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Drobo-tastic upgrade

Recently I’ve been sharing woes of upgrading my Drobo. I have the original 4 bay Drobo, and so far it has been great. I bought it because of the hybrid RAID which allows mixed disk sizes and upgradability – when I run out of capacity I can just put new bigger disks in and it will take advantage of the extra space (normal RAID requires equal sized disks, or at least can only take advantage of the capacity of the smallest drive).

Previous setup: 4 1TB drives giving me 2.7TB of storage.

I bought 2 TB drives off Newegg for a good price, and waited for a reasonable moment to do the upgrade. The process takes a long time to copy over the right stuff onto the new drives so I had to pick a time when I wasn’t thrashing the drives too much (though the nice thing about the Drobo is it is still functional while doing the upgrade).

So Friday evening one week ago today I put one of the new drives in. Drobo’s Utility told me it had something like 50 hours to go to completion. Fine, I just left it to do its thing…

50 hours later it seemed to have hung. Or my mac had hung. Or something. So I tried rebooting the mac, and it wouldn’t shut down. After a force reboot (and some minor drama with the Mac telling me it couldn’t find the boot disk) the drobo came back, at first saying the 2TB disk was DOA, but then went back to the restore process, this time with just 12 hours to go. Finally that finished, and all looked peachy.

Next disk. In it goes, and another 40+ hours to go… In the middle of the restore process, Toronto’s worst rainstorm in, well, probably ever, occurred. This caused rolling blackouts across the city… Got home from work to see the power had gone out. In the middle of the drobo restore process. I was sceptical but rebooted the mac, and the restore continued like it had never stopped. Phew! 20 hours to go.

Next day – another blackout. OMG can I get more unlucky? Once again I rebooted, and the drobo restore process continued again. Phew!

Finally finished, no more power outages.

End result: 2x2TB + 2x1TB for total usable storage of 3.7TB.

Conclusion: Drobo does work, but it’s damn slow at it. But I’m impressed it survived through two complete power outages.

Would I buy Drobo again? Hard to say – with Synology coming in cheaper, and now offering a similar hybrid RAID system, and much more capability on the box itself (i.e. it can run any linux software, including Plex), I’d probably prefer one of those. But the fact that it worked, effectively continuing to function while the protection process occurred, and has worked perfectly that way for several years now, all this makes me a happy customer.

Oh, and yeah, I really really need to buy a UPS.

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