’ve backed up your data; it’s that you can recover your data from those backups easily, quickly and reliably whenever you need it.

  113. I can’t take credit or $100 for this idea.  In fact, someone may have already posted about this.  But I’m not reading all 183 comments to find out.  However, Scott Bourne (@scottbourne:disqus, photofocus.com) had a great solution that he posted about in January of 2011.  Here’s the post: http://photofocus.com/2011/01/10/are-your-photos-backed-up-my-new-photo-backup-tools-archive-strategy/

    Maybe its worth looking at.  Even though it is 1.5yr old information.  I think he is doing something different now anyway simply because of “Thunderbolt”.  But the biggest take away from his article is that the weibeTECH stuff is not proprietary like the DROBO (at least when he published the post). 

    I can imaging that Drobo was totally FREAKING out that you posted this issue.  Because when Scott Kelby posts stuff people listen.  I bet they saw dollar signs going straight to the trash know that you weren’t happy with their product.  In fact, I’m positive I won’t recommend their backup solution to my company anymore knowing you had these problems.  So, thanks for the post.  Good to know.

  114. Your Drobo: “VolumeName” has reported the following informational alert.


    Drobo detected a critical customer service error. Customer back out and new system transfer in progress. Replace the policy indicated by the blinking red light immediately!

  115. Thanks Scott for always telling it like it is. Your a pretty lucky guy to be big enough in this industry to be able to stir up a S$!t storm & get company’s stand up & listen.

    Not looking for the 100 bucks but check out OWC. I know you know about them. They are a great company & they are a great Eco friendly company as well.

  116. Scott, I have lots of experience in IT (more than I do in Photography to be honest). I too looked into using DROBO, but decided against it for the obvious reasons (proprietary, failure rate, etc.).  I’ve tried other solutions from NetGear ReadyNAS to others, but all have failed me.  To move to a new platform will be a learning curve, but well work it in the end.  For my clients I use a few different combinations depending on their needs.  I’m a strong believer in ShadowProtect by StorageCraft that makes a rock solid backup of your entire computer.  This product is intended for Windows OS’s (PC) but the technology exist in a product called DattoBackup which I think supports Mac.  They provide the software, hardware NAS & even cloud storage as a packaged solution and they have won a ton of awards over the past few years for best backup product.  If you are just looking at switching platforms from Drobo, I would highly recommend a NAS device from Synology (www.synology.com).  I use both their Rackstation & Diskstation products and have never had any issues to date.  Synology also makes a ton of add-on software that can turn the NAS into more than just a backup device (Music server, mail server, FTP server, Web server, etc.).  You said you have on-site & off-site backup.  When using the Synology device, you can sync multiple devices across multiple locations.  The devices also uses standard RAID configurations for extra level of redundancy.  If you also want to introduce CLOUD storage in addition to offsite backup, then I would highly recommend Synform (  http://www.symform.com/demo/).  This will be the best price per GB/TB you have ever paid on a cloud solution (because it’s UNLIMITED DATA) and it works with whatever platform you decide to switch to.  They even offer 200GB free if you want to try it.  Let’s face it, hard drives are cheap to store your data, but why does it have to be so darn expensive to backup that data.  It doesn’t have to be and you can even use the hard drives you own.  Essentially, you can configure your new Synology DiskStation to have the capacity of your storage needs using one partition and donate an additional amount to the Synform Cloud.  As long as you share 1.5x the amount you consume in the cloud, your good to go and can store unlimited amount of data.  Their patented solution will take care of the rest including lots of redundancy (RAID 96).  The Synology NAS backup device is so much better than Drobo and when partnered with Synform for Cloud back you have created the best in class backup & disaster recovery appliance.  If I can be of more assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I design solutions for customers like this each and every day and this is my own personal solution for my photography (pictures, data & more).  Take care & God Bless!

  117. I had a similar problem with a 4-bay Drobo. From what I can gather, the misbehavior stems from using hard drives that spin down to save energy. So the WD Caviar Green drives cause problems and should be replaced with Caviar Black or some other drive (enterprise-class if possible). So the unit could possibly be rebuilt drive by drive if I had the time and inclination, not to mention the money to replace 4 hard drives. Woulda been nice of Data Robotics had told me that from the beginning (I bought the whole thing from them directly). Now we have a QNAP NAS that runs fine and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’ll never buy a Drobo product again.

  118. I think you need to call Peter Krogh. His Digital Asset Management practices are the best! I use a hard drive box from MacGurus, with five drives attached by esata through a port multiplier. This gives me 5 separate hard drives that I have set up as a JBOD. They house my photo archive of originals and derivatives. I run a separate two bay box as a swapper for daily and weekly backups of my working files and catalogs. I burn blu ray disks of my archive when they are moved to that. It is scalable in that if I need more space I can go to a larger drive (no concern as to mixing sizes as I am not running a raid) or add another box. The Box is attached to a separate computer set up to run my photo archive and some other work (it is not a fast high end computer) but it allows me to access the files over my network. Transfers are done over a gigabit connection, and all computers can access the archive.

    You might need the 8 or 10 bay box. You can copy a drive and take it off site as a backup. It is always best to follow the 3-2-1 practice of three copies, two different media, and one off site. The Blu ray is write once, so you cannot write over it. Hashes are placed in each file when moved to the archive to insure that there is no change to the file (important if you are testing hard drive or disk integrity that you have no changes).

    I have stayed away from a RAID for photos for a couple of reasons. If it fails, it generally will take significant time to rebuild the RAID. You only get 2/3rds of the drive space in a RAID, and probably most significant, if you have to upgrade, you have to rebuild the entire RAID from scratch. I prefer putting it away in a hard drive, backing that hard drive up and taking the back up offsite, and having a blu ray disk that has the sames files as on the hard drive.

    It is important to get a clear plan and not rely on a proprietary system, which forces you back to that vendor, and a way to make sure what was good still is good.

    Peter is incredibly insightful and good as to how to do this. He has written the book (actually two books) about this.

  119. Open Letter to CEO of Drobo –


    I hope you have your big boy pants on because this could get


    Scott Kelby is too much of a gentlemen to say it, but I
    will.  What the heck are you thinking?  Your companies’ instance on collecting a
    $300, then $100 fee from a single customer for a bricked unit has likely just
    cost you tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.


    How do you not track who your most influential customers
    are?  Perhaps you should use one of your
    Drobo unit’s to store some data on how to service your A-list clients.  Oh wait, maybe you can’t because they don’t
    work (okay that’s a little uncalled for, but I had to).


    Now your product has lost the endorsement of the Alpha-Dog
    mouthpiece (Scott Kelby) for one of, if not the, most important categories of Drobo users (photographers) and your customer
    service people either didn’t know or didn’t care.  By the time you got involved it was too late.


    This has been an important business lesson.  I wouldn’t expect such a mistake from a Kellogg University MBA graduate.  Perhaps you can
    use this knowledge in your next position (after the board of directors notifies
    you that your services are no longer needed at Drobo).



    1. Interesting. “How do you not track who your most influential customers

      are?  Perhaps you should use one of your
      Drobo unit’s to store some data on how to service your A-list clients.”
      Very good question. 

      Three of the most influential photographers that I follow, Scott Kelby, David duChemin and Trey Ratcliff all have switched away from Drobo. 

      Here’s Trey’s update on his review..http://www.stuckincustoms.com/drobo-review/
      “I no longer use my Drobos. I’ve switched to the Promise Pegasus thunderbolt drives.”

      Here’s David’s update: http://www.pixelatedimage.com/blog/2012/06/backup-questions-answered/
      “I left the DROBO system because I was tired of the maintenance, the weird little glitches, and then the last updates gave me issues. It worked well when it worked, but I started getting nervous about the proprietary issues, so decided to go with a more traditional RAID this time.”

      Good luck Mr. CEO. There goes your revenue from photography community.

      These three photographers were your unofficial promoters/evangelists. And you didn’t even take care of them. That just tells me how you take care of your not-popular customers like me. 

      I’ve made my decision. No Drobo for me. 

      1. i agree, i toyed with the idea of Drobo for years until i realized that they system runs its own 
         proprietary system which leaves you white water rafting in a wooden boat. i couldn’t do it.

      2. Whoops! Trey is back to Drobo now that the 5D (Thunderbolt) is available. I, too, am in a quandry, but my two Drobo (Second Version) work just fine. I want more speed and am considering the Drobo 5D. Until I get things sorted out, I’m going with two LaCie 6TB 2Big Thunderbolt Drives in RAID 0 for speed and cloning syncing them with ChronoSync. Cycling them weekly to take one off premises. Work-case-scenario, I lose a week’s worth of work.

    2. My husband is a IT guy and one of the reason he would not let me go with DROBO is their priopatary software… he’s thought was if they go out of business – if they are marketing primaryly to photogos and they make one wrong move customer service wise – they could go under and then there is no way of dealing with issues that could arrise.  So while I know many people happy with DROBO… sounds like my IT guy knows what he’s talking about.  This could be the germination of the termination of drobo

    3. What a bad business decision to first demand $300 and then cave to $100 right away. It totally contradicts their original message. If you’re going to cave then cave all the way to zero and do it as a gesture of goodwill. The $100 is not going to make a huge difference in the future of the company. By going down to $100 they are basically admitting that their support is too expensive.

    4. For what its worth I’d rather DROBO not treat influential clients any different than everyone else. This provides an upper tier of support when we should all expect to receive the same level of competent empathetic support we desire, with a warranty program structured to support a product which is built well enough to offer an extended program.

      While I prefer a three year warranty with an optional 2 year extension, I’m sure others would like something even better and DROBO needs to make money using their patented beyondRAID tech.

      If they choose to charge more than I can afford I may go with a competitor.  As it is My 1st Gen USB2 unit is chugging along nicely and I’m very excited to get a new 5D unit if the community seems to feel the quality is worth it.

      1. Not so much that, as the fact that a lot of people will take Scott’s recommendations – and credible word of mouth is golden. I found his post about why he is abandoning Drobo to be articulate and fair.  Other people will too and will follow suit. Why in the world Drobo doesn’t solicit feedback from people like Scott and other high profile or power users who have serious market influence, in order to make their product better, is beyond me. 

  120. Since Apple got out of the RAID biz they seem to endorse the Promise Pegasus system which has the added benefit of Thunderbolt connection   —  I’d talk to an Apple consultant if I were you and thinking about spending big bucks. 

  121. I have been using a NAS box from QNAP for the past 3+  years. Its a similar concept as Drobo, but also allows you to install Apps on the box. You can also get a couple of them, and let them back up to one another. On my QNAP, I run software for Media Sharing as well as Logitech’s software. This allows me to view my photos and videos from my XBOX to my flat screen TV in one easy click. Logitech’s software allows me to stream music wirelessly to their music players. Basically, quite a few apps, and is much  more than a storage device. Also, it uses Linux, so is not stored in a proprietary format. NewEgg sells these.

    QNAP: http://www.qnap.com

    I have been extremely happy with mine, and would highly recommend it.

  122. Hi Scott

    I tried several things for backup the last couple of years.
    If possible try to avoid small hardware around your computer. If link speed is high enough, sync everything to a server and from there mirror all data to the cloud.

    I would recommend a ZFS [1] based storage system. Could be an expensive one from Oracle or a custom setup based on open source software (There are implementation running on ubuntu [2] or Mac OS X [3]). ZFS basically provides all the functionality of a hardware raid solution in software. It guarantees data integrity and has many options for redundancy.

    To get the data to the server use the open source tool rsync [4]. Add CrashPlan [5] to the mix for affordable cloud storage.

    What I really like about ZFS, is that it is hardware independent. Build up redundancy with multiple disk and configure hot spares for automatic reestablishment of redundancy in case of a drive failure. Or setup a new server possibly running a different os, attach your drives and import the data.

    May be this adds some new ideas. Hope you get your backup under control.
    And thanks a lot for all your sharing and joy about photography.


    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZFS
    [2] http://liberumvir.com/2012/06/01/zfs-and-dtrace-running-on-ubuntu.html
    [3] http://code.google.com/p/maczfs/
    [4] http://rsync.samba.org
    [5] http://www.crashplan.com

  123. I have been sitting on the fence about Drobo. There was something “black-opps” about their products. I like this quote:

    “I can imaging that Drobo was totally FREAKING out that you posted this issue.  Because when Scott Kelby posts stuff people listen.  I bet they saw dollar signs going straight to the trash know that you weren’t happy with their product.  In fact, I’m positive I won’t recommend their backup solution to my company anymore knowing you had these problems.  So, thanks for the post.  Good to know.”

    Scott I am sorry that you had this problem! The up-side is that I am not going with the DROBO. I had the opportunity to speak to the DROBO dude at the Adobe CS6 road show. After talking to him, I was even more confused than when we started our conversation.

    I am looking forward to your solution. I am leaning even more to the G-Tech products. With your network of experts I know you will have a top-notch system that you will recommend. What does the Moose -Man, Joe Mac or others have to say about your dilemma. – Graham Hedrick 

  124. Scott, I have had the same problem on one of mine (fortunately mine was under warranty).  Please keep after Drobo, I purchased 2 drobo’s based on your recommendations. 

  125. I almost bought a drobo based on your earlier recommendations. I ended up getting a 2big USB 3 from LaCie. I’ve overall been happy with the performance but I have had some periodic problems that we just can’t quite nail down. Mostly with iTunes, though, since I’m using my array for both media storage and picture archive. Now that LaCie has been acquired I’m not sure if I’d go with them again until we see what kind of issues result.

    1. I used to use LaCie drives. I noticed that they exhibit a similar problem to the Dobro problem Scott indicated. The Power on light would appear to be on, but the drive wouldn’t mount. In searching around the web, it seems that their external power supplies are prone to failure. I had three drives, with one failing because of not mounting, and another one starting. I ordered a new power supply, and a couple of drives from OWC/Macsales to back up the data from the LaCie drives and moved them completely off line. The rugged LaCie’s seem fine. 

  126. Get a real server with a real array controller.
    HP Proliants with their array controller. Standard, fast and super resilient.

    Yes NAS, fiber cards,etc. are great but unless you have a huge budget (30k+) it is not feasible.

    I have 20 year experience supporting small business data servers, backup and recovery (Dr.’s offices, lawyers, and manufacturing). People that depend on their critical data on a daily basis.
    For your business size you can scale down the enterprise solutions to real world proven systems.

    Drobo is not a commercial solution, it is hobbyist, consumer device.


  127. Take a long hard look at http://www.synology.com/. Their backup solutions are rock solid, they update their firmware and software often, a DiskStation can do ANYTHING, not proprietary, they have great performance and you can configure them in any way you can think of. They have all of the features of Drobo and more. I’ve had mine for 4 years and it always quietly done its job without a single issue.

  128. Take a look at Chas Jarvis’ site. They have posted a video (old) on what they use. Way to big for a hobbyist, but for you it may work, it is scalable.

  129. Hi Scott,

    This may or may not work for you, but I use CrashPlan to back up my data (photos, music, etc.) to a locally attached USB hard drive and I also back up my data off-site. The idea behind this is if something happens with my data drive, I can go to the USB backup. If something happened to them both, I can go to CrashPlan and get my data back.

    I looked at Drobo a long time ago, but what turned me off to it was its expense and that I saw a lot of negative comments on Amazon about Drobo failures (much like the failures you experienced).

    I’m actually surprised that you’ve kept with Drobo for this long, being that it is now your 4th failure of a Drobo.

  130. As most of the other folks have already commented. Raid is the defacto standard (as opposed to the Drobo proprietary format). You probably are looking at mirroring (Raid 1) to minimize the number of local disks while always having a duplicate locally.

    I was at a photo show and spoke to the Dobro folks and we got into a little discussion on their system versus the Raid standard. I do not want to relate the information they stated, but suffice to say they concentrate their marketing to the non-technical set (photographers, musicians  included). The intersection of photographers/musicians and technical set, would typically steer clear of this proprietary solution (as some of the previous comments attest).

  131. Scott, I am actually glad you wrote this. Here’s why. All these years, you talked about this quite a lot and so did Terry White. I finally got a chance to try Drobo out last year and just didn’t like it at all. It was slow and the interface to access the device was not easy to use. Then there is the whole proprietary thing. The whole time I was thinking why do you guys like it so much… what’s wrong with me. haha! Well, now I know it’s not me. :)

    Anyways, in the recent year since my data has increased dramatically (thanks to all the photos), I haven’t found any brand of external backup systems that I like. So now I just use two other desktops with multiple hard drives in there doing automatic incremental backups. Not a beautiful solution, but I have total control to it and I can rest peacefully at night:)

  132. Hi Scott,

    I remember reading about Drew Gardner’s experience with Drobo. It was basically the same problem. His unit became essentially a brick. He moved on to a different system. You can read more about it here:

    I’ve also heard about http://www.wiebetech.com/home.php. Their products are used by law enforcement and other govt agencies in the US and Europe. 

    As an additional backup solution, there’s a company getting lots of attention now called http://millenniata.com/ They have created an extremely durable optical disk. Right now only 4GB discs are available, but high capacity Blu-Ray discs  are coming out next year. NASA and The United States Navy have endorsed the product.

  133. I have been backing up to Gold DVD for years.  Cataloging in Extensis Portfolio for years.  DVDs are stored in three ring binders by disc number and Binder # with page #  That info is added as keywords in Portfolio so i can pull out the correct binder and DVd after a search in Portfolio.  I have been doing this  since 1998 when we went completely digital.

  134. Thanks for sharing this, Scott. For a long time, I thought I was the only person who is unhappy with my Drobo. Mine is working now, long story, very unsatisfactory customer support. I know the IT guys really don’t like the Drobo support, but I chose them just because I didn’t want to do reformat, repartition, move data, or any of the myriad of other important things the IT guys know how to do. Even with Drobo’s ‘simplified’ approach, I found myself spending way too much time setting the gizmo up. The appeal of their product is indeed alluring to many of us who appreciate the IT experts out there, I just don’t want to become one. 

    I was just looking back over my Drobo support account, and as I said in one post, “…I really want to like my Drobo…” And when I look back at the headaches, they have lost my loyalty. I hope the Drobo CEO reads this entire thread, and refocus on the folks who bought the product and in producing high quality products that work constantly. I get that many folks have trouble free drobos, but that doesn’t cancel out the many, MANY folks who feel really let down. 

    Scott – I was one of those who saw (and had) this post from Wed from Google Reader – thanks for clarifying what happened…)

  135. No “I told you so from me”, I have shelves full of gear that was perfect for my needs (at the time) gathering dust with me unable to admit it didn’t work, or I that can’t make it work any longer.  Its also frustrating when a company will respond when their product is called out by an internationally recognized voice, but remains silent when the unclean “Joes” of the world call to complain.  I applaud your sticking with your guns and not taking the reduced fee for repairs.  Open source is one a many good suggestion for data storage, but alas that perfect fit is not out there.  Just lots of people claiming they have cracked the code.  Interested in others storage solutions.

  136. hey Scott,
    Try the Amazon Simple Storage System.  Store all you want and you can get lots of help on how it works and it can be very inexpensive..

  137. Use Box.com. You can sign up for unlimited storage in their Enterprise acct and it is encrypted. You can easily share the photos, choose which folders to synch to your computer and a bunch of features. You can’t beat Dropbox’s price (free), but the paid version offers substantially more features (did I mention unlimited storage) at a very reasonable price.

  138. Go for the Promise Technology 12TB Thunderbolt system. I don’t have it but I’ve only heard great things about it.

  139. I join in recommending a Synology unit. It does not matter too much which model you go for. All the modern ones run a OS that Synology continously update and apply to all their units made over the last few years. They call it Disk station, and when you log into the devices built in web server you get a desktop like page to manage the device with. That being the case most modern ones have similar functionality, you just need to pick the one that can hold the number an type of hard drives you want. Most of them at least also have a USB port that you can connect an external HDD to. This way you can even schedule the NAS box to make a 2nd back up copy onto that external HDD so even if it gets bricked you keep your data.

    They also have apps you control the disk station from your phone, it can act as a network media streamer, an itunes server, and a time machine backup drive.

    1. I’ll join in on the Synology train. After having the same issue as Scott with two of my Drobo Pro and after sending them for repairs twice, I jumped the Drobo ship. They are just too unreliable and slow. Sometimes the would unmount in the middle of copying large files (200-300GB) and I would have to start over again. I then got myself the Synology DS1812+ and its fast and reliable and has been running for 4 months now without a reboot or hiccups. If I need more space than the 32TB that it can max out, I can allways hook up two DX510 and get 20TB of extra space.

      I’m glad that I made the choice to ditch the Drobo mess and have never looked back.

  140. Scott,  Based on your recommendations, I have been running a Drobo 1, 24/7 for about 4 years, no problem.  Last year, I installed an FS, again running 24/7, no problem.  As for Lion, I NEVER upgrade when Apple brings out a new system for a minimum of 6 months or more.  That gives all the device and software vendors time to fix their compatibility problems.  So, when I installed Lion, my 2 Drobos connected and are working just great.
    Sorry you’ve had such a hard time.  Hope Drobo gets the message about better customer service.
    BTW, I also back up to the cloud using CrashPlan.  Fantastic service!

  141. Scott, I think I recall an earlier post of yours about building a new system for photo editing now that you have the D800. That’s the same track I’d take WRT storage if I were you. The guys at Backblaze published a paper on how they build good storage solutions – cheap. Use that as a basis for your build, drop in a handful of 2TB+ drives in a RAID 5 or RAID 6 array and link things with a gigabit network (it’s just archival, so gigabit should suffice). Then for offsite storage, consider Crashplan. $10/mo for unlimited offsite storage. It’s way cheaper than a home-grown solution with Amazon S3. I have a friend backing up 10TB there for $10/mo currently. 

    Here’s the Backblaze paper. They’re backing up 135TB for just over $7,000. Try that with Drobo. :-) http://blog.backblaze.com/2011/07/20/petabytes-on-a-budget-v2-0revealing-more-secrets/

  142. Hmmm… with the influx of online and cloud-based archival systems these days, I’m surprised Drobo hasn’t evolved to include that in their business model.  Or have they?  I’m not too familiar with Drobo, but have been interested in something like Carbonite or Google Drive.  I’m still researching those options, though, as I’ll need something in the near future, but for now just use a few external hard drives.

  143. Hi Scott, I’m no techie but i’d use G-Technology’s array of drives. If they’re good enough for Chase Jarvis, they’re good enough for me :-). Might be a simple answer but i’ve not had one failure in over 4 years.

  144. As a follow up, I’m surprised there’s no way to hack or jailbreak those hard drives.  I know you say they’re proprietary to Drobo tech, but someone out there’s gotta be smart enough to find a way around that, no?  (Sadly, I’m not that person).

  145. Hi Scott,

    From purely my singular, personal experience;

    I’m going to have to jump on the Synology bandwagon. Their units are great! Solid (bricks, but in a good way!). I had a 2nd gen Drobo back in ’09 and it was absolutely nerve racking and quirky. I wasn’t just backing up my photo’s but work from my “real job” working for an automotive R&D firm. Drobo’s customer service was AWOL and I had enough of the late nights redoing work that I had preciously saved in what I thought was a reliable backup solution.

    The irony is, I bought Seagate ES drives – flawless performance. The Drobo, flawed performance. So, the Drobo unit was the worry, not my drives. As was inevitable, the 2nd gen Drobo became useless in early 2011. I pulled my drives, bought a used 2nd gen Drobo off eBay – offloaded my most valuable work into WD passports and 2 new Seagate 2tb sata Baracuda drives. Ditched the Drobo’s and have been using and recommending the Synology systems ever since.

