Slow Copies within Lightroom

Hi All,

I use my Drobo v2 as an on-site archive for all my photographic work. A bit of background. I have a system that effectively works as follows:

Internal SSD - Live Edits (Stuff I am currently working on)
Internal HDD - Recent Edits (Stuff I may need to access heavily again soon)
Drobo - Image Archive (All shoots that are deemed ‘finished’)

I obviously also backup my work offsite.

During the ‘life’ of a shoot the files move from the Internal SSD to the Drobo, sometimes skipping the HDD if it’s wrapped up fairly quickly. I use Lightroom 4 to edit and manage my images. My LR Catalog lives on my SSD and I have a fairly large catalog of around 160k images. The Drobo also houses my LR catalog backups.

Because of the manner in which Lightroom works, to keep things in sync with the catalog it’s neccessary to perform file moves from within the LR interface (else LR loses track of stuff). Over the years this has never really been a problem and it’s worked well for me. As a shoot is completed I pick up it’s folder within LR and drag its next home (SSD, HDD or Drobo).

Drobo has never been ‘fast’ but it’s always been reasonable. Copying a large 30GB wedding will normally take less than an hour I’d guess. It tends to be something I leave to it’s own devices so it’s hard to be sure of time, but like I say, always been perfectly reasonable in terms of transfer speeds.

However, now, it is being RIDICULOUSLY slow when performing moves to the Drobo. 4 or 5 hours for the same size folder of images is not uncommon. So slow in fact that on numerous occasions I’ve had to wonder whether the copy has failed.

Further investigations shows me that copying files from within the finder (rather than within LR) is also painfully slow. I’ve just watched it take around 2 mins to copy 10mb from my computer to the Drobo. It’s estimating 4hrs for a 3.8GB copy.

As I discussed in the below post, I recently upgraded my Drobo but Drobo Dashboard suggests everything is fine and the upgrade seemed to go smoothly:

What could be causing this ridiculously slow transfer rates? It’s a concern to me as although my images are backed up to archival grade DVDs the Drobo allows me an accessible archive. I’ve tried running Disk Utility on the Drobo to no avail, and as Drobo Dashboard offers so little feedback I’m rather stumped.

Any input would be much appreciated.


when did you finish the upgrading?

drobo may still be optimizing its internal layout - which can easily take 48-72 hours - and performance will be lower than usual during this period.

alternatively - it is possible one of your new disks is having a problem and drobo is having to wait for it to try and read blocks - poor performance is sometimes the first sign of impending failure - you can always send your logs in to Drobo Support and they will tell you what is going on.

I believe the upgraded finished at the beginning of this week. Monday sometime I believe it was. Will definitely try sending my logs to Drobo support, I could do with some insight. Thanks for taking the time to help mate! Much appreciated.

hi there might be some lightroom settings you can modify, maybe something to reduce the number of simultaneous file reads/threads as maybe its trying to access lots of small parts of lots of files, instead of 1 by 1?

(also maybe worth checking your real time antivirus to see if its scanning all files there, which can slow things down further too)

Thanks for your replies guys. Drobo support wasn’t hugely helpful. Initially they came back and suggested that the top most drive might be on the fritz. However they had obviously misread the diagnostics as they seemed to think this drive was a Samsung. It was prior to the upgrade I did a week or two back, but it is now a Seagate drive. I emailed them back and they said they’d made an error and I was indeed correct on this.

So they’ve ‘confirmed’ that the disk pack is ok. They then suggested Verifying/Repairing via Disk Utility (I’m on Mac OS X Lion) which I’ve already done. I did it again to be sure. The only other thing they suggested was a ‘dirty filesystem’ which they say should be sorted by verifying/repairing, which I’ve now done multiple times, or possibly a wonky firewire cable/port. I have only got one FW800 cable to hand so can’t really check that. I’ve tried plugging it into the other port on the Drobo and the slow read times still persist. I’ve ordered a new cable to try that, but I’m somewhat frustrated as I feel like I’m rather out of options and Drobo Support isn’t really offering any further ideas.

Is there any other ‘deeper’ way to force a file system rebuild than by verifying/repairing in disk utility?

Paul, I have no antivirus on my computer.

Cheers for your input guys.

[quote=“alchemist, post:6, topic:12250”]
Drobo support wasn’t hugely helpful. Initially they came back and suggested that the top most drive might be on the fritz. However they had obviously misread the diagnostics as they seemed to think this drive was a Samsung.[/quote]

I’ve had similar experiences, which is why I now insist on corroborating information such as serial numbers whenever they mention a drive.

Tech support could provide relevant data to help diagnose this. I would specifically ask for CPU usage, status of data layout (is it fully optimized? Is there a “critical disk?”). I would explicitly ask for stats on each of the drives: timeouts, bad blocks, etc. I would also explicitly ask for a list of all error conditions (within some reasonable span of time, perhaps “one week” or whatever they say they can reasonably do.)
In my experience, Drobo support does not volunteer such information, which means you have to know what they’re looking at and basically coach them to provide relevant information.

