Storage Guy gets a Synology DS1813+

synology diskstation ds1813+

DISCLOSURE:  After chasing both Synology and QNAP for a couple of years now to try out their various Home NAS products in exchange for a full blog review, only to be met with “We’ll give you 10% off,” I bit the bullet and did it myself, integrity intact.  Here is my full review of my first two weeks with a Synology DS1813+.  Synology or no member of their team has approached me about writing this, and in no way am I being compensated for it.  This should in no way be viewed as a competitive analysis, but simply one enthusiast’s simplification of his home media and data management.

All links in this article are Amazon Affiliate links.  Please consider using them to make any purchases if you choose to go down the same path.  All proceeds go towards the continued support and maintenance of Thank you!


Common Beginnings…

So how did I get here?  Why would anyone go down this route for home use?  Ruling out the obvious demo/lab use-cases, which I have for the purpose of this article, it brings a TON of functionality to the table, which will go largely unused by most end-users.  I was a long time FreeNAS user, but the frequency of updates, lack of confidence in open source housing all of my personal data, and the amount of heat and noise that rig put out, pushed me back to using external USB drives.  And it simply got out of hand.  Before we get too deep into the philosophy, let’s lay out my home environment first so we can really put things into context.


Gear Tour!

I have a MacBook Pro (2011) that is my “main” machine. I use it for work, run 10-12 various VM’s in Fusion, etc, but also use it for Final Cut Pro X for some pretty intense video editing, as well as GarageBand and Skype for recording multiple podcasts. With 16GB RAM, an i7, and a 512GB SSD, it is a workhorse, and short of getting a Mac Pro for $5k+, likely won’t be eclipsed very soon.  Combine this with (2) Apple Thunderbolt displays, a 12-channel mixer, and a couple of Heil microphones, and you’ve got the perfect workstation.  At least I think so.


Attached to this, I had (2) 1TB USB3 drives for live storage, (1) 2TB USB3 drive for Time Machine, and most recently acquired a 2TB WD Velociraptor thunderbolt rig (RAID-0) because I was having performance issues using the USB drives. The Thunderbolt performance is magical, for what it’s worth, but that’s a whole other topic.

I also have a Mac Mini, that essentially sits there and runs iTunes. That’s about its only purpose in life. It serves my iDevices and Apple TV in the living room, to which I have built quite the library (1.5TB of ripped bluray movies, 100k+ songs, photos backups, etc) and storing all of THIS was a Seagate 4TB USB external drive, which was also being used as the Time Machine target for that device (bad idea, I know).

My day-to-day data mgmt had become a chore. And something that was really beginning to have to be “managed.” I tried going down the path of CrashPlan initially, but it didn’t become very cost effective over time, and the up-front legwork involved was more than I was willing to go through.


“OK, now what?”

Everyone recommends the Synology’s. Seriously. EVERYONE. So I started the month-long research effort. How many bays did I need? What sort of drives are people using? Can I get away with a 5-bay, or should I go with the 8-bay so I’m not pissed-off at myself a year from now when I need to upgrade anyway? How do the expansion units work? Is eSATA really good enough to expand a volume across enclosures? Etc etc etc.

The other question that came into play was networking. To-date, I had survived on an unmanaged 8-port Cisco/Linksys gigE switch. But the Syn had 4 gigE ports, so getting it without being able to do LAGG would be a bit silly.

Ultimately, after much back and forth, including swallowing hard at the price (~$2k), here’s what I ended up with:

Synology 8-bay DiskStation DS1813+ (Diskless)
(8) WD Red 2TB drives
Cisco SG300 10-port managed switch

Note: There are also 1TB | 3TB | 4TB options for the Western Digital Red drives.  DO NOT use WD GREEN drives in your Synology.

….pushing the “Place Order” button on Amazon was literally a 2-hour endeavor of sitting there staring at it. I knew what I needed to know, the questions had been answered, I was sold on the technology. “Yea, but TWO GRAND?!”  At the end of the day, I’m a firm believer in doing things right the first time, and not half-assing it.



