Drobo

Where is the last-resort "rescue" firmware?

This thread is being posted for two reasons:

1.) the forums aren’t sending me emails when my threads are updated
2.) DRI support appears to have given up on me, so I’m looking for broader help

There are posts alluding to a certain “rescue” firmware that can be applied to a Drobo and subsequent disk pack as a last-resort, to get the data off of the disk pack, before wiping it and starting anew.

DRI support confirms the existence of this firmware, but when I asked where I could obtain a copy, they said they would not give it to me, and that I was out of luck, because their device refuses to recognize its own disk pack (the disks and data are fine, it just doesn’t recognize it to complete the boot process).

Does anyone have this firmware, or a link to where I can obtain it? Without trying every possible option, including using this firmware, I am not ready to give up 1.2TB of my important data to a black hole.

I followed up on your case. Since you are in an unsupported configuration (i.e. >2tb Linux, Drobo Gen 2), the ‘read only’ image will not resolve your problem. If we believed the ‘read only’ image were going to work this would have been sent to you.

So DRI’s statement is “Better not to help, then giving it a chance” ?

@DRI: bad karma.

I agree, why not just give it out to placate the customer’s wishes? It’s not going to cost DRI anything monetarily.

I can think of some reasons of why it would be a bad idea to place the firmware somewhere publicly on the web. But here in this case… yepp bad carma.

No, I don’t work for DRI, but I’ve been on both sides of this particular fence. There were times corporate “good will” has resulted in a happy and loyal customer, and at other times it’s resulted in more complaints. It’s a fine line.

Sadly reminds me of good samaritans getting sued for help gone bad. :frowning:

Let me put this into another context…

Were Hacker approach this situation with calm and professionalism and keep the matter private between him/her with DRI or Jennifer, perhaps he would have gotten that firmware.

Hacker seemed to label me as Dumb because of my alias. But that’s exactly what most “Dumb” and sincere people get – support from the maker, because the maker sincerely wants to help like we are towards people who are disadvantage. When people starts biting your head in expectation that you kneel down and lick their boots however, you get the opposite response. People behind DRI are humans too! Today’s society seem to favour yelling, shouting or threats as the means to get what you want.

DTD

It isn’t a problem specific to “Hacker” it is a general problem. If you had the chance to read the old forum you could see that there is a general lack of support by DRI in this forum. And you can also read it here.

Offering a forum which is only accessible with a Drobo serial number to hide the problems some users may publish here is the first step.
There is a posting of someone who also used EXT3 with a partition bigger then 2TB who offered to send the log-files and also give other information, because he had also problems, to DRI but they simply refused this offer.
When the problem with the Seagate 1.5TB discs happened DRI also refused to see the problems with the way how the Drobo marks Discs as damaged. (and they still don’t see it)
DRI doesn’t want to talk about the poor performance of the Second Generation Drobos connected via FW800 to Macs. They claim you will get 35MBit/s (or something like that) and user show that they get peeks of 25MBit/s with the same configuration. DRI decided to change the KB so that it says that a bad FW stack of some macs is the problem…

sorry but not offering a firmware which might could help is only one more part of the picture.

They already told him that he lost all of his data, so why not allowing him to check for himself that the firmware doesn’t help? What could happen, could he loose his lost data again?!

[quote=“DumbTechDude, post:8, topic:951”]
Let me put this into another context…

Were Hacker approach this situation with calm and professionalism and keep the matter private between him/her with DRI or Jennifer, perhaps he would have gotten that firmware.[/quote]

That is precisely what I did, when I filed the original incident with DRI, and after receiving nothing but silence for days, I discovered this forum and started reading up on similar issues, and posted my own.

It was only after posting here, that DRI responded to my actual, filed incident. There is a direct correlation with the ongoing discussions here and the progression of my actual, filed incident. They are not mutually exclusive, unfortunately.

When you can show me an actual example of me making any sort of yelling, shouting or threats to DRI, or suggesting that they “lick my boots”, I’ll concede those… but I think I’ve been very clear, concise and articulate in explaining my issues in a very non-threatening, calm manner.

There are significant flaws in the design of the Drobo, which I’m not alone in exposing.

As any seasoned embedded developer will immediately point out, you do not touch the data space of any storage medium during a flash upgrade, until you have verified that the upgrade was 100% successful, and if not, you provide a fallback (i.e. “return to factory settings”).

