Installing CrashPlan on a Drobo 5N

*UPDATE March 20, 2014:* Since this post was written there has been an update to the CrashPlan App (v. 3.6.3) that breaks older installs. If you are installing CrashPlan from scratch, these instructions will probably work for you provided you are installing the current version of CrashPlan for Drobo. If you have an older version of CrashPlan installed on your Drobo, you will need to either update or reinstall. Either way, you can find more information here:

I'm a fan of Drobo and for full disclosure, they're a sponsor of my podcast, Mac Power Users. When I chose a Drobo for use at my home, I picked the Drobo 5N for a number of reasons. First, I didn't want to have to be tethered to my storage. I have a MacBook Air and a Mac mini in my home and I wanted my storage to be available to all my machines no matter where I was in my house. Secondly, I was intrigued by the idea of Drobo Apps. Drobo promised Apps years ago with the release of the Drobo FS and the support and development of Apps has been pretty lackluster. The new bosses at Drobo promised me that with the Drobo 5N, Drobo had recommitted to the App platform, and so far they seem to be slowly but surely fulfilling that promise.

Drobo recently launched their "App Store" that comes with a couple of officially supported "flagship apps" including Plex, Copy and ElephantDrive. But there are also a number of "community supported" apps including one of particular interest to me, CrashPlan. After reviewing the instructions on the Drobo Forums and a little trial and error, I was able to get CrashPlan up and running on my 5N and thought I'd share the process.

These instructions are based on my experiences setting up CrashPlan on my Drobo 5N using a MacBook Air running 10.9.1 on my network as of the date of this post. Things may change and your mileage may vary. I offer no warranty, support or assurances, so use this guide at your own risk! If you run into trouble, please look to the Drobo Forums or the CrashPlan Forums for assistance, I cannot offer support.


Before you even begin the installation process, there are some things you should do. First, it's always a good idea to make sure you have a backup of the data on your Drobo. I know one of the main features of the Drobo is the data-redundancy, but keep in mind the Drobo is still a single device and like all technology, susceptible to failure. I backup the data on my Drobo once a week to a 3TB USB hard drive connected to my Mac mini using Carbon Copy Cloner.

Next, you'll need to register for an account on the DroboSpace Forums. For whatever reason, you can't view all the necessary forum topics or download attachments to files unless you're a registered member. Note that registering is a multi-step process that requires signing up for a Drobo user account at Drobo (free) and then getting an authorization code to allow you to post in the forums. My authorization code got flagged by Google's spam filter so check your junk folders if it doesn't come right through.

Finally, you'll want to make sure that you have the latest version of Drobo Dashboard installed and that your Drobo's firmware is up to date.

Okay - I think we're finally ready to get started.

Installing Helper Applications

Although CrashPlan shows up in the Drobo Dashboard App store, you can't install it until you first install some helper applications. You'll need to download and install the following supporting applications:

DropBear (available as an attachment to this forum thread)



Manually installing applications on a Drobo 5N is fairly simple. Simply mount your Drobo in the Finder or using AFP with the iP address of your Drobo (if you haven't already, you may want to consider setting up a DHCP reservation for your network using your Drobo's MAC address so you'll always know what the IP address is of the Drobo on your home network. This is fairly simple to do using an Apple Airport router.)

Once you've mounted the Drobo, simply drag the .tgz files you downloaded above into the DroboApps folder and restart the Drobo.

Upon restart, Drobo will look at the contents of the Drobo Apps folder and install any uninstalled programs. You can find more information about manually installing programs in the Drobo Forums.

Installing Helper Applications

Install CrashPlan on the Drobo

Once the Drobo has restarted, the helper applications should be installed. You will see DropBear and Locale in the list of DroboApps in your Drobo Dashboard (Java doesn't appear), but they will show as unsupported.

You can now use the one-click install method to install CrashPlan from the Drobo Dashboard.

Install CrashPlan on the Drobo

Install CrashPlan on a Computer

If you haven't already, you'll need to install CrashPlan on at least one computer, you can find the free installer at Install CrashPlan as you would any other Application.

