Storage firm Drobo has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 6
Longstanding Thunderbolt and network-attached storage company Drobo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late June, and will hold its first creditors meeting on July 17.




First formed as Data Robotics in 2005, Drobo manufactured solutions for remote and network storage. Parent company StarCentric filed bankrupcy papers with the California Northern Bankruptcy Court (San Jose) on June 20, 2022.

According to official court documentation, the company is to hold its first creditors meeting on July 19. There is also a final deadline for filing claims against the company, which is October 17, 2022.

The company has no commented publicly on the decision. However, the company appears to have been badly affected by the coronavirus. In February 2020, the company tweeted about production delays, and in March 2020, its CEO Mihir Shah addressed concerns over how the coronavirus would affect the company.

"We are in close contact with all of our suppliers and we are trying to mitigate the impact of any delay in the supply chain," he wrote in a blog post.

There have been no further blog posts since then. Drobo Support hasn't tweeted for over a year, and Drobo's main Twitter account has been silent since December 2021.

The company does also not appear to have made any announcements about Apple Silicon support since November 2020.

However, a Reddit user reports that Drobo Support has said the company is not closing.

"The restructuring process will enable us to continue servicing our customers and partners and make the necessary investments to achieve our strategic objectives," the Reddit user quotes. "StorCentric concluded that the voluntary Ch 11 reorganization is the best way to fix our balance sheet and we will remain fully functional during the restructuring process."

Drobo's online US and European stores are currently both showing every product as sold out.

The Chapter 11 filing implies that the company is trying to reorganize and return to full operations at some point. It isn't yet clear what the reorganization will look like, nor the magnitude of the creditors' demands.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    stuartfstuartf Posts: 60member
    Starcentric was having issues with the Drobo line long before coronavirus

    There has been little innovation in product line for years now. They reduced the product line to just four products none of which were especially competitive against the likes of Synology

    I have the 8D which was discontinued as part of the product cull. It's a good direct attached solution. Performance is just about OK… and that was/is the problem with BeyondRAID. Average performance and zero ways to recover data should a unit fail other than to an identical device which was prematurely discontinued and unavailable

    I'm sorry to see them go but it was long overdue. I suspect this is the end and Chapter 11 is not going to save them

    Stuart




    scstrrfmaciekskontakttdknoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,630member
    Leo on MacBreak Weekly touted them for years. Wonder if he will comment on next show. 
    edited July 6 scstrrfwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    ApplePoorApplePoor Posts: 160member
    Drivers are an issue now.

    scstrrfpslicewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    mfrydmfryd Posts: 148member
    The DROBO devices have some really nice features.

    In particular, you can upgrade storage by simply popping put a drive, and popping in a higher capacity replacement.  No configuration is necessary.  If there are empty bays, you can increase capacity simply by sliding in a new drive.  The Drobo sees the new/replacement drive, and automatically configures it into the system, and moves data around as necessary.

    Originally, I had three 4 TB drives in my Drobo.  As my storage needs have increased, drive prices have come down, I have migrated drives to my current config of five 8TB drives.

    You can configure a DROBO for single or dual drive redundancy.   If a drive fails, and you have enough free space on the remaining drives, it will move data around to regain redundancy.  Suppose you have five 5TB drives configured for single drive redundancy.  That gives you 20TB of useable space.  Suppose you are only using 10TB of that.  Further suppose that just after you leave on Friday night, one of the drives dies.  By the time you get back on Monday morning, the DROBO would have automatically reconfigured itself as a four drive system with 15TB of useable space.  On Monday when you get in, just pop out the dead drive and slide in a new drive, and the DROBO will start using it.  If, on Monday, a second drive fails before you have replaced the first failed drive, you won't lose any data as the system had already configured itself as a four drive system with redundancy.

    It would be a shame for DROBO to go away. Their products are very easy to use.