Since I have Amazon Prime, it all got here within the next couple of days. It took 5 minutes to unpack the Synology itself, and about an hour to unpack all 8 of the individually boxed and packaged WD drives. About an hour of configuring the Volume and initializing (8) 2TB drives with an SHR-2 raid array (Synology’s proprietary RAID-6 spinoff) and she was up and running. The UI is beautiful. They’ve taken all of the best parts of the Mac and Linux UI, and made DSM into this amazing mix of the two.  This netted me ~12TB usable with the SHR-2, versus ~10TB usable with Raid-6.

synology volume manager

UPDATE:  Synology reached out to clarify that the SHR-2 offering is a linux-based offering, and not proprietary to Synology.  Here is a link to their wiki, explaining how it all works.  And here is a link to a support KB/FAQ describing the restore process should the worst-case scenario happen with a DiskStation failure.


OK, now we need some LAGG. Can’t rave enough about the Cisco SG300. It’s a fanless, quiet-as-a-mouse, managed 10-port gigE switch, and even has a couple of gbic ports in case I ever wanted 10GbE. (SFP’s are 1GbE only). There was a bit of a learning curve, as it operates a lot like IOS in enterprise Cisco switches. I was reminded the hard way that even through the GUI you had to ‘wr mem’ or Save your config, as a reboot wiped mine out several times before I did the /foreheadslap and realized what was happening. Getting LAGG setup was also tricky and I actually had to RTFM because there is a certain order of operations between enabling LACP and adding the appropriate port profiles to the LAGG. Once done, though, I expect to quite frankly never have to touch it again. And I haven’t since day 1.

Storage? Check. 4-way LAGG networking? Check.


Let’s Begin. Again.

Now to create some shares and let the data consolidation project begin.

All-told, I’ve got a sum total of about 2.5TB of data. This was being moved in from all of the various USB drives I mentioned above, and took a couple of days to get moved over. I then spent the better part of a weekend getting digitally organized. I think this is where most people (including a lot of my friends) fall down. Hard. On their faces. And then they bitch when their hard drive fails or computer breaks and wonder why they can only access a backup from 6 months ago. It’s a lesson that a lot of us, including myself, have learned hard. This was a theme for this whole project, but we’ll get back to that when we talk about Backup.

Getting digitally organized involved consolidating everything into one “share” on the Synology. I actually ended up deleting roughly 1TB worth of duplicate data, where I had multiple copies of things saved, putting my trust into the double-disk protection of the Synology. Fitting enough, I named the first share “NAS.” Inside of the NAS share, there are an array of folders and subfolders containing everything under the sun (I finally deleted a lot of my Microsoft ISO downloads from my technet. Something tells me I’m going to regret that, but I digress…).


This is something that requires ongoing grooming. Even as I write this, I’m copying another 170GB of recent tape capture footage from the thunderbolt drive over to the Synology.

Now that the data is consolidated, and somewhat organized, let’s get into some of the nitty gritty details of how I’m using it in each of the various ways.

Double-Disk Parity Storage

As a NetApp’er that bleeds NetApp Blue, I wholeheartedly believe in RAID6-DDP-style deployments, such as our RAID-DP.  To be honest, I didn’t buy this for performance.  I bought it more for that “Sleep well at night knowing my data is safe,” but it’s actually quite performant.  For comparison, here are the three drive types, USB, Synology NAS, and WD Velociraptor Thunderbolt.




 With this setup, I know that I can lose two drives and my data will still be intact.  Something that was missing with the array of various USB drives I had plugged in.  This was arguably the biggest checkbox on the list of reasons to get a big home NAS.  Mission accomplished.


iTunes hosting

This one is touchy.  One of the biggest gripes to Apple in recent years is the inability to serve an iTunes library without a running instance of iTunes.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed.  Synology did however come up with a solution that involves some free iDevice Apps and leveraging AirPlay.  As much as they advertise that they can serve a library to an AppleTV or an iDevice, understand that it’s not native/headless, and is proxying via AirPlay through an iDevice.  Not their fault.  Nothing they could do about it really.  C’mon Apple.

