You have countless options for storing large amounts of data these days, but that wasn’t the case in the early 2000s. That’s when Drobo released its first home storage appliances, which proved very popular at the time. It’s been chugging along all these years until now. According to a court filing in California, Drobo has entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It’s not shutting down, but there could be a lot of changes on the way.
Drobo was among the first to offer scalable storage devices aimed at home and small business users. Its Drobo enclosures allowed users to load up various hard drives and merge them into a single large storage pool. It was far ahead of the competition in those days — several ET staffers either had Drobos or desperately wanted one.
You might be thinking the conceit of Drobo doesn’t sound very impressive. After all, network attached storage (NAS) boxes are incredibly common today, but that’s probably why Drobo is in this mess. Companies like Synology have surpassed the capabilities of Drobo for high-volume on-site storage, and cloud services like Dropbox and iCloud take care of backups for more casual users.
By filing Chapter 11, Drobo will have a chance to restructure after discharging some of its debt. The first creditor meeting is on July 19th. Parties making claims against Drobo’s assets have until October 17th to file them with the court. So, Drobo is at least trying to make a go of things. Otherwise, it would have filed Chapter 7 to liquidate the company. Still, this situation looks grim.
Drobo was severely impacted by the pandemic, with CEO Mihir Shah noting in early 2020 that it expected production delays due to problems with its supply chain. According to Apple Insider, customers are being told that Drobo’s sales and support will continue operating. However, the company’s online store shows all its signature drive enclosures are currently sold out. It’s going to have trouble meeting any creditor obligations without a product to sell, and suppliers won’t be anxious to cut a bankrupt company any slack to restart production.
Drobo has not laid out its future plans or even publicly acknowledged the bankruptcy filing. However, it’s hard to see how the company will move forward without major changes. Its current offerings, were they even available to purchase, cost around the same as comparable Synology DiskStations, but they lack the app support and features of Synology. And then there’s a whole world of NAS devices from brands like QNAP and TerraMaster that cost even less.