Drobo Rev1 Firmware Update Trick

This post was published more than a few years ago (on 2010-08-11) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

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!

10 thoughts on “Drobo Rev1 Firmware Update Trick”

  1. Thanks for posting your solution. I've been looking for some time for a solution, mostly consisting of hoping the Dobo folks would post something that works. Don't know why Drobo can't put this in a KB entry…

  2. I've had to follow this procedure for the last several firmware updates, and I always struggle to recall or locate them. Thanks for writing this up and saving me some time!

  3. Have you made sure Drobo Dashboard is updated to the latest version first? That might account for the .tdf file being greyed out.

  4. According to the Dashboard I am running 1.3.6.
    Very frustrating!

    However, I tried many times to update to 1.3.7 unsuccessfully via the official drobo methods (all resulting in the same problem above) before I found this blog and I also found this article:

    So maybe one of them took but it's not being displayed. Very strange. I suppose a call to Drobo is in my future.

  5. Thanks for posting these instructions. Applying the REV1 as I type. after many attempts at failing the Drobo way!

    Very helpful page. Cheers!

  6. Thanks for posting this. Had the exact same problem and this method worked perfectly.

  7. That was it. Thanks for sharing. And @Nathan… Are you sure you had the 'control' key pressed? First time I tried with 'Option' key, and it displays a file chooser dialog but doesn't let you choose the .tdf file.

  8. JEEZUS F-ING CHRIST FINALLY!!!! Why can't drobo put this on their site?!?!? It's so simple!!! Thank you so much!!! After years of ignoring my updates because I could not get them to work(even installed windows on bootcamp just to see), I really appreciate this tip, worked like a charm, wish this post would come up higher in a google search.

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