My preferred solution stays the same.  I already had a Mac Mini running an iTunes library and it’s worked brilliantly for me for 3+ years now.  It was simply a matter of moving it from the aforementioned 4TB external drive to the Synology, mounting the NAS share, Option-click iTunes, and point to the iTunes Library.itl file, and all was back to normal.  I will say that Apple has done a much improved job of making the entire library, including metadata, more portable.  But copying a 1.5TB iTunes Library takes a few days.


Lots of people also use PLEX as the platform-of-choice for media sharing, but considering how in-bed I already am with Apple, I prefer to stay within the ecosystem.  Once you get the process down using MP4Tools and iDentify to populate the library, it’s really simple.  If anyone has a specific request of using iTunes exclusively, converting AVI/MKV files, auto-tagging artwork and IMDB metadata, and adding to iTunes, I can certainly write that up in a separate post.



UPDATE:  Many have sent in requests for a thorough explanation of my iTunes Library management.  I’ll see if I can get that up this weekend. 

UPDATE 2: After all of the feedback and requests, here is a detailed walkthrough of my iTunes configuration, workflow, and metadata management.




For now, I still use iPhoto for managing everything.  It has done everything I need it to do, from managing collections and album, to providing “just enough” retouch and editing tools for the hobbyist photographer category I fall into.  The way iPhoto manages photos can be a little bit daunting without taking time to truly understand the database and revisions logic and tracking that it does.  All iPhoto content is stored in a single “package” file, not unlike a lot of Apple applications, making it easy to move things around if need be.


For performance purposes, I have opted to leave the iPhoto Library on my Thunderbolt drive.  If you need justification as to “why,” refer to the speed test results above.  But, that drive and it’s contents are included in the Time Machine backup profile for the MacBook Pro.


Time Machine

On the back of the Synology are (2) USB-3 ports.  Now that I had a bunch of extra USB-3 drives laying around, I didn’t want to consume expensive 2TB WD Red disks for backup copies.  (Sound familiar, IT folks?)  One of the coolest features I’ve used of the Synology so far is to plug in a USB3 device into the back, and have it advertise on your network as a Time Machine target.

timemachine timemachine2


Now, both my MacBook Pro, as well as my MacMini can backup with Time Machine, and leverage sparse bundles stored on an ext4-formatted USB3 disk.  It does it all for you.  Easy-Peezee.  I would also recommend making sure that “Local Snapshots” are disabled for Time Machine, especially if you’re using an SSD locally.  This can be accomplished by running:

sudo tmutil disablelocal

…at a Terminal prompt.

So, if we review, I’ve got all of my data stored either on the Synology with double-disk protection or on a Thunderbolt DAS being Time Machine’d every hour.  Brilliant.

Now let’s talk about arguably the most controversial topic…


Backup the Backup

What kind of storage guy would I be if I said this was “good enough?!”  Frankly, it really is.  For 99% of the world, this is a 1000x improvement over what you’re likely [not] doing, which for a lot of people includes no backup at all aside from what you’re sync’ing with Dropbox.  Sound familiar?

I’ve said for a long time, “Backups are useless if they can’t be restored.”   Living in Southern California, we’re all waiting for the next 7.0+ 1994 disaster again.  Buildings crumble.  Datacenter and CoLo facilities here in L.A. have “Earthquake sustainability” ratings.  Most claim to be able to “handle” up to an 8.0.  But I guarantee you your house or apartment building that was built in the 1950’s cannot (mine included).

So while the Synology is a 10x improvement for me over what I was using before, it still needs to get backed up somewhere else.  One of the cool parts about the Synology is that it has built-in support for Amazon Glacier, as well as a few other cloud services.  I’ve tried Glacier in the past and just wasn’t overjoyed about it.  It’s not terrible, but it does what it says on the tin.  It’s essentially meant to be cold storage.  Hard archiving of data you won’t access very often.  This is why it is so cheap.

As an alternative, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews of late from CrashPlan users.  I was excited when I discovered that some smart guy figured out how to install both an embedded java runtime and a headless CrashPlan server onto Synology diskstations.  You also still run the local client GUI on your workstation and simply point it to the server running on the Synology.  The HOWTO deserves its own writeup/post, but for those anxious to see how it works, you can grab the instructions here.


