16+K Spent on Drobo & Why I'll Never Buy Another

First let me start by saying I loved Drobo and jumped on board enthusiastically to begin using them to replace our aging XServe and Promise RAIDs. I started with a Drobo Pro to test it and then added a Drobo B1200i.

They did what they were supposed to and when I had an issue I called Drobo Support and immediately got someone who was knowledgeable and ready to help. I charted out our growth and got ready to buy additional B1200is. As an added bonus I loved the look and quality of the hardware itself.

Before I added another B1200i and other Drobo configurations though I became excited about the new Transporter offering and bought two to begin testing. Little did I know this was the beginning of the end.

The Transporters were beyond horrible. We suffered multiple data losses due to syncing issues and debilitating memory leaks caused by the software client that brought our production workstations down for days. It’s one thing when the software/hardware you bought doesn’t work, it’s another when it takes out everything running on your workstation and brings work to a grinding halt. During the early releases you figure you sometimes have to stomach issues like this when you are an early adopter but when it continues to happen with multiple iterations, one begins to seriously wonder about the quality of the code. To add insult to injury, support proved to range from non-existent to incompetent and useless.

Little did I realize the virus that was Transporter had infected what once was the quality support Drobo provided when the two support departments were merged.

My wake-up call was when during an OS reinstall of the server attached to the B1200i it vanished and refused to be recognized. A call to support concerning our $14,000 USD Drobo that was only about 15 months old was stopped cold at a tech support gatekeeper who explained that Drobo would offer no support and could not connect me to anyone. I explained that I thought it was outrageous that Drobo was refusing support for a 14K product that was only 15 months old over an issue that Drobo itself caused by removing the iSCSI initiator without warning from the Drobo Dashboard. I even pleaded to the gatekeeper to let me purchase a single incident or extended support plan. The answer was no. As far as Drobo was concerned my B1200i was a brick and Drobo refused to support it.

Drobo had taken the 14K and after 12 months left me high and dry because I missed the couple weeks at the end of the first year when I had a one-time opportunity to pay for extended support. Drobo apparently also didn’t care that it removed software without warning that caused that and the other Drobo I had to fail to connect.

I eventually did beat my way to support and the only brief limited advice I was given was to pay $195 to purchase a new ATTO SCSI initiator, something I did do and of course it did not work either and support refused to take any further calls.

I sit here now having just had to do an emergency reinstall of a Mac OS on a workstation attached to a Drobo Pro and you guessed it, after three hours of trying to install old versions of Drobo Dashboard with the iSCSI initiator it still won’t bloody mount.

I loved Drobo in the beginning and had big plans for them but when it pushes out such poorly written and untested code like with Transporter, only offers 1-year warranties with no ability to purchase single incidents, removes critical components needed to run its hardware without warning and offers only painfully slow and clueless tech support that causes more harm then good with misguided troubleshooting recommendations, well, the only one you have to blame when it goes wrong is yourself if you buy another.

So I didn’t. I just deployed three Synology units and am purchasing the fourth this week. It’s sad to see what happened to Drobo but I’ve got a business to keep running and a cool looking box just doesn’t cut it.

I own a Drobo FS and a 5N, both of which have so far given me good service. However, given the attitude of the company to supporting their products I will definitely never buy another one.

I don’t think I have ever encountered a manufacturer that is so indifferent to its customers, especially when large sums of money have been spent as in the example given here.

Sorry, Drobo, you not only piss off customers with real issues, but also make people like me think twice before ever buying one of your products again.



I am truly sorry to hear about your experience with Drobo. I am a home user and I love Drobo, but have also been deeply concerned with their direction over the last 18 months.

I currently own 4 Drobo’s. I need additional space in all of them, but I refuse to make any further investments until I know what their plan is for BeyondRAID.

I wish you the best. It’s a shame Drobo didn’t turn your story into a victory for the ‘new’ Drobo.