So here’s my update (for completeness and the full back story).
TL;DR - Drobos don’t like USB3 (or higher speed interfaces)
I bought my 1st Drobo 4-bay 2nd Gen many many years ago and it has been running fine ever since. Over the years I upgraded smaller disks for larger when needed. Exactly how this was supposed to be used. Last summer I started getting worried that if the drobo itself died that wouldn’t really help me since I would lose access to my data, so I looked on ebay and found a used 5N at a great price. I set it up and used some of the smaller disks I still had lying around and was able to have a copy of my important data on this other Drobo.
Earlier this year my original 2nd gen started making bad noises. It was the fan that was dying. Google showed my how to replace the fan, but I was worried that the unit may die, so back to ebay and found the Drobo S (with 5 2TB disks).
BTW, I should mention that last year I had bought 2 new 4TB drives for my 2nd Gen (which I now realise are SMR drives, but the Gen2 never complained and had been running fine all this time)
Back to the Drobo S. Reset it to factory default and plugged it into my computer(older machine with only USB2 ports) and all was fine. I then decided it was time to address my 2nd gen fan. I moved the disk pack from the 2nd gen to the S and everything came up fine and I thought the story was done.
Next upgrade was a new computer that had usb3 ports. Great I thought, I can finally take advantage of the faster USB on the drobo S Got the new computer, plugged in the 2nd gen(with new fan) and the Drobo S and again everything was good and stable. Those SMR drives were now in the Drobo S, but as a whole, everything was fine.
Then the Windows 10 update for February applied and that’s when my Drobo S became unstable. They machine started hanging whenever the S was plugged in (see initial post for how it reacted). Uninstalling the windows update did not put everything back as it was. And any machine I plugged the S into became unstable.
At this point the S has been reset, using older smaller disks. It is completely unusable on USB3 and doesn’t show up in WIndows on e-Sata (but the BIOS sees it).
It now only works properly on USB2. I’ve read lots in the forums and reddit and realise this is not an isolated incident. It seems ALL Drobo units are hit and miss on USB3 and e-Sata(basically anything other than USB2)
I have resigned myself now to using this unit purely as a secondary backup device and only connected to a USB2 port.
Even if not actively transferring data (read OR write) this unit will hang Windows within 15 minutes of being connected if on USB3(and yes I’ve tried different USB cables, power adapters, power strips, electrical outlets, computers, non of it matters. If its connected USB3, its unusable)
Its just frustrating that the unit ran fine on the new machine on a USB3 port for a month. Is it possible that the windows update created some incompatibility that physically damaged unit’s capability to transfer at higher speed, or was I just extremely lucky for the first month and it was a time bomb just waiting to die?
Unfortunately, from everything I’m reading about how long this USB3 issue seems to have existed, the lack of a willingness from Drobo to acknowledge and address the issue, the lack of availability for Drobo hardware for the past year and no real future announced for the company, I believe my days of Drobo are done. I will eventually migrate the main unit (the 5N) to a Synology device(DS420+ or similar)
Thanks for reading and thanks Drobo for 10 years for data protection, but unfortunately your legacy for me will be a company that didn’t know how to use USB3 and ultimately let me down.