Drobo: Sweet Storage, One Big Flaw


I’ve been a fan of Drobo since I got mine over a year ago. The little(-ish, and sweet looking, for stack of disks) device packs as many as four drives and automatically manages them to ensure the reliability of your data and easy expandability of the storage. However, Thomas Tomchak just pointed out one major flaw: if you overflow your Drobo with data, the entire device may give up and you’ll lose everything.

How do you overflow a Drobo? Most users only have a few terrabytes of storage in their Drobo, but configure it to tell the computer its attached to that it can store eight or 16 TB of data. Doing that allows easy expansion when more or larger drives are added — the attached computer doesn’t need to reformat anything, it can simply save more stuff to the device — but it also opens the door to the Drobo overflow.

From Tomchak’s post:

While on my tech support call I asked the engineer how frequently he received calls about this particular problem. After a big sigh he admitted that it was nearly every day.

One commenter on the article suggested the Drobo could “just simulate that the uninstalled part is already full of simulated read-only data,” a suggestion that makes sense, but may require the Drobo to know more about the filesystem on it than it otherwise would.

I’ve been at 90% capacity on my Drobo for a while, I think it’s time I popped another disk in there.

(CC licensed photo by Pixelthing.)