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I'm done with drobo

I’ve finally reached the point that I’m done with my drobo, which I use for the archiving of my photos. I actually use three drobos: one in my office, one in Brad’s office (onsite backup), and one at home (offsite backup). Now sadly I’m going to have to move to a different platform altogether because drobo finally pushed me to the point of no return.

What I love about drobo
What drew me to drobo in the beginning was the fact that it constantly monitors the health of my hard drives. So if one starts going bad, or gets full, my drobo will warn me, and robotically shift my data to other drives installed in my drobo until I can replace that drive. Keeping a photo archive intact is very, very important to us photographers.

Why I’m done with drobo
Because for the fourth time one of my drobos is a brick. Wait, are all the hard drives installed in my drobo still working? Yup. Can I access my photos? Nope. Not a one.

When I came into work a couple of days ago, I cringed when I saw an all too familiar problem — my drobo cycling on/off over and over again. It doesn’t mount, and I can’t access my photos — essentially it’s a brick. Again. 

Can’t you just pop those drives into something else and get your photos back? Nope. It’s a proprietary system that only a drobo can read. Sigh.

I went to their site, followed their troubleshooting guide, and it still just cycles on/off (by the way, as I mentioned above, this isn’t the first time this has happened — drobo has had to replace my entire drobo unit [not including the drives] before).

In fact, this was the fourth recorded incident Brad and I have had with drobo so far. And while you’re waiting for your new drobo, you cannot access any of your photos or files on your bricked drobo. You’re basically locked out.

This is the moment that I knew I was done with drobo
When my photo assistant Brad called their tech support for me, they told him my dead drobo is out of warranty. To get my photos back, I would have to pay nearly $300 for drobocare (an extended warranty program). So basically, while my drobo is supposed to protect my photo archive, what it has actually done is hold my photo archive hostage for almost $300.

I know what some of you are saying right now: “We told you so.” When Brad told drobo how supremely unhappy we were with that $300 hostage-situation, they eventually emailed back and lowered the price to $100. We passed on the “deal.”

At this point, I’d rather give that $100 to you. Seriously.
Rather than sending $100 to drobo on a solution that I’m going to abandon shortly, I’d rather just give the money to you to help me find a better solution.

To that end I’m offering a $100 bounty to whomever can help me choose a new photo archival storage system now that I’m “dumping drobo” (by the way, that would make a great slogan for a t-shirt).

I need about 12 TB of storage, which sadly may be conservative thanks to my 36-megapixel Nikon D800 which eats up drive space like a plague of locusts.

Just leave me a comment here with any advice you have for big storage, and if I go with your suggestion I’ll cut you a $100 check for your time and research (I’m only doing this for one person, so if 50 people say “try dropbox” I’m only cutting one check to one person. Just so you know).

My plea to drobo
I’ve been using drobos for a few years now, and have recommended them to a number of my personal friends. A lot of photographers out here have drobos, and we count on drobo to keep our images safe. But obviously there can come a point where our hard drives are actually OK but our drobos have failed.

If the drobo is a truly well-made product, shouldn’t it work reliably for more than a year? We don’t expect it to last 20 years, but it should darn well work perfectly for at least two or three. In short, drobo (the company) should have enough confidence in their technology and their product to stand behind their product for more than 12 months

My plea to drobo is simple… If our drobo’s power supply goes bad, or our drobos won’t mount, or whatever the problem is (unless we caused it by immersing our drobo in water, or dropping it off a counter, etc.) — we need you to replace it free of charge for a more reasonable amount of time than just one year. Otherwise the whole thing is worthless. Like my drobo is now.

So, that’s my story
While I love a lot of things about the drobo (the industrial design, the idea behind it, and the ability to easily swap drives in/out as needed), I hate that often I can’t get it to mount (ask Brad about this one). And worse than that, I can’t have a solution that protects me when all is well, but when it gets a cold (which it clearly often does), it locks me out and then holds me hostage. That I can’t live with.

UPDATE: I wrote this Wednesday night and planned on releasing it today, but when I went to save the post as a draft, I accidentally released the post instead (not the first time I’ve done that sadly). Even though I immediately changed the post release status as soon as I realized the mistake, by Thursday morning news of it was already bouncing around the web, and it quickly made it’s way back to drobo. They contacted me directly to see how they could resolve the issue and I even talked with drobo’s CEO a number of times during the day. He really seems like a very down-to-earth guy who seems genuinely interested in addressing his customer’s issues, but of course just fixing my problem won’t fix the bigger problem of their warranty policy, so I once again declined. However, to his credit he listened to my ideas (and rants) about how drobo might address this going forward so other photographers that get in this situation might be protected, and I even offered him the opportunity to respond directly to my readers here on blog. Hey, it’s a start. :)
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I have heard good things about the Pegasus Thunderbolt drives from +Trey Ratcliff and others here on Google+. I can't vouch for anything myself, but I will be interested to hear the other suggestions that come along as I will very likely need more storage by 2013!

The biggest advantage for the Thunderbolt Pegasus drives are speed from what I understand- like having an SSD with 12 TB hooked up to your system. It may depend on if you are running all Mac though and if you want to network them. I cannot speak to these issues...
Thanks for saving me the future misery I would have encountered if I had purchased this system.
Have you tried installing the hard drives to an external it's easy buy a hard drive shell power up and you should be able to access your data 
I went to Drobo when WHS stopped supporting file replication (dumb decision) - I haven't had these problems with my device, though I do backup online as well so I'm hedging there.
Best of luck +Scott Kelby! I'm way too new at this photography thing to offer up any worthwhile suggestions, but I will be looking forward to seeing what others suggest...I still need to get a back-up system in place for myself.
Also if you already have an external hard drive just use that shell saves buying a newie 
Im very curious about the cause of the drobo malfunction myself.  If the power is cycling on/off - but all the drives are in tact - I have to believe its a faulty piece of hardware internally to the unit that could be easily replaced and far cheaper than the $300 or even the $100 dollars.  My first thought is a failing power supply unit.  Just a thought - still retain the drobo system with all its features - get drobo support out of the picture and save you your $$$
+Scott Kelby thanks for a great write up. Interesting timing, as I'm looking for a scalable backup solution for my photos as well. Ive read about the exact situation you are describing, and it has stopped me from getting a drobo system so far.
Yep, This is not the first time I heard of this.  I have had a Synology NAS for 6 years. No trouble. and Hey, I bet you can reuse those old drobo drives.
I have been using a ReadyNAS Pro by Netgear for many years without a single problem.  Even have the original ReadyNAS+ still in operation.  It is similar to a what you have, but reliable. 
You're in a position that is more advanced than most consumer devices. Find a local university, hit the computer lab in the wee hours of the morning, and find a geek to help you out.

My experience is with Linux, but other OSs would probably work. None of it would make a difference as seen from your desktop. Several decent distributed filesystems exist. As long as each office has an internet connection, you can have your data replicated, not only on a local drive, but on a drive in another office. Think of it as RAID on steroids.

Give the student the hundred bucks. She/he will have something for the resume and you'll have access to a local guru for a couple of years.
Synology and Wiebetech both make fantastic products with high speed SATA connections or LAN such as iSCSI, whichever you prefer. And Promise has their new Pegasus line with Thunderbolt which I've read is still cutting it's teeth but holds "promise". Haha!
Jen L
Sorry to hear. I'm currently dealing with my Drobo, too. Need to reconfigure my volume size and move off 3.6 TB of data and back and just bought a 3TB drive for it. I've always worried about the proprietary nature of the system. +Chase Jarvis's team seems to like G-Technology and G-Tech has a few (up to) 12 TB options:
(although I recently had a problem with the USB connector on my 500 GB GDrive mini though the 2 FW800 connectors are fine) 

I have heard of some people using Buffalo NAS as +Joshua Lee suggested. I have not used it myself, but Mac OS X also has a built-in software RAID that might be worth looking into as a creative solution since using it to archive photos and not running a server.

Also, if people have a Drobo and bought it with their credit card, often the credit card would protect them for a second year.
This is the first time I've heard of a Drobo going south. I'm a bit surprised. From what I've seen any system that backs up data constantly kills hard drives, too much hammering on the hardware.

Personally, I tend to use drives from OWC ( They use  well-made cases and consequently their drives don't seem to go down like other manufacturer's drives. I don't have 12TB of photos, but what I do have has never suffered from a hard drive failure with my OWC drives (3 or so TB). I have one drive that's about 11 years old that hasn't ever burped (and that's about 6 years longer than most drives last).
I've not used their RAID drives, but I'm sure they're as robust as their stand-alones. They have RAID solutions at:

I have about 10TB of storage devices that I use with my Mac. Only 3 have NEVER given me ANY problem. All of them are OWC drives. The only other drives I've never had a problem with are Iomega drives, but I don't even know anyone who has used their RAID solution.

(I like G-tech drives, but have had problems with their interface (USB & FW) connections periodically. My Aegis desktop drive sounds like a motor boat, one Seagate is hot as hell. I have a new Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Slim that I'm liking so far, but have only used it for a week, so the jury is still out. Will never buy a LaCie or West. Digital branded drive ever again (their cases suck).)
So, that's my recommendation: OWC!
Ed Peck
Scott this is a very important discussion for photographers especially with the D800 now producing such large files. There are some wonderful aspects to my Drobo but the limited warranty and proprietary storage make me feel very uncomfortable. I think you are correct in stating that they are not doing Drobo any favours in terms of creating loyal customers.

I would be most interested in the feedback you got on alternatives and also how the president of the company is going to address the issues for all of us photographers. Where would I find these threads?
By the way, I also have used Wiebe Tech drives with mixed success. So, I don't recommend you go with them either.
There is a Linux-based roll-your-own solution. You can get Openfiler, for example, and build up a massive NAS for work. The upside is an open, expandable system that doesn't hold you hostage like Drobo. The downside is the work putting it together.