    As has been mentioned, Drobo’s poor customer support, weak/short warranty (my drives are warrantied for 5 years, Drobo 1? Who’s the weak link?), cost of unit and cost of Drobocare coupled with the unacceptable unreliability and quirky performance (have had my whole system lock-up until I unplugged the Drobo USB cord). I was done with them in early 2011. Also stated, proprietary technology with a 1 year warranty is a big red flag!

    Take care and thanks for echoing the frustration that fell on deaf ears when I had an issue!

    Wish I’d mention Synology first, I’ll bet that’s where your $100.00 goes.



    1. Working with data in my professional live, I would never rely the core of my business on proprietary solutions (Drobo, readynas,…).

      For the volumes of data you refer and having geo redundancy with replication as requirement you should look for a decent storage solution. There are a couple of companies doing a great job here with different price tags. EMC is off course one of them, but in your case I would engage with DataCore

      If you consider this option, I’m happy to support you digging into your requirements and finding the bestbapproach formyour budget (just for fun

  146. You are not alone in the Drobo fall out zone. Fellow photographer Drew Gardner had a similar experience last year with Drobo even in warranty and in the end went with a more expensive NAS solution.

    Plenty more to read on Drew’s blog here: http://photography-thedarkart.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/live-after-droboqnap.html

    Save your $100 or donate it to a worthy photographic endeavour of your choice


  147. I had a horrible experience with a bricked drobo…and while getting through to the higher ups yields to nicer people who constantly apologize, there is still nothing they are willing to do. They were “interested” in listening to my ideas as well, but I took it more of sign as “say what you need, we aren’t paying attention anyway.”

    Its great and all that the CEO contacted you directly, but lets be honest that it only happened because of you who are and how far your reach goes through out the internet. If you were just another guy, like the rest of us, he would never have cared enough to try and resolve the matter to keep from getting bad press.

    Drobo sounds like a great idea, but the reality is they are slow, the software and hardware give conflicting messages when there is an issue, the proprietary code they use makes them worthless in the event of an emergency, and their techs are people with no social grace. Of course, there is always the lovely “your out of warranty, so tough” reply that comes from anyone there be it corporate or techs, unless you want to pay the ridiculous extended warranty fees.

    Its funny someone brought this article to my attention because earlier this afternoon I actually sold my drobo. After I went through my drobo-meltdown last January I immeadiately switched to a different set up, and its just been collecting dust on a shelf. I am more than happy to be rid of that worthless machine.

    My recommendation: Other World Computing. They have some great RAID set ups that go up to 16TB


    They also have the Pegasus thunderbolt RAIDS that go up to 12TB.

    I use this company now as I have great luck with their products in the past, and I have been very happy so far.

  148. Can you get a new caddy (eBay perhaps) and swap the disks over? I had a similar thing happen when my  ******* ******* ****** died (two disks, mirrored). Like your drobo it used an proprietry file system which rendered both disks unreadable in my PC.So I bought another caddy from ebay for twenty quid, but that didn’t work either. I finally got it to work by putting one drive in each caddy (one in the A slot, the other in the B slot), connecting both up to a network hub, and repeatedly rebooting until the (again) proprietry driver software could “see” both drives in their mirrored state. I saved all of my data and bought a different make/model!

  149. Scott,
    While I do not have a fix for you I wanted to say thanks for your truly honest concern for all your readers. I appreciate you not taking a fix that only helps you and insisting that it work for all. Like your letter to Adobe earlier. That’s why I take the time to read your blog and became a member of napp and kelby training. With someone who genuinely cares about everyone  and takes there role as a mentor in this business seriously how can I go wrong investing in you

    1. I’m with Mike. At first when I read this, I groaned – I’ve had Drobo problems, and I bought it on Scott’s enthusiastic endorsement. I too am pleased that he declined a personal fix. I’m in favor of Darwinian business practices, hoping that Drobo changes and adapts. I will be looking at a different solution when my goes fully brick.

  150. I’ve read about 70% of the comments, so as far as those go, where are the comments that say, “I’ve never had a problem with my Drobo. Is there a single comment giving Drobo the thumbs up?

    1. I am not surprised that no one has weighed in on the positive since this is a complaint blog.  I have owned an original Drobo for several years, and it has worked fine.  Based on my experience, a fellow photog bought one and has had no issues.  I have bought 4 for various tasks in my office, and they have worked fine as well.  My only issue is speed and for that reason I have been keeping my eyes open for alternative.  But now my eyes are really open with this blog, and I will be making a change sooner. 

    2. Rob: when a Drobo works, it just works–in the background, no muss, no fuss. So those with _working_ units don’t think about them that much.

      However, when they fail, you’re done. My drobo’s first failure was at fourteen months, same end
      less booting cycle, Drobo’s customer service washed their hands of it and left me out in the breeze. I replaced the drives and it started working again – but, I reformatted each of the original drives and they all work just fine in other machines, so who knows? My Drobo has failed twice more, so I just use it for a paperweight now.

  151. A professional photographer and good friend of mine swears by backblaze.com
    Like you, he has a 12TB Drobo solution but doesn’t trust it entirely so backblaze has saved his neck a couple of times (so he says).

    It’s like 4 bucks for unlimited storage and it integrates with your Mac really well.

    100 bucks would be nice if you like this one :-)

    1.  Scot Kelby wrote in the post, the one you didn’t read, apparently:

      “I went to their site, followed their troubleshooting guide, and it still just cycles on/off “

      1. I think this was a reply to the guy that said he had the same problem, but didn’t know where to start to resolve it.  

      2.  Read it again:

        Scott, can’t you just pop those drives into something else and get your photos back? Nope. It’s a proprietary system that only a drobo can read. Sigh.
        went to their site, followed their troubleshooting guide, and it still
        just cycles on/off (by the way, as I mentioned above, this isn’t the
        first time this has happened — drobo has had to replace my entire drobo
        unit [not including the drives] before).

      3.  Actually, there are several problems in one. First is Scott’s frustration with the unreliability of the Drobos he has been using and then there is the difficulty caused by the proprietary nature of Drobos, which he probably was warned about in the first place, but chose to overlook for one reason or another.

        What I don’t understand is where he stands in relation to data recovery. As I recall it, he has several Drobos and could have transferred the drives from the bricked Drobo to one of the others to recover the data, but that leaves the question of what to transfer it to and his realization that spending more money on repairing the Drobo was simply pouring good money after bad.

        It seems to me that he needs to quickly decide just which solution he wishes to replace it before more misfortunes befall him and he is stuck with buying more Drobos to use for data recovery.

        The number of posts in this discussion make it difficult, if not impossible, to know whether someone else has previously suggested such a course of action. 

        Scott does not detail his security precautions for the drives storing his data, but he should strongly consider a fire safe to store is onsite backups in. (A large fire rated gun safe is frequently a cost effective option, but I am told that there are some new ones which allow the drive array to be stored in the fire safe while operational. I have my doubts about their ability to manage operational temperatures and maintain their fire rating but they would certainly be worth investigating.

        One problem with even multiple backups in the same area is the possibility of a natural disaster, flood, hurricane, whatever that could result in the loss of all data at all sites if they are in the same community. Sure, the odds of this are less than those of the loss of any single backup site, but it should be considered.The bottom line is that Scott probably needs more archival copies of his work than he presently does. The quantity of data almost certainly dictates the use of hard drives, which can also fair or become corrupt or a high end tape system that would be very slow indeed.

        As Scott is down one Drobo and has good reason to doubt the reliability of the remaining ones time is not on his side. It is time for him to either make a decision and get on with a replacement system or, if he is not comfortable wetting it up, hiring someone to set it up for him. After it is up and running Scott can start a new blog entry describing what he chose and why…and giving away his $100 to whoever suggested “the winning solution”.

  152. Scott,
    Such a bummer. Longtime back when you first raved about the Drobo I was ‘that close’ to getting one. Then I started researching Buffalo, and then thought, what the heck why don’t I just build my own network server. So I built a machine (with an old processor) for just over $200. Added six 1TB drives, all hot-swapable, now I have eight 2TB drives in it and those other drives are on a shelf as my archives for jobs.I’m so against proprietary applications and systems. Because when the fail… you’re screwed! I like OS systems, drag-n-drop… or in my case I have a watched set of drives that then auto backup to my monster BU box and they’re there. I do have monitor the drives at times to see space allocation, but that’s easy. I leave two drive bays open for my archives to drop onto/into. I also use SATA/IDE drive docks around on each production box so I can drop a drive on them as need. So even on my laptop I can go grab an archive drive

    It’s a little bit of manual labor, but I know if I need I can pull data off and put it on another new drive. AND they’re all air cooled (no cases).

  153. Scott, I have personally found that Raid 1 is the only way to go. All those 4 bay devices, even when using an open standard like Raid 5, will be useless while you are rebuilding the system. WIth Raid 1, even if a disk goes out, you just replace it and off you go. The data continues to be readable on the other disk (as they are exact mirrors), no need to pull the HD out, just leave it in and you can continue to work. I used to prefer the G-Raid devices (Raid 1 box with 2 HDs, each HD up to 3TB) but they stopped selling their Raid 1 devices. Right now my new devices I’m adding are the La Cie Big Disk Thunderbolts that can go up to 4GB of effective storage for each device. The extra advantage I found is that if you buy an extra HD, you can swap it in and out to get a 3rd copy of your data and you can keep that one off site.

  154. Being in IT for 20+ years myself, my solution would probably be expensive. However, if spare no expense fits move towards a server. All the data should exist on the server and nothing on the client. Client fails no problem. The server can run any server o/s, i.e. MS Windows 2008, Linux Ubuntu, or Apple does not really matter, probably in your case Apple Server would be more appropriate. Server boxes are cheap, it is the storage that is a little more expensive. Can’t make a lot recommendations for Apple. However, in my case I have MS Windows Home Server, WHS 2011 and Windows Server 2008R2. The Windows 2008 server has a SANS Digital 4 slot. MS has a freebie called SyncToy that keeps all the data synchronized across all the servers. Basically 3 copies of my data. I remove one of the WHS servers and store it offsite. Every so often I bring it back and sync it up again. Servers do require someone have some expertise to pull this off. Also, tape is always an alternative. Backing up to the cloud is near impossible unless there are big pipes to move the data, probably a couple T1s. I do feel for you as I have had similar situations in my career. Wish you the best!

  155. Scott,

    Sorry for your aggrivation, welcome to the club. Same thing happened to me. I paid the drobo care fee, then they determined the motherboard had failed and shipped me a refurbished one.  After geeting the new drive housing i moved the HDD’s in to the new housing, it then took 48 hours to reconfigure. Thank goodness the data was all in tact. I immediately bought a Pegasus R4 (you would need the R6) populated with 4 2 tb drives and as quickly as possible moved all my photos over (before the drobo failed again). The Thunderbolt connection to my iMac is screaming!

  156. Have you considered Building a back up server? Found a guide on PCMag.com telling you how to do it with an old desktop, 
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1937177,00.asp, I personally would build one from scratch, using a ton of hard drives to do so, but it may be more affordable than trying to find a different solution, and i imagine it would be much more reliable than buying a proprietary system, that you can’t maintain, or fix if something does go wrong. 

  157. Thank you Scott for caring about all of us who follow you and don’t have near the voice that you do. I’m sure everyone is aware of your “rant” to Adobe about the upgrade policy… which had positive results as well.

  158. I too have had the hard lessons of proprietary raids. The are good for one thing only, ruining your data. After a complete meltdown of a video project with about 80 hours in it on RAID drives I learned to NEVER use RAID. Its proprietary! plain and simple.

    I now use physical drives and love the safety and security of knowing that I can always retrieve my files on any PC. No matter what.

    I have them stacked in groups of 4 in HardDrive boxes. With terribite sized drives available cheap, size is not a problem. I simply make my own backups using LR to make the second copy, and then every now and then making a 3 and 4th copy overnight,

    I cant believe the goons at DROBO holdiing your data hostage. Its almost like they planned this to make  “a little extra cash” after a year or two from their users. Looks like they tried to highjack the wrong car LOL.

    1. You posted a little miss-information here.  RAID is not proprietary.  If you use one of the standard configurations you can take the drives from one box and place them in another box and they will work.  I have done this in the past even with boxes from different manufactures. 

  159. I had a total nightmare with Drobo….without any warning, and nothing in the logs indicated anything wrong, my Drobo totally deleted 2TB of files….two of the disks were re-built corrupting all of my files. I turned on my computer, and saw the nightmare message, “0 files on disk”….after over a year of taking my Drobo Pro to several data recovery places (Drobo just gave up and said they didn’t know what happened), I now have a useless piece of junk sitting on my desk. I am also looking for the next solution, so eager to see what your next system will be….I will do the same. Good luck, Scott!

  160. This is ultra hilarious! you have 3 of these, and they sound like they are backups of each other. how are the pix lost? to quote the good DrT  “ 
    Billions and billions of 1.44 MB floppy disks. ” *best suggestion here*

    1.  Well, here’s something real funny. It’s you and you only have one Drobo. Or how about you have  the same configuration as Kelby and you’re working from home on an approaching mission critical deadline of 30 minutes, the home Drobo goes into a death spiral and your other two Drobos live an hour away at your workplace? That reeks of hilarity.

      1. Drobo is not a primary disk storage device.  It is a backup.  If the backup drive (drobo in this case) failed, the primary storage would still have your mission critical, deadline in 30 minutes, work product.  Kelby had 3 copies, one died.  He is not held hostage.  

        If he doesn’t like Drobo, that’s fine, stop using it.  But don’t be a diva about it.

      2.  The basic premise presented is a “what if” scenario that there is a problem with that primary disk storage. If he had a thousand drobo units, it wouldn’t help if he is off site from those units and the situation takes place.

  161. I’m currently looking at different storage solutions, and Drobo was one that I had been considering. However, after reading this post. I’ve decided not to purchase a Drobo and look into other non proprietary storage solutions. Thank you Mr. Kelby for taking the time to inform your fans on how lacking Drobo is in service and quality. Otherwise, I could have made the same mistake, and ended up with nothing but a Drobo brick.

  162. I’d suggest the Synology DS1512+  I have several friends who use this particular system or a couple of their other models for their work (these are all IT guys and are also photographers and video-graphers, so they are rather big memory hoarders)  They’ve had great results and reviews and I myself am piggybacking on their recommendations once I build up my play money fund again.


  163. I’ve been using a drobo for a couple years without any issues but am considering a NAS. For those recommending the Synology products, do you use standard RAID setups or the Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR)? Since the SHR is proprietary, does it get into the same potential problems as the drobo?

      1. I use Synology.  If you have enough drives you can configure different types of RIADs on a unit depending on your needs.  I need speed and redundancy for many files so I have a section configured with RAID 10 (7200 rpm drives striped with redundancy) I use this portion with a iSCSI configuration for use with Lightroom. (Catalog files and image files go here)  I also have a portion configured with RAID 5 for files I need access to on a less than daily basis.

      2.  SHR is not proprietary as it uses standard linux software RAID tools and LVM tools. You could put the hard drives into a linux box with the RAID and LVM tools installed and you can assemble the volume, granted you know what you are doing.

  164. Buy a good NAS – QNAP or Synology. Set them up to replicate to each other on the fly. When one dies you fall over to the one that’s still running. Instantly. Data is current to the last replication which can be set to trigger on every file write so you lose nothing. It get’s better. Buy a third and have it replicate across the web to offsite machine. No more shipping drives around with you. Still want more, QNAP can backup to Amazon S3 too.

    Finally, for archival use USB3 or esata external drives. You can plug them in, kick off the copy job on the NAS, shut down the computer and go home for the night. You get an email to tell you it’s done, the NAS does all the heavy lifting internally so your computer can sleep or can remain responsive.

  165. Hey Scott
    Recently I jumped to a Synology DS1511+ after about two years of hunting for the perfect unit.
    Running 5x3tb Hitachi Ultrastar 3k7000 series drives (5year warranty and 20mil hours rated life) in raid 6 and I love it. Gigabit Ethernet sustains 62mb up and 58mb down without fault, loving it.

    I’ve used and configured droves for friends and I would not do it again.
    Buy the big sucker, run dual or quad disk redundancy on a non proprietary setup and you’re fine usually.
    Everything will break, not if, but when.

    My thoughts as a data nerd are simple;
    Plan simple
    Automate the process daily
    Archive your digital process on PAPER so anyone can access view and activate a backup as required in unforeseen circumstances.

    I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted, but look at an online storage solution as well as an onsite solution!

    Best of luck!

    Ps I’ve dealt with Synology tech support due to a small program issue when accessing a drive designated B: on a pc and not only did the get the issue to happen for them they assured me the. Ext update will see it fixed and coded to correct the issue.
    Email support is prompt and amazing!
    I highly support the tech team


  166. Hello Scott,
    You are pushing the limits of my IT skills with the 12 T of storage.  My first suggestion would be Seagate Black Aromour NAS 400.  I have had a few issues with seagate, but I do mean FEW over.  They stand behind the product and the warranty is 3 years…

  167. I’m in the market for a back-up system myself so I just want to thank all of the posters who have opened solutions to me that I never even knew existed. I’m personally leaning toward Synology because simplicity is going to be as key to me as reliability but I will wait and see the end result of this discussion. This is probably as close as I’m going to get to having Terry White personally involved in my decision so I’m all ears. ;-)

    1. Kevin,

      I have a Synology and highly recommend it. I find it very reliable, simple to use, and incredibly flexible. But, and this is a big but, if you are looking for Apple-like simplicity, you may want to think of a different solution. There is a lot of customization that you will need to decide on. Synology makes the boxes, controllers, and software. You need to buy the internal harddrives, get out a screwdriver, and install them into the carries. Then you need to be able to add it to your network, which means you will need to know how your router operates and how to add devices to it. I find that it works best if you assign static IPs to all the devices on your network, that way when you power down and power back up, the router always assigns the same IP address to the device. This is a little bit deeper in the router software than most users ever go, but it makes things run smoother in the long run.

      You will need to configure volumes, choose types of Raid, set up user accounts, set up  back up devices and schedules, start services, etc. It is doable and for someone familiar with computers and willing to get into the nuts and bolts, then it is easy. I’m the type of person who will sit with a book and teach myself Visual Basic to automate processes when the IT department can’t or won’t prioritize what I needed to have done. If that doesn’t describe you, then you may want to either look elsewhere or invest in a consultant to come in and set everything up for you.

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    hardware RAID solution designed to unleash the raw power of Thunderbolt.
    Pegasus R6 features six 2TB 7200-rpm hard drives in a compact RAID
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  169. What I do that could work for you:
    I separate my catalogs into smaller projects so I have a different LR catalog for each wedding and another for each business client/job (thus every client basically has their own catalog)… which ends up being a lot of catalogs but I find it is easier to find projects and my catalogs load faster. I bring a 4tb raid drive (or 8tb such as the G-Tech drives) as my working drive and everything is stored on there till its about 80% full, then I date the drive and store it in my safe and bring out another 4tb raid drive. I like multiple drives because I find each drive gets used much less as i’m not using a single drive for more than a couple months before it is 80% full and I move to a new drive. Thus since the drive only has a couple months of use, it is less likely to break (but I still use raid drives just in case). Also I like it because as time goes on and storage increases, I will be using 8tb drives and always keeping up with high MP cameras. I have a smart catalog that sorts only my pictures that have been edited and when I finish with each project, I export the jpegs as well as save the copy of the catalog to a google drive folder and those are automatically synced with google. I do not sync the original raw files as they are just too large so I just keep those on hard drives. I also personally only back up my ‘good’ photos to the cloud so I mark my ‘good. photos with a keyword or star rating and have my smart catalog only filter the good photos for cloud backup. When I finish with a drive I will also make a copy of that drive on a single (non raid) external drive and send that off to a friend.
    The end result is inexpensive but secure as I have a raid backup at my home in a safe of drives with very little use on them, a single hard drive (non raid) backup offsite, and the final jpegs stored on google’s servers which also means I can access the jpeg of any picture I have ever used from my laptop, phone, or tablet.

  170. Scott,
    Sorry to hear about your troubles my friend. Luckily my 4 Drobo units have been running trouble free 24/7. With that said I never trust my data to ANY one thing. Any solution can and probably will FAIL at some point. No matter what you go with (Synology sounds great), the key is to NEVER have your data in just one place. Hardware built by humans WILL FAIL! Nothing is perfect. It’s a shame that Drobo didn’t support you better and it’s for that reason that I would now think twice before reommending them again.

    Each of my 4 Drobo’s is being backed up to either other drives OR CrashPlan.com or Both! I’ve been burned too many times in the past to ever rely on any one thing.

    As I’ve said many times in the past: “There are two types of computer users – Those who have lost data or those who are about to!”

    1. Terry,

      most other online backup services are not meant for archival purposes, i.e., as long as your computer is connected to the drive they will back it up but should it ever backup while disconnected it will erase them from the cloud backup.

      Is Crashplan different?

      — Luis Mederos

  171. Just like you I am running away of proprietary solution for storage. I’m using  Freenas on an custom build server (cost less then 300 $) for 5x the speed of the DronoNAS and I can plug the drive in any ZFS Ready Computer

  172. For offsite cloud archiving (and they can also coordinate local backups), I use Crashplan+, but it is taking a month to initially backup 1TB. They have a “seeding” service where they send you a 1TB usb drive for $100 or so, and you backup to that and send it to them. You’d need 12 I guess! I’m saving money and just waiting for online to work.
    And seeding isn’t available for CrashplanPro according to a faq. And CrashplanPro doesn’t work with Windows networked drives…  The lesson: check all feature details and support KBs for any plan you are looking at. And see what your monthly data i/o cap is with your network provider.

  173. Scott,
    Try Polywell Computers MiniStor  They have several model NAS divices available that have capacities from 1.4 TB to 222 TB.  Their model 800N looks like it would fill the bill.  (16 to 24 TB) at $2699.

  174. One has to wonder if ext237 is an agent of Drobo, Inc. or if he’s a sock puppet of Joe Lippeat.  The link Mr. ext237 gives below, which, surprise, belongs to Joe Lippeat, couldn’t be anymore inaccurate and does not reflect the facts Mr. Kelby has given in his blog post.

    To Wit:

    [My comments in brackets]

       So to provide context to my original comment on his blog, here’s my beef with Kelby’s post:

       He’s been using Drobo for about four years. Four years is probably a bit premature, but all electronic devices fail over time.

    [Nowhere does it state that Kelby has been using Drobo for four years. Lippeat claims in another post on this blog, “4 years is based on when Scott first started recommending Drobo. I believe it was about 4 years ago when he mentioned it at a meet I attended with him in Houston.” If even remotely true, he’s not positive the figure is four years, but wants the reader to allow him to use that as a fact in his argument.]

        He own(s/ed) multiple Drobo’s. If each died after 4 years of continuous daily use, it significantly changes the impression left by the article.

    [Again, he is using a revisionist technique of rewriting history and the facts as they have been stated. Kelby clearly writes, “If the drobo is a truly well-made product, shouldn’t it work reliably for more than a year?”]

       The article could be interpreted to say he’s had to replace the same Drobo 4 times. Clarification is needed.

    [Here’s the clarification, directly from the OP: “Because for the fourth time one of my drobos is a brick.”]

        He insists his award-winning photography collection is being held hostage by Drobo. In fact, he suggests the evil Tech Support people want to extort $100. This is probably the most inflammatory (and unnecessary) portion of his post. The Drobo device should not (and I sincerely hope, is not) the only location he is storing his collection. If Brad is only stored the collection on a single Drobo device, Brad needs to be fired.

