How to determine if a raw drive is part of a Drobo pack


I have a 4 Bay Drobo DRO4D-D Gen-2. I did not label carefully a group of drives that may or may not have been formatted in my unit.

I have a group of 4 drives. 2 of these drives are clearly labeled as meant for my Drobo. I know that if I slide them into the unit they are a Drobo pack (of 2, at least.) I also have 2 additional drives that may or may not have been formatted to go with these first 2 drives to comprise a pack of 4. I just don’t remember if I ever turned the 2 pack into a 4 pack. The first 2 drives are clearly labled, but the second 2 are not.

How can I determine if a drive has been formatted for use in the Drobo?

I have a generic dock that would allow me to look at the drives, but I am afraid to put them in the non-drobo dock and look at them because I am worried that something will write to the drives and then make them unusable in the Drobo.

If I insert my 2 drives that I know are Drobo drives and fire up the unit will there be any kind of message that says: Hey where are the other 2 drives? That would be good information.

What happens if I insert a drive that has been formatted for the Drobo into my dock? Will it be bricked for the Drobo?

My goal is to protect data on the Drobo drives AND on the non-drobo drives. Once I know what’s what, I want to create a 4 pack.

Drobo support suggested that I insert all 4 drives in the Drobo, but not to say yes to any formatting prompts that the Drobo software might ask for.

I want to proceed carefully here so as not to erase or wreck any data. I just can’t remember if I ever formatted the extra 2 drives for the Drobo or not. I know I bought the drives for that purpose but I may not have started to use them yet. It was a couple years ago and apparently I slipped up on record keeping and labeling.

Thanks for the help.

hi dlindblom, this is an interesting scenario.
im not 100% sure yet, though here are some thoughts that come to mind, which we can hopefully use in further discussions with the other users before actually doing anything :slight_smile:

  1. is there any other information you can provide when you get a moment? (for example, which exact drives do you have, including make and size etc, along with which drobo firmware you have and dashboard version, and which type of computer do you use)
  • even if empty, a working drobo should still be recognised with dashboard being able to show the versions for you.

(what could go wrong??? hopefully nothing here) :slight_smile:

  1. i think the safest thing would be to have (or to buy) at least 1 spare new drive which is the same as the largest questionable drive that you have, or a bit larger if an exact match is not possible), and to fully clone that drive onto the new one.
    (this way, you can then simply hook up the clone, to a normal usb caddy, and to test whether it contains any actual basic computer data, such as windows ntfs data for example if that is where you used it)

what could go wrong here???

there is always a risk that the source and destination drives are mixed up somehow, which could result in the blank new drive being copied onto the questionable source, but a bit of prep and manual reading should help to minimise this.
(ideally though, the new drive would be hooked up and surface scan tested separately first, before the clone just to make sure it is ok, though may take several hours depending on the size)

  1. do any usb drive caddies exist which are clearly “read only”? if so, maybe getting one of those could work for you, and possibly be cheaper than having to buy a new large drive.
    what could go wrong??? it might not actually be a read only caddy.

  2. if you definitely have 2 drives that were (the) or (part) of a disk pack for your drobo, one option could be to power off the drobo (and to unplug all connection cables and power cables) and to put them into the drobo when the drobo is in readonly mode, and then to power up…

for example, the good thing with a drobo, is that it does have a read only mode, for example as mentioned here:
(as far as i know, any actual changes are only simulated when in that mode, so possibly putting the empty drobo into readonly mode first, and then verifying that it is still in read only mode upon rebooting, before unplugging all power and then putting those 2 drives inside it, could be a way to see what the drobo finds on those 2 drives for now and what else it might show you.)

what could go wrong??? to play safe, block cloning all drives before even trying in readonly mode (or normal mode) would be good, but there is a specific process for that, and also “may” require all diskpack-related drives to be blockcloned (with slot flush process etc) which would have more cost associated if you do not have enough spare drives for the cloning. - however, i think with thought 1) above, once you have been able to determine which of the questionable drives were simply basic drives with ntfs for example, then you would then know that you have 1 (or 2) less drives that actually need block cloning.

(btw when it was suggested that you put all 4 drives inside the drobo, was that while power was all off, and then powering it up?)

Thank you. I will respond to your questions about firmware and version of Dashboard. I need a day or so to do this. Thanks again.