If you already have Crashplan installed, you can skip this step.

Install CrashPlan on a Computer

Configure CrashPlan for the Headless Client

These instructions were adapted from CrashPlan's Configuring A Headless Client Instructions. I suggest you read through those instructions and have a basic understanding of the process involved. Using the instructions provided by CrashPlan, this is the step-by-step process I followed to configure the headless client on the Drobo.

Before we get started, let me explain what we're doing here. We're going to use some port forwarding to temporarily redirect the CrashPlan service on your computer (where you may have just installed CrashPlan in the previous step) to the Drobo. Because CrashPlan on the Drobo runs "headless" or without any user interface, you have no way to configure it. By setting up this port forwarding, we will temporarily connect the Crashplan install on your computer with the Crashplan client on the Drobo to allow you to setup the Drobo client.

You may only do this once for initial configuration. Or, you may find that you repeat the steps below occasionally to update settings or check the status of CrashPlan on your Drobo.

Change the Application's Service Port

Close the CrashPlan application on your Mac if it's running.

You'll need to open the configuration file which is hidden inside the CrashPlan Application. To find it, you'll have to right-click on the CrashPlan application and click "show package contents"

The file you're looking for is here:

Open this Application using a text editor such as TextEdit

Change the Application's Service Port

Change the Service Port

Look for the line in the fie that reads:


Change this to read:


Note the absence of the # sign and the change of port from 4243 to 4200

Save your changes and quit the text editor

Change the Service Port

Forward Port 4200 to 4243 on the Drobo

Now we need to forward port 4200 on your Mac to the Drobo port 4243. This can be done via the Terminal using this command:

ssh -L 4200:localhost:4243 yourusername@DroboIP

Note that yourusername is the username you setup for your Drobo (not your Mac - I've blurred mine), and DroboIP is replaced with the IP address of the Drobo on your network. You'll see in my screenshot, my Drobo's IP is (which it always is on my local network because I setup a DHCP reservation as discussed above.) You'll be required to authenticate with your password that you setup for access to your Drobo. Note that the username and passwords are case sensitive!

Forward Port 4200 to 4243 on the Drobo

Open CrashPlan and Configure

On your desktop machine, open CrashPlan. It will take a little longer than usual and you'll probably have to sign in again. This is because the port forwarding we put in place in the steps above the CrashPlan App on your computer thinks it's running on a new instance on the Drobo.

Go ahead and configure CrashPlan as you would like for the client running on the Drobo. This may include changing the computer name (the name of your Drobo by default), changing who is allowed to backup to the Drobo, when backups may run, throttling CPU and bandwidth usage, etc.)

One of my primary objectives for wanting to run CrashPlan on my Drobo was to allow family members to backup directly to my Drobo. Previously I did so with a hack using a Mac mini and some scripts to keep the Drobo always mounted and available and while it mostly worked, it was less than perfect. Now, I can configure CrashPlan on the Drobo to allow my family members to backup to it directly.

Quit the CrashPlan application when you're finished and we'll reverse the port-forwarding so CrashPlan will work for your computer.

Open CrashPlan and Configure

Switch CrashPlan Back

Once you're done configuring CrashPlan for the Drobo, you'll want to switch things back so it will work for your computer. To do this, you will again need to change the settings in the file you edited a few steps earlier. You'll simply need to comment out the service port by adding a # in front of the line so it now reads:


Save the document and exit TextEdit.

If you haven't already, exit your SSH session in the Terminal.

Note that if you ever need to "check in" on CrashPlan on the Drobo or chance your configuration, you'll just need to repeat these last few steps to temporarily re-enable the port forwarding and allow the Crash Plan application on your Mac to control the headless client on the Drobo.

Switch CrashPlan Back

You're Done

CrashPlan should now be configured and running on your Drobo 5N. If you re-launch CrashPlan on your computer you'll see the Drobo is now listed as another computer on your plan and is ready to be used as a backup destination.

You're Done