WD Caviar Green drives no longer supported?

If I had a DroboPro that I filled with then approved Green drives I would be very unhappy to say the least. Not just because this change was made midstream but particularly due to the lack of an explanation. This is an extraordinary step taken by Drobo with no explanation at all.

What bothers me the most, above all else, is that it leaves the legions of DroboPro owners with green drives totally in the dark as to what, if anything, they might need to do about. Specifically the relative risks of leaving these no longer approved drives in service. There are very practical and very negative implications to the silence.

I have no skin in this particular game but I do have a V2 filled with Green drives. I could be next, and without a very detailed explanation of reasons for the policy change no one can argue that we V2 owners are not next because we know nothing; we can only speculate. Not good.

I have a V1 full of Greens and I know exactly where I stand…

Indeed. Let us know if it freezes over, eh? :wink:

Same here Spiney :slight_smile:

By the way… since there has been a major change to the DroboPro spec (as well as possibly other models) it might be nice if someone at Drobo got around to amending the product specification sheet, which still says :

[color=#FF0000]“Accommodates from one to eight 3.5” SATA I / SATA II hard disk drives of any manufacturer, capacity, spindle speed and/or cache. No carriers or tools require”
Some people actually rely on that stuff for making decisions.

very good point

its not really any drive when they have what i now a quite detailed compatabilty matrix (which takes away one of their main selling points)

Just in case anyone thinks I was overly pessimistic or overly speculative in the above, you might want to take a trip to the Drobo Store online and note that green drives are no longer bundled with any models, even the V2. They are now bundling WD black drives.

The one exception is that they are apparently trying to blow out some old WD15EARS (GP) drives at fire sale prices, at least relative to their usual drive bundle markup.

Things that make you go hmmmm…[hr]

It is as far away from “not really” as you can get when the chart says “Not Supported - Do Not Use With This Drobo”.

Very good point Neil, and I’m definitely feeling the “squeeze” as you are.
I wonder what impact use of the Black drives will have in the long run… from what I understand, while they run faster, they run hotter too.

WD15EARS? Hmm… I have 3 in my desktop (1 of the 3 was DOA too)…
Tempting, but I’m not in a purchasing position. :slight_smile:

The WD15EARS bundles were not such a good deal for knowledgeable buyers because the box is priced at list ($399) without the $50 rebate. The Drobo Store doesn’t mention rebates so I assume none offered on their own sales??? Since B&H is at $237 net of the MIR it’s not a good deal at $449 including the bundle, even with the rebate, but on a relative basis it shows they are willing to sell those drives for $50 a pair to anyone who cares to pay their basic store price level for the box. That just signals intent there, not a buying frenzy :-).

The problem I have with using Black drives, or anything else, is threefold…

  1. My Drobo V2 is under Drobocare so I can’t open the box to clean my fan and the internals. My box is 2.5 years old now. Any other device I’ve had in that cabinet (always a Mid-tower server) was buried in dust by that time. I don’t know why the Drobo isn’t thermal checking but I sure don’t want to push the temps up and tempt fate. This bandaid warranty that precludes me from cleaning my device really bugs me because it has serious implications as the box ages. I’m just waiting for the thermal checks to start because I can’t even peek into the box to get a sense of any problem there.

  2. We don’t get drive temps from Dashboard or anyplace else so changing out to hotter drives is a risk that can’t easily be monitored. Yes, I can decrypt my files but I have a life and that takes time. It’s not something I want to do regularly. Since I only run AC when I really need it my ambient temps vary a lot and I would have to monitor that for a season.

  3. When you add this silent but apparent backing down from GP drives and the two issues I raised, they create a confluence of events I am not happy about. The only way these silly policies were tolerable is because it’s really tough to overheat a GP drive. You have to put one in an oven. I have a couple of Blacks so I know they inherently run quite a bit hotter and those are just old 1TB models.

I had three Hitachis in my V1 when I first got the Drobo, and sat in my kitchen in 90 degree weather I was getting thermal shutdowns, with drives that were uncomfortable to touch. It’s only since I put the Greens in that it will stay on ina ll weathers. I know the V1 was really under-cooled, but I hope these issues are solved in the newer products.

@Spiney… and that was when it was fresh and clean.

Thanks for the confirmation that this is a real problem. Potentially.

And this is all aside from the fact that Blacks cost fully twice the Greens and it was the price of the Greens that made me willing to pay a huge premium for the box and pay the performance penalty, which was far worse than I expected even after researching things. Right now a Set of Blacks would run as high as $600. Not a minor issue. Let’s just hope the GP light never turns Red in the V2 column.

It is very interesting, though, considering Spiney’s experience, that Drobo is bundling the Blacks. If modern Blacks in V2’s cause problems we will surely hear about it because there will be lots of samples around.