Maybe someone would be willing to do it for parts and a full Kelby Media pass? :-)
+Scott Kelby I also have a DROBO 5-drive brick.  Before that I gave up on them for two reasons: 1) proprietary (proprietary in my mind equates directly to incompetent) 2) The dashboard simply doesn't work and they FREELY admit it and tell you to get something else.  So what does one do?  I use two machines.  I have an identical drive in both and have cloned EVERYTHING to the second drive in each machine.  I manually keep the data files synchronized between them.  I don't trust synchronization software either.  I am going to get another backup external drive.  RAID 5 is obtuse and it is never clear what to do if the worst happens and NO ONE at the manufacturers can help or cares.  +Moose Peterson Moose Peterson uses Buffalo but their web site has virtually no information ... just shuttles you to other sources.  When anyone has a defensible solution I am VERY interested.  It WILL NOT be DROBO.  It is only because I had figured out that DROBO would be worse than useless that I have files backed up (in most cases) three times.  It is just about essential.  The manufacturers web sites are pathetic.  Sales tools and little else.
I had a similar problem with mine a few months ago. Turned out it was a hard drive in the process of failing (working then not working) and the droning having a fit with it. Only by sending in the log files could the factory figure it out. I suggested better feedback to the user about issues like this to make it easier to identify problems without the need to contact "home base". I'm still using mine.
Hey Scott. I heard about problems with the Drobos from other photographers so although you recommended them in your blog I never bought one. I'm about to switch to a Raid system, called Fantec QB-X8US3R. It is for up to 8 SATA hard drives. So you can store up to 24 TByte. Amazon has it for 433 Euros (I'm from Germany). They have also smaller solutions for four or two hard drives. Please look on their website. The mentioned QB-X8US3R has 5 different Raid functions so you can choose whats the best for you and your data. It also uses the fast USB 3.0 connection or eSATA. For further information please look on the Fantec website (
Since you need at least 12TB of storage and a better way to serve and backup your data (including images and other types of data) you'll need to look into external NAS with RAID control or you can have someone build a full-tower computer with RAID configuration so you can install at least 6-2TB drives or 4-3TB drives to create 12TB storage.

However, for better configuration, if you can provide what you have (laptop/workstation) and how you want to access this data (via a network or a USB/Firewire type connection)  We can help providing a detailed specs for what you need and can do.
I am pretty sure you will run the same risk regardless of the NAS you go for.  We have had controllers go bad in enterprise level SANs (i.e. high 5-low 6 figure dollar units) several times.  I would suggest that you buy one extra unit of whatever solution you pick so that if one goes down you have a spare to switch to.  Or if it is cheaper, you can pay for a support contract.  

You might want to evaluate where you have the Drobo set up.  Make sure it's plugged into a good UPS, make sure it's not in an environment it will get dusty, make sure it's in a well ventilated area where it can keep cool, and make sure it is someplace where it doesn't get jostled.  If it is some sort of environmental condition, then it might not matter what solution you switch to.  

I have a 4 bay Drobo that I use as an offline backup.  You are making me rethink the wisdom of that, and I will be very curious what you land on.
+Scott Kelby I've been waffling on what system to get for a long time.  Nothing seems problem free.  I've heard of some problems with pegasus too, although Trey is happy with his.  I'm thinking I might do multiple 4TB LaCie drives with a thunderbolt cable.  Oh, and SmugMug for an online backup.
I've been using the Pegaus R6 from Promise (RAID), along with CrashPlan for my backups. The Thunderbolt speed and daisy-chaining option is really nice, though the device is way overpriced still because they don't have any competition yet. Haven't had any problems with it so far. I wish the darn thing would have a sleep function, though. The Drobos are probably more easily scaled up, but I thought their drive bays (which didn't include the HDs) were overpriced as well.
why not simply buy one of micro servers (like HP), stick some Freenas or Linux server onto it and you are good to go. how much disk you want to stick in there? well depends how much money you have.i think they start at arorund 270 EUR in Europe. porbably cheaper in US.
Personally, I use Google drive for my storage. I have an Ssd as temporary backup until all my photos are uploaded. I have a Max of 16tb and no maintenance to be had. And it's accessible everywhere.
I looked at a number of different solutions to the same problem and decided to go with the Sans Digital TowerRaid 5-Bay solution with 5 -2TB disks.  I purchased 2 units and have them shared from a stand alone PC, using the PC to mirror them so I have a backup in case one unit fails.  I set them up using RAID5 so if one drive fails I also won't loose any data.  So far I have been very happy with this solution and haven't had any problems.
Thanks so much for post. I was literally just about to purchase two drobo units.

I've always thought of Drobo as a home user system not an enterprise storage solution.
Big $'s but if you want something that just will not quit get a netapp product.  Depending on model you can easily expand well beyond your 12T requirement. 
A software product called CrashPlan was another solution I was considering. You can either back up to their cloud or point to any other disk array you have.
I was really excited about the chance play with a Drobo at client site.  However, after playing with their proprietary RAID, I'm over proprietary raid solutions. 
I just bought and subsequently returned a Drobo B800FS at work, so I can agree with any thought or sentiment that the Drobo is rubbish. I replaced it with a Synology 1812+ and it has exceeded all hopes and expectations by leaps and bounds. Do look into a Synology you won't be disappointed. Bought it from
I have to echo the satisfaction of the other Synology owners commenting on this. I have a Synology 1511+ at his hasn't had a hiccup. It has been a rock. Get it. You won't be sorry.
Also something else to keep in mind for right now: 3TB drives seem to be running cheaper than 2TB drives.
Hi Scott.

What +Alexandre Romao said. I recenly went for a Synology DS411+II over Drobo and anything else for that matter. It is a small 4-drive unit, all that I need for my photos. It is a NAS unit and blows comparable Drobo units out of the water with its network performance

Their bigger units (8/12 drives and above) look amazing and will suit photographers with tens of TB of storage requiremens and Gigabit network requirements fine.

It is truly one of the best pieces of IT equipment I've ever used. All Synology units use their solid Linux based firmware with proven RAID, volume management and network filesystem support. (Windows and, I believe, native Mac network filesystem support).

Have a look. They support offsite replication and, I think, cloud storage backups through plugins.

Any linux sysadmin vaguely worth his/her salt will be able to recover data from working SATA drives, pulled from a Synology, as long as they have access to replacement hardware to accomodate the drives.
I can't recomment a concrete product, but if you're going to replace all drobos, I'd say you should replace them by 2 or 3 different products, to avoid malfunctions because of faulty productions.

Second, I'd avoid proprietary solutions. If the hardware fails, you should be able to mount the hard drives in another box.

The guy from the universities lab could be a very cheap way, but if your earnings depends on these boxes, you may spend some $$ on a more professional SLA.

Finally DropBox is cool, but it does not replace a physical backup in your offsite safe. Never. Think about the Amazon Cloud failure last year...
To expand on +Michael Holtermann 's comment. The business-class Synology already have the ability to backup to Amazon servers built into the operating system. 
If you have a mac with Thunderbolt, stop wasting time and get the 12TB Pegasus from the mac store.  I've considered the Drobo, but was not that impressed.  Time is money and having a good local backup (because the cloud can be too slow) of your items is priority.
As I recall, +Trey Ratcliff also moved away from the Drobo drives. I held back from investing in them from many negative reviews at Amazon.
It's hard to beat the Synology DS412+ for price/performance for most photographers, unless you need more storage than 4 drives or want more performance like Pegasus on Thunderbolt.
Sans Digital TR4UT+B is very good too, but very picky on which drives are compatible.
I do hope you reach a solution. There are a great number of ideas here and I do agree with running this by the university students. It may be a great way to get a quick collaboration of some possibly newer ideas. Good luck.
Thanks for the post.  I've been considering a Drobo, but now that's been scratched from my list of options.
I looked for stories like these before I committed to purchased my drobo over a year ago and found mostly good reviews. Unfortunately they came too late. When I first heard what the drobo technology had to offer I thought it was too good to be true. It turns out I was right.
I'm glad you got a chance to talk with the CEO and hope that will yield some good results but like you say it's too little too late.
I haven't had your particular problems but I have had several problems with my drobo. It's working satisfactory ATM (knock on wood) but when the time comes I will be looking for another solution. Keep us posted on what you find +Scott Kelby.
My guess is you're using this with a Mac? For some reason it seems Mac users have way more problems with Drobo's than everyone else. Not sure why.
I've used them on our servers for several years now running 24/7 with 0 issues.
It will be pricier than your current setup. But checkout the solution from Sonnettech, (8-24TB) or if you got a rack you can put it in (also exists as 16 disk system

You could combine that with to get it as a NAS, otherwise you need to direct attach.
Isn't it just a Linux filesystem underneath? You won't be able to mount it on Windows but a computer running Linux should be able to. I guess it also depends on the RAID configuration, but you should be able to recover the data.

Sorry to hear about your troubles.  :-(
You should build your own freeNAS its a ZFS file system so not only will it protect your data in a RAID it will make sure none of your files get corrupted. It also has a time machine like function called snapshots. Build 3 of them and keep on off site. When I have the money I'll be doing the same.
+Scott Kelby if you're not willing to consider a cloud-based solution, check out +Thecus Storage . Solid, inexpensive products and are easy and simple to maintain. I've got an N4100 Pro at home, and we use the N5200s at work.
+Chase Jarvis I think uses the Raid. External hard drives. He actually has a video of his workflow.

I would say its a little too early for a thunderbolt drive. Or a SSD (solid state drive)

That's my two cents. 
I had this exact same problem - the solution was to have a backup of the Drobo to another Drobo, which I didn't want to do because if one of them freaks out constantly, why would I buy two of them? The CEO also reached out to me and just like you, I declined. I just use internal drives now.
Like Patrick, I'm using an own-built freeNAS system as well with 4 drives in ZFS and RAID-Z. The 4th drive is actually a spare one, which automatically takes over if 1 of the other 3 crashes. As a secondary system, I'm backing up towards my Synology DS207+, which has served me faithfully since 2007 and last but not least, after each major photoshoot, I do a backup of my Synology to external USB-drives. Once the backup is finished, they are disconnected and stored at a different location (@work or at a friend's place). This backup system has never let me down. :-)
An I only say no to a Pegasus for affordability if you wanted to purchase a handful an have multiple copies of backups. 
LaCie 4Big Quadra looks like a good 12TB Solution, especially if you have eSata. About $1400 and has a 3-yr warranty.
I've got 2 R6's. Been using for a while. Stable as can be and really rock. 
+Brandon Jackson he has 12TB of data that would take over a year to back up to the cloud. I know i've backed up 3TB to the cloud it took me 3 months.
Whatever you use, please make sure the storage solution has a multiple layer approach to backup. Expect victory, plan for failure.
At least +Drobo reached out to you and tried to make it right. I understand your frustration, but here is the thing, if they offered to get you a new Drobo at no cost, why wouldn't you take that to get your files off? Seems like a mistake to me, especially if you are a photographer.

Here is what I would do: Get two of the NAS devices above and then ensure you are syncing the data between NAS devices. At the cost, they are cheap compared to Cloud Storage at that storage amount. Google drive would cost you $800 a month and Amazon doesn't offer anything close to that size, but for 1TB is a thousand a year. 
Synology DS712+ with an expansion using DX510 (Up to 28TB; 8TB with just DS712), comes with a limited 3 year warranty.

* 180.91MB/sec Reading, 105.59MB/sec Writing
* 2 LAN with Failover and Link Aggregation Support
* Hot-swappable drives.
* Small yet Scalable, up to 7 Drives with Synology DX510
* iSCSI Support as Virtualization Solution
* Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)
* RAID TYPES: Synology Hybrid RAID, Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1

The backup software also includes support for Amazon S3 Backups:

My Drobo hasn't failed yet; I do back it up regularly to FAT drives just in case; which then sit in the fire box.
There's something to be said for simple external hard drives. Apart from the huge price difference, they are easier to maintain, easier to replace, easier to troubleshoot... Never use closed proprietary systems for something open industry standards can do better at a lower price.

