SMR Drives in a drobo?


New Member
Jul 5, 2018
My buddy wants to take some 8tb Seagate Compute drives of my hand to upgrade his drobo storage, drobo says those are not compatible or recommended. There is also a video on youtube of a guy sticking a 5TB SMR drive in his drobo and it failing very quickly (though he had all kinds of different drives there size wise and storage amount, the 5tbs also have high failure rate). My buddies usage would be mostly storage with not much access and streaming some media off of it to 1-2 devices max.

What do you guys think yay or nay?

I personally had 4 Seagate 8tb archive drives in a raid5 array for 2 years doing nightly backups and they are chugging along just fine.


Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2016
It depends on the RAID configuration your friend plans to use. SMR drives will not work in any kind of striped RAID array. In the Drobo they'd best be used in either JBOD or RAID1. However, with no write cache in front of them the performance will be quite bad.

SMR drives work well in very specific configurations. I have and still do use them in a non-striped array (Unraid) with an SSD write cache in front of them. They work great for such a purpose and are a tremendous value in that regard. But again, if your friend is planning to do any kind of data striping or writing directly to the drives with no write cache, I'd say no go.


Active Member
Jan 4, 2015
Vancouver, Canada
SMR drives also work well with ZFS, either with a SLOG or sync=disabled. ZFS's ability to do write aggregation and reordering on random IO makes these disks fairly usable. I would also recommend a large recordsize of 1mb. Compression also won't hurt here either. So long as you can tune things, you should be able to get decent performance.