- Given that without Drobocare you have a one year hardware warranty but no access to tech support after 90 days, it is not clear to me how you would even come to the conclusion you have a hardware problem unless the unit flat out dies. IOW this idea of a warranty without tech support is unique to Drobo, and the ramifications are poorly documented to say the least.
My assessment considers the fact that we have absolutely no feedback from a Drobo as to the health of the drives or the details of what is going on under the covers. The Drobo is designed, by intent, to force you to initiate a tech support case and submit the encrypted logs in order to determine basic system status data that is designed into (and exposed to the user) in every other major storage array device on the market. Drobo knows what is going on but won’t tell you anything, it will only disclose that to DRI tech support.
- It is my understanding that, for example, DRI no longer sells Drobocare for Drobo V1. That unit was sold at least up to 2009 Q1. Therefore, if you bought a late Drobo V1 and then purchased one year Drobocare contracts it is not clear to me that you could have renewed on your 2nd anniversary in 2011 Q1, for example.
I have also heard conflicting things about this issue, which I actually addressed with DRI a few months ago. Maybe kbradley would care to address this issue?
What I am saying is that unless you purchase a 3 year contract up front I don’t think DRI guarantees any specific length of time that you can do annual renewals. I think you are at their mercy as to how long they are willing to support any given unit.
If you do not have tech support then the web site says you can purchase tech support on a per occurrence basis but does not indicate the cost. Does anyone know that cost?
It is my opinion, having had to go through the process of tech support to resolve a problem allegedly caused by a drive that is perfectly fine as a stand alone drive, that it is effectively mandatory to keep a Drobo under a tech support contract because the unit is specifically designed (crippled if you will) to prevent you from diagnosing any problems.
Now, that leads to the following… my Drobo V2 will be 3 years old in 2012 Q1 when my current Drobocare contract expires. I don’t have any guarantee that DRI will renew my contract. Nor was I given an option this year to buy a 3 year contract- that is no longer offered for Drobo V2. Since I cannot properly support my box without DRI tech support and DRI does not specify what that tech support might cost in the future, basically I may have to abandon my Drobo as early as 2012 Q2 even if it is working perfectly fine. Now, I might look at my $350 Drobo V2 as “disposable” but I would not consider any of the higher priced Drobos as 3 year no deposit no return disposable items.
I seriously doubt I would buy a Drobo V2 today, given the current policies in effect at this moment. Given that 3 year contracts are not available, even for new V2’s, there is no guarranty whatsoever as to the length of time I would be able to keep that new V2 under Drobocare. And this could apply to any model Drobo at any given time. If I were to consider buying another Drobo product, I would either buy it with a 3 year contract at the 90 day point or I would (more likely) look elsewhere for some product with a more certain future.
Now, at the cost of $800 for a Drobo S, and considering that by my way of thinking at a minimum a year’s Drobocare needs to be purchased in short order, that makes the cost of a Drobo S $900. And, in order to guarantee you get 3 years and 3 months life out of your considerable investment that it is arguably necessary to buy THREE YEARS up front, that arguably brings the cost to $1050.
For $1050 I have a lot of options. At that price there are some very nice NAS units, such as a top of the line Synology DS1511+, that will bury these Drobos in performance (with NAS and all the related apps as a bonus). And many of these units come with a built in 3 year warranty.
A lot of other vendors are catching up with the basic BeyondRaid functionality. For example, Synology now has a proprietary Raid option that permits expansion in mixed capacity arrays. And unlike a Drobo it has proper user accessible logging, drive and fault status.The only thing it doesn’t do is allow contraction of arrays.
Those are just my thoughts on the matter. I’m reasonably happy with my Drobo V2 but given the issues I raise here I’m not sure I would reenlist, especially if performance was my objective (and it always is). I think DRI is pricing themselves out of the market and the entire tech support issue is becoming ever more convoluted.
But that’s just my own cost/benefit assessment. The main point is that there are severe risks going without Drobocare and I suspect it is likely that if you roll that dice you will lose in the long run.