    [I believe that Kelby is implying that had he not had total redundacy with at least one other Drobo device, in fact, if his primary storage device had been compromised, then he would not have any access to his data until another Drobo device was procured, transported and installed.

    The importance of this cannot be understated, not every reader of Kelby’s blog is going to be a professional photographer with the resources to have multiple data redundancy. The main advice he is giving is to the Drobo user that has a single Drobo he is relying on. Even then, Kelby himself or any professional will have the same problem if working off site from their redundant but non-cloud-backed-up Drobo storage device if the same situation occurs and access to the other Drobo devices is not convenient. (You would have to take the bricked Drobo device to the location of your other Drobo, take out the drives and reinstall them). ]

    1. Probably the only really useful part of my blog post: 

      “Honestly, I was not worried that the machine would die; all things that consume electricity have a finite lifespan. But what if it died and the company had gone out of business, how do I get my data back?The person on the phone was pleasant even though I just suggested the new company she worked for could possibly be doomed. But her reply was stunningly obvious: “Drobo wouldn’t be the only place you store the data.”You don’t have to be a professional photographer to have more than one copy of your data.  If its important to you, don’t trust it to single device, proprietary or not.

      1. Virtually all of Drobo’s competitors emphasize speed of restoring data compared to Drobo and that it is not proprietary.

        Prior to the deployment of TB, many solutions favored some form of NAS, SAS or fiber channel. These solutions are problematic with iMacs as most such solutions required a PCIe card…which, in and of itself, raises the question of whether the Mac platform is suitable in the long term for uses which Scott envisions. There are a number of people facing such choices because of Apple’s inadequate support of the Mac Pro and the uncertainty of its future. When speaking of being locked into proprietary systems one should not forget that the Mac platform is precisely that. We should be evaluating the suitability of the computing platform to the storage needs we require.

        If one objectively examines the alternatives for “power users” the suitability of the Mac is no longer obvious.

      2. The lack of attention to the Mac Pro is pretty frustrating, my last purchase was a souped up iMac which seems to run most pro video/audio software fairly well.  But for sure they have certainly centralized their interest on the consumer market.

        In reading these comments, one has to wonder if Drobo’s more recent products are suffering from a quality issue that wasn’t evident in older boxes like the one I use.  Irrespective of recovery speed, the main draw for drobo’s technology is being able to hot-swap larger and larger drives as needed.

        So when I have to replace mine, hopefully there is now more than one brand that offers this option … and at a price point that works for the power users who are not also Fortune1000 companies.  :)

  175. Your Scott Kelby;  Drobo would be idiotic to not address your problems. So my suggestions are to work it out with Drobo and live out your life in harmonious backed up bliss.   PS that solution is free so have a nice 100 dollar dinner on me!

  176. One word.  DROPBOX!  www.dropbox.com.  It may cost $2k/yr to get 15TB of storage, but you have infinite revision control, cloud based access, delivery of all of your files to all of your machines, sharable folders, links to folders/files to send to anyone, and absolutely NO hardware to buy, or maintain, ever!

  177. ext237 by his tacit admission, is the same person posting on this blog as Joe Lippeat, but I digress…

    He claims before he bought his Drobo, he asked a Drobo rep a “what if” question, what would happen if the Drobo failed. The answer:

    “But her reply was stunningly obvious: ‘Drobo wouldn’t be the only place you store the data.’ ”

    I imagine you will get no argument from anyone here. What she seems to be saying
    is don’t do your redundancy with more Drobo devices. All of them could
    go south and you’d be S.O.L. Or if you’re away from another proprietary reading Drobo device, it would seem you’re also S.O.L., apparently.

    Even if that’s not what she’s saying, the truth of the matter is stunningly obvious: It seems that Drobo can’t be trusted as a redundant device, so perhaps it can’t be trusted for any storage needs at all.

    1. Yes, I cannot speak to why this blog comment system is using one name over the other.
      Yes, its probably a good idea to use diverse systems for data management and not put all your eggs in one basket.  Hence, the suggestion of being “held hostage” weakens this post.  The same point could be made (never use a Drobo, abandon Drobo, etc) without implying that the career photographic collection of Scott Kelby is forever locked hostage in a broken black box — it would be extremely surprising if Scott’s assertions were true.

      He doesn’t trust Drobo?  Fine, tell us all about it.  If newer Drobos are junk, I wanna hear about it before my next purchase decision.  

      But don’t exaggerate the damage and not expect people to take notice.

      1.  ” I cannot speak to why this blog comment system is using one name over the other.”

        Answer: It doesn’t. You have made posts in both names many hours ago, but your wonderment only appears when you’re called out on it. Imagine that…

        “Hence, the suggestion of being “held hostage” weakens this post.”

        Let me put it this way, if I have one Drobo or I’m off site with the same scenario now mentioned three times, I’m screwed. So “held hostage is totally relevant to the average user, but who now has been thankfully forewarned not to use Drobo for their secondary redundancy.

        “But don’t exaggerate the damage and not expect people to take notice.”

        Well, if you’re counting, only two people, ext237 and Joe Lippeat, have taken notice…
        Oops! Sorry, forgot that you’re both the same person, so perhaps you should change your future references from “people” to “person.”

         BTW, speaking of people that might take notice, how many of those noticing people might wonder how many of the “at a boy’s” Lippeat/ext237 has garnered on his own blog post on the Drobo/Kelby subject were written by him under even more aliases?

  178. I’ve had all sorts of issues with Drobo – used to have two.  Now I have just one, but it’s a back-up only, using internal drives in RAID arrays in my Mac Pro and what I’d like to get is this:  http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/hard-drives/RAID/Rack_Mount/  USB 3.0/FW800 or Mini SAS version – hardware raid dip switches on the back, or configure by software.  If you do the Mini SAS, here’s a two port card:http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/MXPRMS6G2E/  For the drives, 4 x 4TB Hitachi drives:http://eshop.macsales.com/item/HGST/0S03355/ – these tested very well over at Lloyd Chambers Mac Performance Guide:  http://macperformanceguide.com/Storage-Drive-Hitachi-7K4000-4TB.html  

    Good luck,

  179. I am assuming from your post that you are really looking for 2 different things. One, an onsite easy to access archive for you and your staff. Something that allows you to store and manage all your data. For that I would recommend a Synology DS1812+. It has 8 bays, can be expanded to 18 (72 TB) by plugging in other expansion bays and it is easy to manage all for only $1,150.00. This is your workhorse, it is designed to be robust and easy to work with (not to mention the rave reviews from the other photographers in the comments).

    Part 2 is the robust and redundant disaster recovery system. As an IT specialist I would highly recommend going with something not managed by you or stored on any of your sites. To be a truly effective disaster recovery system it should be secure, located in multiple geographic locations and it should constantly monitored itself for reliability and repair any data that has gone corrupt. For this I would recommend Amazon S3.

    For 12TB of data this will not be cheap. Your looking at a monthly bill of around $1,400.00 (or more than the cost of a Synology system every month) but the real question is what happens if you loose your images? Right now you have 1 offsite backup at your house which is located in the same city as your main system, from an IT standpoint this is not considered an adequate disaster recovery system for mission critical data. To help manage your backups to Amazon S3 I would use Arq. Its a simple $30.00 piece of software that will manage all your backups to Amazon in the background.

    I hope this helps and if you have any questions just ask and I will answer what I can.

  180. Hey Scott,

    Not that this would have anything to do with your DROBO bricking, but how were you connecting too it? FW, USB, Ethernet through a router? If it was the later, one of the reasons you may have had an issue mounting the drive was if you didn’t set up your router to assign static IP addresses to each device in your network. When you don’t do this, you end up letting your router randonly assign the IP address as devices power up and power down, usually something like 192.168.x.xxx. If you keep everything powered on and attached to the network, the devices keep the IPs that they were first assigned, but if you are powering down, disconnecting, or powering up the devices again, then the device may not get the same address. I found that when this was the case I would have to remap (Windows) my network drives each time as behind the scenes it is tracking those drives using IP. If you are connecting some other way, These Aren’t The Droids You Are Looking For. ;-)

  181. Scott I have used LaCie for the last decade from college to graduate school to new starving photographer.  I have had one failure in that entire time when a power cable died.  I called and the drive was 6 years old and way out of warranty. They sent me one FedEx immediately and for no charge!  I didn’t beg or anything.  They already had me but they got me even more that day. I use a simple back up solution and time tested.  Don’t need all the fancy solutions some will start serving you up either.  Simple bullet proof solution is RAID “1.”  RAID 1 creates an exact copy or mirrors your data on two disks.  Why do this?  Its faster for moving data than the other methods when using PS and LR and cannot cause the problems you faced with some complicated scheme of spreading data around.  Don’t mess with various other RAIDs and proprietary nightmares. That’s what IT guys are paid for.  If your not hiring one then why buy into their systems?  Same guys who said Mac’s suck my entire life. They have their purpose for sure but doubtful here.  Just matching duplicates drives in RAID 1.  Simple, safe, fast and done!  I buy LaCie Big Quadras but would recommend the newer Thunderbolt versions. http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?id=10573  There are other great companies too.  These are just what I use and look great. Two matching drives in RAID for whatever your schemes (i.e. working drive, a portfolio drive or whatever now chained together in thunderbolt).  That’s all.  At the end of the year take the drives and place it in a Pelican case or whatever and insert faster, newer, cheaper drives.  Rinse and repeat yearly or as needed.  Now how about that $100 please?

  182. My Drobo has been blinking green and orange for 2 days now. It seems to have its hiccups here and there. I certainly do not feel safe that my photos and documents are secured on Drobo. It seems fragile. 

  183. Get a server and install pogo plug. It will let you access photos on the LAN but also when you’re connected to the Internet at any location in the world. You can create public shares as well.

  184. Hi.
    Use NAS from QNAP. Been using one for nearly 4 years, 24/7, not a single problem. Filesystem is Ext3 or Ext4, can be read in other systems. Several RAID levels. Hot swapping. If you have more than one they can replicate data between them trough the internet. They can even synchronize with cloud services like amazon s3.

  185. Not for the bounty but I found that La Cie is equal to or worse as far as their customer service is concerned.  I noticed you use their drives and I chose to because of this, but when one crashed, their service was absolutely horrible and I finally got the drive replace by using the Apple Care purchased with my computer (all new accessories bought on the same receipt.)  While ranting, I should mention that the new download of Apple’s iPhoto rendered my photos useless by changing the sampling, size, and orientation of photos — it is not an upgrade but a full download of nearly 1GB as is iMovie — I suggest just don’t do it.

  186. Hi Scott :)
    Sorry to hear about the the Drobo. I used to own myself, but I sold it, as it was a bit slow.
    Now I use an Synology 1511+, Synology make very good NAS, as a lot here already have pointed out.
    If you need local storage, and you use an mac with thunderbolt; what about the Promise Pegasus? Its expensive, but its as fast as an drive can get. It is an RAID box with ether 4 or 6 discs and it only use thunderbolt.

    Another thing, if you don’t use remote backup, you should. Take a look at Crashplan, it is maybe the best solution out there as you can use it to backup to an friends computer too.

    And one last thing, its really easy to get Crashplan to run on Synology with Intel CPU.

    1.  I can second the cost-effectiveness of crashplan, but not the speed or convenience.
      It’s taken me about 6 month’s to backup 2.0TB over crashplan with the fastest internet available in Los Angeles, (5Mbps upload) during these 6 months I took the machine to some different locations, one with 100Mbps Dedicated Fiber to see if I could get my initial crashplan push done in a day. Nope, it ran at 7Mbps on 100Mbps fiber.  Backing up to crashplan will put you in the same hostage situation as Drobo.  When it’s time to recover your 2TB, the choice will 1 month to download around the clock or $150 / 1TB drive to have it fedexed back to you.

      Speed aside, Crashplan is awesome. I can pull any file I’ve backed up to my iOS or Android device at any time.  It will also assist with machine to machine over-lan backups between your various computers, with deduplication and other enterprise level features.

      Funny enough, I have crashplan backup some of my data to my 2007 purchased Gen 1.0 Drobo.  Kind of funny to watch it try to dedupe 500GB on the slowest piece of USB hardware ever conceived.  6+ hours of grinding away.  Gen 1 drobo just won’t die.  If it did, I could throw it away and never have to listen to it’s grinding buzzing fan, just barely cooling those burning hot drives.  But no, it won’t die, so I have to use it… sigh. 

  187. Hey Scott,
    Sorry to hear about the Drobo.  I’m glad you wrote about it because I was considering switching to Drobo sometime in the near future to hold more drives.

    I currently use 2 Mercury Elite Pro Qx2’s.  One I take on tour with me in a Pelican case – it sees more than 150 cities a year and has been dragged along many miles of rough pavement over the past two years without a single drive going down.  I have it set up in a Raid 5 format, so if a drive goes down, I just pop another one in that’s the same size and the data is automatically rebuilt.  Each enclosure holds up to four hard drives – my touring drive has 4 – 2tb Drives (6tb of usable space), and my home enclosure has 4 – 3tb Drives (9tb of usable space).

    The down side to these enclosures is that the fastest speed you’re going to get out of them will be through Firewire 800 or eSATA.  I also shoot with the Nikon D800, and it can take a while to download the card, as well as export photos from Lightroom.  Otherwise, it’s fast enough to read and edit video.  

    Lastly, when I bought my first array from MacSales, it was having some kind of power issue.  Customer service with them was great – they sent me a shipping label and got the repaired drive back to me within a week.  If you want any more info, the link to the empty array is below:


    I hope this helps!!

    Ben Enos

  188. Wow, this could be the most commented blog post of all time. I really hope that Drobo take the time to respond as this could be a real killer for their revenues. SK is likely to be very influential in this space.

    I have a drobo and although it works Scott’s comments bother me as his usage is likely to be much more intensive than mine. I use it as my primary storage for photos with a backup to Amazon S3. But no longer. I’m changing now as a result of Scott’s post so that the drobo is just a passive backup to.

    The scariest thing to me is the proprietary nature of the product.Maybe the answer for them is to release their secret sauce so that other boxes can be made and people have alternatives to the $100 hostage.

    I find it interesting how much like sheep many of us are. Drobo did a very good job convincing various industry leaders (Kelby, Trey, David DuChemin) to use this system. They also sponsored many of the leading podcasts. The lesson I’ve learned is to listen to the IT professionals (many represented on this blog).  Synology seems to be getting good reviews – but is it the next drobo???

    Btw, the one time I did lose all my data on my drobo was when I used it with Windows 7 Backup.  Something I would have thought was pretty normal. But doing this can cause a critical error in the drobo. Drobo acknowledge this and blame windows (http://support.drobo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/163/~/my-windows-7-computer-hangs-or-is-slow-to-boot-when-connected-to-a-drobo) 

  189. This is an awesome resource for anyone considering backup options.  Unfortunately there’s a lot of duplication in the comments, and some missing links.  I compiled a list of the cloud, hardware and software links from the first 320 posts for easy review: http://24moves.com/node/217

  190.  QNAP or Synology NAS systems are not too expensive, and they’re based around standard Linux RAID-Systems. Take one of the 6 or 8 drive bays and pop a couple of 2TB Drives in it, Tell it to use RAID 5 or 6. They transfer ~100 MB/s via Gigabit LAN.
    If the Hardware ever fails, take em out, connect the drives to any PC, pop in a Live-Boot-Linux from some USB-Stick and you should be able to get to all your data.

  191. any RAID or RAID LIKE system should not be considered as an archive or a backup !!!!!!!!!!  PERIOD !!!!
    its just a way to provide a working volume while a disk or two are down … that’s just that.
    it’s just a way to make the availability and up time better ….

    the proprietary approach of drobo is crap … but most of the time it’s the same thing with hardware RAID … one day a raid card failed at the office and we immediatly replaced it … disk were unreadable because the firmware of the new card was not the same.

    if a failed drobe prevents you from working that means your backup strategy is 100% wrong

  192. Hello Scott,

    I have been using an 8 TB LaCie 4big Quadra attached to a Mac Pro using FireWire 800 with no problems. I appreciate that the unit is quiet. However, when the drive wakes up, some applications momentarily pause until the drive is fully up and running.
    Good luck in your search for a replacement.

  193. Scott,

    Sorry to hear about your drobo problems.  Even more sorry cause I just started using one about a month or so again.  No problems yet so I’m going to cross by fingers.  I’m using the Wireless 5 drive version. 

    I can’t make any recommendations what to get but I can definitely say what NOT to get. Stay away from the NetGear ReadyNAS products.

    I’ve used a Ready NAS NV+ for over 5 years with absolutely NO problems.  I was close to capacity  in Jan so started looking to expend.   ReadyNAS was purchased by Netgear some time over the last several years.. but I figured this was a reliable brand.  Thought I’d purchase the upgrade to what I have so I bought the ReadyNAS NV+ V2.  Used the recommended drives and within a week it dropped connection for for one of the drives.  I’d reboot and it woud see the drive (No data loss or corupption). Then this continued with random drives once or twice a week.  I called Netgear and after literally almost 2 hours on the phone getting transferred around, finally getting to the “right” person they offered to send me a replacement chassis at no cost since it was still under warranty.  The replacement came.  All seemed well for about a week and then the same thing happened.  After 2 weeks of this I just asked for a refund.  I need reliability. I don’t want to be playing phone tag with the vendor and replacing equipment.  I don’t know what happened but the Netgear versions of the ReadyNAS NV+ series at least are unreliable in my opinion.

    Based on yours, Terry White’s and other reviews I decided to go with the drobo.  So far I’ve been fortunate.

    Good luck and I’d like to know what you end up with.

    Luis Morales
    2005 DLWS , Acadia NP
    “Swedish Fish on a card”

  194. It’s funny, I basically bought a Drobo at your recommendation, but have experienced the same shortcomings and pitfalls that you are going through now.  Not to mention the fact that it’s much too slow to use as a primary drive.

    Now that you’re leaving the company, I think I likely will as well.  These are serious issues Drobo are dealing with – holding your data hostage for money is simply inexcusable.  They’re going to be getting a lot of heat for this.

    As a side note, I wanted to thank you for doing this.  Had this happened to me, I never would have been put on the phone with the CEO.  You are using your influence in a very positive way, and I appreciate it.

  195. Oops, I just purchased a Drobo and two 2 terabyte drives for my small system. I’m using it as the Time Machine backup drive for my iMac. I had expected to separately store Aperture files once my D800 arrives. Hope I haven’t made a mistake.

  196. as a photographer we know that is like getting home and seeing your front door ajar.  I stopped using lacie drives for this reason. Lacie customer service is great but that means nothing when you have a client that wants to see her Bat Mitzvah photos that are locked on a dead !tb drive

  197. Just a quick note. I run one of the QNAP NAS servers and so far its worked OK. It has a max expansion of 12TB in a 4 bay configuration in RAID 5.
    One thing to take note of is that in RAID 5 (as far as I can tell this is all RAID 5 systems), if you fill the drives up and one of them fails; there is usually not enough parity info to reconstruct all the data. 
    Just something to keep in mind when planning your next system.

  198. Scott,

    I had the same problem with Drobo a few years ago so swithed to Mercury Elite Pro Qx2 by OWC (macsales.com). It goes up to 16TB. If you have a thunderbolt connection maybe the Pegasus R12. Faster transfer rate.

  199. hi Scott, slightly different topic – but, the whole backup and archive process became an issue again for me as well shooting the D800. I just got back from a 4 day lifestyle shoot using the D800 and a bunch of primes, lightweight and fast to be able to shoot moving along with the talents. I ended up with 500GB of data. Main problems were backing up and review photos of the day we shot. Staying on location after sunset, dinner and then copying each 32gb card for almost half an hour, two back ups, then load the lightroom cataloge. If you want to be out for sunset, there’s not time to sleep in between. A relatively cheap camera like the D800 now makes you needs a digital tech on site! It’ll be interesting how to solve a lot of the issues that come with shooting this large files and still operate in a small team as you used to do.

  200. After an incident with unrecognized bad blocks on one of the disks, I just replaced my 2nd gen Drobo with a Synology Disk Station and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve written about it here: http://chrismarquardt.com/blog.php?id=3479829780650106213

  201. Hi Scott, I feel your pain, loss of data is heart in mouth moment! 
    Something that you may wish to look at is Nexenta, there is a community version and a paid up version with support. It using ZFS on Solaris which is a very robust storage system with the ability to assign a number of additional harddisks as spares. So in the event that a disk fails it rebuilds (re-silvers) a replacement. 

    With the snap-shotting faculty it also mean that you make a secondary backup – (maybe offsite) backup without constantly duplicating all your data, only the bits that have changed.

  202. I have a synology and have had great experience with it.  I have had zero issues, even on power outages when the system went down hard (before I got battery backup on the device).  It has a very intuitive user interface but it allows user account access and you can join it to a domain if you have one. 

    I had looked also at the drobo, but it seemed a bit slower and it did not allow any security access restrictions on it for the networked ones, and drobo suggested I just connect it directly to a computer and restrict it from there (sorta limits me then from getting the FS model….but anyway). 

    I even now have access accounts for different people and even different devices in my home depending on the level of access they require and what directories they should be able to access which is fantastic.

    I have heard good things about the QNAP devices as well but I cannot personally speak for them.

  203. I’m in the same boat as you.  I own one of the Drobo FS units that’s never worked.  Tech support pretty much strung me a long until I was out of warranty then tried to charge me more without a guarantee that the solution would work.  I’ve tried all new drives, even though I don’t think any of the others are bad, updated network switches, and different software to transfer to it (Time Machine, Carbon Copy Cloner, rsync) on a few different machines.  As of right now it doesn’t even mount so it’s basically a paperweight.
    In some of these posts and others I’ve read around the internet, people seem to have better luck with the Synology units so I’ll probably try the DS1812+.  I’d be interested to see what you end up doing.

  204. Scott – I recommend taking a very hard look at the 12 TB Promise Pegasus. It’s a thunderbolt unit so you will need to connect it to a Mac. I recommend buying two units and connecting both to a Mac mini so that it’s networked. Unit 1 would be the primary storage and unit two would be used for incremental backups via timemachine.

    Also I’d highly recommend storing your 5 star images offsite. I use Amazon’s S3 for this and have a transmit job that automates the process.

    Hope that helps!

  205. We have a non-profit organization that was going to look into using them. If you can’t use them, can we pay the $100 fee and you can donate it to the charity? The organization is called Think Kindness (ThinkKindness.org) – we are gearing up for our next Global act of Kindness trip to Nyeri, Kenya. We have 6 high school students coming with us to distribute 1,500 water filters, build an e-learning center, and also distribute 1,000+ shoes to orphans. We are going to be taking a massive amount of photos, video’s and have a couple professionals coming with to document the trip? . . . I know you had your problems, but for $100 – – we’d put it to good use. 


  206. ext27/Joe Lippeat writes:

    “This is an awesome resource for anyone considering backup options.
     Unfortunately there’s a lot of duplication in the comments, and some
    missing links.  I compiled a list of the cloud, hardware and software
    links from the first 320 posts for easy review: http://24moves.com/node/217 ”


    Sure, Mr. Lippeat, via his other admitted alias, ext27, puts up a supposedly helpful synopsis of some of the suggestions given by posters here, but his real aim could possibly be construed as to satisfy his overblown ego and throw in his non-stop attack on Scott Kelby, in this case making sure that he calls Mr. Kelby a “prima donna.” Of course, he merely quotes another poster, but with Lippeat’s admitted multiple aliases, we’ll never know if it was Lippeat himself.

    Further, he once again ignores the premise of the facts applicable to creating  what for most users would be hostage of one’s data.

