WD Caviar Green drives no longer supported?

I stumbled onto this page today and apparently, the WD Caviar Green drives that many of us use in our DroboPro’s aren’t supported.


Is this new? Is anyone else here aware of this? When I invested $2K or so in my drives, I was under the impression that ANY SATA drive would work. Period.


i wonder if this is due to issues with the LCC (when the heads unloads after 8 seconds of idle), which i would have thought would have affected the linux based FS more than the vx based 'pro

anyone else got any thoughts?

I wish people would use green check marks, red crosses and yellow o’s (or something like that). These charts are horrible for us colour-blind folks…

Whoa. Good catch, goodcow.

That’s so new, in fact, that even resellers don’t know of it.

WD Caviar Black are consumer-class drives, as are Hitachi Deskstar.

Drobo’s support philosophy seems more about dropping customers than meeting commitments. When convenient, (16TB Drobos, consumer-class drives in DroboPro), they’ll silently revise their promises and leave their customers holding the bag.

P.S. Spiney, that’s a good point. In this case you can share the experience by dumping flaming horseshit on your head while repeating “Drobo hates me and my consumer-class drives.”

If I’m reading that new chart correctly none of the drives in my DroboPro are supported.

I don’t think there are any 3TB drives that are supported.

Changing what you support after the product has shipped and is in use is the kind of stuff that makes it hard to promote Drobo.


ive always used samsung hdd’s in my drobo pro. they are both green and 5400rpm and a consumer products. ive found them reliable in computers, and ive found them to be reliable in my drobopro. i dont think i would gain anything by replacing them with 7200rpm drives.

I’m wondering if this has something to do with my problem…

I’ve just moved a client’s email database onto a DroboPro to test and it contains 8 WD Caviar Green drives. When I connect the box via iSCSI (thanks Docchris), I get constant activity lights on the DroboPro. I know that the DroboPro does some kind of internal housekeeping and that the Mail Server uses lots of little files in the Store directory.

Server performance seems to have degraded since I made this change and it used to fly along on the internal drives (5 x 146GB SAS HP modules). I had documented 80MB/sec reads and writes to the Drobo since I made the change to iSCSI and thought that this would be a perfect solution for an email database.

All comments welcome! :slight_smile:



the way drobo’s work mean that they are very very inefficiency at handling lots and lot of very small files, i think that is probably the only cause of your poor performance

paraprod: Mail servers, as you say, do many small file transactions. Further, they’re extremely sensitive to latency (per RFC, “250 OK” should be issued only after the message has been committed to nonvolatile storage).
Unfortunately, Drobo products are almost the opposite of what you need on a mail server.

When I managed high-capacity mail relays (using Postfix on Linux), they were heavily tuned for performance both in software and hardware. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but you absolutely need low-latency file operations and fast seek times. In my case, hardware RAID 1+0 was necessary to meet storage performance and redundancy requirements; RAID 5/6 were simply too slow with those SmartArray 6 controllers.

You’re welcome to PM me if you’d like to discuss this further.

Thanks guys, you’ve saved me a lot of money uograding drives. Will the B800i and B1200i work any differently? After all, even their diagrams show the B1200i hosting email!



It would be VERY interesting to understand the rational behind this compatibility chart.
Not so surprisingly, the “cheap” drives are recommended for the “cheap” Drobos (Drobo, Drobo-S, Drobo-FS).
But such a recommendation should be based on technical compatibility, not market acceptability.
And it is VERY difficult for me to reverse engineer the rational for this table :
[list][] for years, Drobo Inc. has pretended that the lack of TLER (Time Limited Error Recovery) was not an issue on Drobo “because it is not a RAID”. But they never justified such an assertion, which is hard to believe when you understand what TLER is and why its lack can be problematic when a second layer of error detection/correction is imposed on top of a disk set
] similarly, hard to understand why the Load Cycle Count (aka LCC) should be an issue on some Drobos but not all, when all of them are running similar flavors of Linux
[*] longevity, supposed to be better for “professional” drives, should not be a compatibility issue at all, since the whole purpose of the Drobo is to overcome the disastrous consequences of a disk failure[/list]

