I got a call from Data Robotics tech support. The tech said that, although it was a long shot, that I should download the disk diagnostics for the Western Digital web site, and run them on the four disks that had problems in the Drobo, both the disks that kept the Drobo from booting and the ones that it flagged as bad.
The WD diagnostics perform, at the user’s option, both a quick and an extended test. The extended test takes about 24 hours over a USB connection on a 2 TB drive. I opted for the quick test.
The quick test on one of the drives that had been keeping the FS from booting took a minute, and the drive passed.
The next drive was the other drive that had been keeping the FS from booting. The test ran for more than eight hours, and still didn’t complete. I noticed that it had been working on the same sector for the last three hours, so I tried to cancel out of the test. No dice. Clicking the red X to close the window didn’t get me any further. I used the task manager to kill the app. I did notice a little bearing noise coming from this drive during the testing.
The third and fourth disks passed after a minute’s worth of testing.
I reported the above to Data Robotics. The tech asked me to run the extended diagnostics on the disk that appeared bad. Those diagnostics also hung.
In the meantime, I got a call from Data Robotics sales. They said to send the disks back to the distributor. I have a RMA from Drobo, and all four disks are going back to Ingram Micro. It looks like Data Robotics won’t ever see them.
You can see how two different parts of Data Robotics, motivated differently, are acting at cross-purposes. Tech support should want to get to the root of the problem, and, although their initial reaction was that I just had a bunch of bad disks, they thought about the likelihood of that, and came to the conclusion that it was a stretch. Therefore, they wanted to pursue the possibility that the Drobo was defective, either by design or construction, by having me test the drives (no cheaper testing than that done by the customer). Good drives would mean a Drobo problem. The results were ambiguous.
If I were Drobo engineering, I’d want those drives, so I could throw them in a Drobo and see what happened. It’s not clear that Drobo engineering ever got to make that decision, but it’s a pretty small company, and my guess is that they did, and they decided it wasn’t worth the effort.
Sales, on the other hand, just wants a satisfied customer. It’s not in their short-term interest to track down possible obscure product problems. They want the disks back to Western Digital, new disks to me, and to move on. So that’s what we’ll do. I hope I don’t see any more unusual disk “failures”.