I’ve got about 30 days left in my initial seed of ~1TB.  I’m aware they had a preload option, I’m just not willing to pay $125 to ship a drive back and forth.  And no, you can’t backup to my Synology, CrashPlan users.  :)


Final Thoughts

This is an amazing rig.  I’m using 1-5% of what it’s truly capable of.  I’ve had it running for 2 weeks (1 reboot 2 days in for DSM upgrade) and I actually thought I would be able to push this thing.  What you’re seeing below is with a movie streaming to an AppleTV, CrashPlan upload/seeding, and Time Machine all running at the same time.


I have not even begun to play with all of the applications that it has in its own little “app store” that works a lot like a linux software repository.  It also has a huge open source community with people hosting their own repositories, which the DiskStation fully supports adding.  I’ve tinkered with the BT client, and while it’s fully capable, I still prefer using uTorrent on the Mac Mini.  I’m sure I’ll switch over at some point.

If for any reason any of this has touched a vein with you, do not hesitate.  Take the leap.  Pull the trigger.  Buy it.  But don’t cut corners, and don’t half-ass cheap-out on it.  Do it right the first time.  You won’t be sorry.


Questions/Comments?  Let me hear it!  I’ll append the review with answers to the good ones!


  1. Jean-Christophe Bettinelli

    Hi Nick. This is a great post. I think you should give a try to the Plex MediaCenter, as it works really well. The BT client also does the job perfectly. I’ve tried to compare the price here in Switzerland, and it reaches 2257 CHF (2500 $) for the same config you have bought. On my side I run a DS1412+ with 4 x 2TB Red since one year, and I’m fully satisfied.

    1. that1guynick

      Thanks Jean-Christophe!

      I have tried Plex in the past, both with my first ever venture into HTPC with Windows Media Center, as well as with a jailbroken AppleTV2. Call me anal-retentive, but I really like grooming and organizing my digital media, and for those types iTunes is very well suited for. Plex tends to garner the attention of the audience that can’t be bother converting/transcoding/etc, and just wants to watch their media without hassle. And I applaud their innovation in doing so. I might give it another look one day.

      1. Kenny Garland

        I find this comment to be quite interesting as I thought the idea of using iTunes and Apple products was to be more hands off. At home I use PLEX and mainly watch it on my iPad, Android, Chromecast and web! That’s what’s so great about it is that it does everything out of the box and you can organize it as much as you like. If you want to control the conversion/transcode you can do that to the file directly on your server with ffmpeg.

        I’m interested in getting the DS1813+ – it looks and sounds great!

      2. Damien

        um, you mean the other way around, correct? You should take a peak a the forum sometime because file conversion is one of the bigger topics of discussion. A lot of machines don’t have the cpu’s to transcode 1080 video files on the fly properly (like a NAS, some streaming boxes etc). Also quite a few don’t want to have serious transcoding because of the loss in video or audio quality so they convert files to whatever’s native. On the flip side, one of the beautiful things about plex is you dont have to convert a file to an mp4, mp3 etc if you have a cpu that can support it. Also plex can be very simple (point to files-play) or more complex (stream tv, automate downloads, build plugins to specify your needs, agents to pull artwork and metadata etc etc). All of this on a beautiful interface that you can watch from anywhere. Im sure I sound a bit like a plex fan boy, but if you’re anal about your media, that scratch is better itched on plex, not iTunes.

      3. tommy thumb

        Hey great article, thanks for the post. Just as a point of reference re: Plex comment- this is incorrect. It’s actually the polar opposite. I’d definitely recommend revisiting Plex if you’re a media buff. If it’s just music iTunes is fine.

  2. The Gnome

    This is a great article. I recently bought the Synology DS414 and stocked it with 4x4tb drives. I do very similar to what you do as far as your setup in the Mac world. One question I have… why did you go with the managed Cisco hub? What did that get you? I run a basic Netgear JGS524 24 port gigabit ethernet switch that all my Macs, servers and storage plug into. Is there a more optimal way to set this up? I’m only getting about ~89 MB/s write and read with my setup.

