Unlike a traditional RAID, where the drive capacities must normally match and its configuration is set up manually, a Drobo ‘Beyond RAID’ system is extremely unique and user friendly, as it can be configured using drives without matching capacities or order, as well as having the option to expand the RAID by adding more drives if required. From a data loss and reliability point of view, you can switch from single to dual disk redundancy which will allow for two drives to fail while the Drobo remains operational and your data uncompromised. A Drobo does this by allocating space across all hard drives in the array, so in the event of a two drive failure, the Drobo will automatically shift the data to the remaining working drives, essentially rebuilding the array, without any user intervention. It will then complete the process when the failed hard drives are replaced with new ones. The drawback from this is that there is less usable space.
What Makes Drobo Data Recovery So Challenging?
Even though the advantages of using a Drobo RAID system are evident, recovering data from a failed Drobo system is extremely challenging for numerous reasons. Firstly, it is designed to only run on the Drobo box, so in the event that the controller or firmware becomes faulty, then the data will become inaccessible. Secondly, unless the Dual Drive Redundancy option is activated in the Drobo dashboard, Drobos typically cannot handle more than one drive failure. Lastly, Drobo’s Beyond RAID configuration is so completely unique and proprietary that it is like dealing with an entirely dissimilar file system, which adds an additional layer of complexity to the recovery process.
One-of-a-Kind Drobo Recovery Tool
By diligently researching and studying various Drobo systems inside out, we were able to develop a brilliant program that essentially virtualizes the Drobo box allowing us to create an exact sector by sector image copy of the RAID. This gives us more flexibility (in terms of using any other data recovery or computer forensics tools) to rebuild the array, as well as extracting and analyzing the data.
Protecting Your Drobo Data
Even though the frustrating days of considering Drobo ‘Beyond RAID’ ‘Beyond Recovery’ are somewhat gone, you should still take on some preventative methods to make sure your data is protected to the maximum degree. Always read the manual and familiarize yourself with the system’s various features to ensure that you set it up for your needs prior to initializing or configuring it. You then need to do some regular “maintenance” and ensure that you promptly replace any drive that the Drobo gives a warning for and that you always use high quality drives in the system (suggested for any RAID). The main thing to remember is that Drobo, like any other RAID system, is not a backup by itself! Having the same data saved in at least two different locations IS, therefore, always recommended.