Drobo gen2 - 4x4TB anyone?

Has anyone taken their Drobo gen2 to a 4x4TB configuration? I am contemplating upgrading my current Drobo gen 2 from a 4x2TB to a 4x4TB but was wondering if anyone here has done that and how that has worked out for them?

I plan on using 4 HGST Deskstar 4TB Serial ATA/600 64MB Buffer 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive.

I actually have one of these right now to store some files on and I notice the drive gets REALLY HOT!! (I have it in an external USB dock so you touch it and you can see how hot the thing gets!!) Some concerns I have before going from 4x2TB to 4x4TB with these drives.

Is heat going to be an issue? Right now I have 4x2TB 5400rpm drives but I can see going to 4x4TB 7200rpm drives might generate quite a bit more heat!

Anyone running this configuration? How is the heat in the small Drobo enclosure?

My plan is to copy off everything from the 4x2TB onto external drives, then remove the 2TB’s and put in the 4TB’s into the Drobo and then copy everything back. I’m sure that is going to take a couple of days given the slow transfer speed of the Drobo :frowning: but before I do I thought I would get some feedback from here.


Didn’t try it but smells trouble. Using any 4TB drive in Gen2 seems a little risky already (given its less than stellar performance) but using four hot-running drives and risking a thermal-induced damage of a second drive during the several days spanning rebuild doesn’t really look like a great idea.

I agree with Zbig here…
Best case, your Drobo’s fan is running constantly.
Worst case, dead drive(s) and/or Drobo due to heat.

Heat is definitely a critical issue for the Drobo, as it’s going to be pushing the drives much harder than your standard enclosure - for this reason I’d be very hesitant to put the current crop of 4TB drives in a Drobo. Here’s hoping we see some WD Red 4TB models at some point soon!

Hmm… not really the shining endorsement I was looking for but point well taken.

Interestingly though I do have another Drobo 2nd gen that has 4x3TB 7200rpm drives in it and seems to be running okay.

I found this interesting link

and looks like the temperature difference between the 3TB 7200rpm and the 4TB 7200 rpm drive I want to use is 102-104F vs. 106F, so I wonder if adding the slightly increased heat would be a bad idea. Tried to find out more about the thermal operating conditions and limitations of the Drobo but yeah… documentation is sparse if any.

So far my options are:

  1. DON’T DO IT
  2. Do it (the 4x3TB 7200 works fine what’s a few more Fahrenheit in a 4x4TB gonna hurt)
  3. Wait for the 5400rpm 4TB’s to come out and upgrade to that
  4. Go with another solution and drop the Drobo altogether

To be honest I’d been considering option 4 for some time now mainly due to the horrid performance of the Drobo gen2. For example I’m copying 2.6TB off of my 4x2TB 5400 and it’s running now at 2 DAYS! and just about finishing. sigh… Maybe I should splurge and get that new Thunderbolt Drobo5 that’s coming out but wow! the price! and really before I dump any more money into Drobos, I’d like to see some new benchmark figures for their new product… decisions… decisions.


Well, it’s true that the additional heat isn’t much - it’s just a matter of how well the thermal system is doing at removing it. If there’s excess capacity and it can cool that then you’re fine. If not… fried drives. The likelihood is that you’ll be fine, but let’s just say I wouldn’t do it with my data. :wink:

As for other products, I hear ya. There’s precious little choice for direct attach storage anymore. The Drobo line is definitely the most flexible, but as we’ve seen, has its issues (especially with regards to performance and providing useful information if something goes amiss). Otherwise, there are Promise Thunderbolt units, and of course if you can accept network-attached storage there are many, many options.

Given how slowly Drobo rebuilds from a drive failure, given that it doesn’t have a dual-redundancy mode, and given that there’s no indication it “scrubs disks” to catch rotten sectors (UREs), I wonder if it would realistically be able to rebuild 10+ TB after a drive failure.