Also, nowadays online backups are rapidly reaching terabyte capacities, so a move in that direction is all but inevitable.
If this is a money maker for you then you should look into a cloud backup solution with a good reputation. Evault is one.

I work in IT and a year warranty is average for cheap stuff like this
Jungle disk or duplicati and Rackspace storage
You should not use your Drobo for "archiving". You should use it for backup. If it goes wrong, you just replace it and back everything up to the new one. (In other words, if you're only keeping one copy of important data, this is a problem independent of whatever's going on with your Drobo.)

For online backup, try - the neat thing about this is they allow you to pay to have a drive shipped. You do the initial sync that way and ship it back, then you only have to do the changes online. (Otherwise, it can take eons to get your initial sync done.)
Scott, I noticed your Drobo post come up on my Android as a "hot post" or whatever Google calls it.  Honestly, I do not have the time to read the 70+ comments (and growing) from other people giving you advice to see if I would duplicate it or not, but I will say what I have to say and be done with it.

The main issue here that you and consumers of any tech products out there is that there is 1 thing you can count on:  hardware will eventually fail.  Does not matter if it is the small CPU in the NAS appliances you get from Drobo, the HDs you have installed in the NAS app, or one of the I/O ASICs on the motherboard.  You simply have to first admit that this is the nature of electronics today and secondly plan around that detrimental inevitable scenario.

When enterprise-level companies have mission-critical business apps that they need to run, they run them on servers that have multiple redundancies (CPUs, DIMMs, NICs, FC HBAs, disks, PSUs, etc.).  However, even with such servers that are engineered for redundancy, there will almost always be 1 or a few components that can be considered a "single point of failure" in the system (i.e., if that type of part fails, the whole server fails to function).

This is why software companies have created server clustering software.  In the event that a whole server goes tits up, the backup cluster node (a secondary server) immediately steps in to serve the mission-critical business app (e.g., a huge Oracle database).  With such midrange and high-end servers that are clustered together, that should enable the cluster to continue to serve whatever business app is running with 0 downtime to internal employees or external customers.

With the above in mind, I am not going to offer any specific solution but offer you a framework to implement multiple redundant solutions so that even if 1 piece of hardware fails, you can continue to do your business without interruption from lack of access to your photos.

One of the 1st and probably easiest suggestions I can make is simply plan on buying 2 NAS appliances (Drobo, Synology, or whichever manufacturer with whom you feel comfortable using) and simply make sure that you save copies of your photos to 2 or 3 mirrored NAS boxes.  Yes, think of it as clustering your data in case your hardware does fail again in the future.

Now you may be balking at the thought of buying 2 NAS boxes (or more) just to mirror your data, but this is what enterprise-level businesses do with mission-critical apps and data.  They cluster and mirror the hell out of the hardware and their business apps so that at least 1 system is hopefully always operational, feeding the needs of internal employees or external customers.

Yes, this will require a bigger financial investment on your part to mirror your data by buying and using more hardware, but ask yourself this question:  how much is it truly worth to you to have multiple copies the same photos at any particular site in case you have a catastrophic hardware failure that prevents access to your precious photos?  Every business asks this question of themselves, determining for themselves if they can afford to buy more hardware to ensure maximum uptime or can they afford to be down for a while waiting for replacement hardware to arrive, be configured, and data up and running.

In the end, I would recommend buying double the NAS boxes at any site, and also make use of some online/off-site storage (either using a data syncing service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, MS SkyDrive, etc. (maybe even 2 or 3 of these services for even more redundancy) or buy a web hosting account that has a ton of space (say 250 GB or more) so that you can use ftp/sftp to upload files to your web space / FTP space).  There are tons of web hosting providers out there, and the one I currently use is since it is cheap and offers both Windows and Linux hosting.

Also consider that you are using consumer-level (i.e., cheaper) NAS appliances by using Drobo's products.  If you have the money, there are enterprise-class NAS appliances that can not only provide you more disk space, more speed, and more redundancy, but you could potentially have those NAS appliances scripted to auto-sync to your web hosting account's FTP space so that you can have data synced off-site on a regular basis.

To summarize, the moral of the story is make sure your hardware units/systems are mirrored, clustered, or otherwise made redundant in case 1 of your NAS appliances fails again.  In the end, you may not have thought that you should have been expected to buy extra hardware, but now you know what businesses with mission-critical apps and data must do all the time.  With that same mindset, set aside some extra money for yourself to invest in more redundancy.

In the end, yes, it was your fault for not doing this.  Yes this is a learning experience for you and a primer of real-world issues that us IT guys have to deal with on a daily basis.  However, now that you know what needs to be done, that should enable you to better protect the data that is precious to you.

Keep your $100.  I have a feeling you will need to reinvest that in buying a little more hardware soon.   :-)   Have a good day.
There are a number of NAS solutions out there that are based on industry standard tech. They might not be as easy as drobo to use, but I think there is a trade off between reliabilty and ease of use that one must make the decsision for themselves. I use a Thecus 4100pro NAS. I would say it is almost as flexible as a drobo in terms of how you set it up. I use mine in a RAID 5 config and map the logical drives to Lightroom over my network. There is only room for 4 drives so it is a little small for your needs. Thecus does make units with more drive slots however. I would assume they operate the same.
Id recommend windows gone server. No vendor lock in like you got with the drobo system. 
As a Drobo owner myself, I will probably not purchase another when mine finally does die (for the record, I have not had any difficulties with the hardware of the unit). You are right about the warranty period. Competitors are offering longer warranty periods, so I see no reason why Drobo can't do the same. Are you listening, Drobo? I also like the FreeNAS suggestion and incorporating some distributed storage capabilities so you can rest easily knowing that your data is safe, somewhere, at all times.
SAME HERE!!! I was just talking about this yesterday to a group of friends. I have two Drobos each 16tb loaded with videos and client projects. I've replaced/ RMA'd one of them 3 times! First the power brick (which is way to massive) shorted the drobo. The second time all the day became unreadable after plugging it in my Mac from my PC, and the third time it was a brick.

I called drobo each time and they asked "do you have a backup?" ... Who keeps a backup of their backup? Especially 16tb! Then they referred me to some data recovery software which was $200 and it didn't even work. (thankfull for TPB)

With all the Drobos I've had, I could never successfully get the esata connection to work properly, and FireWire was very spotty at best.

Drobos look great but I'll never recommend them to anyone else and I wil never buy one again. I'm now using G-Drives.
I would go for a Synology solution, in your case;
2 times RAID1+0 setup possible for both performance and data safety.
Problem with this kind of storage is still loss of all data in case of a fire for example, due to it being in only one physical location.
Solve this by off site backup, but this will be also very expensive.
fI you think cloud storage can be trusted and have a good down and upload speed this could also be a (also expensive(perhaps more expensive than buying own storage))solution....
Sounds like Drobo is a vendor-locking solution to a problem with standardized solutions. Have you considered just buying a plain old RAID enclosure? That should do what you want without doing exotic things that you can't get your data back out of.

But then I've never personally set up a RAID enclosure, so this is strictly hypothetical on my part.
i didn't read this whole post because it was too long, but it looks cool
+Ken Wermann +Steije van Hees I believe +Scott Kelby is looking  for a similar situation to his current set up of 3 drobos which he has one off site. Online back up isn't really a solution for his 12TB needs. However a custom built machine 3x over with freeNAS on it a ZFS system using RAIDZ would be ideal in my opinion. I'm putting a parts list together right now proxy be a portion of what backblaze uses in their pods.
Thank you to the folks that recommended Synology, looks like that may the product I was looking for.
+Brandon Kester almost forgot about the iXsystems I had looked at it before but the FreeNAS mini just doesn't seem very robust. I would look at one of their other solutions. I think it is only a custom order too.
Why not archive images to Amazon's cloud and let them worry about the offsite backup issues? There are many different pieces of software that can achieve this and costs are falling all of the time.

You can then use a smaller network storage system for your most current projects. I use Netgear's ReadyNAS products, which seem to have excellent reliability. I've been using mine error free for the past five years!
Proprietary NAS technologies are unacceptable if the data is stored in a proprietary format. Period. End-of-statement. That is a blatant example of vendor lock-in, and your experience here should provide an object lesson. Make sure your next system is based upon open standards.

All this device does is (apparently not very successfully) relieve you of the responsibility of managing your data. In the end, though, you will be better off taking care of your important information yourself.
Qnap ts-569 will allow you to do RAID 6 which gives you two hard drives failing without issue and they can backup to another similar qnap device. I've been happy with them.
Sorry to hear of your woes - seems quite a few pros I know have had similar problems with Drobo's unfortunately :-( I prefer Synology kit for my backups/archives. I've never had an issue with them. It's worth checking them out!
You would need a little Mac server, i.e. a Mac Mini with a thunderbolt port to complete that.
I have been using ReadyNAS for years and have been very happy.  If you get a Intel based ReadyNAS you can run the Java app for CrashPlan and have both local fast NAS access and also the safety of Remote Backups for very little money.  Every time I my wife and I take family photo's off of our camera we put it on the ReadyNAS share and the CrashPlan client backs up those images.  CrashPlan is limited upload per day, but they have a SEED disk option to get about 1TB or data+ on the servers.

We have about 1.5TB or family photo's and videos.  We seem to average about 100Gigs of new data a month.  At $300 for a 3 years unlimited plan CrashPlan is a super good deal.
I bricked two drobos and got to the vps about two years ago. I finally made the switch to a synology NAS solution. Synology is really great for the price point and flexibility.
+Scott Kelby My suggestion would be getting a Synology ds411, It's a 4 hotpluggable HDD rack of which each HDD can be 4 TB max.
Which will bring the total to 12 GB in raid 5, or 8 GB with mirroring.
The device itself can be accesed like any normal drive (in other words the storage isn't managed propretairy), and as an ftp server.
Which will give you acces wherever you've got an online connection.
 The fact alone that with a raid 5 configuration you can lose 1 disk, should give you some certainty against data loss.
Just make sure you check the light's once in a while. :)
I was lucky that my drobo just started failing drives and acting strange before completely locking me out. That's when I read all the forums and decided to switch before it was too late. Even luckier still, that was when thunderbolt and the Pegasus units came out. Transferred everything to my new R4 and it has been working super fast with no issues so far. At first, I used the drobo for backing up the R4, but its performance just deteriorated even further and it is now just a brick under my desk.
I'm a fan a LaCie products. They have many products with lots of connection options. Good warranties and support for the higher end (pro-sumer) products. 
I too would use the Cloud and choose Google Drive as there's no maintenance, available everywhere and allows for 16TB. I have no idea how long that initial upload would take, however!
+Craig Flint My company pushes lacie RAIDs to all of our customers. Personally i can't trust them because none of them run ZFS.
Nothing like having complete physical control of your data.  Cloud storage is like taking public transportation.  Less expensive, no maintenance but only goes where the majority goes and may not always be available.  But no one listens to me.
Cant really be bothered to read through all the comments to see if this has been mentioned but it is straight forward to mount one of the harddrives locally under Linux.
For storage just setup your own SAN - easy enough though maybe not as cheap and won't let you down done correctly
I recommend using Netgear ReadyNAS. I have three. One is an older duo with two mirrored drives. I have another NV+ with four drives that is setup in x-raid and my new Pro 6 with 6 each 3 TB drives. Set it up so that I have to lose two drives before the system loses data. Message me if you would like more info.
I built my own NAS/storage system and have had 100% in-house redundancy and rather satisfactory performance for my video cut/render needs. Building things my way is a lot more expensive, but my array is on its 4th year without any maintenance. 
.......And if you don't have a Linux machine to hand just use a CD off the front of any Linux magazine, you don't need to install Linux on a computer, just run it from the disc - you will be able to see the external "Drobo" drive, plus the drives on the machine the CD is in, plus any other external drives you care to plug in, just drag and drop your files.
Software RAID on Linux is your best open choice. Then you're not beholden to any particular vendor's proprietary technology.
Personally, i think that for a person like you who cares about his data,  A hardware solution isn't the solution...

