How To

Connect two Drobo units to your computer at the same time?

Updated 1/14/19: I have revised my opinion of Drobo devices. After experiencing multiple, serious data loss events on multiple Drobo models, even recent ones, I no longer consider them safe for my data.

One of my readers asked me a little more than a month ago if I could post some screenshots of the Drobo Dashboard with two Drobos connected at the same time. Sure, no problem. It’s easily doable, and the Dashboard software automatically differentiates between each of them and displays the proper stats for each, even if they’re name the same. I haven’t tried it yet, but you could probably connect three Drobos at the same time if you wanted to.

Here’s what the drive icons look like on my MBP’s desktop.

mbp-drive-icons

The main screen inside the Drobo Dashboard software will display buttons for each connected Drobo, allowing you to switch between them as needed.

drobo-dashboard-drobo

drobo-dashboard-backup

As you can see, I need to either free up some space on my main Drobo or get some new drives. Using the Drobolator, it turns out I’d need to get two new drives (either 1.5TB or 2TB each) in order to see any increase in the available space.

The Advanced Controls screens inside the Drobo Dashboard show the drive layouts inside each Drobo.

advanced-controls-drobo

advanced-controls-backup

I’d like to point out a possible bug in the Drobo Dashboard software while I’m at this. As you can see on the following screenshot, when I click on the Check for Updates button to see if there’s a firmware upgrade for my Backup Drobo, which is a USB-only unit, I get a message which tells me both the Dashboard and the firmware are up to date, when I know that the firmware is out of date, as you can see from the firmware version itself. I’ve often had to perform manual firmware upgrades to my Drobos, because I keep getting this message in error. I hope this bug can be resolved at some point.

drobo-dashboard-check-for-updates-error

Other than that, the Drobo Dashboard software works as expected, and can work with multiple Drobo units as well. No problems there.

Update: After doing a manual upgrade to firmware version 1.2.4, the automatic check for updates from within the Drobo Dashboard worked, and when my Drobo rebooted, I was prompted to upgrade to 1.3.0. After an initial unsuccesful attempt, I was able to upgrade just fine. One less item on my to-do list. Good.

drobo-dashboard-new-firmware-notice

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How To

Can the WD TV be networkable with firmware upgrade?

The WD TV can be placed on a network via an unofficial firmware upgrade available from B-RAD. The souped-up firmware apparently allows one to plug USB ethernet sticks (I’ve had one of those lying around in my desk drawer for years) into the WD TV and mounts its connected drive(s) onto the network — among other additional features.

I haven’t tried this yet. I found out about it from Tobias Schneble, a reader from Germany who emailed me after seeing my article on upgrading the WD TV to the new official firmware from WDC. Tobias tells me there’s a wiki site where detailed instructions are given.

Updated 4/5/09: I modified the post in accordance with the very helpful comment you see below, provided by the fellow who runs the B-RAD website. It turns out that hacking the WD TV to add it to a network and to enable other extra features is as easy as upgrading it with a normal firmware package. That’s great!

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How To

Firmware update available for WD TV

There’s a firmware update available for the WD TV. It’s version 1.01, and you can download it and install it right now from the WD website. A lot of issues were resolved. The complete list is available in the release notes.

Here’s a summary of the salient points:

  • Now you can update the firmware when using a drive larger than 500GB. You may think this is an unlikely scenario until you try to use a large storage device like the Drobo with the WD TV.
  • Better subtitle support (SMI, SUB, ASS, SSA, MKV) with user-selectable font size for subtitles
  • Disk volume name display in folder navigation; this was an annoying bug, as you couldn’t tell which drive you were browsing if you had two of them connected to the WD TV
  • Jump feature: while fast forwarding or rewinding, if next of previous buttons are pressed, the WD TV will jump 10 minutes forward or backward
  • EXIF orientation flag functionality for auto picture rotate. Thank goodness! It was really annoying to have to turn my head sideways or bother with the rotate feature every time a photo taken in portrait mode was displayed.
  • Display sizing menu for photo playback: fit to screen, full screen, keep as original
  • Resolved issue where WD TV would not turn back on with remote after extended period of inactivity; previously WD TV had to be unplugged and was unrecoverable with the remote
  • Added 1080p 24hz support
  • Resolved info bar display issues in PAL (European display standard) mode

It’s important to note that there’s still a known and unresolved issue, namely this: if the user unsafely removes an HFS+ formatted drive from the media player without using the Eject button, the drive will become read only media. I’m not sure when this will be resolved.

The installation instructions for the firmware are what one would expect them to be and fairly simple to follow. I’ll reproduce them for you here from the WD release notes for firmware version 1.01:

  1. Go to http://support.wdc.com and download the latest firmware update compressed file for your Media Player. (Here’s the direct download link for version 1.01.)
  2. Click “Downloads” then the product name (or photo).
  3. Extract the two files (.BIN and .VER files) to the root folder of a portable USB drive.
  4. Connect the USB drive to the HD media player’s USB port.
  5. Press HOME, and then select the Settings bar.
  6. Select the firmware upgrade icon, and then press ENTER.
  7. You are prompted to perform the firmware upgrade.
  8. Select OK on the firmware update prompt, and then press ENTER.  This will restart the system.
  9. After restarting, the system automatically enters firmware upgrade mode.
  10. Once the update process is completed, the HD media player will restart again.
  11. Once the HD media player restarts, the new firmware is automatically loaded.
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