Got a WiFi Router? Got Rage?

Got a WiFi Router? Got Rage?

I've really learned to hate wifi! Sure it allows me to use the internet all over the house without running wires through the walls, but it has to be the most frustrating part of my computing infrastructure! Some days all works great everywhere, other days I can connect, but have terrible throughput. Wait an hour and things get either better or worse and I haven't moved!

Gah!

Read on for how even an ostensibly ProTechChoach suffers the vagaries of techno gremlins!

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Drobo Dashboard introduction

The Drobo Dashboard is the management console for managing your Drobo(s). It is pretty straightforward and comprehensive. Below are a couple short videos I shot while first encountering the Dashboard. 

To date, I continue to be happy with my Drobo 5N. Not only the device and the software, but also the support at Drobo. I've had a couple instances where the Drobo didn't behave as anticipated and the folks at Drobo Support were responsive, thorough and helpful. Their online ticket submission site is excellent and all communications appeared in my email with updates and links to more help and the help ticket at their site. The real test of any vendor isn't when things go perfectly, but how they respond when things go awry and eventually all hardware and software goes awry!

My first incident occurred one evening while working on some large file transfers to / from the Drobo when the Dashboard popped up a warning message that a drive had been ejected. That seemed strange as I was the only person around and I certainly hadn't ejected any drives! I submitted a ticket and Drobo Support responded with pertinent questions and a request for a diagnostic file which was easily created via the Dashboard. Correspondence continued over the course of about a day and it turned out that there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with the Drobo, but with one of the WD Green drives that didn't just spool down to conserve power, but completely shut off to the point the Drobo reported the drive as ejected. The only mystifying and slightly troubling issue is that upon actually ejecting the offending drive and inserting a new drive the Drobo still wouldn't recognize the new drive as inserted. Per Drobo Support's suggestion I restarted the drive and all came up clean.

Besides the solid support, the best thing is that the Drobo did just as it should and immediately recognized a drive had been ejected, albeit for a strange reason and kept all data on the Drobo by rewriting the RAID configuration across the remaining drives and no data was lost. Failing drives is why RAID (redundant drive arrays) is so important. 

The other odd moment with the Drobo turned out to be a problem with my router which is failing on multiple fronts, but I first noticed as the port I have the Drobo plugged into went into a strange state such that the Drobo was visible to the Dashboard, but the PCs on the network couldn't see their mapped drives to the Drobo. Router reset and all was well. Look for a post later on what I decide to do in replacing my router which is long overdue for an upgrade anyway!

Drobo 5N for storage and backup

I've been running a Windows Home Server for several years for centralized storage and backup of my PCs on my home and work network. Recently it had been getting flaky and finally had a serious failure requiring more work to recover than I was willing to give it (HP, you let me down). Consequently, I began searching for other options and settled on the Drobo 5N. Here are two videos showing the unboxing of the unit and the installation of the hard drives. I'll post two more videos focusing on the Drobo Dashboard shortly. 

I will use the Drobo for the same reasons I did Windows Home Server:

  • I have a lot of digital stuff and want to be able to access it from anywhere on my network.
  • Centralized storage of music and video for streaming to any device in my house / office.
  • Backup storage location for all my work and personal PCs.
  • Since much of this data is critical and irreplaceable, especially all our digital photos from the past 10+ years, I want solid redundancy in my centralized storage solution. 

Drobo is not the least expensive NAS (Network Attached Storage) option out there, but does have a solid track record and recommendations from many tech reviewers I trust. As time goes on our data isn't getting less important and I don't want to skimp on protecting it.

More later the Drobo Dashboard and my experience with the unit over time.  

Since I recorded this video I had one of the WD Green drives "fail" (more on this later) so have added and swapped out some drives so that now have 4 x 3TB WD Red and 1 x 2TB WD Green drives. I"ll replace the remaining Green drive when the budget allows.