Room for improvements - some ideas to make Drobo S better

• The fan keeps spinning although the drives have spun down, is it possible to reduce the speed or even switch the it off completely?

• Related: does Drobo S contected to an Airport Extreme Base Station go to standby mode when disks have spun down? If not, is it possible to implement this somehow (via firmware update)?

• Transfer speed when connected to an Airport Extreme Base Station is below the transfer speed of another USB drive that has about the same speed when directly connected to a Mac or PC via usb. Can it be improved?

Any suggestions or answers?

The fans will keep spinning if the drobo is at the correct temperature to trigger the fan.
You cannot adjust the speed of the fan. And you really don’t want to turn if off if its’ on, it’s keeping your drobo and your drives cooled down.

When a drobo/drobopro/drobos etc is on a airport extreme it is not detected by dashboard. You will not be able to use the standby command.

I would suggest not having the Drobo S on an Airport extreme. For optimal performance, you want directly attached to your computer.

OK, the fans spin to keep Drobo S from overheating. But why then does it go to standby mode (fans off, power LED indicating standby) when i disconnect the USB cable and not after disk spun down? It should be able to do this. And what about USB performance on AEBS?

Drobo’s standby mode is much like standby/sleep on your computer - it takes a little bit for it to “wake up” and be accessible again. I’ve had it take anywhere from 20 seconds to a few minutes before Drobo was accessible again.

Thus, if it went into standby mode every time the drives timed out, my apps would be very angry and give me file access errors. Just spinning up the drives is within OS and program tolerances, as most moderns OSes allow the same. So Drobo remains “at the quick ready” as long as there’s a computer connected.

We do not test speeds on a AEBS since optimal performance is for the Drobo to be directly attached to a computer.

That is how we test our products.

You want to use standby mode to shut down your drobo for the following reasons:

if you are not going to be using your Drobo for an extended period
if you want to move your Drobo to another computer
if you are going to remove the entire disk pack
if you are going to apply any operating-system updates…

• you want to sleep at night and drobo s is too noisy.
• since you can specify the time it takes drobo s to spin down disks, why not allow the same for standby?

Your drobo should not be noisy.

As a reminder, in order to complete the standby process you need to unplug the data cable. So there is no way to set a time for standby.


I have 2 questions:

1) Confused about Standby Mode, based on what was said in this thread, since
…The Drobo User Guide on page 20 says the “Drobo S” goes into Standby Mode when not acceesed for 15 minutes (by default) or when you turn off your computer. It also states that the time interval for “Standby” can be adjusted by changing the interval for Drive Spin down in Drobo Dashboard.
Now, I sent mine to 15 minutes, but the orange standby light never cones on and it does not automatically go into standby, after 15 mins of inactivity.

2) When I shutdown and Turn Off my Win XP PC, the Drobo S goes into StandBy Mode (orange led), as expected.

However, I find that while the Drobo S is in this StandBy mode, that although it sounds like the drives properly spinned down and our quiet, periodically the “Drobo - Fan” will cycle back on for awhile and then cycle off, and then it will continually repeat this scenario. The Fan never stays off for ever, when it is in StandBy mode.

I thought that StandBy Mode for the Drobo S, meant both that Drives are spun down and therefore no need for the Fan to ever come back on when the unit is in StandBy mode, but this does not happen. The drives are spun down, heat can not be generated, so I would say that the Fan should not come on to save power and engery and avoid the need for me to fully turn the drobo s off to save electrical energy that is wasted when the fan goes on in standby mode.

So, is something not working as atteneded here in standby mode (when pc is powered down) of the Drobo S ?

3) P.S. I just found this in the Knowledge Base and I was wondering has the current Firmware version 2.0.1 fixed the below problem ?

[quote] From Knowledge Base article:

Why won’t my Drobo S drives spin down?

We are aware of this problem and will release a firmware update in the near future to correct it. In the meantime, your hard drives in your Drobo S will not spin down. We apologize for the inconvenience[/quote]

ok, about the noise: i am going to compare it to another unit. maybe something is defective.

about standby: perhaps this is a mac thing, but i rarely ever shut down or switch off my mac. it just goes to sleep mode (which is much quicker to resume from than shut down and does not use significantly more power). is there any way to make drobo s go into standby mode while connected via fw800 when the mac sleeps?

  1. Standby mode is when all the drive lights go off and the power light turns amber. Accomplished by either clicking on Standby command in the Dashboard or shutting down your computer.