    And lastly, I’m sure some of you have read the discovery of retailers creating their own positive reviews of themselves on sites like Yelp! and that the one telltale sign is the use of exclamation points in their self/stealth praise.

  207. Have you considered hiring someone with Linux experience?  Creating a large backup server in Linux is extremely easy for someone with some admin experience.  My current backup system that I can access from a windows machine has 15TB of storage spread across 8 drives.  Going to add 3TB more by putting in two replacement 1.5TB drives that I got replaced under warranty.  I have two other systems, one with 5.5TB of space across 4 drives and a second with 4TB of space across 4 drives also.  All this running on “consumer” grade hardware, you don’t need expensive enterprise hardware to do this.

  208. Well, this post got Drobo’s attention.  Based on a comment that I made here last Friday that I have two bricked Drobo Pro’s, I was contacted today by their tech support team. They, thankfully did NOT drag me through the troubleshooting process again — they wanted my serial numbers and my shipping address.  Apparently two new units are on the way, even though I’m well past the end of a one year warrantee.

    To those arguing against proprietary systems, that’s off point to me anyway.  You know Drobo’s are proprietary going in.  Same with Apple, and countless other products I buy.  My problem with the Drobo Pros was that they failed so quickly.  They are essentially a system to house drives, and survive drive failures.   But I only once had to replace a drive — during the time the Drobo Pros were working. 

    I’m hoping that whatever caused my Drobos to die an early death has been fixed.   And kudos to them for reaching out to me to solve the problem. 

  209. I have been using some of the g-speed es arrays from G-Tech, they go up to 12tb and are blazing fast with a bunch of connection options. I would say that anything bigger than 12tb is getting into real deal server territory. I hope it all works out for you, Scott.

  210. Scott, I feel your pain…  but let’s compare to another product we both use.

    “Your MacBook Pro with Retina display comes with 90 days of free telephone support and a one-year limited warranty. Purchase the AppleCare Protection Plan to extend your service and support to three years from your computer’s purchase date.”

    Pretty standard.

    For example, here’s Nikon’s
    “This Nikon Digital Imaging Product is warranted by Nikon, Inc. to be free from defects in material and workmanship for one (1) year from the date of purchase.”

    This is why I buy extended warrantees on most of my tech.  Drobo has always been good about allowing for reasonable repairs if needed… and I’ve had good reliability (we use about 15 of their units between office and home).

    I guess what I am saying is what they do is a standard warranty…  same as pretty much every piece of Electronic gear you’ve bought in the last 10 years.

    1. Great comment Richard.
      However, as a Nikon guy (D800, D3, soon D4) and numerous Macs, user:
      I wish there was more cooperation from Nikon, Apple, Drobo, etc.
      We cannot afford to dump $5k into a camera, for it to work for one year.
      And while I agree, and use, extended warranties, I really feel they should be part of the Pro equipment line. My two year old D3 died, and cost $600 to repair the internal card. Not cool!
      Apple certainly generates enough profit from a MBPro (mine was nearly $4k) to include a three year warranty.

      1. Great comment Leighton. I would agree that anything with “Pro” in the title and/or is marketed to professionals should automatically come with a 3 year warranty. As revenue streams are increasingly hard to come by, the money that we as professionals invest in equipment should be expected to give us more bang for our buck. These companies make a huge margin on selling us “Pro” equipment, it’s time they give something back.

  211. Scott,
    Never use a proprietary drive array of ANY kind as an archival system.  
    Never use a RAID array of any kind as an archival system.
    NEVER EVER use a proprietary, RAID array of any kind as an archival system.
    When you become tied to multiple drives your chances of failure increase.  I know that Drobo has the ability to swap on the fly and rebuild but the rebuild can take a very long time and you are screwed if another drive fails during the rebuild.  You would lose everything.

    In the case of what you described above it seems like you could easily swap your drives with a working Drobo and be up and running fairly quickly.   I’m guessing that was just a chassis failure.

    All of that being said there is still a place for the Drobo in your workflow.

    I am a television editor.  In this day and age 99% of all the footage i receive is captured on digital chips of some sort.  No more tape!!.  That means I need to make backup copies of the source media because if my media drive fails I can’t go back and re-digitize the tapes.

    So here is the workflow.
    Drive 1 internal – System Drive
    Drive 2 internal – Production Elements (fonts, music, clipart, textures, templates, soudfx, etc.)
    Drive 3 + 4 internal – Media Drive (RAID 0)
    Network Drobo FS (gigabit ethernet)
    Wiebetech RTX221 QR

    1. Footage arrives on SD cards or portable hard drives.
    2. Footage is copied to internal media drive (2 x 750gb hard drives in RAID 0) COPY #1
    3. Footage is also copied to Drobo FS COPY #2
    3a. Footage is also copied to RTX221 mirrored drive array (see step 8)
    4. SD Cards or portable hard drive is returned to producer or cameraman
    5. Project folder is created in Dropbox on system drive (Backup #1).
    6. System drive is constantly backed by Time Machine (Backup #2)
    7. All project elements are copied into the project folder (fonts, music, textures, etc)
    8. When project is finished.  Entire self-contained project folder and all source media is archived to a     Wiebetech RTX-221QR.  This is a dual bay drive that will do a mirrored backup.  There are other solutions from G-raid that will do mirroring and have a Thunderbolt connection.
    9. All media is deleted from Drobo and Internal Media Drive.  Project folder is then deleted from the Dropbox.
    10.The RTX221 has FW800 and eSata and is fast enough to work form.  If a client needs changes at a later time I can work directly from the RTX221 archive without restoring the project to the internal drives.
    I just have to tell the project files where the media is stored

    There are so many redundancies in this workflow for protection.
    My project files (your Lightroom libraries) are constantly being backed up by Dropbox and Time Machine.  I always have 4 copies of the source media (your RAW camera files).  One on the Drobo, one on the media drive array and one on the archive device (2 mirrored drives).  If my computer blows up all I have to do is grab my laptop,  sync my dropbox, plug in the RTX221 and finish my edit.  The Drobo FS is not fast enough to edit with (actually its terribly SLOW).  Its great as a working backup drive though and its accessible all through my home network.  I’ve never trusted it completely as an archival system (see the rules above).  

    I use Aperture for my photos.  I choose to keep my library data separate form my photo library.  I think Lightroom can do this as well.  My library data is constantly being backed up by Time Machine.  Aperture has a “vault” feature to backup the library to external drives.  My photos are duplicated in 3 separate spots as well.   

    Ive set this workflow up for many clients.  It works like a charm.
    Let me know if you  have any questions.  I obsess over proper digital workflows.

    Lou Borella

    1. How fast is your internet link? I find even 16Gb of photographs can take a few days to upload to S3 so my backup isn’t really a backup until then. Do you have fibre or something?

      1. Bertie,
        I’m only uploading my project files to the Dropbox.  They are usually pretty small.  Some AE renders can be pretty large but mostly megs and not gigs.  
        Uploads are always slower than downloads.  That is why I think its best to separate your raw pictures from your library info (if that is an option).  Back up the raw picture files locally (and redundantly) and back up the library info to the cloud and to a Time Machine.

        Lou …

  212. Yea, I wouldn’t trust Drobo with data.
    I use Synology. They have a great reputation, and I noticed a lot of people recommended them on here as well. I have owned a Synology NAS for about 4 years now, and it has never failed on me- not once! 

    I would suggest Synology, no $100 needed. Just consider it a favor for when I need a photo shoot :)) 

  213. Scott if your data is that important and you are not using business class Drobo’s then quit your whining…  I see by the video that you are using either the S or the FS when you should be using the 800 or 1200 series for important data.  You paid under a grand with no other warranty and now you are complaining?  You were offered a solution but instead you refused and just post on here and bash Drobo for trying to help.  I agree there should be a little longer warranty period but Im sure you were offered this at purchase but refused that too.  Photographers have the highest markup on their products, actually more than furniture, so take some of that profit and invest in business class solutions and FIRE Brad because he is not advising you on the correct disaster recovery procedures.  Just saying…. 

  214. I would recommend freenas.org or unRAID by 
    lime-technology.com .  unRAID has better support.
    Opensource will not bite you in the a$$ like drobo did.

    I will take $100 worth of your books instead :)

    1. I second the recommendation of unraid. you can use different sized drives of various ages just like drobo. One parity drive protects against any single disk failure. Up to 22 drives supported. If you have a total disaster situation, files are not striped across drives like other RAID/NAS solutions, and each drive is in normal ReiserFS format thus it can be mounted on any linux box for disaster recovery. I’ve been running it for three years, two drive failures in that time (out of 15), simple recovery each time with drive replacement.

  215. I would go with a Network Access Storage to store your documents (photos, Lightroom catalogs, etc.). Then, run Carbonite for Business to backup the NAS online.

  216. DROBO is maybe your best and cheapest anwser. I have a dead raid array that I haven’t been able to resurect for over a year of trying different methods including a new raid controller.  The fact is DROBO ought to include options at purchase for different warranty lengths, including lifetime.  DROBO also ought to offer for shipping only (they can hold a credit card number),  the option to ship you a temporary unit (2-4 weeks) to use to get your data off the old unit.  The fact is no solution is perfect but without reasonable support propietary solutions eventually hold you hostage.  Cheap portable hard drives may be cheaper in the long run but won’t allow access to all your images at once. 

  217.  I’m missing how the Synology crap that everyone else here is
    recommending avoids said hostage situation.  All I’ve ever heard about Synology is non-existent customer support.  Is there something magic
    about Synology raid 6 where your data can be pulled from the drives
    individually and reassembled on a computer in the event of controller failure?  Are the non-parity drives written with a standard file system somehow?  Aren’t you still waiting for a new Synology Diskstor controller to dropship from China at that point? 

    One thing Drobo actually does correctly is put the raid set construction data at the beginning of each drive in the set.  This allows the stack of drives to be moved to a new Drobo and reassembled.  The real nightmare scenario occurs when your replacement controller can’t reassemble the raid set due to some minor firmware difference or revision. 

    Remember that the establishing principle of raid is to keep a greater quantity of data live with more up time, not to keep that total sum of data safer or archival.  There is nothing archival or permanent about raid, drives, burned DVDs, and especially burned blu-rays (garbage). 

    As far as I know the only 30 yr archival medium for data is LTO tape, sitting at Iron Mountian under ground.

    Having said all that, if you’re really looking for something that you can run to Fry’s or Microcenter and fix on the fly, out of pocket, all consumer level parts, nothing proprietary, you might consider looking into FreeNas CPU controlled RAID-Z.  Supposedly the latest revisions of Raid-Z and ZFS have sophisticated hashing algorithms to prevent silent data corruption and various other quiet raid killers.  But get ready to learn a lot and be hands on.

    There is also an older revision of WIndows Home Server that everyone raves about doing parity on NTFS readable drives.  In the event of hardware failure, in theory, you could restore your data from any non-parity drives in the set, one at a time, from a different computer.

  218. Ive told you 100 times, Windows Home Server. It will backup any computer on the same network. Gives you remote access and guess what. Its not proprietary so IF the system did crap out you could put the drive into and computer and read it. But you apple boys love that proprietary stuff. Have fun. Youll learn someday and stop wasting your money.

  219. I am done with Drobo, too. I have gone through a couple at home. The saga would be too long and heart-rending to post here.

    I am sad about that. I love the fact that Drobo allows you to use multiple vendor/sizes/types of drives. Most RAID systems have a glass jaw, when it comes to mixing drives.

    However, I have replaced my two Drobos with two OWC Mercury Elite drives, which are rock-solid workhorses (and cost about the same).

    If you have the money, the new Tunderbolt arrays by Pegasus are pretty awesome, but I have no need for that kind of speed. In fact, I am using the USB interface for my principal Time Machine backup drive (I use the FW800 interface for the other one, which also is my server’s principal disk).

    Good luck. If I win the bounty (I doubt I will), then just throw the bucks at The Oatmeal’s “Bearlove Good/Cancer Bad” campaign on IndiePop.

  220. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones but I bought a 2nd-gen Drobo in 2009 and it’s still working just fine. Not that I haven’t had issues with it.

    I’ve just finished rebuilding it (taking days with TeraCopy on USB2) as I had used it for Windows 7’s backup drive and it became crazy slow to load on initial connection. Drobo has a KB article about it, there’s something in the way Microsoft marks the partition which it doesn’t like. Drobo’s only solution is to not use Windows backup with it and rebuild if you have.

    I won’t be buying another Drobo and I won’t be using this one without a backup. That’s not a solution worthy of the high cost of the device.

    I don’t fault them with the warranty period though. Even if you go out and spend $1500 on a washing machine, these days it only carries a 1 year warranty. Sigh.

  221. Hi Scott,

    Never thought that a well know person would be treated the same as me ‘joe the photographer’ lets say. I have been in the same boat with two of my Drobo’s and abandoned the system as well.
    Went with a Synology 1511+ which has been followed up by the 1512+, but you could also look at the 1812+ as that has a capacity of 32TB.

    I love the Synology and its support and best of all, it has so much more to offer then the any of the Drobo’s ever will.

    Check it out, you won’t regret it.

  222. Like CMUK mentioned, ZFS is an excellent solution. I built myself a PC using older parts from eBay for ~$400, then packed in 6 drives I already had. While my drives are older, and therefore netted me 1.5TB, 12 TB is easily achievable with newer drives.

    The problem with this idea is that it does require a little bit of technical knowhow, but the reliability is sound. Nexenta, OpenIndiana, EON are community supported releases. I’m using OpenSolaris, which is an abandoned project. Despite that, because it was engineered for enterprise environments, it’s been stable for years.

    Like drobo, ZFS collects statistics such as “number of errors observed (and fixed)” by drive.

    Heres an example of how well it recovers from fault:
    My machine is using an SATA pci card with two of the ports on the external then running back into the case. (not recommended, but it was a good deal). I accidentally knocked one of the cables out, disconnecting a drive while it was on. I didn’t notice it for a day, but when I came back to check out the report, ZFS told me one of my drives was offline. While getting ready to replace the drive, I saw the cable was undone, plugged it back in, and powered the machine back on.

    Once started up, I saw a report from ZFS that it detected the drive had came back, which storage pool it belong to, and knew that it only needed to write ~35MB onto it to bring it back up to date with its mirror. And did so.

    I regularly get 50MB/sec when communicating with this server over Gigabit Ethernet. I use it for time machine backups, and now regularly use it for storage of video files for filming a dance company.

  223. Scott — I use 7 Drobo’s in my studio and I have had issues a few times, but ALWAYS w/ a good outcome. I’m not sure if he’s still at DROBO, but try this guy – he seems to be the end all- to end all guy.
    Nick A.Technical Support AgentData Robotics, Inc.866-426-4280

  224. I’m done with Drobo as well. Good idea, but doesn’t work. 
    What I went to: HP Microserver with FreeNAS installed. Is very secure (even offers automatic snapshots so you can always revert back to an old version of your data) and costs a fratction of a drobo pro. I bought two and back them up vice vera. And of course they are much faster, they can saturate a gigabit link.

  225. The problem with this to me is the only reason you got that service is b/c you are who you are – if you were just a regular photog out there – you would be stuck… no DROBO for me – I was thinking of switching but will stay with my RAID.

      1. Yes, apparently it does. This guy’s experiences with Drobo makes me not want to risk having the same experience. He has given them all the chances in the world to make it right, but they didn’t. So they lost another customer.

  226. I’d definitely recommend a QNAP or Synology. Either one is quite stable, in my experience. We use several QNAPs in various sizes (from 2-bay to 12-bay) for second tier storage, and they’re great. They replaced Drobos, which, while they didn’t fail, were blindingly slow. 

    I hope that whatever solution you end up with, it’s not your sole means of storage. I get the impression from your post that when the Drobo bricked, you were without the data. That should never happen, no matter what solution you choose. I’ve got stuff going from a NAS to an external drive, and also another machine located 50 miles away using Crashplan. Synology and QNAP both support replication to external USB or eSATA drives, and Synology supports Crashplan. QNAP uses Amazon or Elephant Drive. Without these additional means of protection, you’re always running a risk. 

    As the wise always say: your data doesn’t exist until it exists in two or more locations. 

  227. Drobo should partner with an online backup firm like Crasphlan.  I would recommend that you maintain your local storage with something like Promise Pegasus 12TB (6x2TB) R6 RAID System or a G-RAID and then maintain an ongoing online backup with Crashplan so you have a redundant solution.   This way you eliminate having single point of failure. 

  228. Buy a 3.5″ drive cage to put in a tower/midtower system along with a raid card if you want acceleration. Then use a bog standard filesystem on it: eg NTFS, ext4, btrfs, HFS+, etc.

  229.  This has the benefit of only costing a couple hundred bucks, if you use the built in Intel raid, for the 3.5″ cages. You can get a 3.5″ cage that holds 5 drives in 3 5.25″ space for $75 from newegg.

  230. UnRaid  Server!  Fly me to Tampa and I’ll set it up right there on the spot, 12 TB  no problem when you fill that up adding more drives in simple…

  231. Very interesting post Scott.  I was going to get a new thunderbolt Drobo, but now I’m reading all over the web about Drobo failing.  

    I have been in IT for more than 15 years and just discovered photography.  Very jealous about your D800, but have decided to start shooting with something a little more copped in the form of a Sony A77.  On to your request, and if I win we can donate that $100 to a charity.  Like others have said, there really is no single solution out there unless you are ready to do some building.  I think a combo of commercially available products would be best for you.1.  Long term storage of photos or files – Synology DS1812+ 
    Synology makes a fantastic piece of hardware, I have had one for 2 years now and it has only gotten better with firmware updates.  My DS1010+ just runs… and when a drive goes bad, it lets me know and I replace it… the quality of this product is very high, their support is also good.  Their commitment to developing the firmware is outstanding and updates have made my network storage into so much more like my own private “sendfile” “dropbox” and even VPN server.  You should attach a backup USB drive to it and it will backup each night.  One of the nice features is that it will send notices to your iPhone or Skype account letting you know that backups are complete or a drive have failed.  It also supports offsite backups.  I think you can keep long term storage here and it’s also not bad for network access across a wifi or gigabit LAN. 

    2.  Local storage – I don’t know if you use a PC or a Mac, so this is tough to say.  If you are on a PC, I will suggest an LSI Raid card 9265-8i.  I have one, and it’s blazing fast.  You can go further by enhancing it with an add on from LSI that allows you to use SSD caching with a drive array.  This way, you can setup a large array with mechanical drives and then connect an SSD for file caching.  The LSI raid card will actually keep frequently used files on the SSD and then put the rest on the mechanical drive…its a very “in” thing.  SSD caching.  You can also get a similar LSI card that support external ports and attach external drive bays.  The nice thing about the LSI card is that you can expand it as well and build your arrays as big as you want.  here are some links:

    3.  Local Storage Mac – if you use a Mac, then there are other solutions.  You should probably contact someone like http://www.caldigit.com/

    Enterprise Drives – No matter what you do… stop using desktop drives.  Spend the money and get Enterprise class drives.  Desktop drives are NOT ok for Raid arrays and NOT ok for long term storage.  Here is a good example of the kind of drive you want

    4.  Local Backup – an external USB 3 drive is perfect for backups.  This device http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/GM3QKIT0GB/ also supports JBOD which is what you should do.  Buy it, put 2 4TB drives in it… desktop versions will do… and run your backup each night…like Time Machine.  

    There is more to this… lots of details, but thats the basics.  If you are interested, feel free to contact me.

  232. By the way, one reason why I recommended a FreeNAS (or any other ZFS based solution, could be software raid as well…) over any proprietary hardware solution is, should your FreeNAS Server fail, you can hook up your drives to ANY computer with enough SATA ports and there is your data.
    Otherwise, RAIDs don’t remove single points of failure, but add additional ones (‘case’, power brick, etc.) 
    Nevertheless, there is NO solution that wouldn’t need backups! Even with triple drive redundancy, the filesystem can still get corrupted or – more likely – you’ll delete the wrong files one day.
    ZFS with automatic snapshots help there, of course, but still…there can also be a fire or something

  233. I want to add something about the Promise Pegasus.  NOBODY SHOULD EVER BUY A PROMISE PEGASUS.  The people at Promise are taking advantage of everyone.  The device is a Raid device, but it ships with desktop drives.  You pay through the nose for this, and it ships with drives that in it’s own documentation state are not ok for RAID environments.  Do your homework…

  234. I’m probably too late on this but I was trying to decide what to buy so I sought Scott’s advice on this site.  Since my iMac has thunderbolt technology I thought to look for a system that had that capability.  Apparently there are not many.  Please tell me what you think of Promise Technology
    4TB Pegasus R4 RAID Storage with Thunderbolt (4x 1TB).  

  235. I suffered the exact same problem with LaCie drives for many years (loosing complete archives unrecoverable data due to LaCies crap Firmware) then came across the Drobo announcement in 2007. 

    I purchased a 1st Gen USB2 Drobo the moment it came out. It is still faithfully whirring away in the corner. It has suffered from 2 major drops onto a solid floor from desk height, gets transported every day in the passenger seat of my car across a round trip of 60 miles of bumpy country roads and it hasn’t skipped a beat. I have only suffered 2 Seagate Barracuda drive failures (under warranty) and haven’t lost a single file since my original purchase.

    I’m not saying your wrong but I have to say my little USB2 Drobo has been my faithful saviour for many a year now.

    Earlier this year I convinced the design firm I freelance for to purchase a Drobo FS after… guess what… a LaCie BigDisk Unit failure. LaCie charged them 500 Euro for file recovery, again because of proprietary firmware. The good news is the data was saved but we were out of action for over 3 weeks. (I now have a proper backup system in place.)

    Because the Drobo is so good at what it does people still fail to have a proper backup procedure in place. They think that because they have one Drobo that they are under the illusion that they are safe. You should always backup your backup. Nevermind a Drobo failure, what about: Theft / Fire / Accidental Damage / Rogue Monkeys bursting into your studio. No-one should rely on a single archive, no matter how well it works.

    I DO AGREE that the Dorbo warranty should be more than a year. Minimum 2 years with small cost to upgrade to 3. All my IT purchases are expected to have a 3 year working life, any more is a bonus, mainly due to the fact my main equipment rarely gets powered down.

    I am not having a dig at Scott, I totally understand his pain (ex LaCie Customer). Drobo should listen VERY HARD to this guy. As Pro users we are very loyal to our brands and have a lot of influence over our colleagues and friends when making IT purchases.

    If Drobo listen to their loyal customers who have stood by them over the years they will only become a better company. 

    Scott, I would work with the Drobo CEO and see if you can get a commitment to make a change for the better via that channel rather than just walking away. I understand why you would walk away, I did it myself with LaCie. However I do believe Drobo have a special product.

    I personally will be retiring my 1st Gen Drobo for a Drobo 5D this year. 

    I do hope that the Drobo CEO remembers why they are where they are now. A great product that started with a great idea and their customers who put their faith in them at the start.

    1. I know LaCie products, I used to work for LaCie and now work at a Video VAR.  What many people forget is that Big Disk product was a RAID 0 solution – it was never designed for backup but for Video Editing workstations where fast affordable storage was needed and backup was always in place.  At the time everyone was shooting DV on tape, so there was backup be default.

      Also 500 Euro to recover a RAID 0 solution – I hope you realize that it’s a deal.  It would not have been needed if you had a true backup of your data.  Most data recovery places would have charged you more like 2000 Euro to recover a RAID 0 solution.  Also note – RAID 0 solution while complicated to recover can be recovered by any data recovery lab – so it’s not propriatery like DROBO – which is darn hard or impossible to recover.

