Drobo

Proper Disconnection (and re-connection) of Drobo S

Win7 64-bit, Drobo S 2nd gen, latest firmware & Drobo Dashboard…

Background: I’ve got a bunch of external HDs, some USB 2.0/3.0, some eSATA, a couple Firewire. With all of them, I can “hot plug” them, then use Windows’ “Safely Remove Hardware” (little plug icon with green checkmark) to safely “disconnect” the hardware before unplugging. A subsequent plug sees the drive again, and I can do this forever. Life is good.

Now let’s talk about the Drobo S, plugging & unplugging.

With the Drobo S, the manual CLEARLY states that to disconnect / shutdown / remove the product, you use the Dashboard, and tell it to shutdown. NOTHING about Windows “Safely Remove Hardware” first. Well, I did that, and it really pissed off Windows. The drive icon (i.e., E: Drobo) remained in “My Computer”, but my entire computer became unresponsive… screens just went white, etc. Eventually I had to perform a hard power-off, even CTRL-ALT-DEL didn’t work. Nice.

I have a feeling if I’d explicitly first said “Safely Remove Hardware”, everything would have been fine (except that then the Dashboard probably wouldn’t have seen the unit, and I would have been violating some protocol per the Drobo S documentation.) In fact, I think I saw somewhere than somebody said that this approach (first do the Windows safe-remove) is of course the right thing to do. But I would have thought that the engineers at DR are more competent than an end-user & would have put this in the documentation.

Can someone at DR please tell me the proper procedure for plugging & unplugging my Drobo S while my computer is on? Is an $800 product really more temperamental than a standard $80 2TB hard drive? (Yes I know it’s a bit of apples-to-oranges comparison, but it’s not a big stretch.)

If the answer involves shutting down my computer each time I want to disconnect the Drobo S, I will be tweaked. This isn’t 1999 with USB just starting, and Windows 98 as the most recent operating system. We can do better.

If the answer is “you did it right, just tell the device to shutdown via Dashboard, and then the drive should automatically disconnect, and everything should be fine”, then I’d ask “Well then why does that basically lock up my computer?” Again, please don’t blame the victim (or his computer) here. I’ve had NO problems with anything else. No, my computer isn’t messed up.

I don’t mean to sound angry, but come on, we’re not putting a man on the moon here. If using the Drobo S is significantly more cumbersome than using an external HD, I might as well just stick with them (yes, I know all about BeyondRAID, etc.)

If I’ve missed something in the documentation which outlines a foolproof way to disconnect (and presumably re-connect) the Drobo, then absolutely a mea culpa is forthcoming. Otherwise, I’m starting to re-think this purchase. Uncertainties like this have kept me from even trying eSATA, for example.

P.S. The whole “unboxing” experience was a 2-hour ordeal to begin with, maybe I’ll post more on that later. Very attractive & professional packaging & documentation, but the experience was disconcerting. 2 firmware updates, 3 Dashboard updates, 1 3rd-party Firewire driver installation, 1 drive incorrectly marked as “failed replace immediately”, etc…

To safely shutdown your DroboS, use Drobo Dashboard Advanced Controls - Tools - Shutdown.

Which connection are you using on this DroboS?

Hi,

Thanks for your quick reply. That’s actually what I did - did a shutdown from the Dashboard. The Drobo S obediently shut down, but it left Windows in a confused state - as if the D-S hadn’t properly disconnected.

I’m using the FireWire connection currently (it’s Firewire 400 actually.) I’m using the Unibrain driver recommended by DR. I figured before installing the 3rd party driver, I’d try the Windows FW driver, even if it might be slower (I’d done my reading). (1394 chipset is Ricoh, BTW.)

So I plugged in the D-S, powered it on, it took a couple minutes to boot up, then Windows indicated it was installing the proper driver, then it said that the driver installation failed. So I shut everything down, rebooted, installed the Unibrain driver, rebooted (to be safe), then re-connected the D-S and powered it on, and voila. Formatted fine (NTFS, 16TB volume), copied almost 2TB over to the D-S fine, then tried the dashboard shutdown.

That’s when the laptop became an unresponsive zombie. In 2 years I’ve never had that problem, with probably a dozen external HDs. But of course that’s usually “Safely Remove Hardware”, not Dashboard.

Question: When the Drobo is shutdown properly via the Dashboard, is it true that the drive should disappear from view (e.g., “My Computer”, etc.) and also not show up anymore under the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon?

