How do I create a Time Machine partition?

I have read that the Drobo Mini allows you to create a partition for use with Apple’s Time Machine backup software.

I have a new Mini, which reports having the latest software/firmware installed. Try as I might, I can find no option that allows me to create ANY partitions other than the factory default (single 16TB). The Mini is currently populated with 4 1TB HDs, and a 256GB SSD connected via thunderbolt to a 2013 Mac Pro. Latest OS.

Any ideas? Thanks.


This article shows a button to “Enable Backup/Time Machine Volume” which does not appear anywhere on my Drobo Dashboard.!

And this Knowledge Base article about using DAS Drobos with Time Machine returns a blank page.

The KB you mentioned are for Dorbo 5N (NAS).

For Drobo Mini, 5D and also Drobo Gen3 which are direct attached Drobo. Using the Dashboard you will have an option to create a “Backup” Volume which will be dedicated to Time Machine Backup or other Backup-util apps… etc.

This “backup” volume created by Drobo Dashboard is purely backup app liked TM and you can also specified the size of this backup volume.

You can refer to these Kbs for more info on the Create Backup Volume.

Thanks for your reply.

I did a manual check of the Dashboard version, and even though the Dashboard was reporting itself as the current version, it was not. I installed the latest Dashboard, which also reported itself (as well as the firmware) to be the latest version.

Being suspicious of the Dashboard’s update accuracy, I downloaded and manually installed the latest firmware. Success I now have a Dashboard button allowing me to create a Time Machine partition (but only after the firmware update).

Looks like there’s a feature with the Dashboards ability to determine both it’s and the firmware’s version. It certainly does not accurately check or update either one, and incorrectly reports both as being current when they’re not.

Maybe this functionality will work correctly from this point, but I won’t know until the next Dashboard or firmware release.


I have the exact same configuration on my Drobo Mini and have successfully been running TM backups for well over a year via Thunderbolt cable.

However, I have a Mid 2011 iMac 27" and today swapped out the HDD for an SSD. Everything worked perfectly until I tried to run the Mac recovery sequence.

The Drobo Mini was not recognized as a “Time Machine” backup drive. I opened the Disk Utility and could see a drive mounted with some generic name and a single partition, but that was about it.

Nothing I did would let me proceed with the recovery.

I called the support line and the process discussed was something like:

  • Shut everything down
  • Unplug the power from DM
  • Replace TB cable with USB3.0 cable (even though my iMac only supports 2.0)
  • Remove all the drives from the DM
  • Boot and get the system to pick-up the DM
  • Shut everything down again
  • Put drives back in
  • Reboot
  • Should be picked up

I did not follow these instructions as removing my drives from the DM rebooting, replacing, etc. seemed a bit drastic and I wasn’t entirely sure whether my files would be safe having removed and replaced them… I couldn’t get any reassurances so…

I ended up doing an Internet Restore of Lion, then upgrade to El Capitan. I used an external cable to hook up my old HDD and have been manually moving files over.

So my question to the community is: WTF did I miss? The proposed solution seems very risky and a bit of a hack yet I’m left with the situation where the Drobo Mini works flawlessly as a TM backup yet I am unable to use it as a restore device and that completely defeats the point of doing a backup in the first place?!?

hi barddzen,
the part about powering down, removing the drives to try booting up empty, and then powering down and putting back in again and then powering up again, is actually one of the usual steps in troubleshooting which, can also sometimes get things back into a working state. (not always, though its usually one of the things i suggest on the many posts ive made)

do you have an msata card in your drobo mini too btw?

im not sure if swapping one of your drives for an ssd, instead of a hdd would have impacted anything, since the specs page mentions hdd or ssd here: