Monday, February 9, 2009

Drobo Review

I bought one of these when they first appeared on the promise that they are expandable without down time. Filled it with 2x500GB Samsung drives and it performed admirably, if a tad slow. I used it to back up machines and the backup files got fairly big and soon it filled up. I added 2 more 500GB drives and was pleasantly surprised when the extra capacity appeared within a few minutes without much fuss. The backup files got bigger ( >60GB each ) and then the problems started: It would start hanging from time to time and needed a power cycle each time to revive. One each power restart, the lights on all the drives would flash amber for several hours, with the warning message that the files are not protected. The problem grew slightly worse as the files got bigger and soon it had reach capacity. I started replacing the 500GB with 1 TB drives, and this was an ardously long process. The drives can only be replaced one at the time and each time, it flashed amber for several days before another drive can be replaced. Eventually all 4 drives were replaced and the backing up restarted in earnest and was met with a resounding failure. The backup files have now reach >100GB and not a single backup session was successful. Each time it would hang after several hours of copying, and after each power cycle, it would flash amber for a couple of days before turning green again. Tech support's only suggestions were always to either reformat the drive or update the firmware which were done every time to no avail. By now the drive was out of warranty, and stupidly, I bought a second one to see if the first one was unique. Sadly, the second one is exactly the same. Thus, the conclusion is to avoid it like the plague if you are intending to fill it with terabyte drives and copy very large files. I now have a proper NAS device with 4 TB drives for a little more money and it works like a dream. The only down side is that I can't upgrade the space without downtime like the Drobo promised.

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