Last week, I swapped a new set of four 2-terabyte drives into one of the Drobo arrays. I formatted the drive as an 8 GB single partition, created the top level directories, and set Vice Versa to work backing up the server on line files. After about two days, all the data had been transferred, but an anomaly had developed. The Drobo dashboard showed that 800 GB of storage have been used, while Windows Explorer said that 2.4 terabytes had been used. I decided to ignore the discrepancy, figuring that it was just a bit of unimportant weirdness.
Today, after a server reboot occasioned by operating system updates, the Drobo dashboard indicated a drive failure in the array with the new disks. I pulled out the drive with the red light next to it and installed a fresh 2 terabyte drive in that slot. After 15 or 20 seconds, a green light came on next to the slot. Then I looked at the Drobo dashboard. It indicated that all drives were ready, and said that I could add capacity at any time by replacing a drive with a drive of larger capacity. This gave me some pause, because there had been nowhere near enough time for the Drobo to rebuild the array.
I talked to the Data Robotics support people about the issue. When I went to the Drobo dashboard, I notice that my support agreement had expired. I went to the website to renew it, and after taking all my credit card and other information, Drobo gave me a screen that said “DroboCare Out of Warranty is no longer being sold”.
That left me somewhat confused. I called Drobo tech support. The tech helped me without asking about the service agreement. At first he said this immediate green light business was normal operation, and that the Drobo will have sufficient redundancy even without the new disk. I told him that, even though there was little enough data for the Drobo to achieve redundancy with only three disks, it wouldn’t have had a chance to do that after the disk failure, since I replace the failed disk with a new one only a few minutes after the failure.
Then he said the thing to do was to shut down the computer, power down the Drobo, reboot the computer, and power up the Drobo. I did that, and the rebuild did not start. The tech and said after doing the power cycle I should probably update the Drobo firmware. I tried to do that, and got a message that said: “The Drobo firmware update was unsuccessful. Please contact Drobo customer support.”
So I did. The (new) tech said that, although the automatic update procedure built into the Drobo dashboard updates the device firmware before it updates the dashboard itself, the dashboard needed to be updated before the firmware update would take. I temporarily disabled all the Vice Versa scripts. Under the direction of the tech, I put the Drobos in standby, unplugged the USB cables, unplugged power cables, uninstalled the Drobo dashboard, downloaded the latest version, installed it, plugged the USB cables back in, and plugged the power cables back in. Then I let the dashboard make another attempt at upgrading the firmware.
The update appeared to go OK until it was time to reboot the Drobo. The dashboard was unable to shut it down, and told me to shut down the operating system, power cycle the unit, and restart the operating system. I did so, but in a slightly different order and recommended by the dashboard. I use the order recommended by the tech previously: power down the computer, unplug the AC cable, reboot the computer, and plug in the AC cable.
The system came back up with the right firmware installed, and still no indication of a rebuild taking place on the Drobo with the recently-replaced drive.
This is a mystery to me. I can imagine how it is possible, when the Drobo has data occupying less than half of its capacity, for the disk controller to construct two separate mirrors, rather than using RAID 5. It could also construct a RAID 6 array, and scale it back to a RAID 5 upon failure of one of the disks. Both of these are pretty sophisticated strategies, and don’t seem consistent with the overall approach of the basic Drobo boxes. The Data Robotics web site isn’t forthcoming with what’s going on behind the curtain, and the techs, while genuinely trying to be helpful, don’t seem to know.
I’ve spent a great deal of the day messing with computers instead of making photographs. Time to get back to that.