Wednesday 8 September 2010

End of my tether with Drobo-iscsi kernel panic

Readers of this blog will know of my long running issues with my Drobo Pro

And how Drobo sent a 4th unit from the USA

And how I hoped against hope that all would be well

Picture this, 350 images on my Drobo Pro which I converting to CMYK on deadline for a client

Half way through I get...the Apple grey multi lingual screen of death telling me need to hard reset my Mac Pro

So restart then same again


So I switched to my iMac, attaching the Drobo Pro

And guess what happened?

I get...the Apple grey multi lingual screen of death telling me need to hard reset my Mac

This time I take the time to read the Apple crash report and behold what do I see.....(I think you know what is coming)

Now I'm a humble photographer and know little of how to interpret-ate crash reports but I saw the fateful words 'Data robotics'

So did a Google search and what did I find? 

So it would seem a conflict between OSX 10.6.4 and the Drobo iscsi controller

Causing a Kernel panic

I have just finished from a phone call with Drobo and they say they can offer 'no solution' as the issue is 'complex'

So that leaves a Drobo Pro rammed with Terabytes of my data which I no longer dare plug into any of my Mac's

I have enabled my Mac Pro as a firewire target disc so I can try to fix it from my iMac

When I did this Apple's disc utility said the damage could not be fixed and I need to reformat my Hard Disk and reinstall everything, I thought I perhaps was being harsh when I called my Drobo Pro a 'time vampire' but right now it is living up to its name

Yes, I understand such things can happen when a new OS can upset drivers for devices like the Drobo but I was talking to some VERY knowledgeable industry experts at my workshop in Belgium and they were urging caution with my reliance on the Drobo for my storage as it uses a propriety software not used by other backup solutions which use industry recognised software

I'm no expert but I feel this lies at the root of the matter

If you have lots of time and feel like taking a chance do buy a Drobo but be sure what you are letting yourself in for 

In Drobo's own words

They can offer 'no solution' and the issue is 'complex'

That leaves me with 20 years images stuck on a Drobo Pro

And a day's reinstallation on my Mac Pro after reformatting the drive

Happy days are here again


Fran├žois Sechet said...

Hmmmm... here is why I couldn't reach you earlier today! But I guess it would have been a terrible time anyway for you to talk to me, so...

Anyway, I also took the plunge this summer and bought a Drobo (the NAS version), and guess what, already had troubles with it. I can't delete a bunch of files at the same time - I have to go in and delete them all almost manually, one by one. Not too bad, except when the folder you want to delete contains about 70k files...

Time vampire... I'm with you on this one. Good luck!


Unknown said...

Hey F

Good to hear from you!

Bloody Drobo

God knows what I will do?

Or anyone else battling this one

Best of luck mate!



David Peacock said...

It's a tough one really. In Drobo's defense (I don't work for them, I just have one), *all* RAID-like systems are proprietary; the problem of being locked in is not a Data Robotics specific concern. For some reason, however, Data Robotics seem to be the only ones getting slammed for what is actually an industry wide problem.

The only real solution to all of this is to keep data live in multiple places, using multiple architectures and multiple solutions. There's strength in diversity.

Good luck with it Drew; that's a sucky situation. :-/

Simon said...

Hey drew, boy that sucks googooballs. I was tempted by the drobo but all I've ever heard are horror stories like yours and that it should only really be used as a backup for your backup. Shame as it such A nice idea

Frozen Forever Photography said...

Hey Drew,
Sorry to hear about your marriage problems. Any reason why you didnt go with G-tec? Anyways I hope some good comes out of this in the end.


Unknown said...

Hi Drew,

Sorry to hear all the troubles. Could somebody at Drobo tell which OS X version they do fully support without this problem? You have multiple machine, so you could choose to install and older OS X on one of the machines and get to your photos.

It's not good if the customer service is better than the product :-/

Mikkel said...

Aoo, a photographers worst nightmare just came true. I suffer with you!

I have a friend who has tried to get me to buy a Drobo, but I didn't. Lucky me!

Instead I bought a Netgear with 4 2TB-disks. Works like a charm so far.

By the way. We met in Sweden when you where holding a workshop 7 seminar in Gothenborg the other year. Don't know if you remember the bald guy in the front, being a teacher in photography and Photoshop :-)
You made me buy outdoor flashes and a smoke machine. Never been so fun photographing. Still learning though, and I only have two flashes :-)

Anyways, just wanted to say thanx for the inspiration! :-)

have luck!


Unknown said...

Hi Drew,
Ouch, I feel your pain. I took the plunge this summer and picked up a Drobo. Not the pro mind you, the low end, bottom rung, I've been using firewire with mine without any issues thus far.

I've found scsi to be on the iffy side ever since apple stopped building it into their hardware in favour of firewire (hence my DAT drive door stop). It seems like they just don't pay much attention to it in the newer OSs.