Drobo will happily apply an incompatible firmware update to a disk pack they know would be “unsupported”, making it inaccessible. Without a way to return to the previous version, without a way to mount that disk pack read-only and retrieve the data, it becomes a serious issue.

Like the other issues DRI refuses to admit over the years, this is just another on that list.

A customer’s data should be protected at all costs, period. When your device botches an upgrade and restricts a customer from accessing that data through your device, you’ve caused a problem that should never exist.

I’m nowhere near done fighting this issue, and if necessary I will decode the algo that DRI uses, by doing some very low-level analysis of the disks in the disk pack itself, and write a driver that will allow a simple 4-port SATA controller to read the drives as a single unit, and get my data off of them.

Right now, I’m still imaging my drives, so I can begin playing with the copy to test some ideas I have about “downgrading” the disk pack to its previously-working firmware revision.

Yes he could, because he is still assuming the data is there. What if the read only firmware caused his assumed data in those packs to change by comparison alone? Grounds for a lawsuit? I’m sure there are cases of rescue teams sent to retrieve hikers, skiers and boarders putting their lives on the line only to be sued later on because they couldn’t get there fast enough to save his wife/girlfriend or the rescue itself went bad!

Speaking of Drobo problems. You know, it isn’t too hard to find out the bad things about Drobo just by using Google. Youtube has a video of a Drobo with 4 flashing red lights. You do not need to have a secret decoder ring to read, ahem, the forum here.

There are other RAID solutions that perform better than a Drobo, but lack the offer of upgradability and thin provisioning of the Drobo and the choice of mixed disk packs.
Today, people merely relate RAID as their primary storage unit and assumed that it is and also having the “cool” factor. In the case of Hacker’s case, his 1.2Tb could easily be stored in 2 independent external 1TB since he could afford to buy 2 1TB which he had in his Drobo. And when people make that assumption that RAID is backup, however, it is understandable for people to complain and curse the makers of RAID for whatever means necessary.

DTD

[quote=“DumbTechDude, post:11, topic:951”]
Yes he could, because he is still assuming the data is there. What if the read only firmware caused his assumed data in those packs to change by comparison alone? Grounds for a lawsuit? I’m sure there are cases of rescue teams sent to retrieve hikers, skiers and boarders putting their lives on the line only to be sued later on because they couldn’t get there fast enough to save his wife/girlfriend or the rescue itself went bad! [/quote]
DRI told him that his data are gone.
DRI also said several times that there is no company they are aware of that could do a data rescue (as it could be done with normal RAID solutions). And if they publish the “rescue” firmware with the clearly markings of “DON’T US IT ASLONG AS WE TOLD YOU SO.” everybody should now that if data are lost there is no way of suing DRI.
Which by the way is a normal argument here in Germany. I you as a user flash your device yourself, and you break it… sorry your own fault not ours.
So at the end data are gone, he have to life with it. If the rescue firmware can restore them… good… if it doesn’t no change in the situation.

[quote=“DumbTechDude, post:11, topic:951”]
Speaking of Drobo problems. You know, it isn’t too hard to find out the bad things about Drobo just by using Google. Youtube has a video of a Drobo with 4 flashing red lights. You do not need to have a secret decoder ring to read, ahem, the forum here.[/quote]
This board can’t be accessed without a serial number of a drobo. So it can’t be seen as a resource for “problems with drobos” before you buy it.
For every video or article you find out there with bugs and problems of the Drobo, you can find at least one article that tells you how cool and reliable the Drobo is.
The problem is that iCali and others are promoting this device like nothing else.
For example we hat here in Germany several positive articles about the Drobo, even if it had the problem with the Seagate discs. Without mentioning that DRI didn’t certificated the 1.5TB discs. So some people ordered Drobos together with these drives. Ok that might not DRIs fault, but if you tried to find information on DRIs web page at that moment you had to search for warnings about these discs. A big red blinking button at the DRI main page could had prevented some of the resulting problems.
DRI also shows the Drobo in a way that swapping a disc is just a thing of some seconds or maximum minutes. So you don’t think a lot about “what could happen when I swap a disc”, but if they would write somewhere that swapping a disc could take up to (to take my last experience) 73 hours, I would really think about that.
I mean 73 hours of heavy disc activity, maybe because of a damaged disc… do I really want to take my other discs at risk or do I wait till i can afford a whole set of new discs and do a proper backup first?
It would also throw another light to the discussion why you should use dual disc over single disc redundancy.

