Drobo (3rd gen) to Drobo 5C, part 2

This is part of a multi-part review of the Data Robotics Drobo 5C.

See also: Introduction and part 1.

Previously, I discussed the unboxing and setup of the new Drobo 5C. Today, I will walk through the migration process from an older 3rd generation 4-bay Drobo to this new 5-bay model.

Setting up Drobo 5C is no different than the previous models… Plug in the power cable, plug in the USB cable, insert drives, then turn it on.

Since the topic of this article is migrating from a 3rd gen model to the 5C, here are some important additional comments:

  1. APPLY FIRMWARE UPDATES FIRST. The code that came on my 5C was already out of date. The first thing you should do it hook up new new Drobo (with no drives inserted!) and power it on. Run the Drobo Dashboard software and it should recognize the new Drobo, and offer to update the firmware (if an update is available). Allow this to happen, and for the unit to reboot and be seen by Drobo Dashboard.
  2. Next, you want to power down the new Drobo, and move the “drive pack” (all the drives used together) from the previous Drobo to this one. DO NOT HAVE THE UNIT POWERED ON WHEN YOU INSERT THE HARD DRIVES! If you do this, the Drobo will see the drive inserted, and format it. You must have the new Drobo powered off, and then insert all the drives at the same time, then power it up. The Drobo should boot, then recognize the drives and have the same name and volume(s) you saw on the old Drobo.
  3. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN ON THE DROBO WEBSITE! Don’t trust some random stranger’s website… The information I gave you may be incorrect and cause the total end of life as we know it.

Mine seemed to have some problem and it was not recognized by the computer after I did this. I had to power it down, and start it up again. It mounted just fine after that, and it showed up with the same device name and volume names since all of the information is contained on the drive pack itself.

At this point, the new 5-bay Drobo should act exactly the same as the former 4-bay model.

My next goal was to enable dual disk redundancy. When I looked at the Drobo Dashboard, the option to enable this was grayed out. I suppose that makes sense. My unit was quite full and there probably wouldn’t have been enough free space to make a third copy of all my data. However, my understanding is that as long as there is enough space available, you could switch over to dual disk redundancy. (But I may be misunderstanding.)

To get the needed space, I acquired a brand new 3TB Western Digital Red hard drive.

NOTE: When I get a new hard drive, I like to first zero-byte format the entire drive. By writing to every sector of the new drive, any severe problems can be located. I would rather spend the hours it takes to do this, than blindly put in a new drive only to find out it had some severe issue far at the end of the drive which doesn’t show up until months (or years) later when the drive finally fills up to the bad spot. (Yes, I have found bad drives this way, but only two so far.)

After I plugged in the new device, as expected, the option for dual disk redundancy was available:

Drobo 5C dual disk redundancy option.

I checked it, and the drive began the long process of migrating data so every bit existed on three different drives (thus, two could fail, and data would still be protected):

Drobo 5C rebuilding for dual disk redundancy.

It initially stay it would take over 40 hours to do this, but it was actually completed in about 24 hours. The newer Drobos certainly handle rebuilding much faster than the early models which could take all week even with much smaller hard drives.

The end result was a new Drobo with a few more volumes available and some extra peace-of-mind.

To be continued…


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