Think about it, hardware borks, it gets old overtime and it can get corrupted in many ways, with all the latest updates of tech, fast internet connections & the latest cloud innovations, i think you might want to invest in an online backup utility.

I would say dropbox, but let's say i'm a bit biased towards Google drive, why?

Because, you want to invest in a platform that is going to STAY there for long enough, you can't trust dropbox or any other company to be acquired by another company or having some sort of inconvenience, Dropbox is great! i use it all the time but Google drive is a platform that is only going to get better and better.


Go for Google drive, you'll be able to view/search/categorize/add/edit your pics online from anywhere, and it's a platform that is only going to get better, after you upload your stuff, it's safe there ^-^

oh and i just HAD to add this in because...well i just had to, Google drive is the more Eco-Friendly solution, if that means anything x'D;;
This is exactly why I've shied away from Drobo and recommended against using it over the years. It's exactly the nightmare scenario I foresaw
I use two Thecus 4100PRo units both setup as raid five with a hot spare. I have lost drives and never lost data. I am sure that there are units that can support your space requirements. I also have my photos backed up to the cloud. Belt and suspenders approach.
Ask a friend who knows enough to build a computer and knows a little bit about linux. Then use freeNAS. If freeNAS breaks, you still have zfs hard disks which can be read from another system like debian with freebsd kernel or netbsd etc.
Get a 5 bay NAS (Synology has nice reviews on amazon) and setup RAID 5 on it. Here, RAID 5 means 1 hard disk failure is OK, but more than that means data loss. Usually its best to keep a spare hard drive on you - they are not that expensive. You can store upto the maximum space in 4 drives. With 3TB Hard drives, your 12TB goal should be met.
Sorry for your situation but thank you for sharing your story. I was thinking of buying a Drobo...not now though.
I haven't tried this solution myself but its an alternative to RAID and NAS:
forget bout drives and go with Google Drive like +Omar Al Matar  said, try it now 5GB free then after that you gotta pay, but that means you have your data safe and secure and can access it from any other device with internet, PC, Mac, Phone or Tablet
Ditto on the Netgear ReadyNAS, been running for years and recently it sent me an email telling me that one of the drives was becoming iffy, so I did a drive hot swap and it never skipped a beat.
Surprised to see only +Josiah Ritchie mention Qnap. I use their products and highly recommend them. Competively priced and feature packed. Substantially easier than a freenas do it yourself solution.
netgear readynas, original and best.

Any of their 4 drive or more options.

although it was originally infrant.
Try the Synology DiskStation. There are several flavors. It basically runs a little embedded Linux OS and supports many different access methods as well as familiar disk layouts.
Instead of investing all your money into a pre created storage unit that can malfunction over time, why not utilize the newest technology in cloud computing. You could also purchase your own domain for 9.99 a yr, pay 1,000.00 to have somebody build you a professional looking website to attract client or broaden
your influence
purchase server space with high volume storage with upload speeds greater they hardware you could purchase. 12TB of storage could cost you less if you say your a business then a individual. Have the creator program the cloud into your website as a background task or administrator access point where no one else but you can access the contents.
You've gotta go with Synology. You won't regret it. Such a fantastic company.
Authorize your work computer, Brads Computer and your home devices internal IP addresses and I am not talking about your ISP provider IP I am talking your personal devices IP as an authorized user. So you can ensure that you have unlimited space, fast upload speeds, no maintenance cost, or general hardware issues
Lots of people are suggesting NAS, I'll second these, my experience is with synology, but I heart good things about qnap as well.

However your fundamental problem is backup. Any piece of hardware can get toasted, stolen, burned down etc.

I use a ultra paranoid backup solution. I store everything on my workstation (Good old fashiened maxi tower with tons of drives), these back up to the synology box, which in turn backs up to USB drives. (You would need to do incremental backup sets due to your database size). The USB drives are transported off-site. Additionally I use on-line backup from keepit.

USB drives are good for rapid recovery of large data sets. The synology box is for everyday disasters, on-line backup is my last resort. (I have a beefy line but pulling several hundred GB back over the net would be painful, let alone TBs)
I've been a big fan of drobo since the beginning but was very disappointed in the customer support. They responded quickly but didn't help me at all. Just told me to save all my data, 4tb, in between the automatic power cycling, then replace all my drives.... They are trying to tell me that I had a triple hard drive failure

Like you I'm considering some other platform.
Sean G
Cant wait till upload speeds are fast enough for Google Drive. 12tb take weeks. But, after your done... Think be worth it. I would trust Googles servers over my own. I slowly (have NOwhere near 12tb) keep moving my most important stuff to Cloud. Sick worring about drives & backup. Who to trust... Where did i put this or that flash card, etc.
Just wish uploads speeds were 10gb a min, be so cool.
In short term you will shell out 1,000 plus for the domain/web designer, an additional 300.00-750.00 a year in cloud storage. But your savings with maintenance and loss of time or work. 
It's a unique and rather interesting concept but it will take time for an individual to build but in the long run be beneficial to your photography lifestyle 
I could also try to create some program to bridge the new device firmware system to that of drobo so your not held hostage
This is one of the major problems with life in the magnetic media world we created. We are all 1 bump, surge or magnet away from loosing all our data. Seriously Scott, considering you have a good size business as well as all your personal and professional photos, I would think about bringing in professionals (like IBM or Cisco) to set you up with a system that not only backs up your stuff offsite, but also incorporates a cloud feature that will allow you to reach your stuff when you are not in the office. 
CrashPlan looks interesting. Encrypted and mobile apps. Reasonable prices compared to DropBox. I used the trial storage for a while. You can configure to backup to external NAS or across the web to a friends NAS. All this in addition to their online storage giving you multipe backups, local and cloud.
whats wrong with picasa , for a few dollars upto 80gb of space.
Soon we will be evolving onto plasma fluon liquid screens as standard and 3d holograms as our communication device portals to fixed terminals - Roll on 22nd cent - R-2112
FreeNAS with the ZFS file system is a good choice, you can software RAID for redundancy, and the ZFS array can be imported to any other hardware.
I would also recommend Synology boxes. But in addition, you'll need to replicate your data across multiple solutions to avoid being locked again and for data availability. I would highly recommend git-annex for that: It's free software, and your best bet for file replication. The author, Joey Hess, started developing a free user-friendly interface to it: I'd suggest you to give your $100 to Joey to support him...
Ive been running two Drobos for about two years now. No problems with mounting at all.... I guess I'll keep my fingers crossed. 
I have a pogo plug for my engineering firm and have had no issues for like 4 plus years. Simple to set up and easy to use.
Luckily I'm not needing 12TB of storage. But I would recommend Synology, too. I have a NAS (212+) with 2x2TB, Hitachi, 24/7hrs HDs plus an additional external 2TB on which all my data is saved automatically once a week (which is fine for me). There are bigger Synology solutions for more HDs. I'd never stripe HDs. Only mirror. Good thing about the Synology: I can access all my data from everywhere, even from my cell phone when I'm out. I can stream my music and my fotos from it, also not only in-house LAN but also to where ever I am and have internet access (DS Audio, DS Photo+, DS File, DS.. Cam). Even my surveillance camera is connected to the Synology. It might though be a very expensive solution, thinking alone about the HDs price.. 12TB.. phew. And the time to set it all up is quite considerable. But - they work well.. ,-)

BTW I've once lost data on my WD MyBook. To recover it I would have had to pay at least 1500 bucks. That is, for that companies attempt only, without guaranty, that I'd get the data back. Luckily I somehow managed to get the thing working again to at least save my photos from the 2 striped 500GB HDs. No other controller than the original would have allowed me to access the HDs again. Hence, also once again: never stripe HDs..
If they just created a driver that Windows/OSX could use to read Drobo files and offered that as a free download, that would help, right?  Then you could get your files back, move to a different platform or fill in the gap untill you get a new Drobo.
This makes me sad to hear. One, because I'm sorry for you losing your data, but two because I have been saving up to buy a Drobo solution. But if they have a brick issue... well, maybe I'll just look into something else too. 
You should just pop the drives out and run spinrite on them -- probably fix your problem so drobo can boot.   Spinrite is the best you are going to be able to do to recover than opening up the drives and looking at each platter.  (Which is more than impractical and kinda expensive.)
this is all too common.. I had the same problems with my drobo solution and lost far too much data - twice.  Now it is relegated as a secondary backup to my primary onsite backup... I barely even trust it with that job...  and the speed has always been horrendous, now the incremental backup process takes hours, even for a couple of GB :-(  The drives are all perfectly fine - it even refuses to read one drive despite it being perfectly fine and showing no issues in the SMART info, and clean bill of health from spinrite.    

The biggest issue as mentioned is the proprietary nature of the filesystem.  Start with that and people will be more tolerant, as it stands this is not the right solution for business critical uses. 
I am very sorry for your loss :( so far, I put my trust in dropbox but we're not talking about the same capacity...
A further thought. You run Kelby Training. I assume you have some level of IT for the company. Talk with your IT support and design a full spectrum backup strategy. By this I mean look at your total corporate data needs. I used to work for a major Insurance company with a major data center operation. We had a complete disaster recovery plan. Our backup was based on tape and off site storage. Today you could use the cloud instead but most likely the initial data backup would need to be to physical media because of the data size.

I clearly don't know how your company is structured but I'm sure that you have many typed of data. Websites, back office, personal (photography), etc. Think about your data retention needs and then your backup strategy will follow from that. The main question is; How will I keep my business going if I loose my data and how fast can I restore my operation?
First, I am not a fan of Drobo, seen too many of them brick.  But I will fault you for not keeping it under warranty.  Are you seriously trusting your work to a device you do not have coverage on?  Things break, nothing is perfect, so if you let the warranty lapse then you should expect to pay for repairs.
+Scott Kelby, I don't have your storage needs,but have always been impressed with Synology, makers of NAS devices with tons of additional features. In particular their commitment to support is excellent - I have a device of theirs that is many years old, still works, and is still supported by latest firmware releases. I think they are definitely worth your time to investigate.
I would say that no one network storage product is going to save you from this problem. Even if you pick another nas unit with standard, non-proprietary raid, the metadata locked in the raid will make it nontransferable to another device.

I really like netgear's readynas product, and suggest it to my customers all the time. However, if you want a real solution to your problem, you need to fold a second layer of backups into your storage. Netgear makes this easy by offering an rsync license for the pro series of readynas products. What data goes onto one nas will auto-replicate onto the other. Very simple, and protects against a single point of failure in your storage.

Just my opinion. My experience is from working as a technical sales consultant for a fortune 100 distribution company.
You could use a seagate GoFlex external hard-drive 
Synology... love my drives! The web interface is great and even my 5 year old drive get all the new program feature  upgrades of the current models.  
Qnap or Synology are much better!
If you get a Pegasus from Promise, please note that the price includes warranty replacement of the shell and the hard drives for 2 years. Also, if you buy drives and install them, the Pegasus is in an unsupported configuration, unless those drives are listed in the Hardware Compatibility List. Do yourself a favor and check the documentation at 's download center before you buy big drives for the Pegasus. (Disclaimer: I work for Promise, and I'm not the first person to suggest Pegasus drives, so I'm doubly ineligible)
Interesting. I was thinking of investing in a drobo. Now not so much. Good luck Scott. Let us know what replace drobo with 
Dude, I'm sorry to hear this:) Thanks for sharing your heartache. Is saving files to a archival DVD the best and safest way to store files? 
wow, seriously going to follow this closely. The sad thing (as a Drobo FS owner of a year and a half now) is knowing that there's no way I could ever expect the level of service you've received (direct call from their CEO !?) as you, Scott Kelby, have received. If my Drobo bricks on me (increasingly larger fear of mine) there's little recourse I'd have. I'd have to bite the bullet and shell out the $300 just to (hopefully) retrieve all of my data. If Drobo's file system wasn't proprietary I'd be far less concerned about this, at least then I'd have the chance of accessing my files via other methods while I decided if I wanted to replace my Drobo or not. I'll be following this thread very closely and likely start looking to replace my Drobo sooner rather than later before it becomes a serioius problem.

Thanks for posting this Scott, I've had my reservations but this is likely the catalyst many Drobo customers will need to reconsider their backup solution... that or better yet, the catalyst Drobo needs to start treating their customers better and taking care of their product failures. for the price it should be a much longer warranty period.

Stand behind your product Drobo! When it's working as intended it's the best solution out there, I'm truly convinced.
How very timely. I was about to buy one of these on Monday. Reliability aside, it has just made me realise how risky a proprietary disk format is. Also, being held to ransom for tech-support is unforgivable.

I currently roll my own RAID on a Linux box using mdadm. I had been on the verge of moving away from this for my imminent storage upgrade but, on reflection, every time I've had a drive failure, I have been able to recover the situation with a few commands. This is pretty reassuring.

I think I'm just going to re-jig the RAID with more and bigger drives.

Thanks for the insight.
This is on my list of things to deal with, just not right away.  Before I bought my HP Windows Home Server box one of the things I tested was how to deal with "end of life" issues - if the motherboard fried could I recover all my data in another machine, and WHS passed that test.  Now a couple of years later I had the primary 1.5T drive fail and the problem I had (and didn't anticipate) was that my box didn't support "advanced format" (4K sectors) drives and nothing else was on the market anymore.  So I ended up scrounging a 1T drive and fixing the machine, but now I know it'll be difficult if I need another drive.

I've decided against any hardware RAID solutions in the future because you're screwed if you can' replace that RAID card, so I'm planning to go exclusively software RAID 1.  I'm in the process of setting up 2 new Ubuntu machines, one web and one mail server each with 2 identical drives in a software RAID 1 config so that if one drive dies I can survive on the other until I replace the first, and I don't care what hardware is used.  I can even a clone a machine by taking one drive, putting it in a new machine, then adding a new drive to both machines and replicating.  I don't think the performance hit using software RAID is all that much as long as your not doing enterprise class serving.

In your case you need large filesystems.  I haven't done that yet, but I think that having the software RAID 1 creating individual replicated drives, then using those drives in a volume group would be a solution.  Then you'd have single drive at a time failure safety with no ties to any specific hardware.  I think this would be a supported setup by any of the Linux NAS solutions.

Finally, there is some hope for those of us wh liked WHS before Microsoft screwed it up.  Windows 8 is supposed to have Drive Extender type functionality built in!  So pretty much any Windows 8 machine which can hold multiple drives can provide a mirrored solution for shared storage, you just won't have the function of automatically backing up other Windows boxes to it like WHS did.
can you swap the drives to a working drobo for transfer?
i would look in to solid state drives, don't think they have terabytes yet , but probably will within 3 years 
Hey Scott,

I have 2 drobos on life support, one of which has been replaced twice, the other once. Never again.

I have been looking at the Promise and Pegasus thunderbolt drives but am stuck because Apple is stuck in 2009 with the Mac Pro. No more proprietary. Standards only. Good luck. 
Simple. This is what I use: 14 hdds of 2 tb each in a raid 6 with 3 ware controller. That will give you 22tb for use. also 2 mirrored hdds for os. Redundand power supply. The whole thing will be around 5k if you do it yourself. Very safe
I own a Nas and also a Mac to hold all my photos but nothing replaces, until now, crashplan (www. crashplan. com).

You can backup via peer to peer to multiple computers (say your laptop, your desktop, yours assistant, etc) so you can have everything with you knowing it will be backed up the moment you connect to your network.

Its worth a try!
Jon Lee
WD sentinel is what we use.
We spend that money to be "safe" and if they can't protect us, its a waste.   This cycling of the drobo on and off again just happened to us a couple days ago!!!!  No bueno!!!
Use a Linux server with RAID. I think that'll do it.
Got also a Synology NAS (CS407), and never get any problem since I owned it (nearly 4-5 years now).
I've managed a handful of Drobos at work (FS) and home (4 bay). I have had problems with one of the 4 bay units, that caused it to reboot and flick into a data rebalancing which usually took 24-30 hours. In the end I found out that is was in fact the USB or firewire connections from my Apple Cinema Display that was kicking the Drobo off the bus, and causing it to rebuild. I disconnected the monitors USB and firewire connections and haven't had any problems since. So in my case it was actually other hardware on the same bus that was causing the Drobo to misbehave (+Scott Kelby have you investigated this as a potential cause?). Other than that it has worked well, but I ensure that the Drobo is backed up to a non-proprietary drive. If the Drobo set breaks I can just nuke the set and restore from backup - no big deal, and it would be faster than sending it back to Drobo anyway. I am happy to stick with Drobo for the time being, but I would like to see a faster device, and something that is a little more resilient to being kicked off USB/firewire buses.
One word for the 100 contest entry... SYNOLOGY. Had mine for a couple years now. No problems ever, plus you can do a lot of other cool stuff with it. If you need help setting it up let me know. You get a good RAID configuration and you don't ever need to worry about hardrive failures!
Never had any issues at all with our Qnap system and neither has any of the numerous friends who have purchased based on my recommendation.
+Scott Kelby, I would strongly recommend Synology or Qnap. I'm using both brands since years. Synology tends to make more appealing user interfaces. Qnap tends to make better and a little more efficient hardware. Feature wise they don't differ much.

Both use an open source Linux based OS and ext4 file system that you can tinker with easily, if needed. Both have various ways for remote folder replication/backup.

Currently I use Synology devices for smaller offices and Qnap NAS for larger environments to provide cheap iscsi targets.
I just realized that drobo isn't a Nas-server :( Qnap and Synology are 2 solutions that will take your storage to the next level. 

But external Internet backup is great too :) 
I use a dual bay drive dock and swap out the backups for fresh drive when they are full. I don't raid them so no worries about rebuilding the raid if one goes down cheap easy to use and no proprietary in the slightest
I'm not sure how drobo has locked your drives as I don't own one, I am assuming its one of 2 things. Encryption(you are screwed) or its just using a filesystem your OS doesn't natively support and drobo's software acts as an interface for this. If that is the case try throwing one of those drives in a PC running Linux, you may be able to recover your files if you don't have a seperate usable backup.
As others have said, the ReadyNAS product line is excellent - they use standards (the system runs Debian), drives are recoverable if the unit fails, and the redundancy and ease of upgrading / expanding / hot-swapping drives is wonderful.

Also, they have a FREE Photo Sharing app / presentation app included on the device:

This is in addition to the apps for replication, cloud back up, remote access, and a great support and user community.
I don't have any suggestions personally that won't come across as amateurish, but it was the proprietary nature of their product that has held me at bay on going that route.  There are other solutions for my needs, though I doubt they'll suffice for the size of your workload at Kelby Media.  I would however be very interested to read about your pursuit and the suggestions of others.
What about 2 daisy-chained WD My Book Thunderbolt 6To? 12To total and Time Machine compatible.
Glad I read this. I was planning on buying one. Now i'll just build a blade server with a raid system. Thinking of a Xanadu 360
This is a common mistake to consider NAS systems as backup solutions (even a bunch mirrored), they're not, it's a way to optimise storage with some redandancy.
If you are asking for a backup solution : I'll consider one NAS (for acces speed) + tapes based solutions (dlt,slt,... for backup overnight, offsite tapes stored every week for exemple).
The cloud is just too slow to be an alternative.
I would suggest just to some old Windows XP for the backup machines. You can get those 5-year old single core used XP for almost free. Then add a few 2T drives, set the OS to optimized for background apps, create a simple BAT with 5 lines of DOS command to auto non-delete backup. If the XP fires, you can easily remove the hard drives and hook them up to another PC. Old single core PC has a lot less power consumption.
Simple is better. 4 OWC Raid 1 drives with 3TB drives. 12 TB of redundant storage. For off site backup 2 Raid 0 with 3TB drives. To scale simply add more of each.
Wow - interesting reading.  The first company to give us a ton (12TB+) of RELIABLE storage at a very competitive price will make a fortune!
To think I was just about to try and buy one. Now I am going to have to think that decision over. 
FreeNAS. FreeNAS is an open-source storage platform that will run on generic consumer PC hardware. It is designed for large scale data storage, is easy to install and administer via a web interface, and  provides protection against bit-rot through use of ZFS, an advanced file system.

I presently run a 10 harddrive Freenas file sever stocked with 2TB drives. With ZFS RAID-Z2 (similar to standard RAID-6) in place, two of those drives are used for redundancy; effective space availability is equivalent to that of 16TB of bare drives. I presently have on-site and off-site back up my NAS on bare drives but plan to build a second NAS to replace my current on-site backup scheme. 

If you don't want to build your own NAS, IXsystems offers off-the-shelf fileservers running Freenas.

To build your own, choose a motherboard with space for lots of RAM if you intend to use ZFS (and you should); one GB of ram for every TB intended storage space is recommended for best performance. It will also help to have multiple PCI-e slots open as well as numerous SATA ports (6 is fairly standard on consumer-grade boards). 

If you want to use more harddrives in your NAS than can be accommodated via onboard SATA ports, you will need to purchase one (or more) PCI-e HBA expansion cards to provide more SATA options. The LSI SAS 9211-8i HBA seems to be the least expensive supported option that will accomodate 3TB drives. I just bought one yesterday to build a friend a 30TB FreeNAS fileserver (my NAS uses an older Dell SAS 6/iR card).

A motherboard with inexpensive built-in GPU is perfect as that part will essentially go unused after installation. Likewise, CPU speed isn't likely to be a bottleneck. A low-priced AMD offering may be the best value. 

Power needs should also be low (harddrives draw relatively little power). A 500-watt PSU should cover all but extremely large systems. Depending on chipset used, a small PSU should suffice.  

I live in China. Product support here is nearly non-existant and exotic hardware often difficult and expensive to source. Being able to use an open, portable platform rather than a system dependent on proprietary hardware and software is vital. FreeNAS fills that need perfectly.
If you have someone on staff with IT cops, you might want to give FreeNAS a try. It uses ZFS to provide many of the same features as Drobo. You can combine multiple drives into a common pool. ZFS supports file system level checksums to detect disk errors. Since FreeNAS is open source, you are not locked into a particular vender. Also, ZFS is supported on Solaris and Linux, so you aren't locked into FreeBSD either. Hope this helps. :-)
I second the FreeNAS alternative. But after recently finding out that RAID5 is not reliable,  I have sourced a low cost, easy to manage, alternative; multi bay eSATA or USB3 harddisk mobile rack enclosures. I picked up two 4 bay enclosures at about $125.00 each at a PC market.  

Each is filled with 8T of HDDs formatted as a LVM/ ext4. They're connected to small low cost PC running linux. The PC acts as a server, including media server. I cron task rsync to sync the the two racks of drives. Across my gigabit network I get about 30 megabytes per second write throughput, which is ample for my SOHO setup. 

The neat thing is that there is nothing complicated about the setup and no dependencies on complicated, obfuscated or proprietary systems. Of course there is a small risk that a drive in each rack would fail at the same time. But I'm not thinking about that ;)
+Scott Kelby the amazing thing is that your Drobos can't last more than a year, but those old cars you photographed in Cuba last week are over 60 years old and are still running with the care of their owners, who amazingly can still find the spare parts and fix keep them operating.
Maybe it's time companies like Drobo and other tech firms stop frustrating their customers with systems so proprietary that the only way to keep them running is to have pay these companies to fix-- something that maybe those of us who are tech-savvy enough should be able to do ourselves with the right parts.  
+Scott Kelby  I have just one word NAS... I'm dealing with 20TB+++ of raw images from my D3. As to the comment +Fred Zenozzograte made about RAID5 not being reliable. Please provide valid source as I build RAID5 systems all the time with 0 fault tolerance.
I have a USB thumb drive that I could send you. :)

Seriously, though, there is some great discussion here. I hope my Drobo doesn't die.
Scott, the iomega NAS has dual Gigabit Ethernet connections and USB as well. I looked at the StorCenter ix4 which holds four drives in a RAID configuration with up to 12TB in that model retailing $1400. It can do device to device replication. It has it's own display screen for information and warning. Comes with backup software and can even be used as a personal cloud system. Here is the link if you'd like some more information:

Of course they have even larger systems with up to 36 TB, but this one seems to fit the bill for what you are looking for. I have my own backup software for using this with clients as an offsite backup solution, but it is versatile enough for many situations.
RAID 5 is reliable, except for when the RAID is rebuilding itself AND your power dies or some other event makes your entire RAID system go offline. When that happens, the synchronization between disks is not 100% and while you think you're protected, the disk that is meant to provide you with the means to rebuild the RAID when one of the disks fails has a corrupt copy of the rebuild system on it.

You can easily prevent this from happening (well, taking away 99% of the risk anyway) by powering your RAID from a backup battery such as an APC Smart-UPS.

Hope this helps.
+Scott Kelby , I REALLY suggest to look into Windows Home Server.  Microsoft may not excel in many things, and has been a source of constant aggravation for me, but ... WHS is a great product - integrated backs for all computers (including Mac), and with upcoming Windows Server 2012 (dynamic raid) sounds like a fantastic product for small businesses.  Just a thought. You may want to talk to people like +Paul Thurrott or +Leo Laporte  from  +TWiT about it.
As far as Drobo is concerned.... they are DEAD to me, too. They have been for a long time.
BTW, I WAS a Drobo fan way back when nobody have even heard of them, but they managed to convince themselves that they can start ignoring people, block non customers from their user forums.  I knew, that something was not right... 
BTW, I don't know how serious are about the storage, but the HP has bought a little vendor almost 4 years ago - Lefhand Networks.  amazing technology that I got to implement 7-8 years ago on a big Oracle project. ISCSI based storage clusters. Not your home solution, but does provide amazing redundancy on your storage some amazing features, but you will have to spend few thousand green ones. :)
google drive and similar do seem like a nice solution at first, but then... others have accesss to private data (such as family photos and other data i might not want to publish but would like it backed up), so no thanks. maybe Spideroak if it wasn't so slow.
Hi Scott, check this out!

The 12TB StorCenter ix4-200d Network Storage, Cloud Edition Server from Iomega is a network storage server, perfect for use in small offices, workgroups, and home networks. It connects to your network via dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, and offers advanced features such as iSCSI block access, RAID support, and remote data access. It is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux clients.

Business users will be happy with the vast functionality of the device. It can be connected to a UPS monitoring port, act as a print server of Axis IP security camera server, and supports rsync device-to-device data replication. Support for Microsoft's Active Directory, user quotas, and user-replaceable drives round out the server's impressive professional feature set.

Home users will be happy to know that the server features built-in support for the UPnP AV protocol. This allows media files stored on the drive to be streamed to DLNA-certified devices -- whose members include many popular digital media players. It also features a BitTorrent client, which allows you to download files shared on the popular peer-to-peer file sharing network directly to the drive -- making it possible to download files when your computer is powered down!

Supports RAID 5 and RAID 10 -- both with automatic RAID rebuild;. JBOD mode is also available.
Network File Protocols Supported: CIFS/SMB/Rally (Microsoft), NFS (Linux/UNIX), AFP/Bonjour (Apple), FTP, TFTP, HTTP, HTTPS, WebDAV, Windows DFS, SNMP.
Dual Gigabit Ethernet connectivity with Jumbo frame support and high performance embedded architecture.
iSCSI target provides block-level access for the most efficient storage utilization, especially for backup, database and e-mail application performance. It can be used in parallel with file-level storage access via CIFS/NFS.
Ease of Use
Simple three step setup -- Simply plug into your router, power on, and install the software CD
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Web Interface accessible in 16 supported languages
Simple Content Sharing
Access files from any networked Windows, Apple or Linux computer for easy file sharing
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Built-in photo slide-show sharing feature -- easily select and share your digital pictures on the web
File distribution made easy -- drop files into a designated distribution folder, and all of those on the distribution list automatically get an e-mail with either the files attached, or a link to download the files
Remote Access
Connect securely from anywhere in the world and get full access to pictures, videos, files and administration of the StorCenter ix4-200d through a personalized web address
Upload and share files and folders directly from iPhone, iPad, Android and other mobile devices while on the road
Functions as a client member in an Active Directory domain, allowing the StorCenter ix4-200d to utilize the domain's users and groups.
Replication/Device to Device Copy Jobs
One touch copying via the QuikTransfer button. Easily copy files to and from attached USB drives or any network share -- including Iomega Personal Cloud locations -- using the rsync or CIFS protocol
Define your Copy Job to copy/synchronize files to and from connected drives and/or any other shared storage on your network
Schedule jobs to run on a predetermined schedule
Add storage capacity by connecting external USB hard disk drives. Supports read/write on Fat32, NTFS, ext2/ext3, or HFS+ formatted drives.
Windows DFS organizes folders and files on a network, such that they appear to be all in one directory tree on a single Iomega StorCenter system, even if the folders reside on many devices in many different locations. WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) enables viewing, adding, or deleting files on a StorCenter from the web, via HTTP or HTTPS for added security.
Automatic hard drive spin-down assures that the server uses as little power as possible.
Intelligent print sharing capability for up to 3 USB printers connected to the StorCenter ix4-200d.
Support for USB-enabled UPS units allows for unattended system shutdown in the case of power failure -- protecting you against data loss.
The System Status screen is a consolidated resource on space utilization, device information, and status. In addition, you can manage controls such as device restart from here.
E-mail alerts and Event Logging provide up-to-the minute updates on the status of your device even when you are away from your computer. SNMP agent monitoring helps administrators centrally manage the StorCenter ix4-200d.
UPnP DLNA Certified-Provides the ability to stream photos, audio content and videos to a variety of media devices, such as game consoles (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3), audio bridges, iTunes players, picture frames, Iomega ScreenPlay products, and more.
Create shared iTunes libraries so that all your music can be accessed in one place.
Social Media Sharing Made Easy
Convenient folders that automatically integrate with your social media accounts. Multiple accounts are no problem -- just create another folder for each account
Files dropped into your Facebook folder are automatically uploaded to your Facebook page
Files dropped into your Flickr folder are automatically added to the designated Flickr photo album
Videos dropped into your YouTube folder are automatically uploaded to your YouTube channel
The Iomega ix4-200d manages peer-to-peer BitTorrent file transfers without the need of a dedicated PC.
Security Camera
Built in support for up to six UPnP (universal plug and play) network cameras by AXIS and Panasonic to capture and store video without the need of a dedicated PC. IP cameras from other manufacturers can recode to a Share, but are not automatically discovered. Video is encoded as MPEG-4
Embedded Axis Video Hosing Solution (AVHS) for local to hosted cloud video storage and management
Powerful Backup Functionality
Backup all the computers on your network simply by downloading and installing the available client backup software. Also compatible with today's most common backup software applications
Time Machine support allows Apple users to easily backup any Mac computers running OS X (10.5 or later) using Time Machine
Personal Cloud Backup lets you synchronize data between personal cloud member systems and the ix4-200d
Use one of the integrated 3rd party cloud-based storage services such as Amazon S3 or MozyConnect Beta to replicate data from your ix4-200d to your public cloud account
Utilize two ix4-200d devices in different locations and the Iomega Personal Cloud function to create your own disaster recovery scheme
Digital Photography Tools
Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) allows for no touch, automatic transfer of photos from digital cameras via the USB port
Photo Resize automatically resizes photos to a specified resolution
Watermark automatically adds a watermark of your choosing to photos as they are re-sized
Upload contacts, photos, and more from a cell phone, pocket PC or BlackBerry phone -- you just have to add an optional Bluetooth USB adapter!
Total Data Protection
Native Security Support -- With robust username and password authorized access
Create additional users and secure their content with password protection
User Quotas -- Easily manage capacity by setting maximum limits per user
RSA BSAFE technology protects installs and upgrades
Data Protection Software -- Iomega's full suite of data protection software is available for download. The suite includes: Trend Micro Internet Security, Iomega QuikProtect Backup software, and MozyHome Online Backup service
Compatible with today's most common backup software, web browsers, media devices, and computers.
Iomega Personal Cloud

Iomega Personal Cloud is the revolutionary technology that allows you to protect and share your data. Iomega Personal Cloud is a patent-pending, web-based computing architecture that connects your Iomega StorCenter network storage devices to other individuals and/or devices via the Internet. Unlike public and private cloud applications, Iomega's Personal Cloud technology is completely self-owned -- so the content and accessibility is always under your control.
Synchronization: Users around the globe can sync files directly between computers as though they were on a local network.
Collaboration: Easily set up a shared workspace so that local and remote users can view and edit documents (spreadsheets, presentations, and word processing documents, for example) -- especially useful for helping geographically dispersed workers collaborate.
Sharing: Sending large files can quickly choke your company's email system. And e-mailing sensitive files can raise security concerns. Iomega Personal Cloud offers functionality that makes it easy to securely copy and transfer large or confidential files.
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Low Maintenance: Once the system is set up there is almost no maintenance. You still have to manage user accounts, but jobs like array maintenance and monitoring the health of your data storage simply go away.
Archiving: Archiving older files to a remote StorCenter frees up space on your primary StorCenter device for day-to-day business needs. Less capacity required for primary storage saves you money.
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Added Guarantee

During the warranty period, Iomega provides with this device a dedicated customer support phone line for handling all problems, troubleshooting, and return inquiries: 1-800-940-6354. Only units found to be defective can be returned, and Iomega will make every effort to resolve any problems over the phone first

Would have been nice to hear from someone at Drobo. Like many who have commented, I have "Buy a Drobo" on my Omnifocus TO DO list. This post has made it clear it sounds that I need to do more investigation, and going by the above, Synology sounds like it is getting a lot of loving.
I have a Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra and am very happy with it. It is running very stable for months now. Noting to complain about. There is a Pro series which is quite the same in H/W but with professional support and some more Pro-features. 
It sounds like this is a topic that could be a great discussion for pros and armatures. +Leo Laporte & +Catherine Hall and the chat room on Twit Photo could be a great resource.
I suggest considering QNAP or Synology.

I use rack-mounted 8 bay and 4 bay QNAP at work and have been very pleased.  I use a single bay Synology for personal files at home. The products from both have been great.  At this point, I find the QNAP management interface easier to get around

FWIW: I used a Netgear ReadyNAS for a couple years.  The RAID Controller died and it became a brick and I had no way to get the content from the drives. Similar to you, we got the out of warranty story.
Like a lot of the posters above I've had good consumer-type experiences with Synology products (and heard of problems with Drobo devices owned by colleagues).   I wouldn't use RAID-5 for that much data though; not enough redundancy.   Better to use RAID1+0.    

If my business depended on it (and this data is your creative output isn't it?) I wouldn't buy a product intended for consumer or SOHO usage anyway.   I'd probably buy a NetApp or one of its competitors.
Sorry, no sympathy from me. Apart from Drobo being right, as a business you are supposed to make sure your gear is under warranty/service contract.

You have been caught out trying to get by without paying for a service contract.

As far as blackmailing goes, it is reverse: you are using your readers to get a system fixed for less than it should have cost you.
I've had it with any kind of proprietary raid system / drive enclosure.

Recently had an experience where Iomega refused to replace faulty drives in an enclosure, and of course Segate wont support them as they are OEM drives.

This has brought me to the conclusion of buying retail drives (with a decent returns policy), placing them in standard eSATA, USB or firewire non-raid drive enclosures and using the software raid functionality of the OS.

Then at least you are not tied to the whim of a single vendor and will be able to recover easily when failure happens.

FreeNAS or synology not much of a choice for me. FreeNAS all the way ZFS FTW.
+Scott Kelby , I first have to wonder what kind of drives you are using inside the Drobo. If you are using any type of Western Digital drives other than RE-3 or RE-4, your problem may be related to the drives themselves. Non-RAID WD drives have a function called Time Limited Error Recovery disabled in the firmware, which will cause the disk to drop out of an array if the disk detects a bad sector anywhere on the disk, which can be the case with even brand new disks. I fought with building a 20 2TB disk and a 16 1TB disk array simultaneously using Caviar Blacks for a few weeks, sending several drives back to WD for replacements along the way, before discovering this issue. I got WD to replace all the drives with RE-4s and I haven't had a problem since.
If the problem really is the Drobo, I've done well with Promise arrays. I use them for primary storage at two office locations, one 12TB and one 27TB, both configured as RAID-6. I have each unit backing up to a homemade array running Openfiler, which is fairly simple to set up. I haven't had any problems with any of the systems, and I've been having them for up to 5 years. I can send you a part list and instructions on how to configure Openfiler, if you're interested. I'm not worried about the $100, so don't let that keep you from asking if you want.
Use synologie choose 1 to 18 hardrives (3to 4to each) use ext3 and be happy for ever and after
I've build my own 12TB fileserver with raid-z-2 ZFS file system on Solaris. After initial setup it's been about 20 months. Never spent a time on this. Keep working with 0 attention required.
The cost was ~$700 for the machine, $1k for the drives.
+Andrew Moore The 3TB drives aren't cheaper than the 2TB counterparts. The reason it looks that way is because you are looking at 3TB Green drives which are 5400rpm, and the 2TB hard drives are generally higher quality drives that run much faster. You would have to compare a 2TB Green drive and a 3TB Green Drive. ( When I say green, I am referring to Western Digital drives. )
My Synology RS810+ just died 8 weeks ago. Mainboard failure. Had a RAID-5 configured. I did label each harddrive so when it comes back I could just pop the drives back in. So they sent me a new unit and after putting the drives in everything was there. That's quality. I also got myself a drobo-fs for a second backup. It works so far :-)
Time to hire a competent IT guy?
And what that competent IT guy will tell you is that it's time to move to a proper centralized storage system with redundant storage servers, rack-mounted RAID enclosures and a professional backup system and procedures.
I evaluated Drobo for my own photo (and other) storage.  I ended up rolling my own solution using Linux and it's LVM software raid.  The attraction of a Drobo is it's promise of easy expansion.  This is also possible with Linux but it can be more difficult to do.  I have to agree with the others who have mentioned FreeNAS.  It will incorporate the best features of linux into a nice interface so that you can use it without being an engineer.  Unlike Drobo it's open source and doesn't use proprietary tech to store it.  I also have to agree with +Mike Richards about crashplan.  I use it on all my PCs because I can back my data up to any other PC for free and it is an A+ application.  I don't know if it will load on freenas but I have it running on my Linux machine and it's a free backup solution I wouldn't do without.

FreeNAS's website links to this pre-made solution - The FreeNAS™ Mini -  I'm sure there are others as well.
+Scott Kelby I have had a DROBO for about 6 months and hope I don't have any issues.  Something that might help - if you purchased your DROBO with a American Express card, they double the warranty up to a year.  I buy all my equipment and have one more excuse not to bother with extended warranties. It may depend on the card and there are limits, so anyone reading this, check with your specific card.
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) that RAID good bey.

RAIDS are bad. They may prevent single or double hard drive failures, but in the end a bad firmware or hardware failure of the RAID always kick you in the ass. So I say stick with dumb hard drives. Lots and Lots of large ones, and use Super Duper to clone them to another set. Its simple and it works. Thats my solution after my RIAD died, and I've been very happy. 
+Tarjei Jensen ,Drobo is out of its mind to go the contract route with their consumer grade junk.  I've been running HP EX475 for 5 years now, with NO PROBLEMS what so ever. It runs 24/7/365. It runs on its own, updates systems patches at midnight, reboots and that's it.  Backups of my all attached PCs are happening automatically after midnight.  When any client fails with backup, an icon shows it too me, so I can verify it. With 3 power outages (where the system shut down itself thanks to UPS plugin) system NEVER failed me.  It saved my bacon on a numbrer of occasions, as I was able to recover from registry corruption, restoring from the previous night backup. I was up in no more than 3 hours (total image restore).
I thought that Drobo's raid was supposed to protect the users from disk failings, it is supposed to be user (idiot) friendly, blah, blah, blah.... I was thinking about getting one for my WHS. But is it? It seems that the basic system is a real piece of junk. Not only it does not recover from disk problems, but its own hardware dies, way too often according to user reports.
That type of hardware would never be able to survive in the corporate environment. Raid means redundancy, and Drobo seems to fail in it big time IMHO.  I did pay for a service support on LeftHand network storage clusters, but the replacement drives where delivered within 4 HOURS of the call. A cluster unit was delivered by Fedex by 9AM next day (and still the entire cluster was running 7 installations of Oracle apps, with users not even being aware of the problem). And finanlly, the tech support was ALSO available 24/7/365 for any issues. I don't think Drobo is even close with that type of service.
I am waiting for MS Windows Server 2012, and its new file system.  It sounds like a real winner. Western Digital sells a model with Windows 2011 Small Business server on it (which could a valid solution for +Scott Kelby ) , but I am going to wait for the next OS from MSFT.
Scott, I've run Windows Home Server (both version 1 and 2011) and it has worked flawlessly for me for years. In fact, I have one of my WD Caviar drives out of it right now awaiting replacement and the RAID is working 5.0, and I've still got fast access to my archives over gigabit ethernet, or remotely over the web. (as long as my LR4 catalog is local on my laptop, the program has no issue accessing my server to pull the backup RAW files into the Develop module if my local storage is gone, corrupted, fed to the neighborhood alligator, etc...)
It has plugins as well for the major Cloud storage services, so bandwidth and time permitting, an offsite backup can be integrated as well.
I have been using a ReadyNas Pro for a few years and an early readyNas for a decade.  No issues with either.  Ensure whatever you look at comes with a long warranty (3 + years) and only install enterprise level drives in it.
the reason I bought drobo was recommendations from g+ photographers, you included.  :-) Well, and the price was a consideration as well. If price wasn't a problem I'd get a thunderbolt device. 

My drobo still works and the fact that I can slowly upgrade harddrives is really nice...  but I don't have it for a full year yet :-)
now what are you going to use?
Just upload everything to g+! I herd it's great for the photo graphers.
Synology Disk Station DS2411+. (Any) Synology is the best. Buy 2-3 of them: one at home, one at your office and one anywhere else. You can install as many as 12 harddisks in it, so with 6 HD's of 2 TB in a Raid (5) configuration you will have 12 TB of storage. You can/should buy the Synology housing (station) and the HD's separately, buy Western Digital HD's with 5 year warranty (RE=Raid Edition, thje most reliable ones) and mount it yourself or let Brad do it. Anyone who can handle a screwdriver can do it. Setting it up is a bit more difficult but hey, that's what's internet and the Synolgy service and website is for. I use Synology already for more then 6 years in my business, never has let me down. Success!
Build your own, or get a techie to do it for you. Flexible, upgradeable. Use a linux server distro and a large case with lots of drive bays. You would have to be self supporting but the community for linux is immense. You can also use the server for farming out other tasks too 
Thanks for the post, Scott. I've been considering purchasing the Drobo FS for some weeks now, but after reading your experience and oponion on the matter, which I really value, I will be looking for other options.

I'm still not convinced on a Cloud Storage solution ( ongoing payments and the fact that you do not control the encryption algorithm are my main concerns), and like you, I want something with a secondary mean of access the data in case of failure.

Will research more and update....
Yes time for shift to cloud
My Drobo failed today, taking 1TB of original data with it.  Fortunately, my backups were complete and current, so all I'm losing is time...  a lot of time.

The nature of the failure is such that if Drobo didn't store its data in a proprietary fashion, I'm sure I could fix the filesystem myself and be on my merry way.  But, the Drobo does store my data in a proprietary fashion, so I can't fix it.  (My nerd-fu is strong, but not strong enough to reverse-engineer Drobo's secret sauce.)

In my situation, the warranty status of the Drobo (and/or Drobo's willingness to fix their mistake) is irrelevant, as I need to be online by Monday morning one way or another.

Once I'm back online from this Drobo failure, I'm moving my data to dual FreeNAS nodes - one in my workspace, and one at an off-site location.  I'll run an automatic daily scheduled backup from the workspace node to the off-site node, and use Apple's Time Machine to an inexpensive onsite hard drive for easy-to-use quickly-restorable multiple-time-horizon backups.

For most backup restoration needs (if for example I realize today that last week I deleted a file by mistake), the onsite Time Machine backup will be perfect.  Fast, easy, and simple.

For disaster recovery purposes (flood, fire, burglary, etc.), I'll be able to physically retrieve the the off-site FreeNAS node in less than a day of driving.  Maybe not as simple as the Time Machine restoration process, but much faster and more reliable than retrieving 1+TB of data from an online backup service provider.

Nice things about my new solution:
* Hugely scalable without re-architecting.
* No vendor lock-in.  If something breaks, I have many ways to fix it.
* No recurring expenses.  My data (and my access to it) will not depend on me remembering to pay any given bill.
* One-time costs are much lower than any similarly performant commercial product that I could buy.

Potential downsides of my new solution:
* Requires a high level of nerd-fu to set up.
* Requires a sizable amount of time to set up. (Then again, that's true of anything.  Besides, it'll still amount to a lot less time than I've wasted restoring from my Drobo failure.)
* Very much a DIY thing.  If it needs fixin', there may not be an outside vendor readily available to fix it.

Not trying to compete for the $100.  Just commiserating and nerding out.
Synology will profitate from this bad news after the last weeks I guess. Drobo was a bit hyped, but Synology had for months the better solution. More speed, more features to use and access the storage...and now so many people who have problems with their drobo. Not a good sign, but it shows that one backup is never enough.
As you have a large amount of data and are running a business, it might be worth buying a server running a stable version of Linux with a RAID 10 configuration. Then setting up secure shares over the internet. Providing that you all have decent internet connections, remote users should enjoy a reasonable service by remote viewing. Uploading of pictures to be done over your LAN rather than the WAN. This is far more reliable than buying hardware with proprietary software after the problems you have incurred. Hiring an IT professional to help you in this matter would be my advice.  
If your RAID card goes bad, don't you need the same one or something compatible to read the RAID anyways? It's smarter anyways since your point of failure is 1 piece of hardware and not an entire system. 
Revisiting this thread to say thanks +Scott Kelby , I was sold on the Drobo and was almost ready to part with my cash. I've since gone the Synology route, and have to say that I'm delighted with everything so far.
Indeed sir, more than patient and fair and absolutely well handled complaint process for my #TwoSense +Scott Kelby sir.

I have had many similar circumstances, and like you, tend to be very loyal, even evangelistic in my promotions of my favored brands and/or services.

Also like you, once the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th attempts at offering said brands & service providers extra opportunities to right wrongs, as I always do for my customers, I will take them to task and have often ended up in phone calls from CEO's and VP's and Founders once they comprehend that my 'evangelism' can only go one of two opposing directions publicly! ;]]

I.E. The Office of the President of T-Mobile USA called and overnight delivered my $599 #Samsung #GalaxyS #Vibrant #FREE due their horrible oversight of over-selling the hot new #Android #SuperPhones inexcusably beyond their infrastructure's abilities to support all customers during peak hours (16-20hrs per day with NO 3G & sub-EDGE data speeds) in the 3-5 mile radius of my 90801 SOHO's zone!
(STILL UNRESOLVED since 2nd week of Dec 2009 to this day; they just last billing cycle credited me, for the fourth time, a $150 credit equal to my monthly bill for said Vibrants maxed out plans!)

More social empowerment to consumers & professional SMB owners I say sir!
Hello +Scott Kelby Just wondering what system you went with.  I am in the market for a better system than I have now for storage and back-up.  Up date please...
+Scott Kelby Would love to know what you ended up deciding on in the end. Did you just give them another chance or have you moved on to something else?
Argh. I won a Drobo v2 in a contest on G+. I'd had no issues with it until recently. Transfer speeds had begun to degrade to the point where copies to it would stall out. The last straw was a 6 GB copy that dropped to 355 KB/s and then 0 KB/s before being paused/resumed. I've been in touch with Drobo support, but the troubleshooting fell through when the drive in question failed to be read. All lights are green, and no errors are reported by the Drobo software. I'm now on my 4th day of attempted recovery, and have been running chkdsk for the better part of the day, to no avail. At this point, it's feeling like a lost cause and the only silver lining is I didn't pay for the Drobo itself. But if my data is lost, it won't have been worth the savings. *sigh*

Ooh! as I've been writing this, it looks like progress is being made on the offline chkdsk! Now to get my data off and relegate the Drobo to nonessential backups, or better yet, reuse the drives in an internal RAID. It seemed like a wonderful idea, with room for future upgrades, but I can't in good conscience recommend it anymore. Best of luck to those whose Drobos still work!
I know I'm late to the game here, and I don't really have a suggestion for a complete replacement backup system.

However, I do want to comment on those of you who are ranting about how great CrashPlan is.  I agree that on the surface, it is an interesting looking service.  However, CrashPlan (and, Carbonite) are written in JAVA.   Building your backup service on an application written in Java is like building a house on a foundation of cards.  Be very careful!
I must be one of the few people that hasn't had any Drobo problems yet. I've had mine since the gen 2's came out. My suggestion, throw everything on a an S3 server. Nothing more redundant than an Amazon Data Center, then put your final work on blu-rays. No moving parts to fail there.
So, I am curious. Why is a Drobo, or a NAS, or some type of RAID better than a JBOD and a back up tool like SyncToy?
+Tom Sparks Not wishing to get into a flaming war, a Network Attached Storage device allows you to share files or services (Music, Security or Web host) over LAN or WAN. SyncToy is for local backup. Having said that if SyncToy has the ability to copy to cloud based storage such as SkyDrive or DropBox then the lines become blurred. Then it would all boil down to the cost and time. 1TB over your own network is cheaper and quicker than 1TB in the cloud.
Emory L
Drobo devices are usually just a big pool of storage attached to a computer, you could use SyncToy or anything else to shove data onto them.  They have other modules you can add to them to make them function like a NAS, though.  I don't really think Drobo does great as a multi-user network-accessible redundant storage device.  I think it's groovy and all for video and photo people that want a pool of storage that is local to their workstation (or what they plug their MBP into at the office/homestead) especially now that they have Thunderbolt models available.

For me I don't need high performance for one workstation.  I need reliable redundant storage that can do snapshots of my data for several workstations in a small home network (2 workstations, 2 portables (MBA, and rMBP) and media devices (AppleTV, PS3, etc.) so FreeNAS or Synology are the only real options for me.  

I have a ReadyNAS NV+ still and it has been pretty reliable for the many years I've had it. About a year ago it started eating every Seagate I fed it, but other than that it has been pretty chill.  The network performance of it sucks something horrible though, I don't want 10Gbps or anything, 1Gbps will be fine.  The ReadyNAS I have can't clear 30MB/sec on gigabit ethernet due to the CPU it has (which is why I'd caution against blanket recommendations for Synology since some of their devices are just as limited and using Atom CPUs.)
I need advice - my drobo just powered down. the brick seems fine but the hardware just stopped. The sarcastic people of drobo seemed okay with the fact that this happens all the time. and want me to pay nearly 300 to get a replacement unit. that in their words - might work. Has someone had any success getting drobo to help recover data without that cost? Also i have had 2 power bricks fail and multiple issues with the drobo just unmounting from the computer and taking forever to reconnect. Yes I should have switched a long the ago...
Technology is my specialty. Saving people's a$$ is my business. I used to sell the DROBO line of products. That's sad if this means that their quality has gone down. It almost sounds like a power issue. I have used Western Digital GREEN drives in my DROBOv2 for almost 5 years now. Zero issues.

WHATEVER you choose (and I don't care what brand, or RAID options it is), you MUST HAVE A REDUNDANT SOLUTION. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking their product will solve it all. Either get a SECOND, test it, develop a plan, and put it and the plan away were you can get to it when the other dies. DROBO maintenance/replacement (drives or the whole shebang) are some of the easiest in the industry. Failure of the DROBO is sad. Failure to take the actions listed above...I'll let you decide what to call it.

If you want to be protected from almost any catastrophy, I recommend a combination of onstite and offsite storage. There are many NAS drives that offer Offsite replication. We now call this "Cloud Storage" (think Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive/OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.). You NAS took a dump? Still have Internet? Problem solved until you get the NAS replaced. You said you have THREE locations? Hallelujah! The could will sink ALL THREE SITES! No sneaker net for you!

Feel free to email me if you have questions. I LOVE solving problems
+Scott Kelby did the CEO has a clue about the malfunction of your drobo ? And what filesystem did you use ? I read on their website that they don't recommend to use ZFS cause it'd damage the array (hard drives) and cycle on and off because it's not supported. Tell me if that's the filesystem you used.
I just want to know if you ever paid anyone the $100 bounty. It's killing me.
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