After several years with my trusty Drobo generation 3 RAID, it was starting to give me a few issues. And after trying all the troubleshooting steps and contacting support, I realized it was time for a new machine.

Since my last Drobo purchase, much has changed. Drobo has introduced devices that use USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, offering optimum speeds and performance. I chose to go with the top-of-the-line Drobo 5D3, which offers a connection through the included Thunderbolt 3/USB-C cable.

Because my 2015 iMac didn’t have Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, I used a USB-C to USB-A adapter. I also tried an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, which presented issues in that the Drobo would unmount and mount by itself (which, after talking to support, was due to lack of power from the adapter. Note that this is an issue with some and not all of the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adaptors. If you experience the issue return the adaptor to an Apple store for a refund or a replacement.)

Before You Migrate

There are a few important things to check before you migrate to your new Drobo. First and foremost, make sure that your Drobo lights are green and working properly. This means that your data should be accessible via the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer browsers.

Finally, make sure that your Drobo firmware is up-to-date on the older Drobo. You can do this by opening the Drobo Dashboard application, double-clicking your Drobo icon and going to Tools in the sidebar. There you’ll see a Check for Updates icon at the bottom.

Getting Started

While the 5D3 was bigger than my current Drobo (as it holds one extra drive), it by no means was unfamiliar. Encompassed in a metal shell, the 5D3 has a black transparent cover, allowing you to see the lights that show the status of your drives.

To make things easy, I put my new 5D3 next to my old generation 3 Drobo. From there, I went to the Drobo Dashboard application and shut down my generation 3 device for the last time. Once that was off, I unplugged it from both the power and my iMac and took off the covers of both devices.

From there, I ejected and pushed in each hard drive from my old device to the new 5D3. To make things easy, I used the grey plastic buttons to the left of each drive slot, making it easy to slide each drive in and out.

Once the drives were in my new device, I plugged in my Thunderbolt adapter from my Drobo to the computer and then plugged in the power cable before turning it on.

The Migration Process

Once I turned on the Drobo, it took a couple minutes to power on. Once that step was complete, the bottom lights started to flash.

From here, I quit the Drobo Dashboard application and re-opened it. This should recognize your new Drobo device.

Note: If your Drobo Dashboard does not recognize your new Drobore-download the Drobo Dashboard application from Drobo’s website. Be sure to download the correct version — for my 5D3, I needed version 3.2.1.

Once you see your new Drobo lit up as yellow in the Drobo Dashboard, double-click its icon to begin the startup. It will download the latest firmware for your new Drobo. Brand new Drobos do not have firmware right out of the box. This assures that the most current firmware is onboard and ready. If you get an error message saying that Drobo’s servers are unable to be reached like I did, simply try again and it will begin the download.

In my experience, the download and initialization process took just a few minutes, but Drobo warns that it can take up to 30 minutes, or longer if you’re using a networked Drobo device.

Once initialization is complete, you’ll see the Drobo icon will turn green, and the drive bay lights on your Drobo will also change from yellow to green.

One Last Step

There’s one final important step with your new Drobo — to register it. This makes sure that you’re covered under Drobo’s 2-year warranty, offering you support should things take a turn for the worse. To do this, in the Drobo Dashboard, click the Help and Support sidebar item, and click on the link to Register my Drobo devices. This will walk you through the process of logging in and telling Drobo about your recent purchase.


While I was somewhat worried about the migration from my old to new Drobo, the process was simple and straight-forward and took me less than 15 minutes. If you need help or additional walkthrough information, be sure to go to to view a step-by-step process similar to what I described above.