[quote=“DumbTechDude, post:11, topic:951”]There are other RAID solutions that perform better than a Drobo, but lack the offer of upgradability and thin provisioning of the Drobo and the choice of mixed disk packs.
Today, people merely relate RAID as their primary storage unit and assumed that it is and also having the “cool” factor. In the case of Hacker’s case, his 1.2Tb could easily be stored in 2 independent external 1TB since he could afford to buy 2 1TB which he had in his Drobo. And when people make that assumption that RAID is backup, however, it is understandable for people to complain and curse the makers of RAID for whatever means necessary.[/quote]

People are more and more relying on RAIDs as primary backup solution, right!
I just have to look at my friends and family. There are a lot of them out there. Even if you tell them do make proper backups, at least on an optical medium… “Naaa I have a mirrored disc so no problem.” The point is that the size of the discs increases a lot faster then the size of affordable backup media. So they simply think that another disc is a good option (which could, but not if it is in the same enclosure).
So the result is clear, we have to tell them this over and over again… a RAID is not a backup. At least if the RAID isn’t a copy of another RAID in another building. :wink:

But we also have to see another side of the problem.
I have a lot of backups of old stuff on floppy discs from my times before Mac… hell even before I got my first PC. But what are they worth? Next to nothing, since I doesn’t have a 5 1/2" floppy to connect to my computer even if I could run the old software somehow. So changing technology and no longer supported file formats are also something you should keep in mind when you backup your data.

The point is that all of this isn’t a problem of DRI.
DRIs only problem is to offer there customers a device that protect the user data against single (or in some cases with the 8-slot Drobos, dual) disc failure. And if the Discs are OK but the DRI hardware has a problem they should do whatever they can do to offer an option to give the owner a chance to get the data back.
I’m not asking DRI to send a technician within 24 hours to my house to fix the problem. But they have ways that doesn’t cost much (in fact only a few mega byte on there web server).
First they could offer some more information about what they recommend and make them highly visible for people. E.g. there was a flyer right in front of the disc slots, when I opened the Drobo to put my first disc into it. Good place to add an information about the “Even if we trust our product you should do backups on other media as well.”-sentince.

Secondly, they could open this forum as read only for people who want to get more information about the Drobo.
Once DRI said that they closed the forum because of people from other companies who posted false information here. Sorry but that can still happen if you make this forum public for everyone with a valid serial number!
Hey interested users doesn’t even need a user account to read here… just let them browse, that should be a software flag to change somewhere in an config file!

Third, publish the rescue firmware.
If you are willing to help then you find a way to publish it in a way you are protected against a law suite. So this isn’t an argument either.

Fourth, and I have to admit that it could cost some money but it will also give some credits to your company!
Find a company like Ontrack that could do the file recovery if DRI gave up the customers. Right it will cost the users a lot of money to get back there data this way, but if you take the step to “Professional rack mounted devices” you should be aware that the life of other companies depend on that data!

Which let me wonder, does DRI use Drobo Pro (or elite) in there own company? Does they use it as there only backup? Or what else does they use?

Hm I know there are other things that could be done easily, but as long as DRI isn’t willing to even talk about some of these steps it doesn’t make any sense to write about it.

[quote=“AssetBurned, post:12, topic:951”]
People are more and more relying on RAIDs as primary backup solution, right!
I just have to look at my friends and family. There are a lot of them out there. Even if you tell them do make proper backups, at least on an optical medium… “Naaa I have a mirrored disc so no problem.” The point is that the size of the discs increases a lot faster then the size of affordable backup media. So they simply think that another disc is a good option (which could, but not if it is in the same enclosure).
So the result is clear, we have to tell them this over and over again… a RAID is not a backup. At least if the RAID isn’t a copy of another RAID in another building. ;-)[/quote]

Until they make 8TB disks, RAID is the only solution right now for any sort of long or near-term storage. RAID’ing your RAID, is now a requirement if you decide to use a black-box solution like a Drobo.

DRI should mention that on the front page as well “Whatever you store on the Drobo, please store it elsewhere for backup. The Drobo is not meant to hold backups.”

This is why I was stating in previous posts that the Drobo is nothing more than a cached copy of what exists in your backup elsewhere. The Drobo itself cannot be relied upon as a backup device, even if you back up your Drobo onto another Drobo.

