Drobo recovery

What is Drobo and how is it organized?

Drobo S

Drobo is a series of multi-disk devices featuring a wide range of capacities, from 1 to 40 TB, using from 4 to 12 disk bays. Drobo devices include both Direct Attached Storage (DAS) and Network Attached Storage (NAS). For the differencies refer to the the DAS vs NAS page.

Inside Drobo, disks are combined into a RAID; however, Drobo uses nonstandard algorithms called BeyondRAID™. It allows you to use disks of different sizes in an array but nevertheless get the maximum of fault tolerant capacity. Additionally, BeyondRAID™ allows to dynamically expand storage by replacing small disks with larger ones.

How to recover data from a Drobo

If your Drobo device is not working properly, then before taking action, it is necessary to find out the nature of the damage.

If the Drobo fails to turn on, that is, there are no LEDs blinking and no other signs of activity, the best course of action is to move all the disks to another compatible Drobo, preferably the same model. If your unit is still under warranty, remove the disk pack from the Drobo and send the box itself for warranty replacement. Once replacement arrives, put your disks back. This applies to both NAS and DAS variants of the Drobo. Note that you should obviously consult Drobo support about the status of the warranty and the RMA process. Do not just send it on our advice.

For other cases, where the box seems to work, the course of recovery actions depends on what Drobo you deal with - DAS or NAS. DAS units (using USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt) are somewhat similar to an external hard drive in terms of data recovery. Drobo NAS devices (which you connect to over your regular network, Ethernet or WiFi), like Drobo 5N, require completely different recovery approaches.

Filesystem damage in Drobo DASes

In this case your Drobo DAS device itself is still functional, but the operating system doesn't provide access to the data, and you get typical error messages indicating damage to the filesystem (You need to format the disk...).

With such symptoms, Drobo should be considered a regular external hard drive with a time bomb in it. You need to shut down the Drobo, get the disks out of it, make clones or copies of all the disks, and then put them back. This is required because some background processes in the Drobo may remove whatever recoverable remnants of data are still there. If you want more technical reading, refer to this page.

After the drives are cloned (or copies are made by any other means), you can apply all the regular approaches, including our File Recovery software, to recover data from the directly-connected Drobo.

Total Drobo failures and Drobo NASes

If you have a Drobo NAS where file recovery does not work (because no direct access to NAS disks can be obtained), or the Drobo rejects the disk pack, for example because it thinks two drives have failed, the choices are somewhat limited. First, we have a capability to read Drobo disk packs in our technician-oriented software, ReclaiMe Pro. Second, if you do not feel like arranging all the hardware necessary to do the recovery, consider submitting the disk pack to one of the data recovery services which can handle the Drobo.

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