      Finally, LaCie invented the Big Disk type setup (who can forget those “Mac Geeks Have Big Disks” T-Shirts at Macworld 2001) and everyone copied it, and they were the only ones to discontinue this as capacity got too big for the risk.  When I left 3 years ago, only the 2big RAID 0/1 hot swap solution was available, which makes customers learn and think about data loss risk, lets them set up RAID 1, and has hot swap for true uninterrupted RAID 1.  Note that G-Tech for example still sells this type of  Big Disk product with their G-Raid and so does WD with MyBook.  Meaning it’s possible to get a 6TB or 8TB RAID 0 only drive, and most users don’t even realize the risk they put their data in when they buy them.  Now you tell me who’s ethical about customer data and who releases prodcuts and discontinues product not in the interests of the customers?  Clearly even today they could have been selling it and taking in the $ but decided it was not the right choice.  I think that says something if you ask me. 

  236. Scott, I replaced my Drobo about 6 months ago with an Iomega PX6-300D array. I couldn’t be happier with it. Most importantly Iomega is owned by one of the biggest names in storage (EMC) so I don’t deal with this small business mentality where everything takes like 30 days to get resolved. If I need support it is addressed immediately.

    I actually have 2 of these devices. One is at home and the other at work and they are setup to replicate between each other. I also have the option of backing up to Mozy if I wanted to, but I feel adequately protected using the replication.

    It does use a true hardware RAID so you have to use the same sized drives in a particular RAID set.

    It also does iSCSI, FTP, TFTP, AFS, NFS, Rsync, and Windows DFS

    One of the biggest selling points for me though is “Personal Cloud”. This allows me to access anything on my device no matter where I am. It allowed me to drop my monthly Dropbox account.

    There’s tons of other things it can do such as support up to 4 Axis cameras, act as a DLNA server, it will support using it as a Time Machine destination (I currently backup my MBP17 and MBA to it). It also has a development SDK so 3rd party development is possible too.

    I give it 5 out of 5 stars and I’m not an easy person to please.

  237. One other thought Scott, If you migrate the data off of the other Drobo’s, could you then use one of those devices to recover your data on the failed device?

  238. Scott,
    I started my own audio / video post-production studio back in 2003, and like you, preservation of my system configuration and client data are of paramount importance.  I back up all of my workstations’ system and data disk drives nightly on a variety of devices, including a direct-attached Drobo S.  Prior to my current job, I spent almost 18 years in the IT industry, either as a programmer or as a Director of Software Development or as Director of IT.  I’ve developed RDBMS applications, web sites, embedded software, and apps for mobile devices.
    Based on the symptoms that you’ve described (and the number of times it has occurred), my instincts tell me that there must have been a manufacturing or design defect in one or more of the circuits in your first gen Drobo S’s.  I’d be really interested to see the serial numbers on those failed enclosures.  If you have one device go bad, that’s one thing – but to have 3 or 4 of them?  These boards are created in an assembly-line environment, and there is probably an entire batch of bad boards that were installed on large number of first gen Drobo S devices.
    I have my own story regarding my Drobo(s), but although the story begins the same, it has a much happier ending.  So here goes…
    In May 2011, I was researching to find a suitable mass storage device that could handle the large amounts of HD audio and video that I was beginning to process daily.  Having been in the IT industry, I was quite familiar with RAID devices and their pros and cons.  As I began looking into the Drobo product line, the “BeyondRaid” concept, along with the “tray-less” design intrigued me.  I recognized that this flexible, “future proof” technology would have some cost in terms of performance, but I was willing to accept that cost.  I didn’t need anything fancy, so I bought a basic, 4-bay Drobo.
    I received my Drobo and immediately got it ready for use on my newest workstation, which is running Windows Vista.  (Unfortunately, that’s the OS that the workstation had installed, but don’t get me started on that topic!)   Normally, this workstation takes approximately 50 seconds to boot up, but with the Drobo connected, my workstation would display the Windows splash screen/progress bar, and then the screen would go black and never complete the boot cycle.  Perhaps it would have eventually booted, but waiting more than 30 minutes each time was unacceptable.  So I called Drobo Tech support to start working the problem.  I spent that first weekend working on my own and with Drobo Support troubleshooting.  Eventually, they concluded that the unit must be defective, and suggested that I send it back to them for replacement.  Since my unit was literally 2 days old, I confirmed that they would send me a brand new unit, rather than a refurbished one.
    You can imagine my frustration when I opened the box only to find that Tech Support and mistakenly sent me a refurbished unit.  To make matters worse, this unit had the same problem as the first unit!  Like you, I said, “I’m done,” and called the RMA folks.  I could tell they were sincerely appalled that I was sent a refurbished unit and offered to send a new one to me right away.  At this juncture, I told them to get started on providing me a refund, which they were more than willing to do.
    So I went back to the drawing board researching, purchasing, and testing other products.  After a few weeks wasting time and money on a host of other solutions that didn’t work, I came back to the notion of why I started looking at the Drobo in the first place.  I called my contact in the RMA department, and discussed the situation with him.  By this time the Second generation Drobo S was available to the public, but I didn’t want to shell out $200 – $300 more for an “upgrade” that might not work either.  My contact made an intriguing proposal – He was willing to send me a brand new first generation Drobo S (which is still faster than the basic model, with a faster processor and newer firmware) at no additional cost.  He gave me a month to try it out, and if I still was unhappy with it for any reason, he’d be happy to refund my money.
    As promised, the first-gen Drobo S arrived, and it ran perfectly!  Apparently, there must have been some issue with the firmware of the older 4-bay model that my Vista machine didn’t like.  I’ve had this Drobo running every day for a year, and I’ve only had one hiccup. In December 2011, both the Drobo and Vista were up and running, when out of nowhere, the Drobo S decided to restart.  Once the restart was complete, I checked for a firmware update, and found that there was one available, so I installed it.  As it turns out, the problem wasn’t with the Drobo, but with Vista.  Upon checking the system logs, I saw the firewire 800 card “burped.”  The Drobo detected the loss of signal from the firewire card and started going into standby mode.  Since the signal “glitch” lasted only for a second, the Drobo came back on.  (I can’t blame my Drobo for the fact that Vista is lame.)  Bottom line – my Drobo S has been running fine.
    With the exception of the employee that shipped me the refurbished unit, I have to say that I have been very impressed with Tech Support at Data Robotics.  I’m not claiming that they’re all technical geniuses – Of course they aren’t.  Someone needs to show me companies where every employee is perfect, but that’ll be a long wait.  (BTW, Someone in this blog suggested going to Dell for a possible solution.  They were joking, right?  8 to 10 years ago, Dell had a tremendous reputation for highly trained and knowledgeable support staff, but the quality of their support tanked about 5 or 6 years ago, when they outsourced support and refused to train them properly in order to keep the cost of the equipment low.  I’m sorry, but Dell’s support is horrible, and anyone that says differently is mistaken.)
    In my opinion, when you buy computer hardware (or anything for that matter), you also have to take a good look at the team supporting the product.  My experience (so far) is that everyone to whom I’ve spoken at Data Robotics is genuinely concerned about the quality of their products, and is willing to do whatever is necessary to make the customer happy.  My warranty expired recently, and these guys were still willing to answer my questions even though my unit wasn’t under warranty.  I guarantee that Dell won’t do that for its “out of warranty” customers!  (I did eventually buy the DroboCare warranty, just to be safe.)   Unfortunately, you must have gotten a tech support staff that didn’t pay attention to your case notes, and that is too bad.  Based on my experience, you probably could have had them send you a “newer-generation” unit, or maybe even an entirely different model, to get you out of this vicious cycle of lemons.
    Assuming that you’re not willing to work with Data Robotics anymore (and I certainly understand your reasons), you may want to look at Netgear hardware.  For example, they offer the ReadyNAS NV+ v2 which uses X-Raid, which is this company’s “future proof” technology, which seems to handle data in a fashion similar to the Drobo.   I’ve always considered Netgear equipment to be of very high quality.  However, it’s fairly common knowledge that their tech support is notoriously bad.  I’ve been using their products for decades, and I’ve never had an issue that I didn’t end up figuring out on my own.  I’ve heard good things about Synology hardware, but have no direct experience with their products or tech support.
    My final thought – My impression is that you (and I) have been looking for a solution that provides the benefits of RAID with none of its inherent drawbacks.  At least for now, there is no such beast.  If we want something that’s lightning fast, simple to use, requires minimal human intervention, and doesn’t care what size, model, and firmware version of drive you’re putting into it, then you’re talking about proprietary hardware/firmware.  Otherwise, we have to follow the “tried and true” rules of good Disaster Recovery planning.  I wish you luck in your quest!

    Charles K.

    1. Outstanding reply, Mr. K.

      Thoughtful.  Detailed,  Backed by extensive experience.  Realistic.  Helpful.

      And, for these reasons, your advice will be mostly ignored.

      The fact that all approaches have tradeoffs, Data Robotics is not evil, and many enjoy DR products quite reliably is too complex an answer for those simply looking for someone else to blame.

      You may want to consider abandoning the Internet!

  239. If your TV warrantee expires and it dies, will a quick phone call to support score you a brand new TV?

    If your warrantee expires on your QNAP, Synology, LaCie, Promise, GTech, etc … and you didn’t buy the extended warrantee, are they going to just FedEx you a new box when it breaks down?

    1. At least Synology has a 3 yr warranty …. Companies show faith in their product without the “extended” warranty. Drobo has a one year and pushes their Drobo Care to pocket money.

      1. Hi Drobo (ext237), as kittens pointed out 3 yrs is obviously greater than 1. Clearly Drobo Care is for suckers that Scott didn’t want to go through …. Again. Your brick comment obviously shows who you are especially when you’re lingering on this blog post more than a week ago. Change your policies or make a better product. Don’t expect TB to cover your company. Simply Google “drobo sucks” and see the downfall of Drobo.

  240. Go for Jotta.no for your online backup of your valuable photos.
    I’ve used them for a while now without any problems with my 500+GB library on my unlimited account. As they are situated in Norway, they are under Norwegian law, in short this means that you won’t loose your data due to bankruptcy, and privacy laws are very well covered. And it’s fairly well priced at about 9US$ a month.


  241. Get two Synology 1512+ or 1812+, install them in separate locations, setup Synology’s built-in replication to keep your data backed up to the other Synology, and install the Linux CrashPlan Central client on the primary Synology to keep another backup in the cloud.

    Someone will say it’s proprietary like the Drobo, but it’s not. It’s Linux. The replication is done with rsync. Setup RAID 5 or 6 for slightly better performance or use their Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) for more flexibility. SHR is just Linux doing RAID partitioning behind the scenes.

  242. Scott,

    if you haven’t made a decision, yet, I suggest the Synology line. Depending on how you want to configure your setup, you can buy a standalone model or higher-end models that accept “expansion units” to automatically increase the capacity and keep management flowing. The standard business line of systems can expand quite a bit so storage should never be an issue. We use these a lot where I work for server storage and they hold up like a cockroach in nuclear winter.

    Just my thoughts. 

  243. I’ve never trusted Drobo, mostly because there is no real way to deliver on their promises for that price. You can get what you want, but certainly not at a Drobo price point. Don’t expect reliable storage for 16TB under $5K if you DIY, and $10K for a turnkey solution.

    My recommendation would be to get either:1) a ZFS-powered storage system such as those running the Nexenta distribution of OpenSolaris/OpenIndiana, the open-source fork of Sun’s enterprise-class Solaris operating system. There are a number of packaged options like the Netgear ReadyData or the SGI NAS (way overkill for your budget). ZFS uses 128-bit checksums throughout the file system and actively monitors your storage for silent corruption in a way no other filesystem does. My company collects over 60GB of data per day and the data integrity in ZFS has saved us several times. That said, the ReadyData is advertised as being “under $10,000” so you can be sure it won’t be in the same price range as your Drobo. Nothing reliable will be.2) A NetApp FAS2220 array. NetApp may be a bunch of patent trolls but they know a thing or two about storage. Their FAS2220 array is quite reasonable by the standards of enterprise-grade storage. Similarly, Dell and HP have solid NAS offerings, but for several thousand dollars.I would suggest you read the dpBestflow best practices for data storage. I also have some tips here:http://majid.info/blog/backing-up-is-hard-to-do-right/

  244. For DROBO actually there are solutions to avert customer data loss (and client confidence loss) in case the drobo appliance itself permanently fails :
    1) Provide a feature so that the drobo can export its array (and all relevant) configuration so that one can use that configuration while moving all the disks in another drobo unit so that the data can be safely accessed with another  drobo unit. For those talking about the expired warranty : Even your computer can fail, that does not mean that you cannot take the drive out and read the information on another compatible computer. That’s actually the difference between the failure of the drobo unit and the failure of the disk drive. The real issue here is what happens if the drives remain ok but the unit that exports them fails. 
    2) The second option drobo can offer to their clients is a way one can read his information by connecting all the drives of the drobo unit in a regular computer, for data recovery purposes. This can be either a standalone application that one can use while all the drobo disks have been connected to a computer or even a boot cd/usb stick  to boot the computer while the drobo disks are (directly) connected to the computer and that would allow the user to copy his data.One could then extract the drives from the drobo unit, connect them in a comupter to either sata ports or by generic usb2sata hdd racks, run the drobo recovery application and get your data back.
    These are both very simple solutions and while their implementation may hurt the extended warranty sales it may actually help sale more actual drobo units (if one knows he can move his disks to another drobo unit in case of failure, or at least recover the data from a toasted unit the people would trust the brand and buy more). Everyone expects hardware to fail someday, but you can at least help the users migrate to newer hardware once this happens.

  245. If you were serious about backup you would have had an extra drobo around anyway. I always buy two at a time just for the times when something like this may happen. Then I can always pop the drives in a new unit instantly. Things will always break so you should always be prepared for that. I can’t imagine a supposedly professional getting all upset over such a trivial charge whether it’s $100 or $300. You are just a bully.

  246. Let’s see, you charge an annual fee to join NAPP. If I want services after that year will you give them to me for free?

    Do you have Apple Care for all those products or do you expect Apple to replace your products for free just because you’re you?

    One year warranty is Fairly standard practice for every hardware company out there.

  247. So… you didn’t have a backup, and that is Drobo’s fault?  I don’t think so.  Just because your unit has multiple drives doesn’t mean you shouldn’t backup.  I would suggest a fully redundant system (2 of the same units, fully mirrored).  If you want something less proprietary, that is a good idea.

    I would suggest an OWC Mercury Pro Qx2 (4-bay RAID array) - http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/hard-drives/RAID/Desktop/
    You can buy it with disks or empty, so that you can use your current disks. It will do RAID 5.

    If you want some serious speed, and more disks, you could get the Promise Pegasus R-series.
    The R6 can hold up to 6 drives, and you can use RAID 5 or 6 for redundancy.

    With as much data as you are pushing around, and multiple people using it, you may want to look into a SAN. Promise could help with that as well.

  248. Did you buy it on your AMEX card?  send them the proof of purchase and they will give you your money back.  They extend the manufacturer warranty by 1 year as a free service for card holders.  We have replaced a lot of electronics this way…  as it seems like (without fail) they crash 1 week after the 1 year mark.  It ends up being a way better deal than purchasing extended warranty plans.

  249. My Drobo failed twice after firmware updates.  The first time it took several days but was finally able to fix itself.  The second time, not so lucky.  I was able to recover the data with Data Rescue II (amazing software), only to spend weeks reorganizing tens of thousands of generic music and video files.  Total frustration.  Drobo tech support ignored me for two weeks after submitting log data to them.  Let’s see…a customer with total data loss and you ignore his phone calls and emails for two weeks.  Great way to endear yourself!

    Bottom line, Drobo is lame technology and DR is a very bad company.  Hard drives are so cheap and there are many standard RAID 5/6 boxes.  Only a fool (consider me one who wised up!) would trust his data to a proprietary solution like Drobo.  If your data is that important, get a real RAID.

  250. Hi Scott,  Just now seeing your post.  I looked into Drobo for backups shortly after they came out and after conversations (e-mail & phone) with them decided I just couldn’t trust a system with proprietary software I couldn’t work around in the event of a failure.  Ultimately went with a Startech multi bay (4 HD) enclosure and a Mediasonic – identical to the StarTech.  Both use plug & play SATA drives and attach by USB or Sata.  I tested them by pulling a drive and inserting it into a StarTech “toaster” bare drive unit and into a Newer Tech bare drive unit. ALL data was easily read.  Been over two years with the units running 12-16 hours a day with zero problems – no, I don’t run them 24/7 unless I’m doing a backup.  They’re cheap, use readily available SATA drives (I’m running Seagates) and can be configured as auxilliary drives or as mirrors through Mac’s disk utility.   Hope this gives you some ideas.  – Russ Poole

  251. For 12TB of RAID storage I’d recommend a Synology DS412+ or DS1512
    Both expensive, both top of their game.
    I’m in the process of migrating a DS212j to a new DS412+
    And yes Drobo is crap, stay away.

  252. Depending on how ‘open and integratable’ you want to be, check out:


    I think you will find that an EMC or NetApp low end system will set you back about the same amount as putting together a freenas and maintaining it, but with less admin headaches :)

    Your storage needs for local storage are approaching the point where you need to get a ‘real’ system, and move up out of the ‘pro-sumer’ NAS boxes, which work fine, and are very reliable, right up to the point they fail.

  253. Scott, I’ve been in the IT field for over 25 years and what appears to be happening is really a need to switch from a consumer centric appliance to one that meets the needs of a growing enterprise.  The challenge is typically price point on getting something that truly meets your needs for what you are willing to pay.  I would suggest having Dell, EMC and IBM put something together for you from a proposal standpoint.  They offer a wide arrange of solutions, integrated local/cloud solutions and monitoring so you don’t need to be in the business of worrying about drive status.  I think you have enough on your plate already. Good luck  with 12TB and a growing storage base you are really starting to outscale the consumer appliances.

  254. I would suggest looking at a HP Prolian N40L running open media vault. Very powerful… Can use 4TB drives, and be configured for 5 drives! Also it’s based on mdadm so it’s as open as you are going to get, and also it’s server room quality.

  255. I had a similar issue with a Netgear NV+. NAS boxes like this are fine, except when they use a low level HD format that makes them incompatible with PC hardware. This is a major misstep by the manufacturers.

    The NAS box itself is a single point of failure, and if, in the event of failure, you need another identical box to retrieve your data then it is just not a viable solution.

    For this reason I have gone with a PC-based NAS for home. Every component in the system is generic, so if any component fails I can replace it using a generic PC part for less than $100.

    For the hardware, an AMD Fusion based mainboard is a reasonable choice as you get 6 SATA ports on a reasonably energy efficient platform. You can add extra ports if necessary with expansion cards.

    For the OS, there are excellent free and open source NAS dedicated OS’s available that are designed to make installation, setup and maintenance as easy as possible and all at zero cost. FreeNAS is one example. It is based on the FreeBSD OS and offers some advanced features like ZFS, which actively maintains the integrity of your data through checksumming.

    Of course, if you or your company have $$$ to spend then you will likely achieve the best possible performance from an enterprise SAN system, but for those on a budget, a PC running FreeNAS is a good option. 

  256. Scott, I would heartily recommend one of the QNAP series of NAS boxes. They vary from single drive desktop units to 16 drive rackmount ones. They’re very feature rich and I’ve never had any issues with mine (TS-439 PRO). There’s the added advantage (I believe) that they use a standard Linux software RAID so if the hardware goes wrong you can put the disks into a desktop/tower running Linux and access the files – it’s not that straight-forward, but there are guides out there on the necessary commands.

    Being a photographer myself, though not professional, I understand the desire for safe storage and this is why I went with the hardware I advocate. They are by no means cheap, but they are good. You’d probably be better off with a 6-drive or 8-drive box in RAID 6 mode (2 disks can fail with no data loss) giving you anything from 12-24TB of storage depending on the box and whether you use 3TB or 4TB disks.

  257. A system I set up 3.5 years ago that is still running strong (actually am going to expand the storage soon), probably cost in the ballpark of $600 without any drives:

    In a Powermac G5 I installed a Sonnet card with some external SATA ports. (I think any eSATA card that supports port multipliers should work)

    Then I used port multipliers (http://addonics.com/products/ad5sapm.php) to put the physical drives in a separate tower.

    I built the storage tower using a standard 10 bay computer case, and a high efficiency power supply (don’t skimp on the power supply). I also put the drives into bays that would let you set the drive in a carrier and just plug it into the front, but I think that I would rather screw the drives into directly if I did it again to get better airflow around them. Put some 120mm fans in the case to ensure that there is airflow across the drives, and set up the power supply to turn on when plugged in. If you’re interested I can look up my parts list.

    For backup, look into the software “Synk Pro” for mac. With some configuration it is very flexible.

    This setup attaches the drives directly to your workstation, and each component is vendor independent. I have not tried taking it to the storage capacities that you need, but it should scale beyond that from what I have read. 

    The downside to my configuration is that we don’t use anything to combine drives, each one is kept independent to keep things as simple as possible. You could use software RAID to make a large backup and working disk, but my lack of experience here means I cannot comment further.

    Speedwise, it should be about as fast as the disk inside your computer, though I never did any formal test of that.

  258. I have a LaCie External HD USB 3.0.  I had problems with it mounting as well.  After calling their tech support, which I will say, they were awesome and were willing o  do much more than I expected, I found the, no, an answer.  When I turn off my computer I must manually turn off the external HD.  When I do it mounts 99.999% of the time when I turn on the computer.  May I recommend doing this with the Drobo as well?  If you try it please let me know if it worked.

  259. Scott, you need to get a second copy of your scratch pronto.  Your problem isn’t with Drobo, it’s with your workflow.  Putting your library of images on one drive that constantly fails over and over again sounds like madness.  

    Put your images on a scratch disk, and a backup drive somewhere.  If you need 12TB+ and need constant uptime you shouldn’t have looked into a Drobo S in the first place, maybe a Drobo Pro/Elite or even something more powerful like Storage DNA LTO-5s or something.  You will pay far more for than than a desktop solution.I have a Drobo S, FS, and 2nd gen 4bay and they’ve never given me issues.  The FS has been running none stop for 9 months and the S never gets turned off.  The 4bay backs up the scratch and if I had the cash I’d have an off-site. Archiving 101.

    1. Justin, if you don’t mind me asking, what brand and capacity drives are you using? After my own Drobo issues, I’m convinced that my problems stem from mixing brands and drive capacities. I know this is a much touted feature of Drobo, but I think it may be its achilles heel.

      I have the first gen Drobopro with mostly WD Caviar drives, and on two occasions, the unit required a full reset, wiping all my data. Thankfully the Drobo was just a backup, so no files were lost, but it was a huge time waster, not to mention a stressful couple of days re-copying the data. Twice.

      Drobo support tried to help, but couldn’t figure out why the system failed. I’ve noticed Drobo changing their recommended drive page over the years and only enterprise drives are now supported in the Drobopro. No wonder my batch of WD Caviar drives caused problems. I wish they’d got it right the first time around. There are many IT professionals I’ve spoken to who believe that only enterprise class drives with TLER should be used in any RAID with more than 3 drives.

      Since formattng the Drobopro with just one partition and keeping the Dashboard software and firmware up to date, I haven’t had issues, but it stills fails to give me the one thing I want from a backup… peace of mind. Anyway, it would be great to hear what models and sizes you use.

  260. Hi Scott, I am a (soft of) advanced amateur currently shooting a D800E. I have large storage needs like you, however in my case it is caused by stills and HD videos of my kids mostly. I’ve tried various storage arrays (including several Drobos, which never failed on me but I was never fond of the speed either) and currently have a Promise Pegasus R6 that I put six 3TB Hitachi drives in. Works great and is very fast.