If you have a set of matched 4TB drives anyway, other RAID solutions might work quite well. Personally, I’d consider paying a few hundred dollars to build a nice little FreeNAS box in one of Antec’s quiet high-efficiency cases. Never mind the performance, you’ll almost certainly get better reliability and less noise. It would also be much easier to diagnose problems and identify failing drives.

hi, just some thoughts…

how much free space do you have atm?
if you can keep going for a while, maybe wait and get some green power or equivalent drives of 5400 rpm, since from what i’ve heard so far, you wont get that much of a boost for regular use vs 7200 rpm, and can save some money over time due to less energy being needed.
(chances are that the prices might drop a bit, at least until one of the brands gets good reviews and stands out to be the king of the drives, in which case that price will go up by at least 250% in some places) like the good old WDxxEADS drives :slight_smile:

the new thunderbolt seems a bit thin and doesnt look like it has the same air flow volume but that’s just at first glance.

also, the more data you have, it makes more sense to have at least dual redundency on it, in which case it might be worth getting a drobo-s and to keep the gen for smaller work/extra backups etc?

@RDO or others,
do you have more information on how the Scrubbing works in a drobo-s please?
and can it effectively scrub disks to avoid having to run a pre-insertion dector scan on new drives? :)[hr]
also jimmy, whats your ambient temperature above your drobo?
22-32 degrees?

Thanks much for all the responses. After reading all this I was leaning more towards finding a different solution. Interestingly as I was poking around on B&H website looking at NAS alternatives, I see they actually offer the same solution I was going to shoot for with my Drobo:


Zooming in looks like they are using the same 4TB 7200rpm drive I propose using. I haven’t looked into Drobo-S and yes, it would be nice to have dual-redundancy. Currently I’m looking into Promise Pegasus (expensive!) and a few friends have recommended me trying out QSNAP products or Synology.

Still I like the idea of Drobo solution, when it works, it works great I don’t have any issues with it, I would like to see what sort of performance their new 5 bay with Thunderbolt benchmark looks like. (yes I’m a Mac guy :slight_smile:

thanks for all the great input

My original dream was to live off of my Drobo v2 for years and years to come, upgrading from1TB->2TB->3TB->4TB and on. Unfortunately, I found out that isn’t practical. My concern with going 4TB 7200rpm for you is the heat. If running 3TB 7200rpm, is that making your fans all crazy or do you live in the Arctic? It may contribute to faster than normal HD demise, so I would consider 5900 or 5400. There is very little to no performance difference in the 4bay Drobo v2, as the internal CPU is much slow. As a really big backup hard drive, this is great. My copy rate to the Drobov2 using USB was 24hours per 1TB.

Questions for you are:
How much data are you putting on the Drobo?
How are you planning to use? Backup device? Media Storage Center?

(that;s not bad yoyoma, thats around 12MB/s similar to what i got when my drive wasnt as full, eg in my sig)

I had the same original dream as you but even dreams get shattered… the slow transfer rates really killing the dream! I agree, the 4TB 7200 is pretty hot even to the touch, I can’t imagine 4 of them in a small Drobo enclosure, I could turn the Drobo around and use it as a portable room heater :slight_smile: Oddly the 4x3TB 7200 Drobo seems to be chugging along, it doesn’t get a lot of heat or fan usage from what I can tell but then primarily I’m using it as storage only and occasionally do file transfers so granted it doesn’t get thrashed or under heavy use/load. Mostly it’s used for storing my ripped DVD movie collection. I agree I don’t think the 7200rpm drives gain me anything over the 5400 or 5900 rpm drives given the slow transfer rates of the Drobo (and I use it with FW800 to my iMac). I’m seeing what you see around 1TB per day, maybe a little faster but not much. Still pretty slow if you ask me. My Drobo is around 90% full so that is why I am looking at a 4x4TB solution.

I have to say since I started this thread I’ve gone ahead and ordered a Synology 1512 NAS device. I figure I’ll put the 4TB drives in there and use that as a primary storage area and have it connected to my iMAC via iSCSI, the reviews for the units seem pretty solid (fast read/write, dual bonded gigE, fast rebuild times, supports most protocols, expandable with additional daisy-chained enclosures,etc…etc).

So sadly I think I am saying goodbye to Drobo. I think what I’ll do is keep one of my two Drobos around as long term storage solution and use the Synology as my day to day primary storage unit. We’ll see how it goes.


(“i have a dream” :D[hr]
actually historical quotes aside, i think you should keep the drobo so that you have a backup.
eg if you switch over to just having 1 of the other raid devices, if something happens there, youve only got the one copy, which is risky

I use my Drobo v2 units for DVD storage too. I kind of hit a cash wall so I ended up pooling my two v2 units with Drive Bender and started expanding laterally instead of vertically. Not the best situation, but it works.