Drobo that doesn't suck?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by DustinT, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Sigh... Lets just say the experience of owning a Drobo Pro is no where as good as the thought of owning one. I've had a continual series of issues and I don't think I've been able to go more than a few days without having to reboot it for some reason or the other. At least, I haven't lost any data... yet.

    I also, briefly, owned a Drobo. It was a second gen, 4 bay unit that seemed to be pretty reliable. But, it was sloooow. Like, really, really slow. So, it went back home to Fry's.

    Now, I really love Beyondraid. I've used all manner of raid systems over the years from home brew nas boxes, SCSI 15k RPM enterprise setups, Windows Home Server, Linux servers, NAS boxes and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Windows Home Server and the Drobo were the friendliest units I've used. I'd love to get something that was as flexible with disks as those units are. I'd rather not have any homebrew setups, even though I've got all the hardware to build one in my closet. I've been down that road way too many times and I'm just not interested.

    I've looked at Synology, Qnap, Netgear, Drobo and some others. After further review, I just can't work up much confidence in Drobo units. The people who own and use them don't seem to be half as enthusiastic as the professional reviews are.

    Synology seems to be pretty solid and I'm leaning heavily towards them at this point. I suppose my only issue is, I really only need an iSCSI connection. This will plug into my Mac Mini and there's really not a lot of need for me to look at anything else. I just don't need another FTP, email server or torrenting box. The Mini does all that I need.

    So, NAS isn't really what I'm looking for. Ideally it would be Thunderbolt or iSCSI, have at least 5 bays and support Beyondraid. Now, that last one will be a sticklier, so I'll settle for a hybrid raid, 2 disk protection and the flexbility to add whatever drives I want to, whenever I want to.

    Any ideas? At this point I'm half tempted to wait for a decent Thunderbolt enclosure to launch. The Promise units are nice and tempting but more than I want to spend. If they were available BYOD I'd be more interested since I already own plenty of 3tb, 2tb and 1tb drives to stuff a box full of.
  2. assembled macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2009
    I've been quite pleasantly surprised with the Atom powered QNAP boxes, but I've only used the 8 bay ones.

    You might also want to have a go with FreeNAS...
  3. DustinT thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Qnap is on the list for sure. I'm curious, why do you like them?

    I've played with Freenas and I'm not interested. Like I said, I've got all the hardware, I just don't want the management hassles. I've rolled my own NAS more times than I care to think about over the last decade and I'm looking for a solution where I can keep my hands clean.
  4. DustinT thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Well, based on the complete lack of responses I can only assume there are no Drobo's that don't suck. I've sold mine and the migration to a shiny, new Netgear Readynas Ultra 6 is in process. So far it seems to be a lot faster and stable enough to run without needing unnecessary reboots. Thats miles beyond what the Drobo Pro was capable of.

    I hope the next owner has better results than I did.
  5. Sparky9292 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2004
    Never needed the 2nd gen 4 bay drobo to be fast. It works fine. Unlike your solutions I can hot swap drives of different sizes whenever I want.
  6. Cashaw macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2007
    I have a 2nd Gen 4 bay Drobo, and like you, I have done home-brews. I WOULD NOT trade my Drobo for anything. I am a Pro Photographer, so perhaps I have not taxing mine to much. I did have a drive die on me, but Drobo did what it had to do, and I have had no problems since.
  7. DustinT thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Thanks to you both for the responses. I was looking at, and purchased, systems with more than 4 bays of capacity. Its a different market, to an extent.

    And, the problems with my Drobo Pro were related mainly to stability and reliability. Performance was lacking but that wasn't the reason I got rid of it. Anyway, I know there's people who love their Drobos. I just wasn't one of them.
  8. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Yeah and that's going to be the way I say it when I was looking for a scratch disk but didn't want to spend money on something I couldn't upgrade on the fly. I have a Drobo S and a second gen Drobo and I'd never use the 4 bay for anything other than backups. The eSATA on the S has been wonderful to say the least. I can get three streams of DVCPro HD 4:2:2 through it fine and there aren't even fast drives in it.

    Now, I will be looking for a TBolt version in the future and dumping my 4 bay off at my job and push the S to backup.
  9. zombiejebus macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2011
    Hopefully the Tens Compliment ZFS implementation works out / is practical to use. It might be the answer to your issues. A simple/cheap usb3 or esata port replicated drive tower would suffice in place of a drobo for some types of storage scenarios. Not in release yet though. http://tenscomplement.com/z-410-storage-main-features
  10. merman637 macrumors member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Oklahoma City, Ok

    Ive got 2 Drobo Gen2 FW800's. I havent had any issue with speed, or reliability. I have however had 1 drive crash, which the drive was saved by the drobo. I stream videos from the drive but dont use it for editing or anything intense. Id hoped to eventually get the PRO with the iSCSI connection, but Ill have to research a little better after your reservations.
  11. DustinT thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    The Pro is only supported in, what I would call, beta fashion on Lion. In the last week or so they have finally released a version that is compatible but the iSCSI initiator they are using have some major bugs left in it.

    Like I said earlier, I switched to a ReadyNAS Ultra 6 and I've been very pleased. I was having regular issues with drives dropping, the Drobo powering off and sync's taking in excess of a week to complete. Needless to say, I don't miss that at all!
  12. MacFanJeff macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2008
    IL, USA
    Sounds like the OP has had some really bad issues with their Drobo. Instead of just complaining, you should contact them and discuss all those issues you posted that were wrong or causing problems. There is something really wrong because you should not be having any of those issues as that is not normal. I have nothing but HIGH praise for my Drobo units and they seem to have good service too.

    I have been using both a Drobo FS and DroboPro which are for different needs. They have been in use for 2-3 years now running most all the time with no troubles. Both have been quite reliable and only had one small issue which was resolved promptly with "Drobo Care" warranty. They have worked excellent for most things, even media streaming such as music and video. I do have full CAT6e for all connections (NOT 5e) and find it to be fine for such use most times.

    So, for me, I would have them on top of my list for any NAS type device and recommend them.
  13. MacDann macrumors 6502a


    Mar 27, 2007
    Can see the end of the Earth from here
    I too have been in your position where I have the resources to "roll my own" NAS but wanted something that was "hands off."

    I finally went with a Drobo FS about a year ago, and while I am sufficiently pleased, I am not totally enamored of it. This is mainly due to the latency I see with it when volumes are not mounted, which I prefer not to do.

    When it has to mount a volume is seems to take forever. Even when I have configured it to mount volumes at startup, it's slow enough that I get an error message from the OS about the volumes not being available, after which they will mount a few seconds later.

    Part of this is due to being on an 802.11g wireless network, which will be changing in the next week or two when I finally get my gigbit ethernet network in the house punched down and configured.

    I am waiting to see how the Drobo FS works after that - with jumbo frames enabled I would expect it to be far more responsive than it currently is.

    It will be competing with an Xserve RAID in the same rack, so it will be interesting to see how it preforms in the upcoming "bake-off".

  14. mkelly macrumors regular

    Nov 29, 2007
    I was in almost the exact same situation as you. Not terribly happy with my Drobo units, support tried to help but in the end they just weren't working well enough for me. So I looked around for a replacement - didn't need/want a NAS either, but I ended up going with the Synology units anyways (DS410) due to a number of positive reviews.

    My DS410 has been running non-stop for months now. Zero maintenance required (other than a software update when Lion came out). I use it mostly for iSCSI stuff, but every now and then the additional features have come in handy. I recently set it up to backup our IMAP mail server.

    So yeah, very happy with it. No complaints. Has the same ability to build an expandable RAID set out of a group of mixed-capacity drives as the Drobo does.

    Recommended. Even if all you're going to use it for now is iSCSI. You can enable only the services you need.
  15. mike457 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2010
    I'd be interested to hear a recommendation myself. I have a Drobo v2, which I bought shortly after they came out. I like its work as a storage unit, but the noise drives me nuts. It's slow, yes, but speed is not an issue for me; it's fast enough for what I want it to do. I was using it for long-term storage and to serve as the home for my iTunes collection. The latter use required that it be on all the time, and it makes even more noise than my old G5. I'm now using it only for storage, so I turn it off when I'm not actually moving files. Is there a quiet alternative or something that can be done about the noise?
  16. DustinT thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Get a longer USB cable.
  17. mike457 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2010
    Tried that! :) It's more like "put it in another room," or possibly "another house." But I always appreciate helpful suggestions.
  18. DustinT thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Lol, thats kind of you. I suspect my answer was more snarky than helpful. But, its all in the eye of the beholder.

