Why I’m not buying a Drobo. Or: How social media influences buying decisions.

OK, I think we all agree that doing backups is a good idea. I’m an amateur photographer, I have a huge MP3 library – days and weeks of my life have surely gone into creating the data that is on my iMac. I was using two 1TB Western Digital MyBook drives connected thorugh Firewire, but unfortunately TimeMachine can’t be configured to write to both drives simultaneously. I was always afraid one of the disks might die and the backups would be gone. I needed something like a RAID.

Being a long term listener of Leo Laporte’s podcasts I couldn’t avoid hearing about Drobo. And I have to say, it sounds really really good – something easy and painless. My only rational fear was that it’s not a standard RAID 1, so if the Drobo itself fails you can’t just pull out the drive and put it into a different case.

Add to that that using discount codes (listening to podcasts CAN save you money) I could get a 4 bay Drobo for a bit more than 200 Euros and I was getting seriously interested.

So I started asking the Google.

Unfortunately I mostly found horror stories, like this one:

(Through the comments I found out that Data Robotics own the domain “drobosucks.com”, which doesn’t really make me confident, either).

Now, of course bloggers like to rant, so the negative experiences are much more likely to end up on the web compared to happy users. Next step: set up a Twitter search and look what people are tweeting about Drobo over a few days.
To my disappointment, 90% were retweets of “retweet and win a Drobo” posts. But then the interesting ones appeared:

[quotetweet tweetid=5553790467964928]


[quotetweet tweetid=5403470874021888]


[quotetweet tweetid=5141854546829312]

That doesn’t sound good, does it? I mean, I’m happy to live with a few quirks in software, but NOT IN MY BACKUP DEVICE!

Then I stumbled over this site which settled it once and for all: http://amplicate.com/hate/drobo

Oh. My. God.

I ended up buying a Western Digital WDH2NC40000E My Book World Edition II 4TB NAS which sits quietly in my cabinet, backing up to two mirrored 2TB drives in RAID1 configuration via TimeMachine. I found this blog that explains the setup, and I heard nothing bad about the drive so far.

To me this was an example of social media HEAVILY influencing my buying decision. I also posted several tweets asking for people recommending the Drobo but only got sarcastic comments back. Now the only question left to ask is: why do Leo Laporte and his guests promote Drobo that much…?

One comment

  1. Hey,
    Completely understand why you didn’t want to go with Drobo. I had a FW800 Drobo, then a Drobo S, and now I sold that and switched to a Drobo FS. I had tremendous problems with the first Drobo due to issues with it and Seagate drives. Since switching to the S (and then the FS) and switching to WD green drives, its been perfect. But that first incident was painful, and if you buy their extended warranty they won’t let you transfer it to another unit or another person. The biggest pain about the first incident was how unresponsive and unsympathetic their support seemed – a person whose data is missing or in danger is in a very vulnerable and frustrated state, you can’t be brash with them.

    I think Drobo is a great product made by a company that just doesn’t understand customer service. So when things do go wrong, people feel frustrated and helpless. Most people who use one will never have a problem but the support just isn’t there for those who do run into problems.

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