What the user guide is referencing is the Disk Spin down Mode, NOT Standby. Disk Spin down and Standby are two different actions.

  1. When the drobo is standby mode (all drive lights off and power light amber) the fan will still continue to come on when the temperature gets too warm. Even though the Drobo is in standby mode, you have the power plugged in. When the power is plugged in, the drives will still generate HEAT. Thus, the Fan comes on periodically to cool off these drives. If you do not want the fan to turn on at all, unplug the power.

  2. Yes that firmware fixed the disk spin down mode.

@onicon - I too found my drobos to be very noisy even with no disk access and an ambient temperature of 15deg cel in an open area allowing good airflow. It can be heard over a TV on with music playing. Well it could be heard until it failed after a power trip!

Really? Either my hearing is going (possible) or there’s something decidedly different between your Drobos and mine.

What make/model drives do you have installed?

I’ve just got a replacement power supply and my unit is up and running again. Without any drives in the fan is on full and using a calibrated SPL meter at 1 m from the unit (rear) it measures 42db - 47db next to it which is about what I would expect (each meter away from the source will drop about 6db). With all drives in this goes up to 47db during disk access.
Drives in the unit are WD 1.5TB green * 2, WD 500gb green * 3 so they are pretty quite.
Is your fan always on and audible?

No, my fan is not always on, and it’s nowhere near your levels.

I have 4x 2TB WD green (WD20EADS)

Sounds like maybe your Drobo’s temperature sensor is stuck high?

When I turn on my Drobo (or it wakes up) there’s a short burst of audible full-fan, then it slows down to a whisper.

Cool thanks for the quick response. Seems you may be correct in your thinking on faulty temp sensor which will explain the fan being on max all the time!
I’ve raised a support ticket and will wait to hear from Drobo!

I now have a DroboS which I have been playing with for about a week.

Initially I filled it with old hard disks I had lying about.
1 x New WD 2TB Green Power
2 x Seagate 750
2 x Seagate 500

The fan was on virtually all the time. In fact even after the disks spin down after 15 minutes the fan is still on and quite audible for some time - a good 10 minutes or so after that. Then they go off for a short while after the unit cools down enough - but only 5 minutes or so before fans spin up again.

I know that the Seagate 750 and 500 drives I have in there run quite hot - previously removed them from a linux raid box due to heating issues.

I have now replaced the disks in the DroboS with all Western Digital
1 x WD 2TB Green Power
2 x WD 1.5TB Green Power
1 x WD 1 TB Green Power
Its doing a rebuild at the moment and the fan actually went off for a while during the rebuild! The WD Green Power disks are so much cooler than the Seagate Disks I was using.

In regards to fan noise the only other Drobo Unit I have for comparison is the DroboPro. To me the single fan of the DroboS sounds about the same as the noise from the two fans in the DroboPro; possibly very slightly louder (but I don’t have them in the exact same location at the moment).
One other point is that on the DroboPro I found that the fans never switch off while the drives are spinning - i.e. the fan only goes off a bit after the disks spin down due to inactivity.
On the DroboS as I mentioned above the fan actually goes off for brief periods while disks are in use - as the temperature gets cool enough.

I just purchased a Drobo S and the fans haven’t stopped since I plugged it in. Even with only one HD in there on a cold rainy day the fans were spinning (Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB). Not sure if this is a defect or not. A pain in the butt if your computer is in your bedroom and you have to data transfer while you sleep.

Please open a support case.

We all assume that when Drobo is idle, most of the heat the fan has to disperse is due to the disks.
Unfortunately, this is not true : the Drobo-S specifications show that the Drobo-S itself has +++4 TIMES+++ the idle power consumption of a full set of Green drives when idle.
The Drobo idle noise problem is due to a cheap/suboptimal design by Data Robotics :(.
This is especially a pain for direct attached Drobos used at home, like the Drobo-S, since you do not have the option to put it in a remote room.

Seems a pity Data Robotics forgets its past mistakes : Drobo-V1 was very noisy, Drobo-V2 was much improved, and now Drobo-S (which costs x2 Drobo-V2) is again a +11db regression.
Although I considered the price increase close to extortion, I wanted to replace my Drobo-V2 by a Drobo-S (for dual disk redundancy), but since I use the Drobo for videos storage with my HTPC in my living room, the noise issue is a big show stopper.

Data Robotics should switch to a low power processor design (ARM based) and/or radically improve its cooling system, even if they have to slightly increase the size of their “cute” box to achieve that.