    Assuming they do go away, are there any other products out there that allow such easy storage space expansion?
    psliceAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    maciekskontaktmaciekskontakt Posts: 1,117member
    stuartf said:
    Starcentric was having issues with the Drobo line long before coronavirus

    There has been little innovation in product line for years now. They reduced the product line to just four products none of which were especially competitive against the likes of Synology

    I have the 8D which was discontinued as part of the product cull. It's a good direct attached solution. Performance is just about OK… and that was/is the problem with BeyondRAID. Average performance and zero ways to recover data should a unit fail other than to an identical device which was prematurely discontinued and unavailable

    I'm sorry to see them go but it was long overdue. I suspect this is the end and Chapter 11 is not going to save them

    Stuart




    I was tryomg to recover something like that. Then I recommended to the person to move to Synology which I also use. Why people would buy something that is not very standard and it has support and recovery issues? Moving too fast without long term support is not the option to built reputation. Synology does exactly opposite so updates are still available to models from 2014. Why one would stop supporting something that is pretty much standard with standard file system that is a wonder. Drobo is unique.
    lordjohnwhorfin
  • Reply 6 of 22
    maciekskontaktmaciekskontakt Posts: 1,117member
    ApplePoor said:
    Drivers are an issue now.

    Right. Then why it needs any special drivers? You know Synology sits on Ext4 file system. It may not be the fastest, but it is pretty standard. Getting FuSE and extensions on macOS should not be a problem to access Linux standard file system if ran as local rather than NAS (you do not need drivers if you run them as NAS).
    darkvader
  • Reply 7 of 22
    mfrydmfryd Posts: 148member
    ...
    I was tryomg to recover something like that. Then I recommended to the person to move to Synology which I also use. Why people would buy something that is not very standard and it has support and recovery issues? Moving too fast without long term support is not the option to built reputation. Synology does exactly opposite so updates are still available to models from 2014. Why one would stop supporting something that is pretty much standard with standard file system that is a wonder. Drobo is unique.
    RAID units and DROBOs do not eliminate the need for a regular backup strategy. 

    There are far too many hazards that can cause the loss of data on a properly configured RAID.  Common ones are a thief stealing the unit, someone knocking the spinning RAID off a table, a roof leak soaking the unit, malware encrypting your files, the RAID controller writing random data over your files, etc.  

    The traditional benefits of RAID like devices are improved performance over a single drive, and/or protection from a failure of a single drive mechanism.   

    If your RAID like device fails, you should not rely on trying to recover data from the drives.  You should restore form your backup.  If this is not a feasible option, then you need better backup procedures.
    lordjohnwhorfindarkvadertdknoxAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    mfrydmfryd Posts: 148member
    ApplePoor said:
    Drivers are an issue now.

    Right. Then why it needs any special drivers? You know Synology sits on Ext4 file system. It may not be the fastest, but it is pretty standard. Getting FuSE and extensions on macOS should not be a problem to access Linux standard file system if ran as local rather than NAS (you do not need drivers if you run them as NAS).
    DROBOs do not need special drivers for use.  They present themselves as typical external drive.

    The DROBO software is for initial configuration, status, and configuration changes (adding/changing virtual volumes, changing between single/dual drive redundancy, etc.)
    psliceAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 22
    sevenfeetsevenfeet Posts: 447member
    Sadly, this news is not a surprise. I began my path with Drobo buying a 4-bay Gen 2 over a decade ago. My most recent purchase was a Drobo 5D3 about 4+ years ago. I recently took the 5D3 out of production when I invested in a QNAP NAS and a Mac + OWC Thunderbay 8 as the main backup for the QNAP. The handwriting has been on the wall for years as Drobo didn't keep up with competition after the 5D3 and 8C shipped.

    Drobo had a nice little niche of mainly DAS drives with Thunderbolt connectivity (and before that Firewire 800 & USB) that appealed to photographers and videographers. The in-place upgradeability was a godsend to prosumers like myself who needed to spread out the cost of buying larger hard drives over time.

    But NAS competitors ate away at their business on the top end and things like the Thunderbay series with SoftRAID from long time Mac supplier OWC proved to be too much. Honestly, I was surprised to see a software update for M1 Macs released last year even though it still runs in Rosetta. And macOS complains about the driver type so I suspect it will be deprecated from macOS compatibility in the future if nothing is done and I'm not getting my hopes up on seeing an update. And since you haven't been able to buy new Drobo hardware in nearly 2 years, I was wondering why Chapter 11 hadn't happened sooner. You can't live in existing support contracts forever.

    The 5D3 was also an early Thunderbolt 3 device and as a result, it's a little weird in compatibility and I've found that hooking it into a Thunderbolt hub helps. I had planned on using it as part of my backup strategy and I still might. But I'm thinking it can't hold any data that is mission critical for me.
    edited July 6 FileMakerFellerAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    stuartfstuartf Posts: 60member
    Except for the kernel extension that is required!

    On Apple silicon this further involves launching the security startup utility and downgrading security to permit the kernel installation to be loaded


    mfryd said

    DROBOs do not need special drivers for use.  They present themselves as typical external drive.

    The DROBO software is for initial configuration, status, and configuration changes (adding/changing virtual volumes, changing between single/dual drive redundancy, etc.)

    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    cincyteecincytee Posts: 374member
    A Drobo NAS box has been an excellent solution for a small nonprofit I help support: The hot-swappable drives are super easy and have kept the array reliable for a decade. That said, the company hasn't updated its management software in quite a while, and it isn't even supported in most recent macOS version. The bad news for the company, of course, is that, with expandable drive bays, happy customers like the group I mention don't need to buy anything more from Drobo itself.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    aybaraaybara Posts: 39member
    My problem with Drobo was sub-par hardware.  I had both the 5N and 5N2, and BOTH of them suffered from defective fans within a year.  The 5N I didn't have any support on, so just 'lived with it', and when opted for support on the 5N2 that replaced if.  Within a year, it was also squealing and grinding.  They replaced it, and within 15 days the new one was doing it and they told me "We already replaced it once, we won't do it again".

    So I ditched them altogether and went to Synology and picked one of their NAS devices that had user replaceable fans, and just a more expansive interface.  I haven't been disappointed.

    Honestly, if the level of hardware and support I received is indicative, this isn't surprising news.
    muthuk_vanalingamtdknoxAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 866member
    At this point, they deserve to fail.  I've seen far too many hardware failures, the software is awful, and support is abysmal.

    I said years ago that I would never install another Drobo, and I've stuck to it.  The few that are still functioning at client sites will be replaced with something else as soon as their budget allows.
    tdknox
  • Reply 14 of 22
    ApplePoorApplePoor Posts: 160member
    Received formal Federal Drobo et all bankruptcy notice in today’s mail - 6 July 2022 
  • Reply 15 of 22
    I've had 3 5 bay units.
    Different generations.
    1 is dead.
    The other 2 are working.
    I had to go to something more stable- the OWC Thunderbay with Softraid.
    The company, the support, all died before Covid.
    The marketing was sub-par.
    But- this was the "RAID for the rest of us" and worked amazingly well- until it didn't.
    The hot swappable drives were amazing- so easy to maintain.
    I'll be sad to see them go- but, if they think they are going to come out of bankruptcy- and get people to believe in them again- they have so much reputation management that needs to happen. Lying about supply chain issues- or repairs- doesn't build customer confidence.

    Alex_V
  • Reply 16 of 22
    thewbthewb Posts: 79member
    stuartf said:
    Starcentric was having issues with the Drobo line long before coronavirus

    There has been little innovation in product line for years now. They reduced the product line to just four products none of which were especially competitive against the likes of Synology

    I have the 8D which was discontinued as part of the product cull. It's a good direct attached solution. Performance is just about OK… and that was/is the problem with BeyondRAID. Average performance and zero ways to recover data should a unit fail other than to an identical device which was prematurely discontinued and unavailable

    I'm sorry to see them go but it was long overdue. I suspect this is the end and Chapter 11 is not going to save them

    Stuart





    They were out of stock even in 2019 before COVID lockdowns and supply chain disruptions happened. That was just a convenient excuse. In other words, they lied.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    ukrunrukrunr Posts: 16member
    Sad to see them go, and also suspect that they won't come back from this.

    I've had 3 Drobo's (5D, 5N and 8D), all worked fine, sold the 5D, but still use 8D (8x12TB+1TB SSD cache), 5N (5x6TB). Gradually upgraded over the years, only had to rebuild the 5D array one time, and recovered from separate network backup fine. Ease of use and replacing failed drives, upgrades, all very easy.

    Yet, like others here could see the writing on the wall, no innovation, and while BeyondRAID is undoubtedly clever, felt that the hardware just never kept up. Performance as mentioned elsewhere, was only ever average.

    Will have to make sure to keep the 8D/Mac-mini on current OS, until I can work out my replacement choices.

    I had support contracts and had 4 or 5 calls over the years, always responded to quickly and detailed solutions. Maybe I was lucky on that.
    edited July 6
  • Reply 18 of 22
    Alex_VAlex_V Posts: 104member

    Unsettling news. I have had a Drobo 5D since about 2015 and later I added a Mini to back it up. The 5D has worked trouble free (Mini not so). Drobo suited me as a prosumer hobby photographer. The simple plug-n-play Mac software vibe is a pleasure to use. Interesting thing about RAID boxes, they aren’t that cheap to upgrade—as I found out when I upsized from all-1TB drives in the five bays, to 2TB, and finally 4TB HDDs. As I use dual drive redundancy, I needed to buy three larger HDDS to see an increase in storage size when upsizing. I’ve upsized three times over the years, plus I’ve had to replace faulty HDDs (easy peasy). That’s a lot of HDDs over the years, maybe 20, in one box… and costly too. Thanks to Drobo my storage kept pace with my expanding photo library. Still, maybe it’s time to commit to online storage like Backblaze, let them worry about sourcing HDDs. 

    Correction: I think I bought the Drobo 5D nearly ten years ago. It had just been released at the time. Wow! It has served me well!

    edited July 7
  • Reply 19 of 22
    mfrydmfryd Posts: 148member
    Perhaps the company can come out with a software version of their "Beyond RAID" technology.  That would allow consumers to run it on any hardware that provides JBOD functionality (Just a Bunch Of Disks).

    Alternatively, they could license it to other hardware manufacturers.

    As has been pointed out, the Drobo hardware was not cutting edge.  However their Beyond Raid firmware made the Drobos incredibly attractive in many market segments.
    Alex_V
  • Reply 20 of 22
    nicholfdnicholfd Posts: 794member
    mfryd said:
    The DROBO devices have some really nice features.

    In particular, you can upgrade storage by simply popping put a drive, and popping in a higher capacity replacement.  No configuration is necessary.  If there are empty bays, you can increase capacity simply by sliding in a new drive.  The Drobo sees the new/replacement drive, and automatically configures it into the system, and moves data around as necessary.

    Originally, I had three 4 TB drives in my Drobo.  As my storage needs have increased, drive prices have come down, I have migrated drives to my current config of five 8TB drives.

    You can configure a DROBO for single or dual drive redundancy.   If a drive fails, and you have enough free space on the remaining drives, it will move data around to regain redundancy.  Suppose you have five 5TB drives configured for single drive redundancy.  That gives you 20TB of useable space.  Suppose you are only using 10TB of that.  Further suppose that just after you leave on Friday night, one of the drives dies.  By the time you get back on Monday morning, the DROBO would have automatically reconfigured itself as a four drive system with 15TB of useable space.  On Monday when you get in, just pop out the dead drive and slide in a new drive, and the DROBO will start using it.  If, on Monday, a second drive fails before you have replaced the first failed drive, you won't lose any data as the system had already configured itself as a four drive system with redundancy.

    It would be a shame for DROBO to go away. Their products are very easy to use.

    Assuming they do go away, are there any other products out there that allow such easy storage space expansion?
    No - you mean they have some features that other storage systems have had for YEARS!  There's nothing special or unique about any of the features you mentioned.
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