    1. Aksel Gustafsson

      Not to answer why he chose the switch but why there are benefits; A managed switch, if supported at server and switch end, can use Link aggregation. This is really a nifty thing which makes use of two (or more) rj45-ports instead of only one. It’s important that both ends of the dual “lane” supports LACP, IEEE 802.1ax or IEEE 802.3ad. Your Nas supports it, and if applied you could get the stated ~200 MB/s read speed. So it can dubble transfer rate as well as give redundancy if one network interface fails.

      Why you don’t get the full gigabit speed though I don’t know, maybe the switch is a bottleneck. I have a DS412+ paired with a cheap Gb-switch and a MB Air which tops the Gb-connection.

      1. that1guynick

        Yes, getting the managed switch was 100% about LAGG for both parallel throughput as well as link redundancy, rather than have (4) independently configured interfaces. Although I think I am hitting some bottleneck somewhere seeing 100/100 read/write. Needs further investigation.

        But being able to stream multiple things to multiple places across multiple links is worth its weight in gold.

        1. The Gnome

          Thanks to you both. Since I have so many connections I need to weigh the cost of a 24-port model capable of this vs. getting a smaller one and putting the rest off on the existing switch.

          1. that1guynick


            Might be more cost effective to run a stack of (2) of the Cisco SG300’s (~$200 each). The DS4xx only has (2) gigE ports. What in the world do you have in your house using 22 ports?! Kudos on that! Is your house just extremely cabled via outlets in the walls?

        2. Eren Kotan

          Perhaps you’re seeing 100/100 MB/s read/write because that’s the maximum bandwidth your computer’s single Gbit Ethernet connection can provide. Your Synology can exceed that with link aggregation, but your computer can’t. In order to see more, your computer would have to team up multiple Gbit ports as well.

          To be honest, you don’t need link aggregation for streaming multiple things to multiple devices, even a 1080p Blu-Ray rip would only use about 3-6 MB/s (25-50 Mbps) of bandwidth, so a standard Gbit Ethernet port, which gives around 100-125 MB/s, has all the bandwidth you need. Try it and see, I have no problem streaming multiple movies to multiple devices in my home using wired Gbit and 802.11ac WiFi connections. I’m using a 1813+ as well.

          Unless you have a computer with a multiple Gbit Ethernet ports using link aggregation as well to fully tap into that bandwidth of the Synology, and you’re using that to edit uncompressed HD video over iSCSI or something, link aggregation is unnecessary for home use.

  3. Paul Meihanetsidis

    For those media freaks out there I have a great suggestion. I have a Syn 412+ w/4*3Tb WD drives (SHR raid mode, total 8Tb). I also have the A400 PopcornHour hooked to a high end amp/receiver and 46″ led TV. The best setup I had so far and the easiest to manage, thanks to the Synology server. I had a couple of security setup issues and the support I got from Synology was top notch. Can’t ask for more. This is the best hardware investment I have made in my entire life (computer freak since ’91). Last but not least, I can access the server from anywhere, as long as I have internet, through the FREE Synology DNS service and I have my own Cloud drive FREE.

  4. Mark

    Hi Nick, which OS are you running? I was about to upgrade to Mavericks when I found threads like this one:

    1. that1guynick

      I wouldn’t put too too much stock in that. I’m on 10.9.1 on both the MBP and Mac Mini.

      1. Mark

        Thanks Nick, that’s good to hear. I have a DS1512+ and one thing I have noticed is that a Mac doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere near the speeds a PC can. From my SSD-based Macbook Pro running Lion, I see about 65Mb/s read and the same for writes. From my old Dell, running Win 7, with a 5200rpm HDD, I can easily get over 100 Mb/s up and down. If I try to connect from my Mac using SMB, it gets even worse, down to ~40 Mb/s. Have you tried accessing your setup from a PC? What are your thoughts on this issue? From reading a bit, it seems this is a common complaint from Mac users of Synology..

        1. Mark

          And of course I wrote Mb/s in error, instead of MB/s – apologies.

          1. that1guynick

            Coincidentally, I have a recent need to run a Windows workstation again, and will do some side-by-side testing with Windows. You can see my results above pegging out about the 110MB/s mark, likely hitting the single gigE interface from my computer’s threshold. The box itself is capable of 4x that collectively.