That's basically why I just stick to usb and firewire. The IOSCSI drivers et al that get installed by various vendors have been WAY more trouble than they are worth. The last time I dealt with those issues, the support for my product pointed the finger at apple, and apple pointed the finger at the product vendor. I just gave up and bought a firewire drive.

Best of luck to you with this. I know the pain and angst of not being able to access important data on a deadline.


Alex said...

Hey Drew, I feel your pain.

As a temporary measure to get the data off the drive, you coule try using another iSCSI initiator. I've had fairly good luck with the free globalSAN mac one. Good luck with it though!

Oh and David, not all RAID systems are proprietary. When I built my own server for backup I specifically picked Linux software RAID since it was open source and had a whole community to help you if things went wrong. Sure it requires a bit more management by me but at least I know exactly what it's doing and it doesn't eat time like the drobo. Touch wood so far it's all been good.

Drew, feel free to shout if you need help sorting thins out.


Anders C. Madsen said...

Hi Drew

Oh crap - this is about as bad as it gets. Can you still access the drive and the contents via FireWire?

If not, Alex may be right that using another iSCSI initiator may be able to help you gain access to your data - at least long enough to get the images off that cursed thing...

Oh, and to all those that did not attend the workshop in Brussels: Your loss.

It. Was. Fantastic. Period.


Ali said...

I dont want to come across like a d*ck for saying I told you so. But a large number of us did say to go with a tried and tested fiber channel settup, to avoid this again.

David Peacock this is not an industry wide issue. Enterprise level RAID hardware works perfectly well.

As does a number of consumer products, but those disks are not hotswapable. I wouldnt sugest going with consumer products for Drew tho.

Tarjei T. Jensen said...

This shows that RAID is not a replacement for proper backup.

The ugly truth is that tape is expensive. But when you are in deep doodoo, it is nice to have.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear that Drew. I use a RAID 5 3ware hardware array on a Linux server that I built myself. It takes a bit of managing every now and then, but I'm a geek anyway. And remember that it's irrelevant whether you're using a tape or disk solution, the only viable backup is one that exists in at least two different places!


Unknown said...

STAY AWAY FROM DROBO: I have had a lot of problems with my drobo. First it just shut down one day, and my mac wouldn't recognize it - I had to go through a procedure of shutting it down, removing all the drives... etc etc. It came back and i was back in business, but about 6 months later I had the same problem... without warning I got a message saying improper device removal.... etc. After trouble shooting for a couple of hours I called tech support. They had me go through numerous exercises to get it back up and running, but no luck. They escalated the issue up to the next tier but they still couldn't get it working - so they told me to send it back to them and they would replace the unit. I was responsible for shipping costs. I could not get expedited service since I didn't purchase this option. After 2 weeks I had a new drobo. I followed their instructions for inserting my drives but my computer didn't recognize it and wanted to format the drives. YIKES! Another call and I was told I would have to purchase data recovery software, and they recommended one to me. So I paid another $100 for this, but the software didn't recognize the drives either. I called drobo tech support again, and then they told me to purchase another type of data recovery software... ARE YOU KIDDING??? But no, they were not. As of now I still, one an a half months later, can't access my data. I'm out the initial cost of this unit, 4 - 1TB drives, $100 for recovery software, $50 in shipping costs... and now need to shell out more money that may or may not work. This has been a killer for me and my business... I wouldn't recommend this to anyone -

Unknown said...

Guys I feel your pain

And I share it

I know we are not alone

At Photokina the amount of top name shooters who either are disappointed with, about to stop using, or already had abandoned Drobo was striking

I could spend more of my time trying to reach stability with my Drobo Pro, but instead I will be committing time to a new solution.

It is all about time for me right now.

My take is that if you don't wish to work from your Drobo all the time and it just sits out the way to be accessed occasionally then it could suit you just fine

How many of us really work like that?

I have no intention of this turning into a running moaning session about my Drobo Pro.

I respect that Drobo have tried hard to fix my problems.

But its time to move on.

Like so many things in life it is just knowing when to walk away.

I will let you know which direction I go in, and hope the process is of interest to you all.

Onwards and upwards.

Unknown said...

I tried the drobo when it first came out and had problems after a week or so. The idea was to find a way to reduce the amount of drives sitting on my desk and to make the backing up process of numerous drives a bit easier. The end result for me was to send it back and go for the sonnet fusion, 3 years or so down the line, still working fine and going to get another one and give it an 8gb stomach to gobble up all the data I'm throwing at it.
I can't understand why people buy the drobo, if it's constantly spreading data over all the drives, it's never in one place so it makes sense that if there is a problem data will be lost, unlike having the same data backed up on separate drives (backed up)