Drobo

Questions on upgrading to a drobo s and drobocare

I’ll be upgrading from a 2nd Gen drobo with firewire. This looks relatively straight forward. I’ll shutdown the FW drobo. Connect the Drobo S and make update to the latest firmware. Shutdown the drobo s. Swap the drives and power up the drobo s. Seems straightforward, right?

Drobocare seems a little squirrely. Here are my questions. Even though they are statements, I am asking if I understand things correctly.

  1. From what I understand, I have to purchase and activate drobocare within 30 days of purchasing my drobo.

  2. Drobocare runs consecutively with the one year warranty. So activating drobocare only does a couple things. It allows me to extend the warranty past a year and it provides an advance replacement drobo if needed. But it doesn’t give me another year of warranty.

  3. I can extend drobocare past the first year if I purchase another year of drobocare before the first year of drobocare expires.

  4. Drobocare starts immediately upon activation no matter the current drobocare status. I have to activate the new drobocare within 30 days. So if I have 2 months left of drobocare and I purchase another year of drobocare, I then have 12 months of drobocare. The new drobocare completely deletes any time lesdt on the previous drobocare.

  5. Is there any drobocare distinction between the the first and second gen Drobo S? The reason I ask is the first gen drobo s is already a year old.

  6. I am considering drobocare for the new S. It has 5 drives, eSATA, data scrubbing, and with the advent of cheap 3 TB (and soon larger) drives, the drobo s will be able to hold a ton of data with fast access. Does anyone here have experience with drobocare? Pro or con.

  7. Out of warranty drobocare for a drobo s is $270. It may be more economical to skip drobocare. As long as there aren’t any problems during the first year after the warranty expires, then it makes sense not to get drobocare and purchase it if I need a repair.

Anything else I may have missed about the drobo s or drobocare?

Thanks.

yes it should be that straightforward

1-4) you are correct
5) no experience
6) are you suggesting that you buy drobocare when you need it? doesn’t that conflict with 1) ?

  1. New purchases get Tech support for 90 days. So you dneed to purchase DroboCare within the first 90 days.

A little. But I am thinking like this.

Drobocare from the start.

1st year $99
2nd year $99 ($198)
3rd year ($297)

Drobocare when needed

1st year $0
2nd year $0
3rd year or later if needed $270

So as long as there isn’t a problem during the second year of ownership, buying drobocare when needed is cost effective. It is even more cost effective depending when it is purchased. Say a problem occurred in the tenth month of the third year. Now I would have drobocare for a full year but if I carries drobocare from the beginning, then I would need to purchase a fourth year to cover almost of of that time.

That whole “must purchase drobocare at the beginning” and “drobocare overlaps with the first year’s warranty” really rubs me the wrong way. Personally, I think cross shipping should be an option and drobocare should be like applecare and be able to be purchased within the warranty period.

The swap to a drobo s went without a hitch. Well, except for the fact that dashboard will not connect. Already ordered a sonnet e2p eSATA card.

I’m pretty sure you are required to purchase Drobocare during the first 90 days.

For the $99. But drobocare can be bought outside the warranty for a significant price. https://www.drobocare.com/outofwarranty/

thats interesting, an yeah at the price they are essentially asking you pay the equivalent of it you had bought it originally and kept it up to date

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

" no access to tech support after 90 days"

i’ve used tech support extensively after 90 days without drobocare

Dochris, when did you buy that Drobo?

Wait, what!?

When the hell did this happen?

The Drobo is still IN WARRANTY for an entire year. Why would you have to purchase DroboCare within the first 90 days? Especially if you’re trying to clone the AppleCare model, where AppleCare can be purchased at any point during the first year.

If you’re talking about just for technical support and not hardware replacement, this model is also flawed, as Apple has stores you can physically bring hardware to for diagnosis. If I’m on day 91 and have no DroboCare, but the hardware is covered for a year as part of the standard warranty, how are people supposed to get it diagnosed for replacement?

Essentially, your newly revised DroboCare terms are garbage.

My reference to tech support only during the first 90 days is from DRI’s standard warranty for Drobos purchased after October 1, 2009. Units purchased prior to COt 1, 2009 are covered by this warranty. The various warranties are linked http://www.drobo.com/support/drobocare.php.

I have not compared the warranties word for word, but I think the main change was this paragraph added to the post Oct 1, 2009 warranty:

“Technical Support: During the Warranty Period, You, as part of this limited warranty coverage, are
entitled to access Data Robotics’ online help resources to address any question about the Product
(“Online Help Resources”). For a period of ninety days from purchase by You (“Technical Support Period”), as part of this limited warranty coverage, if the Online Help Resources don’t address the support
issue, You are entitled to initiate a support request online at www.datarobotics.com/support. After the
Technical Support Access Period, support requests may be made at an additional fee.”

I am very certain that my Drobo, purchased March 2009, received a full year of tech support. At the anniversary of the purchase I bought a 1 year Drobocare. I was not aware of the warranty change either, until reading this thread.

