Drobo’s had a bit of a tumultuous history over the years. It’s definitely seen its share of ups and downs. At times, it was the go-to backup solution for photographers around the world. At other times, it was the last product anybody wanted to rely on to keep their work safe. When it comes to Drobo’s future, though, it looks like the journey is now over as its parent company, StorCentric, goes into liquidation.
Drobo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last June. This gives the company time to restructure and try to get its house in order before things get worse. However, things evidently haven’t gone well, as StorCentric has now transitioned to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This means they’ve gone into liquidation, and their assets are being sold off to pay their debts. Assets that include Drobo.
StorCentric attempted to sell off some of its assets during the Chapter 11 process but failed to interest any buyers. I can’t speak for StorCentric’s other assets, but I’m not surprised that nobody wanted to take up the charge with Drobo. It’s had quite a bit of controversy over the years, with devices dying without explanation, terrible customer support and some very high-profile abandonment of the brand.
Scott Kelby famously blew off the Drobo in 2012, penning a pretty scathing article after his unit died for the fourth time, leaving all of his data inaccessible. He ultimately went back to using the company’s products in 2017, but by then, the damage in the minds of the photography community had already been done, and the company never quite recovered. People had just lost faith in the brand.
They managed to keep going for another decade after that, but now it looks like it’ll all come to an end. Since January, the company has had a notification on their website that all Drobo support has ended and their products discontinued. This leaves many past customers completely without a paddle if their hardware fails, due to Drobo’s proprietary storage technology.
The Notification on the Drobo website reads:
As of January 27th, 2023, Drobo support and products are no longer available.
Drobo support has transitioned to a self-service model. The knowledge base, documentation repository, and legacy documentation library are still accessible for your support needs.
We thank you for being a Drobo customer and entrusting us with your data.
Basically, if your product dies, even if you bought it six months ago, you’ll no longer have support, and there’s obviously no warranty anymore. All your data pretty much goes bye-bye. Well, technically, it doesn’t. It just sits there on a drive you’re unable to access. If a company comes along and chooses to acquire Drobo during liquidation, then you may be able to resurrect it again. If they don’t, trying to recover your data is a bit of an uphill struggle, to say the least.
If you’re currently running a Drobo, it might be wise to invest in an alternative NAS from companies like Synology or QNAP – and quickly, too. At least then, you have a backup for your backup in the event your Drobo dies.