    BUT, I have recently come to the conclusion that I should stop chasing larger and larger arrays. When I stopped and calculated my storage needs, I see that at current, I’m generating about 1TB of data per year! So, the way I see it, no matter how big an array I get, I’ll have to get a bigger one a few years down the road.

    So, when I finally convinced myself that all that storage doesn’t need to be online, I was able to come to the solution I am now migrating to, which is:

    Buy a LaCie Thunderbolt 2-drive array. Configure it as RAID 1. Use it until it fills up. Buy another one. They currently only seem to be selling them with 3TB drives in them, but I am buying them with 2TB drives installed and swapping those out for a pair of Hitachi 7200RPM 4TB drives (available at B&H or BestBuy for $300/ea). What gives me peace of mind about this setup is that the LaCie unit does not do the RAID at all… all it is really doing is exposing both drives directly to OS X. Then in the Disk Utility, you configure those drives as RAID 1. So Mac OS X is directly creating and controlling the RAID, and at any time you can take either of those drives and hook it to a Mac (directly on an internal SATA bus, or in a dock connected to USB or FireWire, or however you want) and it will see it just fine. Totally non-proprietary. Infinite growth potential. Of course all data on those drives needs to be kept in an off-site backup too, which I’ll do with cheaper external single drives.

    After saying all that, if you end up wanting a Promise Pegasus R6, I’m about to put mine on eBay, and I have 3TB Hitachi drives to fill it up with too (eBay user = mkush1).

  261. I dropped Drobo years ago because of performance issues.  They should be called Slowbos.  But, as others have pointed out, this post outlines the frustration of any RAID back up system.  The Drobo system is actually a little better than most in that you can insert a set of drives in any order in any Drobo enclosure and recover your data.  Neither the LSI or CalDigit RAID set ups that replaced my Drobos can say that.  What they can do is perform.

    My strategy is multiple RAID systems.  If one goes down for any reason, I have two others.  I’m never hostage to anything.  If I lose an LSI card and can’t (or don’t want to) replace it, I can take the drives to a new controller and copy all my data over from either one of my other RAID solutions.

  262. I feel you pain, but at least you are getting some feedback from Drobo. Your own Kelby training app is rated 2 stars and has not been updated since December. 5 people rate the app 1 star for every person that rates it 5 stars. I have accessed the email support feature and written 3 times and have never received a single response. I then called the phone number and spoke with someone who said that my experience with the app must be unique, because no one else was complaining. Does the company read the app reviews.

    So while I understand your disappointment, it looks like you are getting better customer service than you give.

  263. I copy across multiple usb drives and use carbon copy cloner for my macs and syncback pro for my windows computers.
    I did consider ‘upgrading’ to drobos but glad I read this.   I have also abandoned any propriety format backup solutions, such as retrospect and ‘everything stuck in one file’ software such as the evil iPhoto.  I think the best question to be able to answer is: can I take my backup disk/s to the local library/internet cafe and open the files? So need to pay attention to disk formats here also, as using a mac can land you in hot water with their propitiatory disk formats also.
    Will be following to see what solution you come up with, Scott.

  264.  Couldn’t you just swap the discs into an other, borrowed Drobo to get you stuff back? I thought this would work and I bought a second Drobo just in case for that.

  265. It’s all about getting a proper linux file server. Slap CentOS on it, setup drives with LVM, fire up Samba and away you go. For double the pleasure and double the fun… build two of them and keep one off site. On the main file server, setup a quick cron job that fires off an rsync daily to backup the whole storage drive over the internet to the off-site server. Rsync is very intelligent about what it copies so transfers are as fast as possible.

    The good:
    – The flexibility of this route is unparalleled.
    – Uses nothing but open source standards. Yay, no proprietary bs.
    – Easily build a nice yet inexpensive server for $500 – $1000 (minus drives).
    – Can setup with KVM for virtual machine expansion.
    – Hardware flexibility also. Say you wanted to add the server to a fiber network. Pop in a fiber card and you’re off and running. Try that with a Drobo… or any NAS for that matter. Heck, try any of this with a NAS :)
    – Can have dual network jacks for 2Gb network bandwidth, or 2 separate networks, or… very flexible. You get the idea.

    The bad:
    – It takes a tiny bit of tech knowledge to setup. If you are remotely interested, give me a buzz… I’ll help you out. @GeneCrucean:twitter 

    It sounds complicated but it’s really not. Especially when setup properly. You plug in power and a network cable and turn it on just like a NAS. Then connect to the share just like you probably did with the drobo’s over the network with an IP address.

  266. I’ve been using this for over 3 years with not a single problem… I loaded mine with my own drives (4 1TB drives, but you can go much higher as needed), attached it to my router and every one of my systems automatically finds it and backs up to it when awakened (I primarily run Macs).  It is the OWC Mercury Pro Qx2.  Hope whatever you choose works well for you!  I’ve got mine on RAID 5…

  267. I don’t get it.  Scott let his warranty support lapse and he’s upset he had to pay some money to get it fixed.  Ok for Apple, Nikon and everyone else, but not Drobo.  Three years warranty is better than 1 (as suggested in comments) so Drobo is the bad guy because they don’t give us what we want- everything for free.  I want everything for free too, but I don’t blog about it.

    Much hay made of the “proprietary” nature of the data format, but if the data’s still there all you need to do is get another unit – one way or another – and pop the drives in, in any order you want.  Do that with conventional Raid and most people end up with a trashed array.  Or they are computer geeks.  But presumably you are not.  Drobo was built for people that DON’T want to or can’t rebuild conventional Raid.

    You want simple and non-proprietary, go JBOD.  But then Drobo is not the tool of choice.  That does not make it a bad tool for someone else.  What makes Drobo special is that it is proprietary in order to make it as easy as humanly possible, and even Aunt Suzy or Uncle Jack can recover it.  In theory.  In practice, keeping any data array intact is too much for Aunt Suzy and Uncle Jack but Drobo is probably as good as it gets.  Aunt Suzy and Uncle Jack sure can’t recover a conventional Raid array.

    Because you were “held hostage” for $100 or $300, the solution to the “over-priced” Drobo is enterprise level storage? Maybe an IT guy on staff to configure and operate it?  And EMC won’t want money to support it forever, and if you don’t pay, they are great guys and will fix it for free – out of warranty – anyway?  Sorry, much of this thread is apples to oranges nonsense.  I won’t hold Scott responsible for the comments though :-)

    If your data is important enough that people are recommending enterprise level storage, it was important enough to pay $50 or $100 a year for support.  If you need 24/7 guaranteed availability, another under $1000 backup box was all you needed to solve your problem.  You may not need EMC, you may just need a spare Drobo.

    If you do need EMC, you have no right to bash Drobo because they won’t do it for $500.  Sorry, I don’t get it.

    I ran a Drobo V2 for about 3 years.  Once some initial issues were worked out it ran flawlessly.  I upgraded to a Drobo S, which has run flawlessly for 9 months.  I bought my Drobocare because it was important to me and I factored it into the cost/benefit decision before I bought the first box.  I never lost one bit of data.

    Maybe I was just really lucky.  Doesn’t matter.  I have multiple backups so I don’t think about my data being “held hostage”.  I don’t need to calculate actuarial stats on the life expectancy of my data arrays.   I never rely on any one array of data.  They all fail eventually.   My backups are all JBOD because I want my eggs spread far and wide.

    The Drobo V2 was too slow.  I don’t think it should have ever been marketed, simply because the speed was not proportionate to the data capacity.  Or maybe storage capacity just got ahead of it.  But the Drobo S is pretty decent in that way.  For the money, there are better NAS boxes but Drobo’s core business was DAS, which is a whole different matter.

    If I wanted a NAS I would build one myself or go with Synology but if I insist on Raid in a DAS I suspect Drobo is the best way to go.

    There is likely no other DAS Raid5 box on the market that is supported with cheap consumer drives.  They all need enterprise drives at  2x or 3x the cost.  Few of those makers are up front about it.  I even see consumer drives bundled with these Raid boxes (by at least one reseller).  Talk about shady.  

    I have a DAS JBOD/Raid box that listed WD GP drives in the compatibility list in the manual.  They just didn’t bother to mention they were only certified for JBOD.  And they know 95% of the buyers are looking for cheap Raid.  Do we want to talk about all the shady practices in the high tech industry?  Or is only Drobo fair game?  If “shady” means they don’t fix stuff for free when the buyer doesn’t feel like paying for extended warranties?

    The savings in the drive cost alone can pay for a Drobo and the Drobocare, over time, as the array is updated.  I’ve done the math.  That’s why I use a Drobo for one of my multiple copies of my data.  A year of Drobocare is less than the savings from one drive (consumer vs enterprise cost).

    For a 5 x 2TB array the difference betweenWD  consumer and RE drives is $130 a pop or about $650.  That alone will pay for a Drobo S, and it’s another $650 extra when it’s time to go to 3TB or 4TB down the road.  The Drobo S is free.  

    Drobo has its issues but it also has its attributes.  There is no perfect high tech product.  There are just some products, like Drobo, that it becomes fashionable to hate.  Even if the justification is that it broke out of warranty and the vendor won’t fix it for free.  Or being next day air away from a replacement box (under the extended warranty that should be bought) is being “held hostage” by a “proprietary product”.

    You saved $100 on the Drobocare you didn’t buy and Drobo was willing to fix your box for the price of the year’s Drobocare you refused to buy.  But you’re still not happy.  You’d rather give the money away just out of spite or principle.  Sorry, I just don’t get it. 

    After almost 4 years with a Drobo and following the support forum all this time, there are lots of things I can nit pick  (and I can do that with every tech vendor I deal with, especially Apple).  I’m sorry but the complaints here are mostly not justified.  Except maybe the frequency of failure but it is obvious (from the comments)  that the details were glossed over so we, the reader, can’t accurately assess it and are left to speculate.  

    I have had nothing but great support from Drobo.  It is one reason I think the Drobocare, while expensive,  may be justified.  You get what you pay for, and in this case a competent company tech, not some outsource operation half a world away.

    It would have been better to discuss the ups and downs of Drobo on a level playing field, holding them to the same standards as Apple and Nikon and everyone else.  But once again, most people will never get an even handed evaluation of that product.

    1. I have to add one more point.  It was suggested, early in the comments, that photographers are Drobo’s biggest market.  Having followed their support forum for almost 4 years now, I do not believe that to be true.  It is likely the biggest market among Scott’s readers :-).  I doubt it’s 20% of Drobos market.

      The typical Drobo buyer, if there is one,  is mainly streaming media – ripped movies and iTunes music.  These buyers need endless storage for their ripped Blue-ray flicks but this is not really mission critical life threatening stuff.  A lot of these people do not back up their data because they consider it a mere inconvenience to spend a few hundred hours re-ripping their CD’s and movies.  Not worth the cost of double and triple redundancy.  Of course, when the stuff hits the fan they aren’t happy but it’s frequently not irreplaceable images.

      For these buyers even a Drobo V2 will often do, and a Drobo S is ideal.

      Since half the comments here seem to be leading Scott to enterprise grade gear, maybe he simply had the wrong Drobo.  He was trying to do enterprise level work (demanding enterprise grade  reliability) with consumer grade gear.

      There are two separate and distinct  issues here:

      1.  Is a Drobo fit for a typical photographer ? And I assume the majority are not Pros that can afford 4 and 5 figure storage solutions, and a consultant to go along with it.

      2.  Is a Drobo S or FS fit for Scott Kelby’s 10GB and growing collection of presumably quite valuable images?  (Scott doesn’t even bother to mention the model he had) 

      These are two very different questions that were intermingled here in a way that bashes Drobo up and down for not providing a $500 enterprise level piece of gear (apparently with perpetual free support too).  To a great extent he probably just under-bought a piece of high tech gear and that may be 80% or more of the problem.  Maybe he just needs a business grade Drobo?

      If your corporate Oracle database buries your $500 budget server, don’t blame the vendor.  Same here.

      That’s part of what I meant about discussing this on a level playing field.

      1. Kudos PhotoNeil. Refreshing. Probably the most level headed and knowledgeable answer I’ve read in a long time.

      2. If this is a business, even a home business, an offsite backup/file sharing account would make more sense. One can be had for as low as $12 a month with unlimited space. Unlimited. Upload or download photos anywhere. And it’s for business so you can probably deduct that cost.

      3. I don’t believe you understand the concept here. I have 2 Drobos (an FS and a 5N) that total 35Tb of data between them. Unlimited? It would take an incredulous amount of time to download that amount of data if required after a data-loss disaster. The amount of time required to upload it in the 1st place would be insane for 99% of Americans

      4. Use Amazon Glacier for archiving huge amounts of data. Order an 80TB snowball – it arrives at your door, you copy your files with a direct connection. Its kindle paper white mailing label screen changes by itself to mail itself back to amazon. Your data is loaded into your glacier storage. Boom! Best of both worlds – cheaper long term storage where you don’t have to worry about hardware problems with the convenience of both the cloud and the speed of local file transfer speeds. https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2016/04/announcing-the-new-larger-capacity-80tb-snowball-device/

      5. @disqus_0RVO7zgric:disqus I’ve looked at amazon glacier, and other online services. Maybe i’m calculating it wrong, but 10tb of data seems like its $55.00 a month JUST for storage.. then they charge you additionally to access the data (update, add new files, or retrieve data).. If you throw in the 80tb Snowball (250.00)

        So for the first year cost of ownership would be 250(snowball) + 660.00 (10tb of space) + (???) accessing data = easily 1000.00 a year.

        Am I calculating wrong?

      6. I wholeheartedly agree with your response. After 38+ years of providing IT Support to the masses, it was quite refreshing to hear. “You get what you pay for” has “ALWAYS” been my motto. Applecare, Extended Service Warranties? Absopositutely! And as for having multiple backups, I have always said, when asked the question, “Do I really need all the memory, or storage space? Can’t I get by with less?”, I always answer, “You can’t use it, if you don’t have it. And if you don’t have it, you certainly can’t use it”. Simple. Effective. But, usually lost on most people. Enjoyed your response greatly. Minds like ours need to be hear more often.

        I’m currently in the process of establishing an online, radio station concept I’ve developed, after having worked in Radio, in Oregon, for almost 8 years, and then doing IT Support for over 38, I’ve developed a concept for aggregating, and dispensing technical information in a “VERY” palatable and easily assimilateable format, something I call, “Comfort Information”. It’s what I hope to see the first, of many such stations of its kind, nexus points for anyone to gather, listen, be entertained, get informed, make social comments regarding tech, etc.

        I would very much like to interview you, via phone, on a variety of technical subjects for the purpose of re-broadcasting them on the internet, as well as posted on my website and blog for future consumption.
        If you’re interested in such a relationship, please feel free to contact me.

    2. You should have to buy extended care after 12 months. If the manufacture stands behind their product, standard coverage should be more like 36 months. I alway refuse extended care (extortion). If the product fails in a less than timely fashion, that manufacturer just lost my return business. Companies should make money from the product, not from selling extended care. It’s a racket. Similar to the way Blockbuster late fees were.

      1. you are in a class by yourself. no vendor i work with in enterprise hardware/software has a free warranty over 12 months.

      2. Under Australian consumer law (lucky for us, not for you), a significant failure – as described – would warrant a replacement/repair of this type of equipment up to 3 years (the reasonably expected life span).
        This would also apply to any apple gear, therefore making extended warranties un-needed.

      3. i get 5 years, no questions asked, from my supplier, for any and all IT gear.
        items have to be fit for the use for which they were intended. A photo archive raid needs to provide safe archiving of data – this unit does not, so it is not fit, and it so it falls under the consumer guarantee acts

      4. Blockbuster was a movie rental place(VHS,DVD). Their per-day late fees were often more than the rental itself.

    3. OK I’m brand new to this blog, landed here because I was researching what to do next about my quickly filling Drobo 4-bay. Reading all the horror stories has got me in a sort of a panic even though I’ve never had trouble with my own machine. I’m so glad to read PhotoNeil’s calm and reasoned post. But I still don’t know what to think of some of the meltdowns people claim to be having…

    4. I am in a similar position to Scott – while I did let my warranty lapse and hence had to pay for DroboCare, I’ve actually no issue with that provided they actually fix my failure. I’ve been working back and forth with them for 17 days without resolution at this point – so it’s still not fixed BUT I did purchase coverage. Thankfully this is just a NAS that I use to provide media and backups to my house versus work but support has been pretty miserable – doing the same set of steps repeatedly without any real action to resolve the problem on their end.

    5. Well I have to agree with the original author a bit here. Technically you are correct: His warranty expired, and then he had a problem – so clearly he should have bought the warranty. Realistically, though, from a consumer point of view, the author is correct. People buy this device to keep their data safe, and the device ended up doing the opposite.

      Buying a RAID type enclosure is already a significant expense – spending even more to cover it with an extended warranty (which are almost always rip-offs) should be unnecessary – especially within the first year.

      I’ll go farther – the author said he didn’t expect it to last 20 years. I do. Barring hard drives themselves, most electronic components should last at least 10 years unless you douse them in water or shock them with static. Most computers from the 80s still work fine today.

      That said, sometimes there are individual consumers who have an awfully lot of broken devices when few others had the same problem. They may be unlucky, or they may be doing something wrong.
      I suspect that if they had several devices die on them that perhaps there are electrical power issues in their area, and so they may have issues with other devices as well.

      At any rate, so your point about the level playing field:
      1. I’ve had a MacBook Air die after the warranty period, and Apple fixed it for free because they recognized that the issue wasn’t typical, nor caused by me.
      2. If goods I buy from Apple, Nike, or anyone else failed after a year or so (warranty or not), I would stop buying from that manufacturer.

      Even if they can’t guarantee it in writing or fix it for free, most electronic items should last 15 years or so. Hard drives wear out after a certain amount of time, and SSDs wear out after a certain amount of writes – but almost anything should be expected to last at least five years. If you have to pay for a warranty that soon, then effectively you haven’t “bought” anything, you are just renting.

      As for “Trapping his data”, it had been said many times, and is 100% true that RAID (and similar features) do not substitute for back-ups.

      Even if Drobo were 100% perfect, had no bugs, and lasted forever – the disk could be corrupted by an operating system bug in OS X or Windows, a disk could die in a strange way where it corrupts data instead of failing all at once, the user could accidentally delete or over-write something, etc. The only way to recover from that is to have a working back-up.

      For keeping copies of a Photo Album in case of disaster, I think that a set of large cheap drives on more than one PC with AeroFS. That would give basically unlimited storage with back-up. If one machine or the other dies, you can replace it and/or the drives and let them sync. up again. You don’t have to pay for AeroFS or for warranty if you don’t want, just pay for drives when they break.

    6. Blah blah blah on warranty. I have a $50k plasma cutter thats out of warranty and Hypertherm is not making parts for or servicing. You buy a product you should have customer relation and faith in that product. If product fails they should want your business back as a repeat customer. Hey 3-5 years out of an electronic product is great. Sucks when they hold you hostage and say it’s your fault for not upgrading equipment on a regular basis. If that’s the case everyone reach for the cloud and not buy storage devices. It’s the original customer base that allowed the company to grow, if they want to sell more drives they have to offer something better than $300 to fix. Like I said in previous post buy another Drobo and return it within 30 days after you get the data back.

  268. I have a year and a half old setup which is working flawlessly for me:

    A HP ProLiant MicroServer which costed me around 200 USD.I bought 8GB of ECC Memory for it, 4 x 2TB Hard Drives (Of 2 different brands) and 2 x 30GB SSD’s which al together costed me around 500 USD.I installed Solaris on the machine and using ZFS I have two mirrors of 2TB (one drive of each brand per mirror) for a total of 4TB storage. On one SSD I have the OS installed, the other one is used as cache.I can take out only one drive of each mirror, put them in a completely different system, can be a different OS, supporting the same ZFS version (I did test this!) and they are discovered and readable by that OS (which also reports the mirror is not complete).

    Using Crashplan Pro I can backup the data from my server over the internet. The initial backup took ages but now, since I have not to many files changing/added, I have more or less 100% of the files backup all the time.

    In short:
    – Easy to setup,
    – no vendor lock-in,
    – reliable HP Warranty,
    – local redundant storage with online backup,
    – cheap

  269. Scott,
       I think you just sold me on a Drobo. Seriously, you are complaining about $300 to repair the device out of warranty? That’s cheap. Did you know you could take those drives out of that Drobo and put them in a another Drobo and will recover them? That’s a fantastic feature, and should be one you’ve taken advantage of since you say you have a bunch of these lying around your facilities.

    I don’t know, it sounds perfect to me. I’m going to pick up one of those new Thunderbolt models and sleep easy knowing I have options to keep my data safe. 

    Thanks for sharing.

  270. Scott, this is very alarming as I have chosen to use DroboS for my data storage as well. However, with the exception of the 1st unit, which I had a problem mounting in FW800 but worked in USB, I have not had an issue (4 months). Now you have frightened me as I have to consider a backup for my backup. My only suggestion would be the Pegasus made for Apple. Same idea, but with Thunderbolt technology. They make you buy it WITH the Hard Drives, which is really the only reason I strayed away.

    Was there any tell tale signs of the Drobo failing ? What lead up to it ? Would it be reasonable to buy 5 new drives and swap them out and store the others as backup ? If the Unit fails, the data should not be lost, correct ? The data wont be corrupt.

  271. I, too, have been around the block with Drobo (gen 2), a replacement unit, hours upon hours of tech support emails. At the moment, my device is working (somewhat), though it’s now dismounting/remounting/dismounting/… occasionally from Finder in OS X without an actual device reset.

    Last month, I had an actual drive failure and the unit decided to label an additional (2nd) drive bad because it didn’t respond in time. So, here I am with a bricked device where 3/4 drives are actually good. Drobo support actually had to give me special firmware to recover my archive then recommended enterprise drives because WD Greens are known to not respond in time and cause this issue (regardless of the fact that they recommend WD Green drives). ->Yes, I do have my archive spanned across 25GB BD-R offline & offsite <-Thing is, I can relate to the feeling of uncertainty that Scott is professing above. I feel it every day. What's the point of this system? It sits there spinning the drives 24/7, there's no way to sleep/wake the drive via software, the drives don't spin down (from what I can tell based on the constant fan noise) and when the array has trouble, you are locked out. I'm seriously considering using my Mac Pro and making a simple 4TB, 2-drive software mirror. That would help me sleep better and alleviate the 10MB/sec Drobo bottleneck speeds I get. The warranty on these units should ABSOLUTELY be no less than _5_ years. As clearly as I remember falling off my bike as a kid and scraping my face on the pavement, I remember a similar feeling when Drobo support said "you are out of warranty, pay up to get your data back".  (to their credit, they provided support and firmware last month without asking for my drobocare proof)

    1. Sean,

      Most (perhaps all) of your problems are unique to Drobo’s early and now discontinued models… particularly the Drobo and Drobo Gen2, plus you are confused on one point.

      1.  The Drobo Gen2 throughput was typically top-ended at 10-20MB/s due to a too low power processor.  My Drobo S is easily good for 40-50MB/s and I’ve never thrown a lot of money at my systems to maximize throughput.  For me, my S is “good enough”, relative to the other benefits of the Drobo.  The original V2 was not.  But everyone’s mileage will vary here. 

      Just for context I rarely get better than 50-70MB/s sustained transfer rates using internally connected Sata and externally connected JBOD eSata drives.  So it is very possible to do better and most people throw more money at that problem than I do, and get at least somewhat better performance from their S models.