I’d like to make something clear after that last paragraph. I’m impressed with the skill and intelligence of Drobo techs. I’ve worked both on-site and telephone technical support, and have rarely seen such consistently high caliber of people. There is something about the culture there which creates a communication gap, but the techs work hard within the limitations of the situation. Unfortunately, customers must work hard too.

Anyway, you need to fix it, and if you can’t get data about the Drobo, you’ll need to “black box” it. This is the point at which I’d start throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
[]Listen to your Drobo when you aren’t accessing it. Are the drives busy? If so, you’re competing for CPU and I/O with something else, like a re-layout. The situation will likely change once that finishes.
]Confirm that Spotlight isn’t indexing the Drobo.
[]Try connecting over USB to see if anything changes.
]Measure the speed of reading from the Drobo. Is it similarly slow?
[*]If you have such a drive lying around, try copying the Lightroom data to some other Firewire drive. Is this as fast as you expected?[/list]

also if you get a moment, could you also please help us with some more info regarding your current v2 specs (as well as drives, sizes and total/freee space/volumes etc?)

maybe you have crossed a percentage threshold (which does seem to cause some slowdown to a degree, but probably not to the level you have recently been experiencing) - i made a thread about it being useful for us all if people can put some basic into in the sig but will have to root it out :slight_smile:

Is your Drobo on the ‘do not index’ list for Spotlight?

Spotlight will easily saturate the Drobo for days if it’s decided the index is corrupt or is being rebuilt.

I would try adding your Drobo to the privacy list, rebuild the spotlight index and see if you get any of your performance back.

Hi all,

Apologies for the slow reply, been out shooting most of the weekend. Ok, some more info.

I’m running OS X 10.7.5 with Drobo connected directly via FW800. It’s running Firmware: 1.4.2 [1.254.50341] and Drobo Dashboard: 2.2.3 [54676]. The disk pack is as follows, from top drive to bottom:

As of September 2012:

3TB - Seagate Barracuda (Model: ST3000DM001) (Upgraded from 1TB Samsung in last two weeks)
1TB - Can’t recall, but think probably Samsung or WD
1TB - Can’t recall, but think probably Samsung or WD
3TB - Seagate Barracuda (Model: ST3000DM001) (Upgraded from 1TB Samsung in last two weeks)

The two 1TB Samsung’s that were removed were Models HD103UJ and HD104SJ. I honestly can’t recall which model was in the bottom slot and which the top.

In terms of volumes, the Drobo has a single 16TB volume and capacity is 4.51TB with 2.75TB used for redundancy. Used space is 2.43TB (54%) with 2.08TB (46%) free.

Hope that helps. My Drobo wasn’t in the Spotlight ‘Do Not Index’ privacy list so I have added it, but this hasn’t seemed to make any difference. The Spotlight menu wasn’t pulsing to suggest and sort of indexing was in progress so would be surprised if this was the issue. Would you suggest I remove it again from the ‘Do Not Index’ Privacy list to force it to index or would this be unnecessary? I’ve no actual need for Spotlight on the Drobo as all my files are managed directly through Lightroom.

Another thing I’ve noticed - but I need to corroborate, is that the slow speeds only seem to be one way. Reading off of the Drobo seems to happen at a perfectly reasonable pace, it’s simply copies TO the drobo that are desperately slow.

Many thanks for your continued help all,


Hi Guys,

Just done a test and confirmed that reading from the Drobo is perfectly fine, it’s simply copies to it that are taking forever. That seems to rule out (in my head at least) the possibility of a faulty firewire cable or port. I’ve got a new cable turning up tomorrow so I will at least try that out.

Any other ideas guys?

ok let us know how it goes

Ok, tried the new FW cable. No change. Unsatisfied with Drobo support thus far, I emailed them again explaining where I was up to. They again got the drive in slot 0 wrong so I went back and asked for full stats as given above. They told me all was fine with the disk pack but that there may be a problem with one of the FW ports.

I then tried connecting with USB and found that copies to the Drobo (write operations) occurred at fairly normal speed. This leaves the most likely possibility being that either the FW ports on the Drobo or the one on my iMac are on the fritz. I suspect it is probably the iMac as the Drobo has two ports and both yield the same result. That said, I don’t know if they are served by the same controller and whether this could be the issue.

What I find so strange is that if a FW port somewhere was misbehaving I’d have thought the issues wouldn’t be isolated to write operations.

I’m hoping to borrow my brothers laptop in the next week or two to test the Drobo with another FW800 port.

Will keep you updated.

Any changes to your Firewire driver, or any new Firewire devices connected? As Firewire is repeater-based, in a daisy-chain configuration the slowest device can bottleneck the rest of the chain.

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