I've got an APC XS 1300 uninterruptible power supply unit which I keep my desktop plugged into to prevent data loss in case of power failure. I recently replaced my RAID5 with the 'Data Robot' (Drobo) v2 and naturally, I plugged that in to my UPS as well. This worked out fine for a couple weeks, and then all of the sudden my Drobo disappeared from my desktop. Basically this Drobo webpage explains what happened to me: my drive showed up as Unlabled and refused to mount. Disk checks and repairs failed. Pretty bad news.
Now, I've had my desktop plugged in to the UPS and running pretty much constantly for a couple months with zero problems. I just converted from RAID5 in a linux file-server to Drobo.
Why did I get a Drobo?
- I didn't want to worry about messing around with mdadm and the other Linux tools for building and maintaining RAID arrays any more. What if I messed up a command and killed my array?
- I figured that using a Drobo instead of a computer would save me on my power bill.
- I just wanted something easy and reliable. I have done some consulting in the last two years, and recently started a small business so I wanted something better than my hacked together setup.
Why do I regret getting a Drobo?
Well, oops. I have had a lower power bill, and Drobo is low maintenance. It turns out that doesn't mean much to you when your data disappears. Fortunately, I was able to use fdisk -r to repair the volume. That sentence doesn't do justice to the amount of work it was to fix the problem though. The journal was still corrupted, and there was no easy way to disable journaling while the drive was unmounted. I ended up compiling and running a small C program that changed some flags on the volume so it would mount without the journal. Then I could use Disk Utility to do a repair, re-enable journaling, and do another repair. Still that doesn't sound so bad, but it took hours of research and running the C program hacked together by someone with a similar problem was nerve racking.
This all happened about a month ago. Since then my Drobo volume hasn't gone missing, but I have started getting errors (semi-weekly) about the Drobo being disconnected / powered-off while in use. I should remind you that the desktop, and the Drobo are plugged into a UPS and the Drobo is never turned off. The desktop is on almost 24/7 because I run various servers on it, and has never turned off on me.
Who knows, maybe it's my UPS? As a test, a few days ago, I unplugged my Drobo (after putting it in Standby of course), and plugged it into a normal power strip. After a month or so if I don't have any more problems I guess I can conclude the Drobo doesn't play nice with my UPS. What then? Leaving the Drobo not plugged in to a UPS is just asking for trouble. I have had zero other problems with my APC, but should I try another brand? If the outlet test passes I do have an old UPS that should be sufficient protection for just a Drobo. How can I trust it though at this point? It's not like it failed right away; it was fine for weeks and then BAM: failure in a big way.
Argh. So I don't know what the problem is here, but my Drobo experience is not going well, and judging by the reviews over at Amazon many other customers are unsatisfied. I'm just putting this out without knowing whether my Drobo is defective or just doesn't deal with the APC XS 1300 very well. If anyone reading this knows of similar stories or solutions (?!) please leave a link.
More problems with Drobo
My experiment of plugging Drobo into a normal surge protected power-strip rather than my uninterruptible power supply has ended prematurely in failure. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but the first night I was woken up by what sounded like a smoke detector alarm going off in my room. I thought initially that it was my UPS (seemed the only device in my room that might have some kind of alarm), but I was mistaken. Now my Drobo does this at least once a day, so I've had a chance over the past few days to to lean over Drobo and confirm it's the source of the noise. The frequency of the alarm going off doesn't seem to depend on whether it's plugged into the UPS or not anymore.
I've contacted Drobo Support again, so I guess all that's left with this unit is to see what they do to fix the situation. I'm not entirely opposed to trying another unit. After all it's gotten endorsements from a number of podcasts that I listen to regularly, so it can't be that widespread of a problem, right? At the same time though, I wouldn't mind getting a refund to buy a RAID enclosure just to have something that has stood up better over time.
It's now been 4 weeks since my original post, and something like 10 weeks since I first began having problems with my Drobo. I've been in contact with support, but they haven't responded during the last two weeks (there generally seems to be about a week lag). At this point I don't see how I could recommend this product to anybody else. Drobo sounds great in theory, but I'm finding the reality to be a huge disappointment. Next time I'll stick with the solution that's stood the test of time: RAID. It's certainly not as user friendly, but at least it's mature.
About a month ago, one of the Drobo support people finally decided something was wrong and sent me a new Drobo power supply. I've now gone a month with no problems, so it appears my problem was a faulty power supply. I'm glad that my Drobo seems to be functioning properly now, but I'm not too impressed that it took two months for the Drobo team to address my problem.
I had my first hard disk fail a few days ago, or at least Drobo reported it failed. It was a bit weird, because I rebooted my Drobo for the first time in months and all the sudden the Firewire connection stopped working. I went through all the steps they have on their site to follow if Drobo doesn't show up. At one point, Drobo appeared to enter into an infinite reboot loop, so after a 5 reboots or so I just powered it down for a few minutes. Finally I just tried using USB, and all the sudden it pops up fine. Fine that is, except that one of my drives is now reported failed. I tried shutting down and swapping the position with another drive in Drobo and again it's the same drive being reported failed.
So then I try moving my stuff via Target Disk Mode, and can't get it working (just nothing shows up over Firewire). So either the cord somehow went bad (I did move my Drobo when it was off) or the Firewire port on my desktop is dead at the same time I had a drive failure. I don't have any other Firewire stuff, or a second Firewire cord to test.
I replaced the failed disk and 40 hours later my data is safe again. At some point I'll get get another Firewire cable and try to figure out what happened there.