          2. Mark

            Thanks Nick. I can’t figure out why I can’t get near the 100MB/s mark on my Mac.

  5. Simon

    Aweome post. Too bad Synology Surveillance Station has stopped working with OS X since October of 2012 …

  6. Mircea

    QUESTION: I have a Synology DS413j and when I copy files from mac to DS trough finder all things are ok, but if I make an rsync backup command the files are copied but the creation date is the date when the files are copied altogh I use the -a (archive mode). This only happens on the DS, if i run the script on an external usb drive everything is ok.
    Do you know the reason for this issue?

    1. that1guynick

      Not off the top of my head, but my rsync skills are admittedly rusty. Have you looked into the Cloud Station app? It essentially turns your DS into a personal “Dropbox” and will sync certain folders. Might be easier than trying to script rsync! Definitely next on my list to implement and review heavily, as it could help me sync files between the Thunderbolt drive I have and the DS, rather than including them in the MBP Time Machine. If you figure it out, please share! :)

  7. Daan

    Hi Nick, thx for sharing. I’m thinking about buying a 1513+ (or 1514+) mostly for backing up, streaming and using the cloud service for syncing the Lightroom catalog and images over the home computer and the Imac in the studio (so over internet). The NAS will be at home were there is only PC and the television wired connected to the network (and some iphones via wifi). In that case is there a need, advantages for a sophisticated switch as you bought?

    1. that1guynick


      Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been traveling recently.

      I just finished a walkthrough of the iTunes setup and it has been posted, and the next on my list is to give a step-by-step guide on configuring Link Aggregation and LACP on both the Synology and the Cisco switch. I’m hoping to also contribute this to the Synology Wiki since they only appear to have an HP ProCurve and Netgear example.

      The base benefits, to answer your question directly, is link redundancy, and parallel channels of throughput. It’s not a sum total of gigE ports, i.e. 1+1+1+1=4, but more of a parallel operations way of thinking. You can now have 4 things accessing the box at the same time and not competing priority. This is the way it works with NAS/SMB types of storage. Block-based storage has different queuing and priority mechanisms. In the setup you’ve described, I doubt you’ll see much of a performance benefit, but if your Synology went offline because of a port or cable failure, would you be annoyed enough to wish you had spent an extra $200 to avoid that? Only you can answer that. The answer for me was yes.

      1. Daan

        Hi Nick, ok thx for explaining,
        In case of a port or cable failure what would prevent the NAS going down, Can you tell more, for instance i do not know what would prevent that, is that what LACP does?
        And is managed switch easy to understand what to do / setup. I can imagine you have to know the terms first and then make settings. But do you need a study for it?

  8. drahamim

    Can you list the full specs for the Synology box? You mentioned the model number and the drives you used but did you go with the full load of ram or just the minimum ( when i bought my DS1512+ i got the minimum 1GB) Did you go with the stock 2GB or the max 4GB?

    1. that1guynick

      I just have the base hardware. I intentionally wanted to try the base first to see if I would really need it or not. Based on how things are going so far, it doesn’t appear that I will. I’m also interested in trying the SSD cache down the road.

  9. Phillip Jacob

    Really nice post.
    I’ve got a 412+ on my own, and it is absolute fantastic, best storage/nas buy ever!

    But, we’re still waiting for the iTunes guide ;)

    1. that1guynick

      I’m at VMware Partner Exchange for the next couple of days, but it’s coming very soon!

      1. Phillip Jacob

        Sounds great. Thanks a lot!

        1. that1guynick


  10. AAW

    Good review – and I agree with most of your choices for your setup, but I am curios why you went with 8 x 2TB drives instead of 4 x 4TB drive and leave room for expansion later? I have the 412+ with 3 x 4TB drives giving me about 7TB usable leaving room to add another 4TB when I need it.