So at that point, a majority of posters appears to think that there is some technical reality behind the “not supported” green drives, while a few posts back I was postulating that it could equally as well be more marketing bulls…t.
Could any of you elaborate on your intuition/experience that “Enterprise” drives may be of real measurable benefit in a Drobo ? (beyond the usual marketing spiel).

the only thing i can think of is that consumer drives, when they cant recover data, will carry on trying (because its a consumer’s data!), sometimes for 60-120 seconds.

this often makes raid style boxes think that the drive has died (because its unresponsive).

RAID drives (so not the regular black drives, but the RE black drives), have something called TLER (time limited error recovery). if they cant recover the data in under 7 seconds they just tell the host “i couldnt read this” and carry on going. which is fine for a RAID array since it can re-create the data which couldn’t be read.

Previously drobo’s knew that they had consumer drives in them, so didnt panic about drives trying to recover data. now, my concern is that following the recommendation that only RE drives are used in the bigger drobos, they may change the firmware so that if the drive doesnt respond within about 8 seconds, it assumes it has died.

What i want to know is have the changed the firmware so that it no longer makes allowances for consumer level drives and instead assumes that it has enterprise/raid drives in there?


Personally, the issue is not what I “think”. I don’t think anything. I can’t think anything because I didn’t write the firmware, I’m not supporting thousands of units with all the history that entails, and most importantly I’m not privy to the reasoning behind the decision.

This issue is … do I want to put all my data on a drive that my storage maker declares “not supported- do not use”. And in this particular case here, it is not an issue of TLER. Drobo has split the consumer drives into two classes, in this case Black or Green. Neither has TLER but the Blacks are supported and the Greens not.

Without a detailed explanation we are forced to roll dice when we don’t know the rules of the game or which numbers win or lose.

Looking back at Which Drive Is Right for my Drobo?, WD Caviar Green is “Desktop ‘Green’” and Caviar Black is “Desktop ‘Performance’”

Drobo Store is currently listing
WD2003FYYS drives (RE4) for the Drobo Pro, B800fs, B800i
Either WD15EARS (Caviar Green) or WD2002FAEX (Caviar Black) for the Drobo 2nd Gen, Drobo S 2nd Gen and Drobo FS
Nothing is listed for the B1200i as it’s a “call us” thing.

So the “hard line” is still between the Desktop (aka Consumer) and Enterprise drives.
And the only “rule-breaker” remains the DroboPro and B800fs (formerly DroboPro FS) as like the others, I’m pretty sure it was sold bundled with Caviar Green drives…

Perhaps DroboPro and DroboPro FS is Drobo’s “Caviar Blue” equivalent - the one in the middle that’s not sure where it belongs. As Mr. Miyagi said, “Walk on the road. Walk right side, safe. Walk left side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish like grape.”

Neil is right - until we have an official answer from Drobo, the uncertainty will just grow, and DroboPro/DroboPro FS owners will turn more and more grape-like, turning purple, green or red, and having more-frequent nightmares about the Fruit-of-the-Loom grape guy. :frowning:

For what it’s worth, I happen to be running all 7200 RPM disks (including WD RE) in my Drobo v2.
Ambient temperature in the room gets up to perhaps 85F or 30C. The front panel does a decent job at catching dust bunnies, and I occasionally stick an old nylon sock (panty hose is better) over the crevice tool of my vacuum cleaner to remove dust inside.
I haven’t noticed any overheating problems so far. In fact, the cooling fan rarely spins up unless the afternoon sun is directly on the Drobo.

Situations and units vary, but there’s not necessarily a problem running “hot” drives in this model.

Thanks rdo, that’s comforting to know!

My Drobo Gen 2s seem to prefer “elbow room” - once I put them side-by-side thinking it’d be better for them (oo instead of 8) and noticed the fans were running high. I moved them back to stacked (8) and the fans went back to low speed.

You are right, this makes this split even more difficult to understand since TLER was one of the very few objective features which could justify it.
May be they are just pushing the Black drives because they make more margins when they sell those packaged with a Drobo ?
If Drobo Inc. really wants to tackle the professional market, they will have to be much more transparent than they are presently…

Totally agree, not acceptable.

I think it would be good to get an official answere why they changed this, when I bought this the official statement was “any sata drives is ok”.

Hello everyone… sorry for not chiming in on this earlier.

Over the past 6 months, we have been working with a few drive vendors to better advise the Drobo user which drives are best to use in each specific application environment.

Any SATA drive will work in a Drobo, but the difference in drive characteristics will affect the overall experience depending on the environment the Drobo is deployed into. Also, the drive warranty is provided by the drive vendor (WD, Seagate, etc.) and there are certain environments that they will not support “green” or “desktop” drives in. The chart on this page represents what will provide the best overall storage experience combined with what the drive vendors will openly support. That said, all existing Drobo customers will be supported and our current drive bundling partner, WD, will support existing solutions in the field that involve “green” drives in 8-bay Drobo models.

Hopefully this information helps and I just want to strongly relay that we are not dropping support for any existing Drobo configuration.

Director, Product Management