At that point, I would be sorely tempted to assume that this “compatibility chart” is more marketing bull…t, the split being :
[list][] on cheap Drobos one pretends to ignore the consequences of some missing disks features (because prosumers can afford more easily to lose data ?; or are supposed to be more gullible ??), since the added cost of “professional drives” would price the Drobo out of the market
] on more expensive ones, where “cost is not an issue”, the need for such disks features finally emerges…
[*] or alternatively, there is no more need for (some ? all of ?) those disk features on high end Drobos, but recommending them gives Drobo Inc. more credibility when selling to professionals used to “the more expensive, the better”[/list]

If Drobo Inc. was more transparent about the detailed technical criteria for a “fully compatible Drobo disk”, that would also allow Drobo users to investigate utilities which may allow activation of “professional features” on lower prices disks (TLER, LCC, …) since most of those are perfectly able to support them, they are just inhibited by default by the manufacturers to force “rich professionals” to buy the more expensive ones :frowning:

“when all of them are running similar flavors of Linux”

as far as i know only the FS versions of drobo run linux

the standard drobo and drobo pro both run vxworks AFAIK so i would assume that the drobo-S and the B800 do too

I E-Mailed DRI about this and got the following response:

[quote]Response Via Email (Seth D.) 08/05/2011 09:39 AM
Dear Phillip,

Thank you for contacting Drobo Technical Support.

We will still support your DroboPro, even if you have WD Green drives in the unit. The drives are not recommended, as they are slow, and tend to time out in our professional, and business class units.

Best Regards,
Seth D.
Technical Support Agent

so how come they were recommended before and didnt timeout before?

have they changed the way the firmware handles consumer drives or not?

My DroboPro has a mix of Caviar Blacks and Greens in it and I haven’t noticed a change in performance with all the latest software updates.

I like Drobo, I have two of them in the office, but there support decisions are very frustrating.

My Pro has (8) 2TB WD Green 64MB cache drives and no problems since I bought it and populated it with them.

Have an S with 5 of the same drives and no issues.

that’s very nice for you

my concern is whether the new de-supporting of these drive sis indicative of a change their firmware

i.e. your 'pro may have been working up until now. but if you upgrade the firmware will you suddenly start having issues with these drives because they dont have TLER?

Wasn’t DROBO selling these WD Green drives with the DROBO Pro as a bundle not that long ago?

Revoking support for a configuration that was previously recommended and sold is a drastic move. This is not a decision any company takes lightly.

I believe that Drobo is attempting to avoid more serious costs. With this sudden change, they’re effectively trying to shift those costs to their customers. We can only speculate what those costs might be, and why they wouldn’t want us to know.

If I had a DroboPro with “not supported” drives, I’d be examining my warranty paperwork and considering whether it was worth the effort to get Drobo to help replace those drives.

Reasons I’ve seen other companies reduce their scope of support include:

  • Severe operational problems were identified in certain configurations. Customers were notified and offered assistance to change to a supportable configuration. (Several large tech hardware vendors)
  • As support was outsourced, third-party contracts fell short of original commitments to customers. Customers were notified of an upcoming change (effective at annual renewal) in support options to close that gap.
  • Undesirable performance caused by flaws that would be expensive to correct. (Several auto companies)
  • Warranty service costs that were much higher than expected. (I worked at one computer company with a high failure rate on a certain model of motherboard, including replacement parts. Techs were encouraged to replace other parts to run out the warranty period.)

Note that in most of those situations, customers were contacted and offered assistance. The auto examples I’m thinking of (Toyota I4 engine sludge, Saturn engine oil consumption) were attempts to manage costs by pushing warranty claims to the courts. The dodgy computer company was insolvent and its owners were merely running out the clock.