      (if you like the general idea of a Drobo then I think you would like an S model, and if you do, you may want to buy one sooner than later because I suspect they too will be very shortly discontinued – unless the features of the new 5D model are worth another $300 to you)

      2.  My Drobo S allows me to set the spin down time on a slider in Drobo Dashboard. I can set it to 15 minutes, or Never, or 6 other settings in between.  I assume this feature is on all current production Drobos.

      The Drobo V2 DOES have a “mandatory” 10 minute spin down.  You apparently have something running on your MAC system that prevents spin down (not an uncommon problem).  My several Win OS boxes all spun down my Drobo V2.  My recollection is that MAC’s have more problems with preventing spin down than Windows, but it is a relatively common problem with both OS’s.

      3.  If you search the Drobo support forum for “dismount” in the Drobo/gen2 section you will get 2 pages of hits, including the main 75 post thread on that topic that went on for almost a year. (some or much of those 2 pages may not be relevant to your chronic problem, but related to other more serious issues that are generally readily fixed)

       My recollection is that most or all of the chronic dismount issues were MAC related, and started with one of the MAC OS upgrades.  I do not think it was a big issue with early Drobos (with the MAC OS of that era).  I do not know if it was resolved, or if it was, with which versions of MAC OS.

      If you do the same search on the Drobo S forum, you get one hit, and that thread is unrelated to your issue.  This has simply not been a problem with Drovo S.  I didn’t check other models and don’t follow those goings on very closely.  I assume this is some issue that Drobo resolved with later models.

      (there are a lot of differences in the Drobo experiences of MAC users and WIN users, much related to interface issues.  Win does not like Firewire at all, and Drobo actually recommends it not be used int he case where it doesn’t work.  MS never implemented FW correctly but Drobos are more problematic than, say, WD external enclosures. OTOH, MACs don’t seem to always like USB2 where virtually no one has USB2 connectivity issues with WIN.  IOW,  Drobos work better on the respective native spec’d port – a pox on both OS vendors)

      It may seem that Drobos are more sensitive to connectivity issues but you have to remember that Drobo is the only, or virtually the only user of “Thin Provisioning”, at least in the consumer sector. They have challenges no one else has, and as a result I am very careful to follow Drobo’s various connectivity card HCL recommendations whenever possible.

      What I’m suggesting is that, while your above issues were real much is not applicable to newer Drobos (or in the case of spin-down unique to your machine) and should not be part of any current or future decision making process.  Drobo went through a teething process and I think they have done a pretty good job of addressing a lot of issues with the early units, including those two above, plus many more you do not mention.  

      Similarly, a friend of mine has an early Mac Air.  That’s a cute little box but it didn’t have enough horsepower to do much more than surf the web and look at images and Youtube videos.  I’m not a MAC user but my understanding is that the Air has come a long way and current Air’s are much more useful.  

      It would be wrong to condemn Apple based on 4 year old Air’s and similarly it is wrong (or mistaken) to condemn Drobo for the teething problems of the early models, now resolved.  The high tech world (and my closet) is loaded with obsolete gear that never quite delivered on the early promises.  If we all worried about that, equally for all vendors, we would go back to stone tablets.  It’s just a fact of life.

      However, I think they still have some work left to do…

      One of the most controversial aspects of Drobo technology is that it is very picky about drives.  It will reject a drive that tests fine with any other drive tester, including the manufacturer’s provided tester (like WD LifeGuard).  I’ve never had this happen myself, and I’ve had at least 10 GP drives in my Drobos over the years, but it is not a terribly uncommon problem.

      Drobo’s perspective is that they want a failing or just slightly marginal drive out of the array ASAP, presumably because a slowly failing or marginal drive is generally undesirable, difficult to manage, and puts your data at risk.  Plus, if you have more than one of those drives, there is a real possibility that that 2nd marginal drive will fail during the stress of a rebuild when a drive is replaced.  

      In most consumer environments Raid arrays don’t work very hard until they are tasked with an array rebuild.  As such, the most likely time for a weak drive to fail is exactly when you don’t want it to fail.  That, I believe, is why there seem to be “too many” multiple drive Raid failures, with all consumer Raid systems.

      That is a serious problem with all Raid arrays, but it is more problematic with a Drobo because their BeyondRaid expansion capability necessarily requires that rebuilds take longer and are more along the lines of (far more stressful) random access than the more straightforward rebuilds done by conventional Raid, which is generally not able to deal with drive expansion and mixed capacity drives.  

      There is a price paid for the conveniences offered by Drobo and that’s why they are not necessarily the best solution for everyone.  Yet it is those same (unique in DAS)  features that drive most buyers to Drobos.

      The big problem I see with being overly picky/cautious about drives is that a usable drive could be flagged bad at a very bad time, such as during a rebuild, and that is apparently what happened to you.  

      The read-only firmware they sent you was apparently developed during the “Seagate Firmware Fiasco” circa early 2009 when I bought my Drobo.  It got a lot of use until those defective Seagates were all purged out of the system.  They still use it to salvage failed arrays when the drives are actually readable, and sometimes to solve repetitive endless reboot looping .  

      And as you found, it *appears* to be their practice to provide support for this (and other issues requiring interpretation of the machine log)  even with out of warranty units even though their published policies suggest otherwise.

      If I were the Drobo engineers I would modify the logic such that it is less picky during a rebuild, and increase the response time thresholds.  I would wait for the array to rebuild before flagging a marginal but usable drive bad.  Seems simple enough to me.  But I’m not a storage firmware engineer so I don’t know all the problems they face.  In the real world these things are not always that simple.

      It is also possible they have done exactly that, or it may be an ongoing process, but they are no longer actively updating the older discontinued model’s firmware.  As is the case with most high tech companies, not just Drobo.  My sense, just reading the Drobo support forums, is that over time the number of people coming in there with failed arrays has significantly declined.  But it will never go away- such is the nature of hard drives.

       My own personal conclusion is that they are trying to thread a needle through several very difficult problems and these problems are applicable to all striped Raid arrays.  The mistake most people seem to make is assuming Raid (and Drobo BeyondRaid) is “failsafe” when it is far from it.  At best it may swing the net-net odds of an array failure a little more in the positive direction. Hopefully much more in that direction.  It is impossible to figure this out from anecdotal internet reports.

      I’m not sure myself where Drobo is going with consumer drives.  They are slowly backing away from the “any drive works” policy, to the point where on the Drobo S and the new D5, for example, they are saying that consumer drives “work”, but they are recommending RE drives “for best performance” or some such vague idea.

      I do think they made the best attempt of any of the consumer “striped Raid” storage makers to make their devices work with consumer drives.  Whatever problems they may have may be more related to how the drive makers are dealing with this, and the drive maker’s penchant for basically selling drives for twice or thrice the price based mostly on a a few simple keystroke changes in their firmware.  So in this case I suspect the “blame” can at least equally or perhaps mostly fall on the drive makers, not the storage makers.

      IOW I don’t believe Drobo is jerking us around with the consumer drive issue.  I think they are dealing with some very difficult challenges with using consumer drives for something they are not really intended to do.  For most of us it works, works well and saves us huge money.  But their solution is not quite perfect. 

       I give them an A for effort in that area.  Some give them an F for delivery simply because they are in the minority that had problems.  Or perhaps they simply love to hate Drobos :-).

      As I previously implied, I use a Drobo because of the huge money I save on consumer drives, plus the amount of data I store.  Since I maintain multiple backups of my Drobo (by virtue of those cheap drives) I’m not too concerned until it becomes a real world problem for me.  I just hope my good experience with WD GP drives continues.

      If I were you, and I could fit all my data on a 2TB Raid-1 mirror I wouldn’t use a Drobo either.  It arguably would not be the best tool for that job.  

      But that does not scale up well, especially using external mirror enclosures.  When I got to 3 enclosures, connected to my supposedly portable laptop, plus a USB hub I shouldn’t even use with any external high speed storage, it was quite desk bound.  And, of course, Windows never likes to actually let you eject a drive, much less 3 at the same time so I had to spend a half hour rebooting  just to go out and work on my patio on a nice day.  And disconnect an increasingly complex life support system from the laptop.  That drove me to a Drobo.  I started with a 1TB WD Raid1 mirrored external but as a raw shooter that did not last long :-).

      And there are other problems with most or all external enclosures.  I have a WD 2x1TB external enclosure configured as Raid1, which now acts as one backup for a terabyte of my Drobo data.  That was a nifty solution until I came to understand that the enclosure (which was very expensive at that time) can never be upgraded, and it is not clear to me that I could replace a failed drive without going to WD support to get an identical drive (at whatever price they truly hold me “hostage” to).  

      But those WD10EACS drives have been out of production for years.  If WD can’t replace it then my relatively very expensive enclosure is a door stop because it will most likely not work with modern replacement drives and I know for a fact that WD will not support that in any way.

      I previously mentioned my SansDigital TR4-UTBN 4 drive enclosure (but not by name).  That box (via eSata) will not give me a Safe Removal option in Windows.  I have to shut down to eject or install a JBOD drive (a murky issue with eSata now).  It won’t give me SMART data via conventional tools.  I have to use their Raid management software (even though I am not running Raid) but that software won’t give me SMART data on the top disk, only the 3 lower disks (???).  

      Their tech support blames the rest of the world for those problems.  In order to get support for any problems, I have to use a certain RocketRaid 622 eSata card, and no other card.  My other eSata devices don’t like that card, which apparently does not support hot-swapping and has other issues with other devices.  I have no idea how I could get that box to work with any laptop via eSata.

      I built a machine and specifically bought a USB3 motherboard, and that 4 bay USB3 box, to avoid the various problems with eSata but there was no joy there either.  The Sans box simply would not work with my USB3 drivers, and based on what I read on their support site, it doesn’t like many other USB3 drivers. I could buy a $40 USB3 card – for $80 – from SansDigital that would supposedly work (or maybe not!)  but at that point I just gave up on the USB3 idea.  I figured some day I would figure out what off the shelf card they used and buy it at a fair price.

      Those are the same people that listed WD GP drives as “compatible” in their product manual HCL but conveniently neglected to mention they don’t work for the Raid setups most people buy that box for. And this is the same general SansDigital “Raid enclosure” Newegg recently bundled (maybe as a one day special)  with a GP drive :-).

      All that was just to say that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence.  I would never buy another WD Raid enclosure, for very good reasons, unless they basically gave it to me for free with the drives.  They are designed to become door stops after a drive failure.  Yet no one blogs about how bad they are.  No one loves to hate WD Raid enclosures.  That’s reserved for Drobos :-).

      Same for the SansDigital boxes.  They are nice boxes for the money but they have a long list of issues.  I would buy one again, but only because it’s a nice (albeit not very flexible) 4 bay USB3/eSata box  for $150 or so.  No one loves to hate them either but there is a lot to hate about it, relative to typical Drobo complaints. (that box doesn’t have spin down settings either- the drives never spin down, and it is a frequent complaint on their support forums).

  272. Thanks for that info, Scott. I’ve been looking for a Drobo-like solution for some time, and your experience has convinced me to look elsewhere. If this post doesn’t get their attention, they are doomed. In recent months I have become far too familiar with tech companies’ reluctance to address hardware issues for the sake of saving money on R&D. We need to stop putting up with it and move on to other companies’ devices.

  273. I’m Gob smacked to only see QNAP appear once in 480 comments.. QNAP is the answer to your needs. Go for a fast cpu *39/*59/*69 range and choose how many drives you want 4/5/6/8/10/16
    http://www.qnap.com/en/index.php?lang=en&sn=822&c=351  (you get what you pay for!)

    QNAP boxes are expandable also, buy an 8 bay and stick 4 drives in then just add more drives when you need to, you can also hot swap your drives for bigger capacity, and increase capacity that way. So you could move from 4 1TB drives to 8 3TB drives without turning it off and while still using it!

  274. Hi Scott,
    Firstly as a fan of your perfect 4 books and recent owner of a new shiny D800 i would like to highly recommend to all the QNAP storage units. They are solid as hell and i currently own around 6 of them usually 5 drives or more. They offer many services and are network access based but bang for buck are wicked. Anyway, Just wanted to let you and all the other readers know and hope to see much more of your training soon. I need your help more now than ever with this camera!!

  275. I just have to add to this discussion… we have the same problem with our drobo. It died during the warranty period and we had it replaced. This replacement failed within the following year. 

    My husband, to his credit, had already backed up all of our files to other drives and I, to my credit, had pulled all of my files off after the first burnout.

    We wasted our money. We purchased the product because many co-workers and media loved them. Many of them have had the same issues since.

    This kind of product should last 5+ years. How can my PowerBook 180c laptop from the 90’s still power up but the Drobo is a brick. That’s poor design and execution.

    Is it worth $100 to us to have it back? How can we ever trust that it won’t do the same thing again. Why would we risk that?

    Drobo has to do serious crisis management to make it in this marketplace now. Customer service will HAVE to become more important. And it goes without saying that they will need to have a reliable product.

  276. QNAP all the way.. I’ve been using QNAP for many years and only have praise for them. My word of advice is to spend a little more than you would like to! you will not be disappointed, if you buy what you think you need now, in a little while you’ll be wanting to expand again. So buy a 6 or 8 bay box and you’ll be sorted for many years use. (you only need to put in a couple of disks to start with, or many cheaper low capacity drives, QNAP has online RAID expansion, when you need to add more) 

    Don’t rely on good reviews to find the best product, search for the bad reviews! 

  277. I would recommend You this company:  SimplyNAS.com

    Why?   20 years experience, NASBIT© (special NAS Burn in Test), close by (LONGWOOD, FL 32750)
                95+% of their customers return to them, 65+% of our their business is strictly by word of mouth

    Phone: 1-407-960-4690

    PS:      If I win I would use the money for a giottos traveler tripod, like the GTVGRN8225-5310-630
               Vitruvian. A dream of a light tripod. Thanks.

  278. Well, mine finally bit the bullet this morning – intermittent USB disconnections, and then, adios – base Drobo model – and it’s not much more than 1 year old. Fortunately, based on this post I’d already moved everything to a 4TB G-Drive. I’ll certainly be exploring other alternatives than Drobo for the drives – plenty of great suggestions here.

  279. Just like to throw in my 2 cents. From my experience with drobo, this seems to be a fringe occurrence. The fact that it happened 4 times to 4 different drobos signals red flags to me—at the least opening up the possibility that Mr. Kelby’s data or machine is somehow corrupting the data at some point. Have you looked into this possibility Scott before throwing Drobo under the bus? In my humble opinion, you’ve gotten a slew of people using Drobo—and many do not have the resources to just leave it and get a new system. Therefore, I think you should at least be obliged to assist Drobo in identifying where the problem lies and how to correct it, regardless of you continuing to use Drobo or not. Everything has it’s faults, and photoshop itself is a perfect example. My version of PS strangely deletes files at random times while I’m working on them. This is a true pain at times, and has yet to be resolved. Did I switch to a different photo editor? No. I just have to accept it and move on, and be aware of it. I seriously think you need to review how your data is being written to your drobo, Mr. Scott, and determine that’s not the issue before laying all the blame on Drobo. Could they have handled this situation better? Of course. But this should be viewed as a lesson for both Scott & Drobo, and as such, things should be learned from it and products improved. Rants do little to help move things forward.
    I hope you reconsider your feelings towards drobo.

      1. Last time I checked, I’m human. Though I’m spending so much time on the computer these days I wonder sometimes. But my favorite color is green, not rgb(109.217,0) if that helps answer your question, and yes, PS did delete files, even while working on them. I ran across a webpage citing similar issues, and it recommended turning off Prefs—>File Handling—>Image Previews—>Never Save. Oddly enough, that seemed to fix the issue. In another case years ago, when I duplicated an HTML file, it would turn the original & dupe invisible. Go figure.
        Stuff’s going to happen to your digital files. Only thing you can do is accept that fact, have a local backup, and a remote backup. Don’t bitch and moan about it like Mr. Kelby does—though that’s a common reaction. Figure out what the real problem is and address it, preferrably after you’ve setup a proper backup system and it’s not a death knell for you. In this case, I don’t think its Drobo, but something about Scott’s system that’s causing the error.

      2. ha- OK well I’ve definitely lost data in stranger ways, but mine has primarily been to messing with Windows “dynamic’ volume extending/mirroring with workstation grade drives.

        We agree on your last couple sentences.  The author lost me at “didn’t take the ‘deal'” of $100 for restoring his data, and referred to it as “holding hostage.” 

        What professional technology user wouldn’t pay $100 per incident to essentially have their warranty extended/upgraded with next day part replacement?  Maybe someone used to getting everything free from tech vendors and leveraging their blog to that end?

        The real case study here should be drobo’s lack of PR crisis management.

  280. Hi Scott,
    sorry to hear about the Drobo problem.  Here is a stylish DIY system that can be built in less than a day which is five times faster then a Drobo and a fraction of the cost.  Its NAS rather then DAS so has a greater potentiaI. I am not PC savvy but even I coud build this and if not someone could do it for  me very, very quickly.  Take a read. Three pages.  http://frankleng.me/2010/05/01/zfs-powered-nas-the-ultimate-alternative-to-drobo-droboshare-the-complete-guide/

  281. Use Synology DS stations. I own two of them and they are GREAT! One is from 2009, working 24/7 without any problem. Note: Synology is NAS not DAS, so you can not connect to them via USB. You can only connect via ethernet or with router via WiFi.

  282. I’m almost in the same boat – my second Drobo S appears to be non-functional (mounts but can’t be acessed) just 6 months after it replaced my first Drobo S following a massive support back and forth with the folks at Drobo. My first Drobo failed just out of the 12 month warranty.

    I can’t depend on it – and it’s not a cheap, low end product. I paid the premium so I’d have dependable storage for my images. I’m going to read more of the suggestions because I think I just want something else that’s actually dependable for photo storage, not something that promises dependability but only for 12 months.

  283. Let me suggest Qnap. We have the Qnap TS-659 PRO II at office and it’s excellent. 6-bays to fill with what ever size drives you like, uses standard RAID + filesystems. And you can plug in external drives through either e-sata or usb-3 and make backups of the Qnap. Also, if you have several online you can make the Qnap replicate data between the Qnap units automatically. Nice and easy backups both onsite and offsite. Also, if offsite is behind slow connections you can transport the data back and forth with external drive. So onsite plug in the external drive, make backup. Go home and plug external drive to “offsite” and merge the data. Nice and simple.


  284. If your a mac man you might consider a Pegasus R6.  Very easy to use pre-configured with RAID 5 link up to 6 for 60TB of usable space.  Might not be the cheapest solution but then nobody factors time wasted on IT.  Never heard a bad word PROMISE.

  285. I am just setting up a Synology DS412+ on my whole house system to try it out before using it on the business side of things.  It’s similar to the Drobo where you can hot swap the drives out if one goes bad.  That’s why I waited until this just came out.  However the one for work would be a back up to my main hard drives, so I would suggest having another set of drives or a whole other system backing up.

  286. amazing what a little investment into a extended warranty would have saved you… its shocking to me, when folks like Scott, complain about issues like this… most other professionals usual carry extended warranties on devices like these that are in full production, on a daily use… If you would have had the warranty, Drobo probably would have sent a replacement overnight, you could have popped your perfectly working drives back in (in any order) and your data would be accessible… but instead, NO.  you probably took 3x the amount of time to ponder, write, and edit this post…

    so sad…

    1. You miss the point. The data is gone…. GONE. Extended warranties do not replace data. A data recovery solution, recovers the data. The point is that Drobo has NO data recovery option or 3rd party software to do it yourself. Keep using the Drobo…. I’m not.

  287. Yep I have one of their wonderful devices, under warranty it had a hideously noisy fan that I sent it back to get replace, It came back with a note saying nothing was wrong. That’s when I lost faith in this company. I ripped the fan out of the stupid device and stuck a decent one in, guess what no noise, so their techs a deaf as well.

    I have lost images off the thing crashing, no not HD’s crashing the unit itself. No help from Drobo. I used to recommend them too but now not a hope in hell would I wish this unit on another photographer.

    Hate them with a passion, good idea back execution and useless warranty and customer support. 

  288. Hi Scott,

    I have had 2 of the exact same failures on both of my Drobos.  They would cycle up and then shut off.   I have also had failures of the power bricks.  Drobo replaced the drives but, one was just over a year old and that one took some persuading to get it replaced.  

    It was disconcerting that I could do nothing with the drives until I received the units back from Drobo.  I also couldn’t place the drives in the other Drobo to recover my files.  I had to have the same type of Drobo that the drives were created in.  

    These incidents left me feeling not very confidant in the Drobo system or this scheme for safe storage.  

    I feel like Drobo needs to be backed up itself.  And, the truth is, it does.

  289. Try Unraid! I have been using it for over 5 years. Still working…
    You can buy prebuilt or build your own. So many features!
    Can use different file sizes. Only downside…it is not raid 5, so do not expect insane performance. Of course, you are limited my Gige 100MB/s anyways. It is great for what you need to do, even server up 4 1080p movie streams if you wish.
    I do not work there… I do use their product.

  290.  Oh, if someting should fail, even if you have multiple failures, you can still mount the remaining drives in any linux os and read your files. It does parity protection, no striping!
    I like the fact that upgrading a drive is easy. 300GB to 2TB…, just power off and replace the drive, it will rebuild when you power up (Well after you click on the Yes, Rebuild my drive button). But you still have the original data on the 300GB drive as a backup while it rebuilds… Cool!

  291. I had a four drive model,  and it continually caused boot up problems on my C: drive, (could not find boot sector ?).  In frustration, I disconnected everything and it started up fine.  I then did segmented startups, attaching devices one at a time, and it was the Drobo causing the problem.  I contacted them, and they advised to reformat the individual drives in the unit.  Decided that I didn’t like the propriety system and disconnected it.  I can use the four drives in an eSata Black Widow mount.   p.s.  Took the recent seminar in Miami, Fl with Joe McNally.  I ahve also attended yours in Ft. Lauderdale.  You both are amazing and thank you for Kelby Training!  Please keep coming back.

  292. p.s.   This is in case Drobo is reading….  I have one of your four drive units, which is disconnected due to its “issues”, and yes I contacted customer service, but reformatting all four drives to try to fix it with a “maybe” was too much.  I expected reliability.  I am amazed that your organization was unaware of who Scott Kelby is.  He has a huge world-wide following and I would strongly suggest you take any suggestions he made.  What I think will not effect your organization, other than the use of one customer, but what Scott thinks will influence many.  Thank you Scott for sharing!

  293. So close to replacing my existing photo storage at work and home with the new Drobo 5D and Mini.  Looks like it is back to Synology now.  Thanks for the article. 

  294. This is better method for making the perfection in the meaning of the Dobro. I also satisfy with getting the reason on why some one choose the Dobro….

  295. FlexRaid from OpenEgg.  I’ve been using it since early beta, you don’t need a fancy box to have parity NAS storage.  FlexRaid allows you to have one or more parity drives.  It also allows you to ‘add’ the drives from your local machine as well as your network, and there’s an option to make all your storage one giant volume.  You can even add removable drives to protect.  And if the software craps out, you’re left with perfectly readable individual volumes.

    There are oodles of options – i.e. RAID configurations for running the software – I just used some simple defaults and it just works.  I looked at DROBO at the start, and FlexRaid was all DROBO is and more in a software solution, albeit you need the drives running out of a PC or dedicated NAS box given it’s software only.

