Of Bovines and Robots

Now, I should probably be quite careful, because Japanese libel laws seem to be used to police even defamatory posts and injurious speeches on the Internet, apparently. So without mentioning any names, the NAS drive that I bought last year - which, to their credit, was working perfecting fine until

By Takeshi Kanemoto
On July 4, 2011, 2:27 a.m.

Now, I should probably be quite careful, because Japanese libel laws seem to be used to police even defamatory posts and injurious speeches on the Internet, apparently. So without mentioning any names, the NAS drive that I bought last year - which, to their credit, was working perfecting fine until now - seems to have messed up one of its hard drives whilst I was copying some files. I didn't really notice it until the copy operation failed and samba started acting up after that. I had a ssh session open so I issued a reboot, but the red LED started flashing on the next boot up (which is a bad thing). No samba, no ssh, no telnet. So I consulted the manual, and from the number of times the LED flashes I saw the error was "Cannot recognise disk device". Hmmmm interesting. Unfortunately, the NAS rootfs and stuff were on the drives, and if RAID couldn't be started, no user-space. So I took out the HDDs and plugged them into my RAID USB drive thingie and attempted setting up a SW RAID in Ubuntu. No luck, most of the partitions were in a degraded state, and the biggest partition, the one with all my data, could not even be assmbled as an md. testdisk - but no luck either. Accepting defeat, and after mourning over the loss of years' worth of accumulated data, I swore to never buy any products from B#££@!!o ever again. It's funny because I seem to have remember one of my colleagues actually warned me of this exact situation - his NAS (from the same company) also suddenly died on him after only few months of use. I shopped around for a replacement with only one thing in my mind: I never want the same thing to happen again. So, data redundancy, without the complexity and vulnerability of RAID, and definitely not from the same company - or probably not from the same country (support SW is always, always frankly piss poor). And I bought a Drobo FS. The first thing I've noticed about the Drobo FS is that it simply works out of the box. You boot it up without any drives plugged in, and an LED shows where you should plug in a new drive. So you plug in a new drive, and after the formatting the LED next to the slot turns green and the drive is ready to go - but it shows you that you should probably plug in another one for data redundancy/protection, with a yellow LED next to the slot below. And after you slot in another drive the LEDs turn all-green. All this in a matter of minutes, no SW installation on the PC, or configuration through web-interface required. The interesting thing is, it turns out my original drives that were attached to B****** NAS were still usable. I plugged them into the Drobo and it was able to use it without any problems, albeit the data is now all gone. Drobo FS supports installation of SW that usually require "hacking", such as apache and ssh server, by simply dragging and dropping into a special shared folder (DroboApps). Hopefully, this will be a long term investment, that will keep my data safe for the years to come, and all I have to do is swap a failing drive a new one when the LED for that slot goes red.

About the author

Takeshi Kanemoto

I'm a software engineer based in Cambridge, UK.