Restore Apple Time Machine backup from Drobo 5N (get ready for some frustration)

One of the main reasons that I purchased my Drobo 5N was to have a secure back-up locally for my Time Machine back-ups of my Apple Mac desktop. It was pretty easy to set up, and I have been backing up for the last couple of years to my Drobo 5N. Everything worked fine until my Mac’s hard drive crashed a few weeks ago. I took it to the repair shop, and a new drive was installed. Everything was backed up to Time Machine, so I wasn’t too worried. Little did I know of the nightmare that was just around the corner.

My repaired Mac would recognize/mount my Drobo 5N on the network after a typical login. However, when I went to run the backup with Time Machine (hold down the Command and R keys simultaneously while the machine is starting to boot into Mac OS Utilities), the Drobo 5N never showed up.

I went to the Drobo manual. Nothing about restoring. Lots of information about setting up Drobo, but NOTHING about restoring from Time Capsule. And nothing even mentioning that Drobo might not show up in Mac OS Utilities.

I searched the Drobo website and forum for information. I found some posts where people had somewhat similar problems. But since Drobo 5N has only Firewire, there is no USB option to connect to my network. I tried using a Firewire to USB 2.0 connector, since someone had mentioned that other Drobo models could connected with USB 2.0 but not 3.0. Nope. Nothing.

There is an article on the forum website (https://supportportal.drobo.com/retrieve/s3/knowledge/AA/AA-01431.html) that requires booting into Terminal mode and entering a bunch of commands. I tried this, but the article only discusses Lion and Mountain Lion, 10.7 & 10.8, and I have something else. But the idea that a user is going to go into Terminal mode, and enter a bunch of confusing commands to mount the Drobo is a joke. At this point, I probably spent 10 days being frustrated with what should be a super simple process. And, no, I don’t blame Apple. This is a Drobo issue. If your solution to data recovery involves Terminal mode, then you should tell people up front. I am extremely dissatisfied with how this worked. I would never buy a Drobo again, and will be recommending to others than they not buy Drobo.

Solution: What I did was hook up another external hard drive to my network, then copied the Time Machine sparsebundle down to the external hard drive, and restored my Mac from there. Drobo’s data recovery solution took about 14 days total (considering the time it took to copy the 1.3TB sparsebundle to the external hard drive). Not a very efficient solution. 100% dissatisfied customer here.


I’m having almost the exact same issue right now, and it isn’t going good.

Can I ask how you copy the sparsebundles? When I go into the folder that my Time Machine backup goes into, there is one gigantic file. I assumed that this was the backup image and tried to put it on an external hard drive to connect to the laptop via USB, but it doesn’t seem to work. I’m wondering if ‘sparse bundles’ are something different?

Thanks, Steven