Drobo blows up

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
OUCH. Drobo's data protection issues are becoming more public



Quote:

Not once did the Drobo report a problem. Why? Because technically there wasn?t a problem with the hardware. The drives were operating normally. The next thing that happened was kind of heart stopping. After another reboot, the Drobo no longer appeared on the desktop. What was even worse was that there are 10 blue LED lights on the front of the Drobo unit to show you visually how much capacity has been used up. Normally for me there are 3 of those lights on. Not only was the drive not mounting on the desktop, but now there was only one light on. What had happened was something I hadn?t thought about. My main volume?s directory structure had become corrupt! Now this is not the first time that this has happened to me on my computers. As a matter of fact Alsoft?s Disk Warrior has saved my bacon on many occasions. However, this was the first problem I ever encountered with the Drobo. So I ran Disk Warrior (not knowing what else to do) and sure enough Disk Warrior reported all kinds of problems. However, Disk Warrior is really good at correcting this stuff, so I let it do it?s magic. Mid way through the process the drive appeared on the desktop and I was breathing a little easier. After the process was done, I verified some of the folders and everything looked good. However, there was still only one blue LED on. So I rebooted again and nothing. Upon closer examination, I noticed that many of my folders were now EMPTY! That?s right, stuff was GONE! Here?s the thing, I know the files were all technically still there, but the directory just didn?t know about them anymore. I ran Disk Warrior again and it reported one more problem and fixed it, but still most of my data (to the tune of about one terabyte) was missing in action!




Yikes. I love the Drobo concept but they have had some very public data protection issues.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    I'm about to get a NAS for networked photo main drive that I can share with my wife. It seems the RAID technology Drobo uses is proprietary, and isn't actually a RAID Level 1 device. A RAID Lvl 1 device wouldn't suffer the issues mentioned here, correct? The only disadvantage compared to the Drobo is that you need to buy identical drives and update in pairs, no? But you don't have the potential problems mentioned here. After all, the purpose for a RAID is data integrity, and if there's a potential problem, that makes it about as useful as a fairly reliable hard drive, and much less reliable than a standard RAID.
  • Reply 2 of 21
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tonton View Post


    I'm about to get a NAS for networked photo main drive that I can share with my wife. It seems the RAID technology Drobo uses is proprietary, and isn't actually a RAID Level 1 device. A RAID Lvl 1 device wouldn't suffer the issues mentioned here, correct? The only disadvantage compared to the Drobo is that you need to buy identical drives and update in pairs, no? But you don't have the potential problems mentioned here. After all, the purpose for a RAID is data integrity, and if there's a potential problem, that makes it about as useful as a fairly reliable hard drive, and much less reliable than a standard RAID.



    No the Drobo is more like ZFS where you can pool the storage. You could stick in 4 drives of unequal storage and it would accept the storage.



    I think the problem here was data corruption and that can get any RAID system (which protects HDD fault but not data corruption fault)



    Hopefully Drobo will add anti-corruption features to their proprietary setup. In the meantime the Drobo is still the easiest box to setup but you may want to also backup your data to another sources like a drive with Super Duper.



    I've actually worked for a company that had their mirrored array go up in smoke and we couldn't work for two days.
  • Reply 3 of 21
    mikefmikef Posts: 697member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Hopefully Drobo will add anti-corruption features to their proprietary setup.



    How would they do this? My understanding is that the Drobo can accommodate any file system (hence it works on Windows, Mac, Linux, etc). The Drobo presents "blocks" to the operating system, on which a file system is created. The Drobo itself does not have any knowledge of the data contained within.



    The moral of the story is that RAID or not, backups are still essential...



    Another analogy to this problem would be simple "accidental deletion" of files. Neither the Drobo nor any RAID setup would prevent accidental deletion of files.
  • Reply 4 of 21
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mikef View Post


    How would they do this? My understanding is that the Drobo can accommodate any file system (hence it works on Windows, Mac, Linux, etc). The Drobo presents "blocks" to the operating system, on which a file system is created. The Drobo itself does not have any knowledge of the data contained within.



    The moral of the story is that RAID or not, backups are still essential...



    Another analogy to this problem would be simple "accidental deletion" of files. Neither the Drobo nor any RAID setup would prevent accidental deletion of files.



    Yup ..you're right. Since they aren't running their own fs they are at the mercy of the host fs.
  • Reply 5 of 21
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    No the Drobo is more like ZFS where you can pool the storage.



    Except that ZFS can detect corruption, and with mirror or RAID-Z self heal.



    Using OpenSolaris to build your own NAS is a better starting point that Linux or OS X.
  • Reply 6 of 21
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    Except that ZFS can detect corruption, and with mirror or RAID-Z self heal.



    Using OpenSolaris to build your own NAS is a better starting point that Linux or OS X.



    If I'm feeling patient I may take the Core Duo chip from my Mac mini (once I upgrade) and try to build an Open Solaris NAS box. Ive seen some detailed tips from a Sun employee on the net.



    A Core Duo based NAS running O. Solaris and ZFS shouldn't be too bad.
  • Reply 7 of 21
    mikefmikef Posts: 697member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    A Core Duo based NAS running O. Solaris and ZFS shouldn't be too bad.



    Been tempted to do the same myself with an Intel Atom-based machine... should get decent performance and reliability.
  • Reply 8 of 21
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mikef View Post


    Been tempted to do the same myself with an Intel Atom-based machine... should get decent performance and reliability.



    Here's the link I was talking about.



    http://blogs.sun.com/mebius/entry/di..._nas_box_with2



    Quote:

    Through NFS and CIFS over the Gigabit network interface, the average write speed is around 32MB/sec and read speed is around 40MB/sec, not bad. The total power consumption of the system ranges from 50W to 55W, pretty green for 7x24 use, right?



    Hell I'd take 32-40MBps speeds. That's with an Atom as well.
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mikef View Post


    Been tempted to do the same myself with an Intel Atom-based machine... should get decent performance and reliability.



    I'm currently building a new fileserver using an Atom motherboard. I'm looking at FreeNAS but I might just use Linux like I did with my current fileserver. Atom + WD Greenpower drives should make for some nice low-power storage.
  • Reply 10 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    No the Drobo is more like ZFS where you can pool the storage. You could stick in 4 drives of unequal storage and it would accept the storage.



    I think the problem here was data corruption and that can get any RAID system (which protects HDD fault but not data corruption fault)



    Hopefully Drobo will add anti-corruption features to their proprietary setup. In the meantime the Drobo is still the easiest box to setup but you may want to also backup your data to another sources like a drive with Super Duper.



    I've actually worked for a company that had their mirrored array go up in smoke and we couldn't work for two days.



    So... let's say data corruption is caused by a power outage, for instance. Wouldn't the corruption only affect one drive in the mirrored RAID setup, and that drive would be repaired by the mirror drive?



    I understand what you're saying in the event that some application fully completes writing of corrupt data, closing the blocks or files that have been written to, but that should never happen at the file system level. Other than a deliberate malicious attack (virus), the only way the file system can get corrupt is in the event of a crash, in which case, both drives shouldn't have completed the write event.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tonton View Post


    So... let's say data corruption is caused by a power outage, for instance. Wouldn't the corruption only affect one drive in the mirrored RAID setup, and that drive would be repaired by the mirror drive?



    I understand what you're saying in the event that some application fully completes writing of corrupt data, closing the blocks or files that have been written to, but that should never happen at the file system level. Other than a deliberate malicious attack (virus), the only way the file system can get corrupt is in the event of a crash, in which case, both drives shouldn't have completed the write event.



    Yeah I think %99 of the time a mirrored array would only see corruption in one of the mirrors. I don't know what happened to my companies array but both mirrors crashed which was really odd and confounded the onsite engineers from the vendor for a day before they got it up again. It was a total pain ..the company came to a halt and we lost millions revenue dollars in lost sales.
  • Reply 12 of 21
    mikefmikef Posts: 697member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    I'm currently building a new fileserver using an Atom motherboard. I'm looking at FreeNAS but I might just use Linux like I did with my current fileserver. Atom + WD Greenpower drives should make for some nice low-power storage.



    I am using Linux in my current fileserver as well, but I'd like to try ZFS.



    I think would be neat to put an Atom board in a small mini-tower case with 4 or 5 hot swap SATA brackets. Using Greenpower drives is a good idea.
  • Reply 13 of 21
    mikefmikef Posts: 697member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tonton View Post


    So... let's say data corruption is caused by a power outage, for instance. Wouldn't the corruption only affect one drive in the mirrored RAID setup, and that drive would be repaired by the mirror drive?



    The problem arises that if the file corruption is mirrored to the redundant drive and then contents of the array become corrupt. This is not necessary file system corruption, but file corruption.



    RAID works at the block level, not the file level. It'll happily mirror corrupted/virus infected files the same way it'll remove a file from both halves of the mirror.
  • Reply 14 of 21
    Backups are essential. I just got the newest DROBO and so far it is working beautifully with three seagate 1TB drives in place. It holds all of my media. Because HDs have gotten so cheap I also have a 2TB Maxtor external drive that I use as a back up with Carbon Copy Cloner. You can never be too careful.
  • Reply 15 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bspears View Post


    Backups are essential. I just got the newest DROBO and so far it is working beautifully with three seagate 1TB drives in place. It holds all of my media. Because HDs have gotten so cheap I also have a 2TB Maxtor external drive that I use as a back up with Carbon Copy Cloner. You can never be too careful.



    want to get one of these but i keep hearing stories that drives fail easy, sometimes both. i also read that if you get this you should have another back up system which seems crazy to me. i'm not rich and can't afford 2 different back-up systems



    may just get a used time capsule for now..



    confused
  • Reply 16 of 21
    mikefmikef Posts: 697member
    There's nothing to be confused about... look at the Drobo as just another drive 'cause that's how it appears to the system. If the Drobo was to fail or you accidentally deleted a file, you do not have a backup as you only have one copy of the data contained on the Drobo.



    The Drobo simply makes multiple drives appear as one large drive. It also ensures that if any one drive fails, it will be able to keep running without a loss of data. You still only have one copy of the data with a Drobo.
  • Reply 17 of 21
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,770member
    I've always wondered how the Drobo fits in with Time Machine in a proper backup strategy.



    Should you keep the Drobo as a "real time" Raid-type backup and another hard drive connected for Time Machine? Or do you just choose one or the other?
  • Reply 18 of 21
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,558member
    OMG... you mean virtually everyone on MacBreak (podcast) is wrong about Drobo?
  • Reply 19 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    OMG... you mean virtually everyone on MacBreak (podcast) is wrong about Drobo?



    Leo wants Data Robotics' ad money, so of course he hypes their product. And he needs that money to keep running, though personally I'm getting tired of "Audible/Drobo Weekly" and "This Week in Please Follow Us On Twitter."
  • Reply 20 of 21
    mikefmikef Posts: 697member
    I think we understand the business model of a podcast. Why the animosity toward Leo and the gang? Are they wrong about the Drobo? Not as far as I can see. Is it a good product? I've yet to read anything bad about it. Why the budding Drobo hate?
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