Tag Archives: Drobo

A Tale of Two Drobos

(Yeah, I know it’s been a while.  I’ve been taking a break from running to let my body heal from the goofy stuff I attempted this spring, and allow the crazy heat of summer finally break.  While we all wait, I return you to some of my escapades into technology-ville…)

I can’t remember when I first heard about Drobo, but it was undoubtedly on some photography blog or podcast loads of years ago.  At that time, I was really scarfing for some way to manage my the growth of my already-large photo/scan/video catalog.  Drobo popped up in that quest, and while it was an interesting concept — RAID with any size or kind of drive that was laying around — I was nervous about their proprietary system, and didn’t pursue it.

Years of cobbling together oddball solutions, largely based on consumer offerings like Western Digital’s My Book Duo two-disk arrays… lots of them.  My thinking was that, despite the complexity of managing those discrete units and synchronizations among them, I was ahead of the game, because I could drop those almost anywhere, and they’d just work.

Late last year, Drobo ran a great deal on their 5Dt array, including an mSATA cache pre-installed, and three years of support, for a smoking hot price.  I couldn’t resist that, so I brought it in house, and filled it with Western Digital 6TB drives.  It worked so well for my day-to-day work, I put a Drobo 5C next to it, and used full array-to-array synchonizations to keep my stuff safe.

Fast forward to June, and Uncle Tim’s announcement of the new 5K iMac with Thunderbolt 3.  TB3 to me reads as “faster, faster, faster data”, and I snapped up a BTO model, and promptly dropped 64GB of RAM in it from Other World Computing.

And then it was Drobo’s turn.

Drobo announced a Thunderbolt 3 model of their array — dubbed the 5D3 — which would take advantage of my shiny new Mac’s TB3 ports.  Color me a happy camper.  I got one ordered a couple of days after ordering opened up, and I feverishly watched it’s march across the country until it got here.

My master plan was to sell my Drobo 5Dt, and daisy chain my 5C off the back of the new 5D3.  I reached out to Drobo on Facebook, and they quickly let me know that that configuration should work just fine.  That would simplify my cabling back to the iMac, and give me some nice ways to land the Drobo’s on my desk.

The 5D3 got here, and after a SUPER-SIMPLE migration of the drives from the 5Dt to the 5D3, I was up and running.

And noisy.

I reached back out to Drobo on Facebook to ask about the noisy fan in the 5D3.  They quickly reached out, let me know it shouldn’t be doing that, and wanted to give me a call.  Like I told Valorie from Drobo, them calling me was like getting a call from the mothership!  🙂

Valorie and I worked through some scenarios, and the only way the 5D3’s fans weren’t running full speed after five minutes of being active was to connect it via USB3.  That was a great discovery, as it kept me working, while Valorie arranged to have a new 5D3 shipped to me — overnight, no less!

It arrived today, and I moved my drives from the first 5D3 to the second.  Everything went smoothly, and after thirty minutes of speedy TB3 connectivity, I decided to attempt daisy chaining my 5Dt to the second TB3 port on the 5D3.  I’d gotten an Apple TB3-to-TB2 adapter, so I was set.

(And yeah, I decided to keep the 5Dt in the mix as the backup drive, rather than using the 5C.  If it had to become the primary, it’d be faster than the 5C, and it has a long period of DroboCare on it… why not use it?)

With the 5Dt connected, I fired everything up, and things stayed quiet for about thirty minutes.  I kicked of a 250GB copy between the arrays, just to give the new 5D3 a shot at getting hot.  It didn’t, and it’s sitting here, next to my iMac, purring right along.

Drobo couldn’t have made me happier with their support services.  I merely mentioned the noisy fan, and they committed themselves to understanding what was going on with my device, and making sure I stayed up and functional while my replacement unit shipped.  This was customer service executed in an amazing fashion.

So here I sit, Drobo’s silently humming along, cranking through video files, photos and music, and am enjoying my newfound speedy TB3 Drobo!!!