After all my recent problems the Drobo is now back up and running. BUT, it only using three disks and not four.
In my previous post on the subject I mentioned that I had to return one of the replacement 3TB drives that had failed. To replace that drive, I ordered a new 4TB from Amazon. When this drive arrived, I tried to add it to the Drobo, but it didn’t seem to fit. It was actually loose in the drive bay.
After some head scratching as to the problem, I compared the drive to one of the old drives and realised it wasn’t as high. It wasn’t the standard size for a 3.5” disk drive. Checking Amazon there was nothing to indicate the unusual size but looking at the physical dimensions of the drive it listed the height as 2cm. Checking other 3.5” drives I realised they were all listed as 2.7cm.
So be warned, if you’re buying additional drives for your Drobo or NAS, check the height of the drive. There are now slimline disks on the market and they don’t fit standard drive bays.
I will pick up a fourth drive at some point, but I just wanted to get the Drobo up and running. I have now copied my backup onto the Drobo and recovered as many images as possible from my formatted memory cards. I’m missing a couple of hundred images but more annoyingly a lot of video I shot for a future YouTube posting. At least the bulk of my images are safe though and I hope you like this one.
If you know the Lake District, you will know there are a few amazing passes to drive:
Whilst these passes are spectacular, you might not realise the best view is often above you.
The image here is looking down onto Honister Pass from the summit of Dale Head (753m). It doesn’t sound much but it can be a bit of a slog when you have walked around the other hills in the Newlands Horseshoe. You can see the road and the river running in parallel along the valley and in the distance is Buttermere.
Despite having walked the rout several times, this is one of the best views I have experienced. In the past it’s often been foggy or raining hard with poor visibility.
Initially I thought this would be a colour shot but then I tried the black and white conversion and thought, that’s the one. In case you’re interested, here is the colour version.
Despite all the recent problems with losing my Photo Library (I do have a backup for 98% of the drive), I was able to launch my new book on Amazon over the weekend. Ironically the book is about managing your photo library using Adobe Lightroom. It’s titled “Adobe Lightroom Classic CC: Mastering the Library Module” and is priced at £4.99, or similar in other currencies.
I want to stress that you don’t need to be using Lightroom Classic CC to use the book. The Library module has changed very little over the years so if you’re using Lightroom version 6, version 5 or even version 4, you can still apply the book.
If you ever thought you may be losing control of your photos, or that there must be an easier way to manage all these images, this book can help you.
But as for my Photo Library, I mentioned in my last post, that I was replacing two old disks.
My two new disks have arrived, and I replaced the hottest of the two suspect disks first. When you replace a disk in a Drobo, the unit goes into data protection mode to reorganise the data across all the available drives. Just as this finished, and I was about to replace the second suspect drive, Drobo flashed up warning that a disk had been lost and the drive light turned red.
I replaced the failed drive and left the unit to complete its data protection. I came back after a few hours and everything looked fine until I open Lightroom. That’s when another Drobo warning popped up and the disk light on the first replacement disk turned red. The Drobo data protection sprang into life and the light turned green again. Checking the activity log on the Mac I could see that the disk in question had repeatedly failed and been repaired over several hours.
Here’s where I need to admit to having been a little sceptical of the disks I’d bought. They were purchased as new Seagate Barracuda drives from Amazon. But when they arrived there was no packaging other than they were sealed in anti-static bags and placed in a further bubble wrap bag. On speaking to Amazon, they offered me a refund but couldn’t replace the drives as a third party supplied them. I took the refund and have ordered another drive for the Drobo. Let’s hope this one lasts a little longer.
I’m going to start with an apology for not posting earlier in the week. Firstly, I’m trying to finalise my latest book and it’s taking longer than expected. Secondly, I still haven’t recovered my image library on the Drobo.
What’s interesting though is that with the ongoing Drobo saga, I have received a few comments and a lot of email from people saying they won’t buy a Drobo because of this. So, I need to set the record straight. This isn’t a fault with my Drobo and I would still go out and buy a new one tomorrow if I needed to.
Let me explain what’s gone wrong as it may help some readers.