Also, is it a big no-no to use the Windows safe removal on the Drobo S?

I have limited ports & I’m always plugging stuff in & out. I didn’t expect I’d have to shutdown my laptop to safely disconnect the Drobo & free up a port.

Sorry for asking so many questions, but I have one more: if instead of shutting down the Drobo (via Dashboard), I merely shutdown Windows (properly), is that fine too. Or is that also a problem? I’ve encountered a couple apps which after installation ‘pull the rug out’ (re-boot), they don’t even ask if you’d like to re-start later. Assuming the Drobo isn’t in the process of writing anything, is this OK, or can such a (controlled) reboot also wreak havoc?

I just don’t want to live in fear of this product. I’m very comfortable around electronics (I design high-speed signal processing and FPGA arrays for a living), but I bought my Drobo S because it’s worth it to me to pay for a simple, easy-to-use solution “that just works”. If I can get a “clean disconnect” working, I’ll feel that the D-S has delivered on every promise.

Also forgot to mention in my first post that I’d also tried plugging in via USB 2.0 (supposed to be backward compatible?) but that didn’t work either.

I’d be willing to blame my laptop, except that it’s been rock-solid for 2 years, and I’ve used many other external storage devices w/o a problem.

Apologies for the lengthy posts. Maybe they’re therapeutic for me…

Are you using a port built into the motherboard or an expansion slot card?

Once the DroboS is properly shutdown it should disappear from My Computer and Safely Remove Hardware.

Using Safely Remove Hardware to shutdown your DroboS will cause File System Corruption.

You can also Shutdown your computer to properly shutdown your DroboS. Restarting the computer will not harm the DroboS.

Hi Kurt,

Thanks again for your replies.

The FW400 port is built-in (laptop model is an ASUS M70Vn-X1.) It also has 4x USB2.0 and eSATA built in. I might try the USB port(s) again, or perhaps even the eSATA since I’ve used them with no problems in the past with other devices.

I’ve also got an ExpressCard USB3.0 device that’s worked great with the two 3.0 drives I’ve tried (both 2.5" 1TB portable drives, 1 WD & 1 Toshiba Canvio), but I figured that might be pushing my luck. Maybe on a new disk pack… :slight_smile:

I really appreciate you answering my questions about Dashboard Shutdown & Safely Remove Hardware. I’ll try the Dashboard shutdown approach again & maybe it’ll work from now on. Also, it’s good know to “just say no” to the Safely Remove Hardware option for the Drobo, I figured there was a reason it wasn’t mentioned in the manual.

Thanks again for the answers. I will post back before long & update how things are going, maybe I just hit a rough patch & now things have settled.

This KB article may pertain to you.

http://support.datarobotics.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/51/kw/ASUS/r_id/100004

Thanks Kurt, that KB article looks very worthwhile.

I’ve got almost all of my stuff consolidated onto a 5x2TB disk-pack, and I think next I’ll try some experiments using the Kingwin USB 3.0 ExpressCard and a few old 1TB drives. If things seem to work reliably then I’ll probably stick with that, or maybe I’ll give the eSATA interface a shot.

FWIW, yesterday I took a couple hours & ran some experiments using the FW400 interface. Cold boot the laptop, plug in Drobo, power on Drobo, copy a handful of files onto it, and then do a shutdown a few minutes later. 2 times it worked perfectly, shutdown & disconnected from Windows, the other 2 times the Drobo safely shutdown, but Windows went off into the weeds. Can’t discern a pattern but I certainly don’t think there is anything wrong w/ the Drobo S, I’m actually very happy with it. It’s probably a driver or BIOS issue.

Just wanted to post back & say that with USB3.0, everything has been rock-solid.

My laptop is a couple years old, so I’ve been using a KingWin ExpressCard USB3.0 card w/ 2 ports for about half a year, and with the Drobo S everything connects / disconnects / re-connects without any problems.

Haven’t tried eSATA yet.

Since the USB3.0 is faster than FW400 anyway, I’ll probably just stick with that.

hi Fizzbin,
all the stories ive heard regarding firewire, are that it’s problematic.

if youve got things working well now with usb, i’d stick with usb

(im still on usb 2 for my drobo v1 and drobo v2 units - the v2 has another connection but hey, if it aint broke dont fix it :slight_smile: