So d@mn frustrated with my Drobo FS

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by xraydoc, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    I was in need of an external array and wanted something with ability to expand on the fly. I knew of the Drobo devices and they seemed to do what I wanted - on the fly expandability and two-drive redundancy (two out of 5 drives can fail without data loss).

    I opted to go with the Drobo FS - a NAS device with gigabit ethernet connectivity. I planned on (and did) putting the whole thing in the network closet so I didn't have to hear it making noise in my home office. I was expecting a lot of noise from the 5 drives plus power supply and fans, but it's actually surprisingly quiet.

    My experience with network drives has been with reasonably fast servers at work (serving hundreds) and my Time Capsule drive and a USB drive hanging off the Time Capsule. And file sharing from Mac to Mac at home always seemed quite zippy for network storage.

    So I figured the Drobo FS should be acceptably fast. I did my due diligence and looked up some online reviews, too. They were getting around 25MB/sec peak throughput. Good enough for me I thought.

    Ordered a bare unit and put in some old drives of various sizes I had lying around, totaling around 1.5TB. Started putting it through it's paces. It was no speed demon, but fast enough I thought. So I ponied up for 5x 1.5TB Western Digital HDs and configured the 7.5TB Drobo for dual-drive redundancy and configured a couple of volumes totaling 4.08TB of redundant storage. I was quite happy.

    Then I began using it in earnest...

    This thing is so frustratingly slow that I want to toss it out my window. It'll peak at 25MB/sec or so for single, large, contiguous transfers. But file-to-file seek is so ***** slow that its transfer speeds can be measured in 10's of KB per sec when accessing a cluster of small files. I had analog modems on my Apple ][+ that were faster than this.

    I've done the trouble shooting, swapped drives, changed networking configs, upgraded its firmware, but it's just that slow. Even connected it right to my Mac with a crossover cable. Same. My Time Capsule is an order of magnitude faster. Even the USB drive hanging off the Time Capsule is faster at network transfers.

    I should sell it, but I don't wish this level of pain on anyone else! So, fair warning - stay away. I cannot recommend this product to anyone.

    ** TL/DNR: Drobo FS massively sucks. I'm bummed and out $600.

    Currently looking at this: World Computing/MEQX2KIT0GB/
    Any one use one? It's not hot-expandible, but it'll at least be fast.
  2. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    i too abandoned my drobo, for the same reason, way too slow.

    part of my problem was using rtorrent (command line torrent client) and writing directly to the drobo as the files were downloading, rtorrent will write the chunks of each file as they come in, instead of blocking off space for the entire file, and then filling it in as the pieces arrive. leading to massively fragmented files. especially if i had 2 or 3 going at the same time. speeds would drop to 2-3 MB/s if i was lucky when accessing one of those files.
    couldn't check directly on the drobo, but looked at some 1.4 GB files on an external USB drive that i had run rtorrent to, that were in more than 1000 pieces.

    i could have a file that read slow every time, copy it off the drobo, then back on, and it would read faster.

    is it possible you were doing multiple simultaneous copies when you were initially loading up the drobo?

    also apparently the drobo will optimize itself, but only when it's inactive, and after spending lots of time on the phone with tech support trying to solve my slowness problem, no one could tell me exactly what inactive was, or how long it had to be that way before it would start to do the work.
  3. Lennyvalentin macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2011
    One - perhaps cumbersome - way to combat file fragmentation is to back the drive up to something else, wipe it, and restore the backup. That should lead to contiguous files spread out naturally across all drives without stressing the Drobo's somewhat wonky file system.

    This may be problematic of course with extremely large volumes of data that simply won't fit anywhere else but the Drobo itself. But it might be worth a shot anyway...
  4. Perihelion macrumors regular

    Jun 4, 2010
    We use the Drobo FS only for backup, not for regular file server use for performance reasons. Its a decent way to gain a little more recoverability if our primary file server goes down. We just have nightly jobs backing up important data to the drobo.

Share This Page