Drobo Dashboard: cannot add Drobo IP address manually

I’m using two DroboPro FS units, and the only way to manage them is to use Drobo Dashboard for Windows or OSX. There is no web interface like other NAS have, and there is no way to configure it from Linux natively.

The DroboPro FS itself is quite impressive, good performance and easy to set up. However I find the dashboard is lacking some essential features. Drobo Dashboard uses a broadcast mechanism to detect Drobo units in the local subnet. If the Drobo is in a different subnet, it simply won’t find it. There is no way to add it manually to the dashboard by entering an IP address or hostname manually. This is really annoying, especially considering the $3K DroboPro FS is marketed for business users. Many companies split their network into subnets, and if you happen to be in a different subnet from the Drobo, you can’t manage it. You can mount its shares, and you can even configure it as a DroboSync target by manually entering its IP address in the DroboSync settings. Yes, there it is possible! Why not in the administration part?

I’ve contacted the Drobo support, and they suggested to either put myself into the Drobo subnet or putting the Drobo into my subnet. Yeah, I know this would solve the problem, but what if I have no choice or control over my local and/or remote subnet? Why do I have to change my network configuration to work around a shortcoming in their software?






9 responses to “Drobo Dashboard: cannot add Drobo IP address manually”

  1. Lol

    I just found this too. I’m all for making things simple but at least give us techies the power to access some advanced settings page so we can point it at a remote IP for management. Come on Drobo. HOw hard would it be to have this setting in Drobo Dashboard?

  2. Riley

    Just bit me too. It’s really not a business app with that subnet limit. Bites you using a vpn too, and can’t port map it. It is trivial to modify so as to enter an IP.

  3. Jonathan

    We were able to put a Drobo in our CoLo facility by reverse-engineering the broadcast mechanism.

    Long story short, you need to use a program like Netcat or the Simple UDP Proxy/Pipe (from http://aluigi.altervista.org/mytoolz.htm) running on a computer on the same subnet as the computer running the Drobo Dashboard to redirect UDP traffic on port 5002 to the Drobo’s IP. Once the Dashboard and Drobo have established communications, the redirection is no longer necessary. So far it’s worked for two months without any problems.

    Also…a little birdy told me that we might see something useful baked into the Dashboard in the not-so-distant future….

  4. Christoph

    Yeah, we thought about the tunnelling solution too, but you still need a separate machine as a tunnel endpoint in your remote network. If you do that, you might as well run Windows there with a Drobo Dashboard.

  5. Jonathan


    What I described is not really a tunnel; it’s more of a packet redirect. As long as you can access the remote IP of the Drobo, the technique I described does not require a computer on the remote network. The Drobo itself is the endpoint. The only computer required is the one running Drobo Dashboard on the local net.

  6. Jonathan

    I realized my original description is too vague, so here’s a second attempt:

    When it starts up, the Drobo Dashboard sends out a broadcast UDP packet on port 5002 at five second intervals, alerting any Drobos that receive the packet that it is running. Since it is a broadcast packet, most routers will not resend that packet to other subnets (unless the routers have been configured in a bizarre way). If your Drobo is on another subnet, it will never see this broadcast packet, so it will never respond to the Dashboard. Weeping and gnashing of teeth ensues.

    If, on the same computer that’s running the Drobo Dashboard, you run some software that detects that UDP broadcast packet on port 5002 and echos that packet to the Drobo’s IP address, the echoed packet is no longer a broadcast packet, the routers will route it properly, and the Drobo will respond to the Dashboard. At this point, the software that was doing the echoing is no longer needed: all further communication is direct. If you close and reopen the Dashboard software, you’ll need to restart the echoing software until the Drobo and the Dashboard have seen each other.

    It should be simple to write a shell script that opens both the Dashboard and the echoing software, waits for a specified period of time chosen to be long enough for communication to be established between the Drobo and the Dashboard, and then quits the echoing software. Then you have a point-and-click solution that any user could use.

  7. Christoph


    thanks for pointing out the solution using the Simple UDP Proxy/Pipe. I’ve downloaded that tool and compiled it on my Mac (gcc -o suddpipe sudppipe.c) and set up UDP forwarding of port 5002 to my remote drobo (./suddpipe x.x.x.x 5002 5002). Now the dashboard detects both drobos. It even seems to remember the remote drobo, after stopping the pipe and restarting the dashboard I can still access both.

    The very latest Drobo models come with a Dashboard that has the feature I was asking for. They allow you to manually enter a Drobo IP address. However the Dashboard for the DroboPro FS does not have this feature (yet?).

  8. Sankar

    Hi interesting to see how DROBO can be remotely accessed. I own a DROBO FS and tried using the net cat under MAC OSX LION. I have two different network 192.168.1.x ( where the DROBO is connected) and I have 192.168.5.x with the WAN port connected to the 192.168.1.x. When my MAcbookpro is connected to the 192.168.5.x network I tried the following : nc -lvu 5002 | nc 192.168.1.x(Drobo ip) and I get the response “Connection Succeeded” but the DROBO Dashboard does not detect the DROBO at all. But I can use the AFP protocol and mount the share afp://Drobo-fs /backup. I tested to see if the broadcast is coming out of the 5002 port on my Mabook pro and I see the broadcast stream from the Drobodashboard. Could you please help with any missing steps or trouble shoot the issue. By the way I am using the Dashboard 2.1.2 version for the Drobo FS. I tried connecting the DROBO from a remote location through VPN and I am able to connect to the DROBO shares by AFP protocol but no luck in Dashboard detecting the DROBO.

  9. Christoph

    I’m happy to report that version 2.1.2 of the Drobo Dashboard lets me add Drobos manually by IP address! I guess they were listening 🙂