Drobo will not format

A bit of a lengthy explanation for a problem that Support has not come up with a solution for, and I’m going in circles.

I have two Drobos, generation 1 and 2 (referred to here as Drobo1 and Drobo2). Both were in use on a Win XP 32 bit computer, then moved to a Win 7 54 bit and both worked fine, retaining old volume names and being assigned new drive letters.

I upgraded 2 HDD in Drobo2, moving one into Drobo1 to upgrade that. I also wished to reformat Drobo2 into a single, 16Tb volume so followed the instructions to remove all data before proceeding. The result was, however, that Drobo2 recognises all four HDD (four green lights) and Dashboard states there is a single volume, but it fails to format this because it cannot obtain a drive letter. There are eight free letters and (as a test) adding other external drives or adding a network drive work fine, with new letters being used and released as required.

The increased size of Drobo1 means it wants a new volume created; this fails for the same reason, though the original two volumes (with their data) remain accessible with drive letters assigned.

Moving Drobo2 to the old XP computer and using Dashboard to erase and format as 3 2Tb volumes works fine. Putting it back onto Win 7 produces … nothing; Dashboard sees that there are three volumes, but no drive letters are assigned and no use can be made of the Drobo (which remember, used to be usable until switching a drive). New USB cable has no result.

Any ideas of what to try next are welcome.

It’s unclear to me what is going on because you have not specified what error messages you may be getting.

I believe that it is best, if not required, to format the new volumes using Dashboard. Some people try to format in Windows and have problems- but that is the wrong method for a Drobo. Did you try to format them in Windows? Did you try to format the new volumes in Dashboard? It’s unclear to me exactly what you did here :-). But I may just be dense.

The problem was that Dashboard was failing to format the new volumes - it created them, then failed to format stating that no drive letter was assigned. Putting the Drobo on XP allowed new volumes (2Tb) to be created and formatted through Dashboard, but when the Drobo was moved to W7 it would not recognise the volumes, stating they needed to be formatted, but again it failed to do so. The error message was simply that Drobo Dashboard could not format the drives: format failed. The Drobo remained unusable.

However, I have since found a solution. Windows drive management could see the volume, and right clicking the volume allowed me to manually assign a drive letter. I could now format the drive through Drive Management. Dashboard now recognised the volume (16Tb) and allowed its use.

Before noting that no, you are not supposed to format drives through Windows, I then had a phone call from Drobo ‘level 2 support’, which was impressive, saying two things: first, that there was a way to force Windows to do what I had already achieved, using a Dos prompt. After this Dashboard could take over. Second, that Dashboard actually uses Windows drive management to do the formatting, so doing it this way (create the volume in Dashboard, but assign a drive letter and format in Management) is okay.

Hope that helps someone else sometime, anyway.

Yes, I had the same issue when I reformatted my Drobo v2… I had to use Disk Management to reformat the volume.
My experience jives with what the tech told you. Formatting in Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc) is OK.

Do not, however, attempt to mess with the Drobo partitions in Disk Management. When I tried that once, Drobo Dashboard failed to recognize the volume, though it saw the Drobo itself. I had to reset (wipe) the Drobo from Drobo Dashboard and repeat the process - this time without messing with the partitions, in order to get things working again.

Interesting… it is not surprising that Dashboard uses the same routines (most software simply call Windows routines (API’s) to do just about anything). But that begs the question why DRI recommends not to do that :-). In this case, using Disk Management is the sensible thing; glad to hear it worked and is the “underground” DRI recommendation.

I think DRI recommends not using Disk Management simply because it’s prone to people (easily) making fatal mistakes…

Remember the target audience for non-business Drobos are generally less technically-savvy than most of the folks here in the forum. :slight_smile:

bhiga, true, true

Sometimes I have a lot of very similar drives in a machine and then I really think twice, maybe three times, before doing something serious in Disk Management. It also bugs me that Windows Event Log disk errors don’t describe the effected disks in a way that can be reconciled after a boot. I think I get controller errors from my Drobo but I’m usually not sure because I tend to see them well after the fact, after one or more reboots. But I digress :slight_smile:

and you are quite savvy, and you messed up partitions :smiley:

just kidding… btw what was the dos command chris?

I knew that I was going to nuke my data in deleting my MBR partition to create a GPT partition… :smiley:
What I didn’t know what that it was going confuse Drobo and Drobo Dashboard to the point that only a Reset would get things back in order, though! :stuck_out_tongue: