Recently, I wrote a article about the issues I had with Drobo Corp. in regards to the trouble that occurred when I attempted to upgrade the firmware on my Drobo 5D.
Not long after I wrote that article I was contacted directly by Drobo by a phone call. They had read my article and were concerned that my support experience had resulted the way it had. The phone conversation was with the Vice President of Drobo’s Service and End User Support. During the call I went back over my previous case and the problems I incurred trying to get my original 5D to run the latest firmware and still connect via USB3. One of the points I made was that I had been surprised to come away with such a negative impression since previously all of my support issues with Drobo products had been very positive.
What I took away from this call was that Drobo does care about the end user. As a company, Drobo is focused on supplying a high level of quality for their hardware/software and support of these products. The V.P. of service agreed that my previous experience with Drobo’s support process was not the impression that the company wanted to impart.
The fact that Drobo’s V.P. of Service reached out to me was most impressive. I did not expect this and because of it, I realized that my most recent impression of the Drobo Company and their support process was incorrect and with his guidance should give this process a 2nd chance. From our conversation I we put a plan in place that we both agreed should get me to a final resolution that was better than the first. Based on our conversations, here is what Drobo agreed to do for my problem:
- Ship a new 5D off the line to replace my 2nd refurbished unit
- Assign a new support case and give me the support from a dedicated 3rd level engineer who would follow the case until resolution
- Provide phone numbers so that I could talk with the tech when I felt it was required
- Pre-test the new 5D before it shipped to make sure it operated to specs.
The end result was that I received a replacement unit and a set of (2) 2 TB drives that Drobo had pre-tested. The new unit arrived with the latest version of the 5D firmware, 3.0.9 and it installed clean on my production win7 64 machine. I was able to move my (5) drives over to the new 5D and the array came up clean. All the data was immediately accessible with no errors that I could determine. The throughput of the USB3 connection was as I expected with no slow downs and there were no USB3 mass storage device driver errors in device manager (indicated by yellow exclamation points). During the boot up process of the new 5D, I did see the “USB device not recognized” screen but this is only temporary with the box going away after about 5 seconds. The new unit boots up and is assigned a drive letter by the win OS like it should. It is very possible that my Asus P8P67 main board and it’s corresponding NEC/Renesas USB3 drivers have a slight issue with the Drobo boot process, however the key factor is that the 5D comes up clean and operates correctly.
I came away from this experience with a totally different opinion of Drobo and their products. Drobo is a company that does care about the end user. It’s also clear that they are concerned about situations like mine, enough so that they were willing to reach out to me directly. It’s clear to me now that one of their company goals is to produce an environment that allows the end user have the best experience with their products.
I also came away with a few thoughts about my operation that may have helped in this situation:
- When my problem first happened during the upgrade of the 5D’s firmware I had not registered my 5D with Drobo. They are very clear about needing to have this done and it was a oversight on my side for not getting it done when I first received the product. By registering your device, you are letting Drobo know that this serial number is now in use so they can can track it.
- I did a firmware upgrade without having my 5D fully backed up. Normally I will have a backup of a Drobo in use. It may not be 100% current but will be within 90%. In this case my backup was only about 25% of the 5D before I attempted the firmware update. Having a full backup is very important, as it can reduce the stress of trying to get your unit back on-line or operating with the most.
- I should have pushed harder to ask to speak to a representative. I made several attempts of this in my online case, however I never reached out to Drobo from outside the confines of my on-line case.
Overall I feel the 5D is still an excellent value when compared to other raid solutions (for a win7 platform). I was trying to figure out where to go next as I really did not want to dedicate a new PC just for a raid array. The Drobo 5D still offers a great overall solution for a raid device for a end user like myself.
Drobo is aware of the fact that some customers may have run into situations like my previous one and they are working to add support solutions that will give the best possible answers. They have re-done the support website and it’s now much easier to navigate to your open cases. Most cases will have an initial response within 12 hours or less. I also feel it’s safe to say that the Drobo Company is very concerned about their support for the 5D as it’s one of their best selling products. The company is making some internal changes with the support process to make sure that a 5D support case does not get sidelined as mine did back in September.