  296. Hi Scott,
    Recently I was burgled and while my drobo with 22000 selects remained, our lap tops, cameras and lenses departed, it was enough to shake the sh*t out of me. My solution is simple and cheap one Newertecnology Voyager Q drive holder (s) with uncased premium 1TB numbered drives. Its possible to use both 2.5 and 3.5 drives, I don’t trust anything larger than 1TB. I back up in rotation using the grand father system so I always have at least two copies of everything. I do the copying on an old mirror door mac tower so as not to slow my working computer down. Its not automatic but its simple cheap and extremely reliable and I don’t have to put up with pedantic back up software. I think Time machine is very clever but that also can be pedantic at times, on two occasions it has skipped folders when I have copied the back ups to the desktop. I now use my drobo without having it as a designated Time machine drive I can see my files and folders at all times…

  297. Recently I was burgled and while my drobo with 22000 selects remained, our lap tops, cameras and lenses departed, it was enough to shake the sh*t out of me. My solution is simple and cheap, one Newertecnology Voyager Q drive holder (s) with uncased premium 1TB numbered drives. Its possible to use both 2.5 and 3.5 drives, I don’t trust anything larger than 1TB. I back up in rotation using the grand father system so I always have at least two copies of everything. I do the copying on an old mirror door mac tower so as not to slow my working computer down. Its not automatic but its simple cheap and extremely reliable and I don’t have to put up with pedantic back up software. I think Time machine is very clever but that also can be pedantic at times, on two occasions it has skipped folders when I have copied the back ups to the desktop. I now use my drobo without having it as a designated Time machine drive I can see my files and folders at all times… My drobo did play up with the never ending back up but since I took timemachine out of the loop it seems to be ok 

  298. Thanks Scott! This really helps me make up my mind NOT to go with Drobo. I don’t like proprietary systems. I’ve just rebuilt our wireless campus with new equipment because the old was expensive and proprietary. Sounds like Drobo had your photos held hostage!

  299. Hey Scott,

    you could take a look at the products of Synology…

    …or maybe you like the StudioRAID solutions by Certon Systems. Made for photographers in mind: http://www.certon.de/en/solutions/nas.html

  300. I’ve heard Rockstar is amazing and, based on the feedback from a Mac authorized repair company, it outshines the Drobo with a lot less “rescues.”
    What’s the verdict?

  301. it happens all the time. no one drive system is right, they all fail. only way to protect yourself is (and I don’t think i need to say it)…..back up, back up, back up. my condolences.

  302. I dont really care what the CEO does or not. He just contacted you because of your visibility and the impact this post might have in their sales. If this happened to the regular “me”, he/she would be in the “caca” like you were before this post. Thanks for sharing tho, I’m definitely not getting a drobo now.

  303. Last week, I visited the Photo Plus show and find a vendor called QNAP for NAS. QNAP rep showed me their TS-569 PRO system and explained to me all their features. Some of the key feature is that I can dump all my photo on my external storage into the QNAP using their USB one touch button, which was very fast on USB 3.0. They also had this personal cloud feature called mycloudnas.com which made the setup very easy. The sales ppl at the show also mentioned to me about Remote Replication feature that I can replicate my QNAP to another remote site to another QNAP NAS but I havent try this out yet. So far Im very happy with the NAS and I only had for 3 days now. There is still alot of other features I need to play around with.

  304. Hi there! I hope this can be helpful.

    I’m not an expert like the ones that posted here previously. But for you case in particular, what seems to be an interesting solution is something similar to what I do. I use a desk service NAS + Cloud system. (Which seems to me, it’s similar to what the experts down there are talking about)

    For me, the one who made it to my heart, was the Synology Desk Server. I even considered the Dobro, but the lack of ethernet and automatic cloud syncing made me go to Synology.

    You can do the hot swap (remove your failing hard drive, replace for a new one, while RAID stores the data, and re-writes it to your brand new hard drive without having to worry about having your data hostage in a place you can’t reach). The device lets you know when you hard drive might be failing, and you can create your own cloud for virtual storage in case everything else fails. You use their software the DeskStation Manager, but the data storage can be configured to work in all sorts of platforms, so it works anywhere, from linux, to mac, to windows. I believe, if you are a programmer you can access using code without being stuck with interfaces. (although I never tried this, because I am no IT expert at all)
    Also if you use regular RAID the files won’t be part a proprietary system, so it’s widely accessible. You can use regular RAID or the Hybrid RAID. And you can connect to an ethernet port, other than to a PC/Mac, so you don’t get you machine physically attached to it. Then, you can upload easily in a cloud system of your choice, in case you don’t want to use all-thing-synology. It could be Synology’s your-own-made Cloud (it creates your own DDNS/domain for your station), or Amazon’s, or EMC, or whatever virtual storage your need. You can choose the model you find more suitable by the number of bays, 213, with 2 bays, 413 with 4 bays, and so on. It accepts all types of storage, from SSD, to 3.5 SATA and 2.5 SATA. (using HybridRAID)
    The interface is quite intuitive. I’ve been using as my backup of choice for two years now, and nothing bad ever happened. I have 12Tb of storage because I use in RAID 0 (not the 5, that allows up to 16Tb) , I use the 4-bay model. I’ve never had any professional IT trainning, and I was able to make the setup myself, I did two hotswaps already when my HDs died, and never lost any data, never had trouble with compatibility or data access. I also keep a good portion of my image and video files on my Cloud.
    I liked a lot. And it’s working fine. I had two PC failures, than changed to mac, than had my mac stolen, and my data was always preserved. Never lost one byte.
    And if you’re mac user, it integrates natively with time machine. It’s basically a time capsule with 16Tb + virtual/cloud storage.

    It’s not absurdly expensive, not too hard to use, extremely customizable, accessible to others and other places. It makes reports of the changes made in the files and who made them. And if you use the 4bay or higher models, you can have two hard drives data failure protection. It automatically throws the data to the other hard drives if 2 of the 4 start failing.

    I hope this works for you! Let me know if and how you solved your issue!

  305. Whatever solution you choose, make sure you connect to a quality power line conditioning “online” UPS. Feeding the unit and drives extremely clean power will give you a substantial boost in drive lifespan, less manafacuring defects.

  306. so where are you now? they offered to replace it and you turned them down ?
    i have a drobo and had a problem where they kept telling me something was wrong but it really was not. it worked OK;one of my drives failed and i replaced it w/o any problem; i have upgraded 2 times from 1Tg to 2TB to now 3TB in each tier; they always tried to help but i found there reporting system on the web difficult. but i really like it sorry you had such a lemon
    Gtech makes a bay with places for 3 drives and it also protects the data in the same way
    good luck let us know what happens

  307. I use Glyph Technologies hard drives. They are very reliable. I see that

    Glyph Technologies makes a
    12 TB ForteRAID External Hard Drive Array

    SATA II 3Gb/s 7200 RPM Hard Drives

    eSATA Port x 1
    FireWire 800 (9-Pin) Ports x 2
    FireWire 400 (6-Pin) Port x 1
    Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Port x 1
    Max Transfer Rate: 3Gb/s
    Sustained Transfer Rate: 230MB/s
    Supports RAID 0, 1, 3, 5, 10 & Spanning
    Designed for Audio & Video Production
    Mac & PC Compatible

  308. I have been a happy DROBO user for a little more than a year,.. but of course, now reading this (and seeing 500+ comments) I’m getting worried (and I only have 2.5TB of pictures in it).
    So I guess that now I have to wade through the 500(did-i-say-‘+’?) comments to figure out what I am supposed to replace my DROBO with. Thank-god the people I’ve suggested buy drobos haven’t done so yet. Oof!

  309. I know I’m coming into this late, but as horrible as the cycling seems its really not that bad. Its a capacitor in the power supply that has finally dried out. Replace the component and it should run. OR Just bring it up slowly on a variac. Once its running grab everything and then replace the box or have it fixed. It could also be one or more of the drives loading down the power supply and causing it to restart. Oh well. se la vi – ben

    1. One follow up comment: The special treatment of Drobo contacting you and the CEO speaking with you is only due to the fact because you are a known person. Others unfortunately do not get this kind of treatment even when the issue involves 20 years of data being deleted.

  310. You do hit upon a good point in your article. As people amass huge amounts of data, what to do with it all? How do you protect it reliably? I grapple with that for corporate clients almost daily, as far as recommending solutions, and dealing w/ our current solutions that we manage for them. We typically run storagcraft based solutions to replicate locally backed up data offsite for clients, coupled w/ local recovery hardware as we are concerned w/ the entire servers being recoverable, not just the data they hold.
    For you situation, I would probably say to go with Amazom S3 or Google Cloud Storage. If you have enough bandwidth in and out, you might even work out of the clouds primarily (using a virtual drive that makes that cloud storage look like a mapped drive on the local system), w/ a local copy stored on a NAS as a backup, or even backed up w/ another cloud provider (just make sure the providers aren’t using the same infrastructure for storage, lots of services run on S3 for example). Reverse that and run with primary storage local, and a cloud based solution using amazom glacier for archive @ $.01/GB to store. 99.9999999 availabilty, cloudberry backup (to manage the whole thing), and a NAS that you like w/ sync capabilities like a Buffalo Terastation or Drobo for a local copy. On the drobo subject, seems like you may be using their lower end, non enterprise products. No company warranties their consumer grade stuff very long. I had a Buffalo terastation (business class) die on me and it required replacement under warranty, things break. I’ve got about a dozen of these in the field and only had the one issue so far in about 18 months, that turned out to be power related. Swapped drives into a new chassis and all was well. We do backup to offsite storage however.
    On the crazy side of things, you could go w/ a Dell Equallogic SAN. These have redundant everything, and you can stack them (up to 4 I think) to increase capacity over time. They are warrantied 3yrs initial and you can extend at least another 2-3 years. These things are enterprise class, and drive still die (I have 2 of these in production and I think I’ve had to replace 5 hdd’s in the past 3 years). They can survive (depending upon configuration) up to 7 simltaneous drive failures. Once you tread into this class of hardware, then things like power issues and internet connectivity become the things that cause you headaches
    Someone in the thread mentioned archiving to cloud storage. Amazon is working on making a feature available to move data stored in S3 to their Glacier archive. Cloudberry is working a similar solution w/ their backup products I hear.

  311. I might be a bit late to the party but…

    Get a Synology DS1512+

    Expands (with up to 2 expansion units) up to 60TB (before RAID)

    The UI is the nicest on the market (I’ve used QNAP, NetGear, and Synology wins hands down)

    Frequent updates, and the inbuilt backup functionality (for backing up your NAS data) is awesome.

    They haven’t added Amazon Glacier support yet (Just S3 RRS) but it’s meant to be coming early next year, and I’d believe that.

    My Synology hosts a bunch of my websites, including my blog, backs up all of my servers, and photos, and extensive media collection, and has only died once, when I was horrible to it (powered off during raid expansion to 5 new drives). Even then, I was able to boot and use it normally, and get all my data off it before I rebuilt it from scratch (was a scary few weeks, as the system had no idea how much storage I actually had any more, so I just tried not to do any writes)

  312. I noticed your Drobo is the smaller lower end – perhaps you should look at the business class models, I have 20 Drobo Pro’s, 2 B800i’s, a Drobo S, and a Drobo Mini. I have to say that I have had to replace some Drobo Pro units and the Drobo S esata was terrible. But the b800i’s are rock solid. To be fair any array is unreadable when a failure occurs, thats the nature of raid and why it’s important to use two redundant drives not just one. Also an important thing to remember is that a raid array is not a backup! I think Drobo has been making good ground on hardware dependability, and I also think it’s very important to choose good quality hard disks for these units – not ‘green’ drives. I use 3 or 4TB 7200rpm Seagate barracuda’s in mine and have no issues.

    There are other choices out there – but if you don’t make separate backups and choose good hardware you’ll end up in the same boat no matter what. I’ve done recovery for enterprise companies with hardware costing 100’s of times more and data loss is still possible.

  313. The only solution is the safest solution. A cheap Mid tower PC with 6 or 7 RAID drives, running Linux. Or Windows if you insist. I dont need 100 bucks but i do wish people would stop messing with proprietary garbage. 85% of the time its dreck. Thats my 20 plus years of IT saying stick with cross platform compatibility.

  314. After reading this and having had various problems with both DROBO and non Drobo solutions.
    Rember where we store the data on The DRIVES – Any RAID solution indicates we’re serious about the data.
    Then install Enterprise level drives, these are made to work 24/7/365.
    Remember they will also fail somewhere in the future, So I ensure I install drives from different production batches. Look after the RAID drives by checking on the dianostics from time to time.
    Since I switched out the desktop drives for Enterprise drives I had very few problems.

  315. One distinct possibility is that the power supply went bad, and the most likely cause are under-spec’ed capacitors. (I had the same problem on my Apple Time Machine.) Just put in the same microfarad valued caps with at least twice the voltage ratings.

  316. Yes, Drobo always genuinely concerned and verbally friendly…. but still no recovery plan.

    Using Synology +15 series over the last 2 years, and now testing a QNAP TS-x69L series. FWIW, mechanically, the QNAP is excellent, and their software duly updated and maintained. The key, here is that the Syno, QNAP and LaCie NAS OS is quasi standard, and 3rd party data recovery is available. LaCie’s top of the line even uses a defacto standard – MS Server. No so for Drobo. Drobo is selling a dream, a fantasy, false security, not reality. Reality occurs after the first failure, blamed on you of course, because YOU may not have had backups of ALL the files. Yet, ‘we’ refuse to admit that we have been duped, and continue, until another failure.

  317. Why not use a mini-ITX set up to mirror drives booting to parted (or something similar), along with a USB drive (plugged into it’s usb port and available for on the go), versioning(if needed), and portability. Add in a rarely-used DVD burner and you have the ultimate backup solution for 4-500 and you can upgrade it one piece at a time. For cheaper, use an old celeron desktop with low power requirements. For smaller use a smaller model.

    My point: Stop relying on custom tech to solve every problem… some problems are best solved by generic tech, as evidence I submit your ‘proprietary hard drive’ problem.

  318. Hi Scott, Try Pegasus Promise alot of uk photographers use this system and take out the longest warranty on it that you can as most laptops, back up drives, etc don’t, last more than about 2-3 years now days. I have had computers break a month after my 4 year warranty run out and its frustrating but thats the way the cookie crumbles and lost unbacked up images in the past. Also I would pay the 100 dollars to get the photos back if I were you. I probably wouldn’t rely on one system and use separate hard drive by a different manufacturer (maybe western digital) as a back up of your back up if you want to be doubley sure that all your pictures are safe.

  319. I would suggest below for £1379 on line and purchasing extended warranty if you want it to last longer than one year.
    Hi, Would suggest the below that is £1379 on line:
    The PROMISE Pegasus R6 RAID storage unit is the first 6-bay high performance hardware RAID solution to use Thunderbolt technology. It is therefore capable of delivering two channels of 10Gb/s per port of performance. Plus with the multi-protocol support of Thunderbolt the Pegasus unit can provide great flexibility. You can connect up to 6 Pegasus units to one Thunderbolt port or a display could be connected depending on your set up.

    This Promise Pegasus R6 unit comes with 12TB of raw capacity, in the form of 6 x 2TB hard drives.

    Please be aware that this item does not include a Thunderbolt cable.

  320. My solution is to have two additional drives connected to the same server as the Drobo. The server does Time Machine backups of the Drobo to these two drives. This ensures I can access the files even if the Drobo dies. I also cycle through a third drive to do copies regularly and store it off site in case of fire and theft. Since I only have about 150 GB of data, this is very feasible for me, but in your case, might not be as good.

  321. My Drobo Gen 2 is dead as a doorstop! And, now, that’s about all it’s good for. Bought a Lacie 2Big Thunderbolt and absolutely love it. Fast, quiet, and, so far, reliable. Don’t even think about the Drobo Thunderbolt unless you want to cry a big fat river a few years from now when it dies and Drobo abandons you with your new brick!

  322. First, I can practically guarantee you’ll have problems with any manufacturer you go with. I’ve been into advanced computer systems and data arrays for a long long time and I’ve used them all, and I’ve had problems with them all. Doesn’t matter if its lacie, iomega, g-tech, whoever, they all have their problems and peculiarities. Better to familiarize yourself with the peculiarities of one manufacturer and learn to deal with it. Its about survival in the real world as opposed to having expectations that no one can fulfill. Choose one, then make sure you have backup components of every type (not just drives) but other hardware too. As for your particular problem. It sure looks like a bad power supply. If you replaced the drobo itself, but not the power supply, that could explain why you continue to have the same problem. I don’t use the power supply they send with their units. I use the Channel Well 100F power supply (for the 5S). Much better quality. Slightly larger. Has a built-in fan to keep the unit cooler and more stable. Clean reliable power is an absolute necessity with any device and this type of array especially. All manufacturers rely on 3rd parties to provide their power supplies. That’s just the way it is. The Drobo concept is solid and getting better, faster, than most others. Much better. And the price, especially for the new thunderbolt is really hard to beat. However, if you are going to be using high performance arrays and insist on playing with the big boys, you need spares on the shelf. And even then, you still need backups. Its a fact of life.

  323. Roll your own. Its really not that difficult.

    * Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811345016

    * Board: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157357

    * CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113282

    * Memory: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148663

    * Operating System: FreeNAS or Openfiler (or any Linux distro really if you willing to learn a bit more).

    Get one SSD for the OS and 3 to 5 of your favourite SATA III Hard Drives and you are good to go.

    It’s a little ironic I came across this today, as I spent the last week working out how to build this very system for myself once I had saved up the cash –yea, a $100 could really help me out in that regard.

    HTH. Feel free to contact if you have any questions (transfire AT gmail).

  324. I know this all took place 10 months ago but I had the same issue with my Drobo and found that if I disconnect the Firewire cable from the unit and then powered it on, all the drives would spin up as expected and then I would plug in the FW and it worked ok.

  325. I have a same problem with you and the support team in Singapore can’t help my ‘drobe pro’ set (purchased at US$2,500/= on 30/04/2000). Not only that drobe has withdraw the ‘drobe care'(cost US$1000/=) here from Singapore. I wanted to get it repair and PAY for the bill and I wonder who can I send to ????…. I have direct or recommended more than 10sets of the ‘Pro’ to my friends n even brought 3sets Drobe5D. So this is my story and I do not know what will happen when the rest of friends have the problem. ykc

  326. All of these home nas solutions suck, really they do..
    really the only thing you can do is buy two of what every storage you decide to go with and mirror your data..

    I like the drobo… well so far… I have used them for years… I started with the drobo 4bay usb unit.. I also bought a drobo fs and I have a drobo s and when I can afford it i’ll be buying a Drobo 5N…

    I have used other Nas devices such as the ReadyNAS NV+
    This unit has limited capacity and a power supply which is crap.
    Perform a large and continuous read write cycles and the power supply will blow.

    The Iomega StorCenter… The Iomega name is synonymous with crap and these nas’s prove it. I didn’t buy one I bought 6, I should have known better.
    All of them failed… it’s not totally Iomega fault… it’s also Segates fault.. Seagate sold to Iomaga some very defective 1tb hd’s.. after about a month they just start going bad. 10’s of thousands of these drives.
    If you try and order a new replacement drive of the same model number you stand a 50% chance of that drive being doa.. if you happen to stick that drive in your nas.
    When it tries to rebuild itself, The rebuild will fail and your data will be gone.
    By sheer luck, I was able to sell back to Iomega some of their own defective drives to one of their repair centers.. Yes, there is some justice in the world.

    Don’t get me wrong seagate from time to time screws up and shipped a batch of bad drives.
    but I stick with them as I find the serial numbers and model numbers which are good.
    Stay away from western digital drives. they stink on ice.

    The nas that a few people thinks is good is the
    Synology Disk Station DS1812+.
    Do I know if this thing is good or bad.. I have no Idea.
    I don’t have one yet.. it’s about $1000.00 I would love to have one one loan me one for a month.. so I can find all the bugs.. Oh there will be bugs… that’s just the nature of any home nas…. I’m tired of spending my money to isolate manufactures defects.

    So right now i’m sticking with drobo… I didn’t list all the nas units I have used..
    I’m just listing the ones you can still buy..
    I have 20tb of 3d data programs and images I have to back up..
    I just buy two units and mirror the data. they each have their own ups..
    the each have their own power isolation.

  327. What have you fond? Still have the $100 bounty? Build yourself a “FreeNAS” system. It uses 100% commodity PC parts and is based on BSD Unix. It uses ZFS which if your goal is reliability can’t be beat. It is suitable for hundreds of TB and will do replication over a network so you can use another FreeNAS located in some other place as a backup.

  328. I just experienced this issue following a power outage with my Gen 1 Drobo S. I contacted Drobo support, and after trouble shooting the issue found that I was having this common power cycle issue. Since this article has been posted they must have changed some of their return policies. My Drobo is 2 years out of warranty, yet they are shipping me a new unit free of charge! I’m not sure if this article had anything to do with the changes to their return policy, but either way, I am impressed with the support I received and will continue to support their products!

  329. Want more storage? Throw out more “not your very best” photos — and we all have them! I lack discipline in this area, but so do we all! PS — my drobo (an old and slow one) works like a champ, and has for the past 6 years or so.

  330. Did you find a solution? I am looking into a backup system my self. Considered Drobo. But with the proprietary file system I’m in doubt.

    I currently use internal 3.5″ drives in hard drive docks. and use CArbon copy cloner and Time machine.

  331. Pogoplug is an excellent service. You can buy a hard drive to load everything on then plug it in to their device that connects to your router that then allows you to use anything on that hard drive through their pogoplug app for free. There is also their online backup service you can opt into, reasonably priced for unlimited backup. Also everything on the cloud backup is through the pogoplug app. App is for iPhone iPad iPod touch etc. Or there is always Jimmy Drive a cloud back up service created by a photographer that is very reasonable.

  332. I am a computer professional and I am working with many different RAID systems since many years. I do have used different types of systems from cheap solutions equipped with IDE drives to very expensive ones with SCSI oder SAS …

    Some of my impressions are

    – cheap IDE drives are much more robust in continuous operation scenarios than most people think or expect
    – failures do not automatically force exchanging a drive (we have used a big amount of cheap IDE drives for more than 7 years in a 24/7 monitored scenario without any real problems (sometimes we have just reformatted drives and re-used them if their S.M.A.R.T. status looks still okay – what else is RAID redundancy for, is it?)

    – if a RAID system gets degraded even a computer professional sometimes cannot routinely handle the situation (especially in an environment where many different RAID systems are used), because failures are in good conditioned environment seldom events

    – I always felt best when ZFS was used (but even ZFS requires much knowledge to get properly handled)

    – if the RAID hardware itself fails (not the drives used) you have to use the same hardware combined with the right “RAID-software” again to be sure to not loose any data. Being proprietary really does not matter here.

    I don’t have used any drobo device yet. I only had the opportunity to read about their products in the internet. From that, I have the feeling, that the people behind drobo are on the right track. Every user of a mass storage system does not want to study what RAID is at all, which RAID level is best in a special scenario (there is even not a unique answer to this), what have to be done in the case of a drive failure, … Of course it is for every user (home scenario and even the professional user) best to just get an easy hint which drive has to be changed (blinking or red LED) and to just do that, i.e. “exchanging the faulty physical drive”. As long as overall system lifetime, average system performance and other application specific requirements are fulfilled next time I have to decide I will try a drobo device.

    A final remark about the type of drives used in a mass storage device (NAS or general RAID system): Since the right RAID level can increase the reliability of a mass storage device significantly I would rather use cheap drives (as long as their usage does not worsen performance too much) where ever this makes sense (e.g. home office scenario). As already stated cheap drives do not fail as often as people usually think and if they fail using a RAID you just have to exchange the faulty drive. And it’s nowhere obviously easier as with a drobo.