This is why I asked docchris when he bought his Drobos(s). If he bought his Drobo(s) after Oct 1 2009 and got tech support after 90 days without purchasing Drobocare then that needs to be discussed :-).

i bought my drobo well before that…

im not sure about my drobopro

but im also based in the uk and i think the european ones come with a 2 year warranty :slight_smile:

Chris, the way I read the current warranty, Europeans benefit from a longer hardware warranty (2 years vs 1 year) but I see nothing in there suggesting Europe gets a longer free tech support interval.

since its a black box system (literally and figuratively) - how do you know if your hardware has died or not unless they look at your logs?

they really dont have a choice - their design means that the two have to go hand in hand - otherwise they will get a lot of people returning their perfectly working drobos as “faulty under warranty”

and if they are faulty - then obviously you get free tech support to get you your replacement :smiley:

“how do you know if your hardware has died or not unless they look at your logs?”

That was the issue/question I raised above. I thought about your logic when I wrote my long post above. I decided that taking that approach is too risky. At the least we would need comments from a number of people who declined Drobocare and then tried to enter a support case to see how DRI handled this (I’m very curious).

However, we need to consider that there are many possibilities… here are 3 obvious ones but there may be others…

  1. I plug my Drobo in and it is flat out dead. I addressed this possibility in my long post. In this case I would think that DRI would accommodate that and provide the minimal support required to determine that the Drobo or the PSU brick is dead and replace it.

  2. My Drobo volume(s) won’t mount. I would not put money on how they handle that. THey could just blow me off with “reformat and try again”. Which they might do even if I have Drobocare :slight_smile:

  3. My Drobo works. It’s just too slow. My write (or read) throughput is 1-2MB/s. The hardware is likely fine. I know from experience it’s a problem with a hard drive. DRI did not sell me the drives. Will they research my logs to tell me which drive is problematic?

I had exactly the tech support case I describe in #3 so I am very sensitive about this issue. And it is exactly this issue which makes me very critical of current published policy, the longevity of Drobocare renewal, and the limited value of a Drobo that is not under Drobocare. Because I know it would have been impossible for me to diagnose this problem on my own- because the drive has functioned perfectly fine as an external eSata NTFS volume with throughput as good as any other drive I have. And believe me, I tested that drive as well and thoroughly as I could.

Even assuming best case, that the “threat” of no tech support for the remaining 9/21 months of warranty is toothless - assuming DRI would actually support it - there are other considerations. Once the 12 month (USA) warranty has expired then I seriously doubt they will support it, and I kind of doubt they would sell me a Drobocare contract for $69 at the 12 month expiration of my hardware warranty. They would sell me a contract for $189 but that is a ridiculous price. I can buy one for $300 or so. And assuming they would not sell me a Drobocare contract for reasonable $, then my Drobo will effectively last as long as the hardware does, or whenever it decides it doesn’t like one of my 4 drives but doesn’t bother to tell me.

There are a lot of assumptions in the above because we are assuming DRI might go beyond the specified warranty terms. Personally I would not roll the dice on an $800 purchase assuming any positive outcome from these speculations. It’s a foolish risk for me, end user.

all i can say is that here in europe - i’ve have 3 drobos, a v1, v2 and pro

i’ve contacted support quite a few times - both within 12 months and after 12 months

i’ve never had them ak how old it is or whether i have drobocare, or suggest that i buy drobocare, i’ve only ever had them be helpful :slight_smile:

Europe has far better consumer protection laws than the USA. Here our consumer protection laws can be summarized as follows:

Caveat Emptor!

:slight_smile:

But seriously, policies may be different in Europe. As I understand it, you don’t even get support from DRI in the USA, but a 3rd party? The important point is that it is rolling the dice. I don’t recall reading any threads here from USA owners suggesting they got tech or hardware support outside of their warranty and/or Drobocare contracts. But if anyone has they should chime in :-). But I want to stress, regardless of the results, informal policies can and do change on a dime. it’s one thing to get lucky and get support after the fact, it is another thing to consciously buy into this situation hoping for a better outcome than the warranty terms suggest, and that is the point I keep trying to make. That’s what I mean by rolling the dice. Why would I do that if I can buy other products that perform the same basic function, and come with a simple, standard full coverage 3 year warranty in writing??? Is BeyondRaid worth that roll of the dice? Not to me.

actually on at least three occasions i got support (both telephone and e-mail) from DRI USA (as the time difference actually made it easier for me to contact them)

OK… but you are in Europe. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary because your driving a car destined for a different market. I would feel a little better to hear this from a USA owner. But regardless of how many people came in here telling us they got out of warranty support, I would not walk into this deal and roll the dice with $800 on the table (for an S) on that bet. This is religious and philosophical (and I would argue good economics but you can call that philosophical if you like).

You can have the last word on this issue- I can’t say it any better than I have.