StorCentric and Drobo in Chapter 7: Start Looking for Drobo Replacements
A banner at the top of the Drobo website reads:
As of January 27th, 2023, Drobo support and products are no longer available.
Drobo support has transitioned to a self-service model. The knowledge base, documentation repository, and legacy documentation library are still accessible for your support needs.
We thank you for being a Drobo customer and entrusting us with your data.
In mid-2022, Drobo filed for restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy alongside its parent company StorCentric. Both bankruptcies have now been converted to the liquidation-focused Chapter 7. While another company could still purchase Drobo and restart sales and support, the statement atop Drobo’s website offers little hope.
If you’re still using a Drobo, I encourage you to make sure you have good backups and start looking for an alternative, either a direct-attached drive or a network-attached storage device. Check out Jeff Carlson’s “NAS: What You Need to Know before Buying” (27 August 2018) and the latest version of his ebook Take Control of Your Digital Storage. Plus, our former managing editor Josh Centers still likes his Synology (see “Using a Synology NAS to Escape the Cloud,” 29 April 2022).
Don’t Worry about Retrospect
The initial version of this article raised the question of what would happen to Retrospect, which was also owned by StorCentric. I’ve now heard from Robin Mayoff, director of Retrospect Support (and a Retrospect employee since 1995), that Retrospect (like another StorCentric subsidiary Nexsan) has emerged from Chapter 11 under new company ownership. Mayoff posted this Alive and well note in Retrospect’s support forum:
A few articles have come out that talk about the StorCentric chapter 7 bankruptcy. Retrospect is under a new parent company. Customers for Retrospect are fully supported, and our website, distributors and resellers are actively selling Retrospect 19.1. Our engineering team is looking into new and exciting features for future versions of Retrospect. Support can always be reached at [email protected].
So I rescind any previous or implied suggestion that Retrospect users start looking for alternatives. Since its introduction by Dantz Development in 1989, Retrospect has survived through being purchased by EMC in 2004, shut down in 2007, revived in 2008 with a transfer to new EMC subsidiary Iomega, and sold in 2010 to Roxio, whose parent company Sonic Solutions was soon acquired by Rovi, which had no interest in backup software. The core Retrospect team then spun Retrospect out of Rovi in 2012 and developed the app for 7 years before StorCentric acquired it. If my math is correct, Retrospect’s new ownership marks the company’s eighth incarnation across 33 years, a history that exceeds even our own.
After hearing from the Director of Retrospect Support about how the company has emerged from the original Chapter 11 under new company ownership and is thus alive and well, I’ve recast the article and moved the previous discussion of Retrospect history to a new topic.
I have New York-based B&H to thank for sparing me the heartache of current involvement with Drobo. Years ago, I purchased a Drobo 4D for my dad, as it scared me that his architectural drawings were scattered on various external hard drives around his office. I inherited that Drobo and used it for a couple of years. When I upgraded my 2010 Mac Pro to a Mac Studio last year, I planned to purchase a Drobo 5D (I prefer direct-attached storage so Backblaze will back it up), despite the negative murmurings I was seeing online, and B&H took my order. Two months later, they emailed me to say, “We’ve canceled your order because we are no longer selling Drobo products,” and I took that as confirmation that I should stop trying to buy a Drobo!
This makes me sad… my Drobo 5D has been keeping up with me for what feels like forever, save for a replacement power supply. Guess it’s time to get a copy of @jeffc’s book and dive into the NAS world.
I switched over to a Synology NAS a few years ago (a DS418play model; the “18” in their numbering schemes is the release year), and it’s been great, even though I feel like I’m not taking full advantage of all it can do. You know, when I have some free time to really explore it… ha ha ha ha. What finally spurred me to switch was the noise: my old Drobo was just loud, and slow, and starting to get flaky. The Synology is much better.
I really liked my Drobos over the years, but was confused by the amount of drives that failed. Easy to switch out, but these were well rated drives that would die every few months even after a change in Drobo enclosures.
I have been using OWC’s SoftRAID and their 4 drive enclosure and have yet to have a drive failure. I do wish prices of SSDs would go down as I would love to have the speed of SSD in a RAID drive. I didn’t even feel comfortable selling off my last Drobo after I made the move over. I just couldn’t promise that the person would not have problems.
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