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Drobo Rev1 Firmware Update Trick

I have an original first generation Drobo (USB only) that was not acting well lately. I was having some hanging and mounting issues, and on top of that, I couldn’t even get the firmware to update, which the Drobo folks were thinking might solve my other problems.

I tried updating the firmware automatically from Drobo Desktop, and I tried the manual firmware update process; nothing really worked. Well, it said it was working, but when it asked me to reboot the Drobo, it’s like it forgot the firmware update was even happening and asked me again if I’d like to upgrade. Le sigh.

So, after getting the helpful Drobo folks on the phone and being walked through the process, here’s what finally worked (this is assuming you’re on a Mac; the process might be slightly different on Windows):

  1. Download the latest firmware manually. As of this writing it’s 1.3.7.
  2. Mount the disk image (.dmg) you downloaded, and copy the file inside ending in .tdz to your desktop. (Again, as of now, it’s “Drobo_Firmware_1-3-7.tdz”.)
  3. Rename the extension on that file from .tdz to .zip, and click “Use .zip” if the Finder asks if you’re sure.
  4. Double-click to expand that .zip file, and inside the folder that appears, there will be two files, one ending in _rev1.tdf, and the other in _rev2.tdf. Take the _rev1 file (currently, the name is “v1.254.30359_rev1.tdf”) and move it to your desktop. Throw away everything else.
  5. Follow the Manual Firmware Update instructions for the 1st Gen Drobo, but instead of pointing it to the Drobo_Firmware_1-3-7.tdz file, point it to the v1.254.30359_rev1.tdf file you pulled out. Choose “Reboot Drobo now” when asked.

Seems that what was happening is that on the Rev1 Drobo, Drobo Desktop may not be chosing the right firmware update to apply, applying the Rev2 firmware, which of course doesn’t take, and the update fails. Pulling that Rev1 file out of the .zip file forces it to only consider the Rev1 update.

Special Thanks to Bryce D. of Drobo support for helping me solve this vexing problem!

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