    For what its worth, you could void your warranty and open it up and swap the fan. I don't think it would be too hard to find a fan that's compatible.
  19. jeyf macrumors 6502a

    Jan 20, 2009
    i own a Drobo FS and the bad is it is very slow. i can not express how slow it is except very very sloooooow.

    stay away from Drobo.
  20. entropyfl macrumors regular

    Oct 12, 2009
    glad to see i'm not alone in wasting money on a drobo! I bought mine in May and I just feel like I have an extremely large paperweight!

    it works ok except its incredibly slow that it puts me off using it! I had a hard drive fail and it took 26 hours to save the data to a new drive.

    everything you do takes 2-3 times longer than it would on a normal FW 800 drive.

    I just fire it up now every few weeks to backup my itunes which I kind of dont need because I can now re download stuff for free!

    feel a fool for wasting so much money on it.
  21. MacDann macrumors 6502a


    Mar 27, 2007
    Can see the end of the Earth from here
    Don't feel foolish - at least you have a decent sized storage solution, so it's not like it's totally worthless....

    I now have my Drobo FS set up on a gigabit ethernet network with everything set up to do jumbo frames and the like. It's still painfully slow to mount, but once mounted it's not too bad as far as bandwidth is concerned.

    That's not to say I'm happy with it, just that it's marginally better than it was on a slower connection.

    As far as speed when it comes to data recovery or restoration, try doing this on a 5.0TB Xserve RAID. Better not be in a hurry, as that will take several days if you're lucky. I don't think the Drobo is probably any better or worse than a comparable device, as they are all doing much the same thing.

    I would say that it is highly unlikely I would buy another, nor recommend Drobo to someone if they asked. My mistake was relying on the opinions of users who were using direct connected Drobos rather than the NAS version.

  22. OddyOh macrumors 6502


    Nov 29, 2005
    Regina, SK, Canada
    Yeah, Drobos are pretty slow. Fortunately, I don't really need the speed, I tend to just throw giant folders on there and let it do it's thing, walk away.

    Have a 1st Gen, 2nd Gen, and added a Drobo FS last month.

    My 1st Gen Drobo was loud, but after the warranty expired, I popped it open and swapped in a Noctua 120mm fan, which helped. The other two I don't mind...they're quieter than my Hackintosh.

    The lack of speed is a negative, but for me it's outweighed by the ease of use. I don't love the new Dashboard software (it doesn't conform to a single Mac UI design standard), but it works so far. Having instant access to any new drives I insert is nice.

    Plenty of room in this market for more innovation (and more competitive pricing). Waiting for Apple to make an entrance. :cool:
  23. Seamus Warren, Mar 29, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013

    Seamus Warren macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2009
    I bought a Drobo S to store my media files after viewing positive reviews. The music, movies and photos that filled the internal Macintosh HD were transferred to the Drobo S, which seemed to be okay for a while.

    My iMac is an early 2009 model and connects to the Drobo S via Fire Wire 800.

    Aperture can take twenty minutes just to load the library which holds just over 48,000 photos. Every little process I run in Aperture like batch metadata updates or just sorting by a narrow date range takes an unacceptable amount of time to complete. It's so bad I can't use Aperture and don't even want to consider looking at iMovie or similar.

    Everything just takes so long.

    Drobo Dashboard says the drivers are up to date but I don't trust it so I clicked on the manual update link and that was over an hour ago. Still waiting for the bloody driver to update and install. Piece of junk. Waste of money. Online reviewers are talking out of there arses.


    Reviewers indicated the Drobo S was designed with Graphics professionals in mind. What graphics pro want to wait ten of twenty minutes for the Aperture library to load?

    One extended B&H seminar by an pro photographer using Aperture 3 said his students don't even realise the photos they work on are all stored in one location - on a Drobo.

    I must be doing something wrong then, but I thought Drobo was plug 'n' play?

    Plug 'n' doorstop maybe.
  24. irnchriz macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2005
    I stick to QNAP solutions for small (2 disk) to medium (12 disk) installations and have never had any issues on windows or Mac.

    Throughput is excellent with 10Gb expansion on the larger models and the ability to bond LAN ports with an appropriate managed switch helps a lot.

    Use good disks (not seagates, EVER) and it will run great.

Share This Page