Monday, 31 December 2012

Synology Part II

The new Synology NAS box has been ticking over for the last few weeks.

On the whole, I'm pretty pleased with it. Having docouments and files centralised is a boon, even with a single user business.

A few of the good things I've found:
  • Playback of music through the iTunes interface is pretty easy. The Audio Station application is OK but I prefer iTunes on the whole.
  • Having PHP and mySQL on the network is very handy for testing websites and PHP functionality.
  • The Wiki (Media Wiki - the basis for Wikipedia) is great for tasks lists and notes, as it can be accessed easily from any machine with a web browser. Having it centralised means I can bob on and write down an idea from the iPad/iPod or lounge PC.
  • Setting up automated mySQL backups is a bit of a pain. I will need to get my hands dirty with config files and the Linux command prompt to get this working.
I few problems I've encountered:
  • Copying photos onto the DiskStation directly is a bad idea. The thumbnail process is hideously slow. Make sure you install and use the Synology Assistant on your PC. Your PC is much faster at converting images.
  • Moving folders around from Windows Explorer can cause them to lose permissions and become inaccessible. The workaround for this is to move them from the DiskStation web interface. I haven't yet tracked down the pattern of behaviour for this or found a solution online.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

NAS Box Setup

My Synology DS213 arrived yesterday afternoon (yay!)

Installation Notes:
(If you are easily bored or don't want to read the gory details, skip to Summary at the bottom of the page and see the spoiler of how it went).

It's now unboxed and I am setting about fitting the drives. I opted for two 2TB Western Digital Red drives (WD20EFRX) as these are aimed at NAS boxes and about half the price of 'Enterprise' (server) drives. I checked compatibility on the Synology website before ordering.

The front cover comes off easily enough allowing the drive caddies to be removed. Fitting the drives is very straightforward using the screws provided. The screw holes in the caddies have rubber washers built in, presumably to reduce vibration.

The caddies slide back into the box with a satisfying 'clunk'. So far so good.

Following the very short quick start leaflet I switch on the box and navigate to

The first step is to download the Operating System (DiskStation Manager). You can choose to do this automatically from the web or use a PAT file downloaded from the website. I'm not using the files from the CD-ROM as they may be out of date.

In a fit of paranoia I have downloaded the latest installation file and burned it straight onto a DVD. I'll use the download file to install.

After setting up an Admin password, the next step is to configure the storage. The default is to 'Create a Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) volume'. After a bit of Googling and a play with the RAID Calculator on Synology's website I concluded that this is the simplest and best option for my needs as my main concern is redundancy. If a drive fails, I don't want to lose my data.

After proceeding from the final installation step, the box only takes about 5 minutes to configure and reach the login screen. After login, a status screen is displayed indicating that the drive volume is still being created. The web interface is very slick.

After another five minutes the box is ready to use, although the verification process is still going on in the background.

While doing this, something I've noticed (or not noticed) is the sound made by the box. It is very quiet. Just an occasionally whispered chunter. My main PC (which has quiet components) covers the noise almost completely. +1 for WD Red drives and the fans in the DS213.

As an initial test I have dumped some files onto the drive into a new share. I also set up some users and permissions. This was very easy using the Control Panel.

Accessing the shares worked fine from Windows and Mac. A good start!


  • Very easy to install drives and software.
  • Administration is very slick through the web interface.
  • Very quiet operation due to Western Digital Red discs and quiet onboard fan.

So far so good. When I have tried out the music and photo functions I'll post again.