TLDR: Dealing with a Dead Drobo

TLDR: Dealing with a Dead Drobo

I’m spoiled. I buy some piece of tech, I expect it to work, no muss, no fuss. I’ve been doing this long enough to remember how hard it used to be to get anything done to the point where I’m now often unprepared for what to do when tech things don’t work.

I posted in my social media feed that my Drobo died and was met with mostly “meh” and some confusion. Like I wrote, I’ve been doing this long enough that I wasn’t too surprise that these were things only a technology geek would even care about. I mean I’m talking about an expensive multi-hard disk external digital storage system when most of my friends do all of their “technology” on their smart phones and more than a few have no computer at all in their lives. Whereas I’ve been storing my life on digital media for decades and the reliability and longevity of my storage system is pretty damn important. Thus, I’ve been rocking some version of the Drobo since I bought a version one in 2007. Having a local backup system where I can store my image and video libraries in one place had previously been a real challenge as I filled up CDRs, then writeable-DVDs and then external hard disks.

Purchasing this fourth Drobo (Drobo 5C) was the first time I purchased a Drobo because it’s predecessor had died. All previous purchases were in pursuit of upgrades in the tech and, until this Drobo died, the next step was going to be to upgrade my network-connected Drobo FS (circa 2010) to better serve my aspiration to have all of my movies and TV series available on the network. Damn. As much as I wanted the network version, I learned that I couldn’t just pop my old disks from the old drive to the new (networked) one that I wanted. So I picked the “5C” model that, at least, could be directly connected to my new(ish) MacBook Pro. Alas, at first the migration didn’t seem to work. The new 5C didn’t seem to boot-up and the blue capacity LEDs just flashed off and on and didn’t seem to access the old disks. Damn. I sent a message to tech support and began to prepare myself to bid whatever unique data/media might be on the old disks adios.

The next day tech support sent a procedure to follow to determine what the problem might be. The procedure did more than track down the problem, it seemed to fix it. One bump in the road was that I was using a USB-C dock that had problems maintaining its connections and status whenever the MacBook went to sleep, resulting in a “didn’t properly disconnect disk” warning, and the Drobo 5C didn’t seem to work when connected using the dock (using the USB3-to-USB-C cable that came with the Drobo). It did seem to work fine when directly connected using a USB-C-to-USB-C Apple cable. Yay. But then when I attempted to reconnect the sleeping Drobo this evening it didn’t seem to wake up without rebooting the computer and Drobo several times and making sure to connect using the white-Apple USB-C cables and not the shorter cables that came with the USB-C dock. Weird. It should not require reboots, etc., for the Drobo to wake from sleep. I guess we’re not out of the woods yet. I’ll give it another 24-hours to see if there are any other anomalies before deciding on whether to keep or return the Drobo 5C. I can see why most of my friends and family don’t even with any of this external drive stuff and usually don’t have any backup plan. Yikes. It’s a pain in the ass but I can’t imagine losing all my data/images because of a dead drive.

For example, this past summer I spent 39-days driving from Las Vegas to San Antonio TX to Orlando FL to Washington DC to NYC to Chicago IL to Minneapolis to Oklahoma City and back to Las Vegas. I’ve yet to edit all (or any) of the images and videos from that trip, but I let Apple Photos.app create the following slideshow/video… this was just from one 39-day stretch of time and I’ve been seriously documenting things for decades… I’d hate to lose it all because of some hard disk failure…

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