My Drobo was formatted using something called the Windows NTFS format. When I bought it, I only used a Windows PC and the NTFS format was the only realistic option. When I switched to using a Mac, I had too many images to reformat the Drobo, so it continued to use NTFS. What corrupted on Drobo’s disks was something called the Master File Table or MFT. This is the thing that keeps track of all the files on the disk. If it corrupts, you lose track of all your files. They are still on the disk but effectively invisible.
Something that you may not have realised is that it’s virtually impossible to repair a corrupt MFT, which is why there is a mirror copy also held on the drive. This all happens automatically behind the scenes and the only time it’s ever used is if you run Chkdsk in Windows to repair your drive. But if the mirror copy is also corrupt (which can easily happen) it’s bye-bye data. This is what happened to me and it can happen to any drive formatted using Windows NTFS. This is not related to the Drobo design.
So, what caused the MFT corruption?
It was nothing more than the Drobo loosing connection to the Mac whilst data was being written to it. If you aren’t familiar with the Mac, you need to eject any drive before removing it. This ensures all data has been correctly written to the drive before it’s disconnected. Thinking about it, you should also be ejecting drives on a Windows PC or you run the same risk.
So why did the Drobo loose it’s connection to the Mac?
The Mac had something called a Kernel Panic which caused it to crash. That’s why the Drobo lost connection whilst data was being copied to it. And yes, the same thing can happen on a PC; it’s called the Windows Blue Screen of Death.
Tracing the root cause of a Kernel Panic is much more difficult as it can be hardware or software related. In my case I traced the problem to a faulty USB port in a USB Hub I was using. When I tested the port by reading a memory card, I found it would sometimes drop the connection to the Mac.
Initially I was confident the faulty USB port was the source of the problem, but it doesn’t appear it’s the only source. There appears to be something else going wrong as my Mac is still crashing from time to time. This happens whilst I’m trying to copy data from a backup drive to the Drobo. Initially all is well but after around 30-45 minutes the Mac will Crash. After that it crashes more frequently. As there was only a Drobo and it was directly attached to the Mac when this happened, I thought it must be related.
I decided to check the disks using the Drobo tools and they were all reported as being healthy. But, for some reason I decided to pop the front of the Drobo and look at the actual drives. Ultimately, I found that two of the disk drives (the two very old ones) are heating up and one of them becomes very hot to touch. Whilst the drives are cold the Mac is fine but when these drives become very hot the Mac crashes. This seems a little too much of a coincidence.
I’m going to replace the two problem disks in the Drobo and hopefully it will solve the problem. Ultimately, I don’t believe the Drobo is at fault in the slightest here.
As for the image, this is one of the images that I recovered from the crash. These rocks are on Froggatt Edge in the Peak District. As soon as I saw them I could imagine a black and white image. What haven’t yet been able to do is create the image in my head. Hopefully with more time I will be able to. Until then, I hope you like this version.
My saga with the corrupt Drobo is rumbling on. The Data Recovery software I was running finally completed it’s scan in the early hours of this morning, having been running all week. I watched eagerly as the final sectors were scanned and the progress bar ticked over from 99% to 100%. And then nothing happened; it couldn’t find anything on the drive.
I have now switched back to the first software package I was using (which I though was slower). At least that was building a virtual file structure that I could see as it progressed. I don’t know how long this will take but I’m sure I will get there in the end.
Here is one of the images that I thought I had lost but have managed to recover from a formatted memory card.
It’s been four days since my image library storage corrupted and the data recovery software is still running. To be completely honest I wasted two days switching between different data recovery solutions because I thought they were too slow. The current one has been running for 48 hours and is 59% complete. I think this is going to be a long job.
Whilst I’m in limbo waiting for the results of the scan, I did remember the above image.
This was shot on a Nikon D800 and was shot to produce a silhouette of the three people sat on the rock. It was only once I got the RAW file into Lightroom that I realised I had huge flexibility to recover the shadow detail. With a few selective adjustments, I found I could reveal lots of detail in areas that I thought were black and with very little noise.
I have been receiving a lot of emails asking me if I have looked at the new Nik Collection which DxO released last week. Yes, I have looked at it and purchased a copy.
In short, the new software is all about fixing bugs and problems. The interface is the same as before and there’s no new functionality. And now you’re probably wondering why I shelled out hard earned money for software that does just what it did before.