[quote=“AssetBurned, post:12, topic:951”]
Secondly, they could open this forum as read only for people who want to get more information about the Drobo.
Once DRI said that they closed the forum because of people from other companies who posted false information here. Sorry but that can still happen if you make this forum public for everyone with a valid serial number![/quote]

The whole point of moderation is for cleaning up precisely that kind of material.

[quote=“AssetBurned, post:12, topic:951”]
Hey interested users doesn’t even need a user account to read here… just let them browse, that should be a software flag to change somewhere in an config file![/quote]

Better yet, make it read-only for non-customers, read/write for those of us with actual devices and serial numbers.

[quote=“AssetBurned, post:12, topic:951”]
Third, publish the rescue firmware.
If you are willing to help then you find a way to publish it in a way you are protected against a law suite. So this isn’t an argument either.[/quote]

I couldn’t agree more. In my case, DRI can’t reproduce my issue, but they state with confidence that the rescue firmware can’t possibly help me. How would they know, unless they can reproduce the problem?

[quote=“AssetBurned, post:12, topic:951”]
Find a company like Ontrack that could do the file recovery if DRI gave up the customers. Right it will cost the users a lot of money to get back there data this way, but if you take the step to “Professional rack mounted devices” you should be aware that the life of other companies depend on that data![/quote]

Put a partner under NDA to hold your silvering file format private, and let them manage the disk or data recovery process. No need to expose the format to the wild. Heck, you could even give these companies the same bench-units that DRI uses or development and debugging, and let them recover data using their own tools.

The premise of RAID and its inception was to provide good performance through striping, expandable capacity growth through stringing mutiple disk packs as well as redundancy to ensure fault tolerant. When I hear you need RAID to store 8TB of data, I revert to asking the person, what kind of data are you storing.

Not all data are worth the same. Music pirated from torrent sites offer no value, because it’s free. But the same music downloaded from legal sources possess a value. What tends to happen and this is really not the consumer’s fault is that a RAID box is a boat, or more precisely a data boat. People tend to lump in all data rather than separating it into individual classes. Would you store your dirty socks inside your safety deposit box? Personal photos, videos and financial statements are on a higher priority.

RAID makes a lot of sense with media files, especially BDrips and RAW files – they get really big, so restoring them from a mirror will take longer if what took it down was simply a single drive failure. Therefore having a RAID with fault tolerant will reduce this downtime. But what about financial statements, personal photos or video with smaller file sizes. It makes restoring from backups much more sense. Which is why Click Free products sell well.

Once I told a client that I can beat any fast professional runner running 100m guaranteed! Client asked how? I said, just give me a 4hr head start!
With a RAID array, you have that head start because there is minimal downtime which is especially good for business transactions compared to trying to restore a dead single drive from a backup copy. How can you tell your customers that you can’t process their payment?
Does a home user need this redundancy and minimal downtime? There are always tradeoffs!

In closing, when people advise the usefulness of Drobo, they are working in frame of a viable strorage solution balancing performance, data integrity and backup viability. Of course, when these framework are not provided, then as I said earlier, people can vent their frustration for whatever means.

hm if i compare the price of a qnap and a Drobo that offers me the same functions (or even less) then I see that both devices cost the same.
But the hardware is different and the software on them. It is possible to use a home grown linux on the qnap devices, but even if not they allow to play with the settings. As a result it is possible to run these re-allocations in a far more smaller time window.

If you compare the features you will see that the Drobo System is overpriced. The only real benefit is that you can use discs of different sizes. Yepp that might be an important factor for some home users.
But there is clearly no reason to trade this feature with a higher risk when swapping a disc.

I would bet that DRI is able to do exactly the same, as they do right now with the Drobo (all the models), on a qnap hardware just by rewriting the software part.

[quote=“AssetBurned, post:15, topic:951”]
The only real benefit is that you can use discs of different sizes. Yepp that might be an important factor for some home users.[/quote]

If you use Linux, this is completely irrelevant, because you can use different capacity disks in the same RAID set if you use LVM to manage them (or ZFS on Solaris, if that is your preferred choice).

There’s nothing magical inside the Drobo, except proprietary ways of managing the data.

I was talking about a device that does all the RAID-building-reorganizing-and-so-on on its own and offer this as a single disc to the host or via network.

That you can do all sort of fancy things inside a computer with a lot of discs is clear.

And that is the magic for people who either cannot, or don’t want to roll their own solution.