Drobo FS Slowly Failing Completely? Help please

Summary: Since April I have been having issues with my Drobo FS, starting with a drive failure/replacement. Accessibility is worsening, and currently I cannot access data on it.

My objective: Copy off all data (family photos, home movies, personal records) to cloud backup service.

I have a Drobo FS purchased 2012 (warranty ended 2014). Originally, I mainly used a Windows machine to setup and access the drive. We also have had a MacBook Pro since the beginning that could access the shared drive, and for a few years had it’s TimeMachine backup on the Drobo. Today I am using that old Mac and a new one to manage the Drobo. The Drobo is for family photos, family videos converted from an old camcorder, and personal data backup.

April 2, 2020 - 1 TB HD, next day I purchased 4TB drive to replace, installed around April 6. As expected, it entered data protection for a couple days, then was all green. Top to bottom the bays were like this:
-4TB (the new one)

Later in April (as I remember), it re-entered data protection mode. I don’t remember how long it was “all green,” but it wasn’t long. I don’t remember for sure if it had an estimated completion timer initially, but by the time I became concerned about how long it was taking, it there was no time estimate. I observed that sometimes I could access the shared drive on it, other times I could not.

June 14, I submitted a support request because it had started to get into a cycle where it was frequently rebooting. About every 15 minutes it was restarting. I followed help instructions I found in support materials to turn off the Drobo while rebooting, and restarted it with drives removed. It came back on with one red light on bay 1 and a green light lower left as the instructions said should happen, and I created a diagnostic that I sent in with my ticket.

Drobo kindly reminded me I was out of warranty and gave me links to everything on their site, and suggested I purchase DroboHelp if I needed it. It’s $99, and I am considering this option still.

With online Drobo resources and Google searching, I figured out how to put the Drobo in read-only mode, which I did. At the time I had two questions about Read Only mode:

  1. Was data protection “working” to optimize the data layout while in RO mode, or does that mode stop all read/write? Still don’t know this answer for sure, but I think that data protection still works.
  2. Would I be able to access my data in RO mode? I think, but again am not sure, that while in RO mode I cannot seem to mount a share. I am uncertain, because in June/July, I think I was accessing files while in RO mode.

In July, I decided it was time to move away from Drobo as our only data backup solution and I subscribed to a cloud backup service (iDrive). My objective then was to copy files off the Drobo and place them in the cloud backup in case I could not fix the Drobo.

I checked settings on the Drobo and found that the data/drive redundancy setting was off. I am not sure how long it was that way. I switched it back on and was happy to see data protection mode start over with a 26 hour timer! However, within 2 days the timer was gone, and data protection continued. I believe I had to turn off RO mode in order to mount and access the share.

Then, I was able to start copying off photos. I got a few hundred copied off in an early attempt (many thousand yet to go).

Following this initial effort, I observed that the share started to cease functioning, resulting in partial copies or no copies. Over the past three weeks, I tried the following (not sure of the order):

  • Different laptops
  • Direct LAN cord connection (using now)
  • Replaced LAN cables
  • Toggled back to RO mode
  • Different versions of Drobo Dashboard
    -Currently on 3.4.1 on old MacBook Pro, which is what I started with. But I reverted back as far as 2.6.4. per Drobo’s page showing the legacy dashboard suggested for Drobo FS.
    -New MacBook Pro on Dashboard 3.5.0
  • Reloaded firmware 1.2.7 [4.45.10288]
  • Replaced home’s router with mesh wifi system

I was able to mount the share, open the drive and folders, and sometimes even start a copy operation, but very seldom would it complete. More and more frequently it wouldn’t even kick off. On Drobo dashboard, I would watch it lose the share and lose sight of the Drobo, then status would come back on. At the same time, I get a message saying the connection to the shared file location has been interrupted.

This week, I tried putting it back into RO mode, because I just couldn’t remember if mounting a share and copying was possible in this mode. This did not work (perhaps it should not, again this is an open question for me).

So I went back to read-write mode, and this time I encountered all red lights. At first I believe it said bay 3 needed a new drive. I shut it down and re-seated all drives, and it told me something different the next time, and different the third time, but all times they were all red.

I returned to RO mode, it’s in data protection status again, I cannot mount or access my data, and I’m worried.

Thanks for any advice, and I appreciate any suggestions!

Update: I was able to resume Read-Write mode. Data Protection continues. I can view and mount the share at times, and even start a copy operation. But it never finishes. On a small file even, it will hang for a minute or two before the share “disappears” and the dashboard refreshes, but the copy fails.

Update +3 weeks:
Data Protection continues to run, nonstop since last update. Drive mounting no longer available, receiving the message, “Drobo is in the final stages of starting up. This should take up to 5 minutes.” Dashboard looses the Drobo’s connection several times an hour and finds / connects again.

Hopeful question: Does this mean it’s nearly finished protecting?
Cynical question: Should I be looking into other data recovery options?

What exactly was the 4TB Drive you purchased?

Seagate IronWolf 4TB NAS (ST4000VNZ08/VN008)

Thanks. Was concerned if it was a SMR drive, but it is not.
I also checked out your old and new drive array in the Drobo Capacity Calculator and aside from about 1TB reserved for further expansion (but not usable), it should be OK.
Not sure what else is causing the long Data Protection cycle.

Worth raising a ticket with Drobo?

1 Like

I did raise a ticket a while ago, they advised me they cannot help me out of warranty without purchasing DroboHelp, etc. I haven’t submitted another because I expected they would give the same answer. Perhaps that’s not fair to expect.

I got the exact same response from support. They are holding all of the cards and exploiting a known bug they could resolve easily by fixing drobo dashboard so that it executes the correct repair command. This feels like extortion for data. next they will want support paying for by bitcoin.

1 Like

A few new events have happened.

Yesterday, the Drobo’s lights went Green Green Green Green Red (blank) for my 4 HDDs top to bottom. The new “red” is Western Digital 3GB Red Plus NAS WD30EDFX from 2013. After months of goofing around, this was the first time this has shown as red. So I reseated and restarted the Drobo.

Now I get 5 solid reds and the message “multiple drives have been removed, etc.”. Also, Drobo dashboard shows I should add a drive in slot 3 (which was green! What the?!?!?!) and 5 (empty). Dashboard shows the 4th slot drive as 3TB, not “Add a drive”.

What does this now mean?