Ticking drive noise. Start of a problem?


I recently updated to 1.3.5 firmware on advice from Jennifer. Not sure if its related but last few weeks I’ve noticed a regular whirr/ticking sound from the Drobo - not when accessing the drive, when it’s idle. Drobo is only accessed for backups each night.

Does this indicate the start of a problem with a drive perhaps?

Is there any way to check the drives?

Drobo v2: 1.3.5
OS X 10.5.8
6 blue lights, no issues reported

Get the diagnostic file and send it to DRI asking them about your drive health

I’ve decoded the file myself so I can read it, is there a section that tells you about drive health or bad sectors etc in more detail?

(There are parts that say good/bad drive but I assume this is the same as getting a redlight, which I don’t yet have. I’m after preemptive data.)

Yes there is, reallocated sector count I think its called?

Thanks, I’ll take a look…

nope, can’t find anything with ‘reallocated’

Not to sound insulting, but are you sure it’s not the fan intermittently giving off a noise? Wouldn’t be the first one…

Not insulting at all. How can I check if its the fan?

I think the easiest way would be to simply turn the Drobo off and rotate it around. Then, with a flashlight, power the Drobo back up and watch to see that the fan is spinning. During the boot-up phase, it cycles the fan up. After the initial boot phase, the fan slows/turns off. You should hear a definite change in the clicking frequency/disappearance of the noise when the fans speeds/slows. That’s the first step I would take.

While my knowledge of storage/storage methods is nowhere near some people on this board, I have experienced enough drive failures to know that clicking can mean ‘failure imminent — do something dummie’. Then again, isn’t this the Drobo’s intended purpose — to have a RAID array survive with a single drive failure? Maybe let it do it’s thing and disqualify the drive. Do you have a spare handy to swap out when the time comes?

Good luck. And whatever does happen, please do post back what the eventual outcome. Sometimes a noise is just a noise.

I opened a support case and one of the automated responses was to check the fan was working. I felt around the back, it was quite weak. I haven’t actually looked or rebooted to check the fan as you suggest. I’ll do that tomorrow.

I also get a new drive ready just in case.

It is a six speed fan, so unless you’re doing working it hard, don’t expect much. Mine typically cycles on/off every 15 minutes on it’s lowest (assumed) setting. I transferred data for a solid 2 hours once, and it didn’t get beyond a medium speed. When you first turn it on, it should cycle up pretty high; how high, I don’t know…

This, by the way, would be another great item to eventually see in the dashboard (a fan speed readout).

Rhythmic ticking/clicking is bad, but a drive that’s moving data from place to place can also have normal “ticks” so it’s difficult to describe in text.

Any scraping or screeching sound is bad, though.

Shutdown and moved the Drobo to where I can see the fan then rebooted. The noise seemed to start immediately the Drobo was powered up and before the disks spin-up sound so I think it is the fan.

Looking with a torch I can see the fan is off… and so is the noise. If the noise comes back when the fan starts up then it’ll be confirmed as the fan.

Thanks for the help guys, its a relief of sorts, but the question is what will DRI do about it. Will the fan ultimately fail. Will the Drobo have to be returned for repair?? I need it for nightly backups and I don’t like mucking about with the disk pack.

Six speed??? Surely it just variable? Where do you get that from?

UPDATE: Fan on, noise returned. Fan confirmed as culprit.

²Acoustics tests performed 1m from the front of Drobo with four 1TB Western Digital GreenPower™ drives during a file copy to Drobo. Drobo has a smart, five-speed fan governed by multiple internal temperature sensors that will normally be off or operate on its lowest setting. The fan is programmed to minimize noise, but never at the expense of disk integrity. The fan can switch to higher speeds if necessary in in hot operating environments or during strenuous usage to protect drives from overheating up to 38.1dB.

Sorry - off by one speed.

Does the drobo fan make the sound with the drives OUT of the drobo? In other words, boot up the drobo with no drives in it.

Yes, drives out = fan noise.

Ok, open a support case.

Done already. Replacement Drobo has been arranged. Thanks.