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Drobo FS: Is it really a NAS?


kylejwx
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So I have had the Drobo FS for several months and it has been running 24/7 without any problems. However, it doesn't seem to function in the way that I expected a NAS to work. I imagined that the storage would be available to any device that is on the network.  However, it seems that I must install the Drobo dashboard on every Windows client in order for it to connect. In addition, I often have to go into the dashboard in order to mount it as a Windows drive, even after just a reboot.  (On Mac, I have accessed the Drobo without installing the dashboard, but I haven't done this enough to judge the reliability)

 

Right now, the Drobo shows up as letter drive under “Computer” but not under “Network.”  I thought that I remember seeing it show up under “Network” before, but I am not sure.  To me, it makes more sense for it to be on the network, rather than a drive letter. 

 

Thoughts? Comments? Is it just supposed to work like this or am I doing something wrong? I just don’t think I should have to install the dashboard on every PC just to connect to it.

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You've hit on an important issue. There is no single definition of what a NAS is. It really does just mean Network Attached Storage. The issue is that the name doesn't specify anything about what network protocols it supports, and that affects everything.

 

Unix/Linux, Mac, and Windows have different network protocols. Good NAS devices incorporate all of the protocols but, unfortunately, not all of the implementations are equal.

 

Unfortunately, the Drobo FS doesn't seem to have iSCSI, as I think that might answer your issues. It is supposed to support SMB, so it should work with Windows but, like I said, some implementations are better than others. This is one reason why I suggest Windows users use WHS for NAS purposes. It works really well as a NAS.

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It should show up under Network and you don't have to have the dashboard on every computer set up for it to work.  Something is wrong here.  Make sure you have the latest dashboard software installed and the latest firmware for the FS.  To do this manually, from the dashboard, go to Tools - Software Update.

 

Also Check under Drobo Settings - Network Settings.  Is it getting a network address from your DHCP server?  What does that look like?

 

iSCSI would be helpful here, but it's not the answer to your problem.  Let's see if we can get you running correctly.  It should run more like a NAS when it's working correctly..

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OK, thanks for prompting me to keep working on this. At first I just thought this was the default behavior so I didn't try to change it very much.
 

As of right now, the Drobo is showing up under "Network" just like I wanted. Steps that I took that may or may not have contributed to this improved behavior are:
 

1. Unplug the Drobo and Computer from the router and plug them directly into each other. Nothing happened.
2. Plug everything back into the router. In the dashboard, turn off "Manually add Drobo by IP." (The Drobo gets a static IP from the Netgear router.)
3. Drobo Dashboard prompts to update the software. I agree. (I had the most recent Drobo Dashboard installed on another machine and it still didn't change anything, so I wasn't expecting this to matter.)
4. Before the installer can even begin, I notice that the Drobo now show up on the network. (Problem solved, but I don't really know why.)
 

I will update if this change stays in effect or not.

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I have found it is a good idea to set a fixed IP for NAS and HomeServer devices. It may not be an issue with the Drobo, but I think it is a good practice to time them down to a fixed IP.

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I use IP reservations in my router to always assign the same IP address to my servers, printers, and NAS devices.

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kylejwx, if you're using your router as your main network switch, I urge you to get a dedicated Ethernet switch to use as the core of your network. The switches in routers don't have the capacity to properly handle gigabit networks. They can cause odd and sundry problems that are particularly vexing to solve.

 

I prefer static IP addresses, but IP reservations are good too, particularly for mobile devices.

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IMHO, any issues involving a Drobo are "particularly vexing" to solve. At work, I am the proud owner of a USB3 Drobo. Since for security reasons I cannot simply build my own server and hook it up, a direct attached device was the only option, and there are not many devices that allow for 10TB of storage. In the past two years, I really had nothing but trouble with the thing. Either the USB connection breaks down requiring a reboot, or, lately, I here and there get "device not recognized messages". Almost every week has a surprise for me in stock. I would never buy one of these for my home, growing old goes fast enough without it. Good luck!

 

(Sorry for the OT rant. I just think that people reading this forum are much happier with a WHS, which in many cases is also cheaper. You will be much happier!) 

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In my experience, I have been running the FS for almost a year now problem free.  I had the USB3 5 bay for a time and I found most of the problems I had with connectivity were due to the USB3 Card I was using and not the device.  Once I figured that out, never had another issue.

 

Of course I don't try to use the Drobo as a WHS replacement, but just another piece of hardware on my network.  Works perfect for what I use it for.  You might want to take a good look at your USB drivers or the hardware that is supporting them.  Drobo has some recommended configurations that might help as well.  

 

I am very happy with both.

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I'm with Jim. USB3 is problematic in many situations. I use it for my WHS data backup, but it took me a while to find compatible equipment (particularly USB3 add-in cards).

 

Many organisations use Drobo extensively. Pixel Corps and Scott Bourne use them to store and retrieve huge libraries of video and photos. Allyn Malventano loves them, and he knows an awful lot about disk storage.

 

As Jim suggests, I recommend you look into getting a different USB3 card in your PC.

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