About 3 weeks ago we went through a period where we had a few power interruptions in our area (not really something new in SA, but a bit out of the ordinary for a couple a months); anyways it seems that one of the 1TB drives I had in my DROBO died in the process.

Well, that should not be a problem (I thought) – get a new drive and the DROBO will rebuild itself … not so easy 😦

Although we could access the info on the DROBO for a while after the drive died, the DROBO was acting a bit “weird” – at times VERY slow, at times it would just reboot itself and I could not move any data off the DROBO – but we could watch the movies we had on there … strange.

After ordering a new 2TB drive to replace the broken 1TB (always good time to upgrade :-)), I popped it into the DROBO and it it started churning away – recovering the info and “settling in” – or so I thought.

We left the DROBO to do it’s thing and left it alone for 4 days ! The strange behaviour continued though – it would state that it’s rebuilding (don’t remove any drives with flashing lights – ALL of them) and then reboot without warning – sometimes the OS would se it again, sometimes not (and that needed a power off/on sequence).

Eventually I took the DROBO from the server it was connected to (Windows Home Server 2011) and connected it to an iMac with the DROBO dashboard and ran some disk utility checks on the drive – it needed some attention to get going and after MANY hours spent, I could access some of the data.

We have almost 1TB of photos between Heidi & myself, with NO backup elsewhere (why would you when you have a DROBO RAID system protecting it ? … lesson learnt).

I found a great piece of software (Mac & Windows) – FreeFileSync – which is great to ensure that files are synched between folders. I used this to slowly, but surely, move items from the DROBO to an external drive (the newly purchased 2TB drive).

It took me almost 3 days to move the photos and also recover “some” of the other files on the DROBO – although the Photos were the main item I focussed on. Remember – these are photos from ALL our trips to the Kgalagadi, all family photos, weddings (ours and other people), our honeymoon, the kids … you get the picture – ALL of our photos for the last 13 years !!!

Once I had the content moved off the DROBO, I checked each of the 3 x 1TB drives left after the disaster – it turns out one of the drives was failing, but concerning to me was that the DROBO did not pick this up 😦

I suspect that part of the problem why the recovery of the data took so long was that the one 1TB drive was working intermittently and causing a slow-down in the process.

I think my DROBO (which I love dearly), has probably met the end of life expectancy – I don’t trust it anymore. 😦

I revived 3 x 250 GB drives from an old server and put them in the DROBO for now – although we’re not using it anymore. I want to keep an eye on the DROBO – which seems to be “okay” for now, but I don’t know if I’ll ever put important data on it … 😦

Lessons learnt:

  1. Always have backups of your backups !
    1. We’re now working with a copy of our photos on a NAS (more on this in another post [NAS4Free]
    2. BUT, we also do backups on a monthly basis onto an external drive which is then stored away
    3. Soon we’ll be moving our content into cloud storage as an extra precaution
  2. Backup, backup, backup
  3. Hardware gets old … keep an eye on it …


  1. We have one of the original DROBO GEN 1 units – 4 drive slots with a max of 8TB storage available and USB 2.0 connectivity only
  2. The DROBO has served us well, and I’ll keep an eye on the current setup and maybe use it again in future
  3. DROBO Dashboard did not indicate any issues with the failing 1TB drive, but when I ran a S.M.A.R.T. test on the drive (once removed from the DROBO) it indicated that it’s failing …
  4. I think the major issue was that more than 1 drive actually failed / was failing and this caused issues for the DROBO.