    1. that1guynick

      Great question, AAW. At some point, there had to be a budget. With the switch, I was already over $2,000USD and that was already way over where I wanted to be. Realistically, I only had 2-3TB of data to store at this point. But at the same time, working in the storage industry myself, I understand how much “spindle count” affects storage performance. More disks == More performance. So I didn’t want to leave empty bays, but couldn’t see dropping another ~$1k on doubling the capacity I knew I would not use for a long time coming. One of the reasons I went with SHR-2 was the ability to hot upgrade the drives, and I’m sure I’ll do this piece-mill over time to the 4TB variant. But it’s simply just unnecessary and the most extreme of overkill for what I truly need. It’s taken me a decade to amass 2-3TB, and I’ve now got 12TB usable.

  11. digitalicecream

    Did you manage to get CrashPlan working? I just received my 1813+ and I have 1 year remaining on my CrashPlan+ account. I want to migrate my account from my WHS2011 to my diskstation. Any tips or gotchas for me to watch out for before I dive in?

    1. that1guynick

      I would say to just follow PCLOADLETTER’s instructions to a T, and know and understand what you’re going in to is considered “unsupported” by Code42 (CrashPlan). It requires a bit of tomfoolery to get the right java version, but thats really the extent of it. If you’ve done any Linux-based package management with repo’s and such, you’ll be very comfortable. Be sure and read the latest comments as well. The new 3.6.3 release of CrashPlan is causing a few heartaches.

      1. digitalicecream

        Thanks for the tips. I’ll sit tight and wait for the 3.6.3 package to mature before I dive in. My WHS is working flawlessly with Crashplan and I’ll just take more time to digest everything. I’ve got quite a bit of linux to learn before I’d say I knew anything about it.

  12. digitalicecream

    I already noticed an issue with Plex on Windows and the Synology. The package on Synology appears to be higher than the prerequisite base version needed by the client on Windows, but it will not connect. If you want to use Plex Windows with Synology, download the latest version direct from and manually install it (overwrite is ok). When asked by Synology if you want to update it, decline. It will work on your Windows Plex client going forward until Plex/Synology sorts it out.

  13. Richard Denyer

    Hi Nick,

    Great write up.
    Can you elaborate on why you end up going with Synology over QNAP?

    About to kick of a project to replace my aging Seagate BlackArmor 440 , and am a big fan of Crashplan. but have always been pissed that there was no real way to back the BA440 with running it via a pc.


  14. Ken RItter

    Great article! I just received my 1813+ and purchased 8 – 4TB WD Enterprise drives. I was wondering which RAID you decided to run and which you would recommend. Thank you.

    1. that1guynick

      I went with SHR-2. I am a NetApp storage engineer by-day, and love my RAID-6, but the usable space acquired with SHR-2, esp on larger drive formats, was too much to pass up.

      1. Ken RItter

        I was originally going to go with RAID 6 but I then switched over to thinking I would go with RAID 10 because I thought that RAID 10 would give me better rebuild times because I didnt really want to wait for a RAID 6 from 4TB drives to restripe… So why do you feel that SHR-2 would be better than RAID 6 or RAID 10? Is the only benefit to SHR-2 is that the unusable space is only 8TB vs 16TB with RAID 10? I know that the unusable space for the SHR-2 and RAID 6 are both 8TB (playing around with the Synology RAID calculator). I guess I just dont understand the SHR-2 that well.

        I was told that Synologys Hybrid RAID is a bad idea. It’s the same thing that Drobo does or that you can just do with Linux;
        It’s a way of getting maximum capacity from mis-sized drives by having different RAID levels on different drive portions. It is terrible for performance, produces unpredictable reliability and increases wear and tear significantly.

        Do you have an opinion on this?

        1. Anne-Lise Pasch

          One major benefit of SHR-2 is simply that you can replace drives (one at a time) with larger drives, and the extra drive space becomes usable after you’ve done this a few times. It means that if you’d used 2TB drives, and a year later swapped a couple with 4TB drives (because you can) then you get to use the extra space without needing a separate NAS box to backup/restore everything.

          1. fishon

            ” then you get to use the extra space without needing a separate NAS box to backup/restore everything.”

            Unless I am misunderstanding your comment, this statement is incorrect. You can expand a RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 5+Spare, or RAID 6 configuration with larger drives without having to completely rebuild the raid (ie the way I am interpreting your backup/restore comment – if I am misinterpreting your comment I apologize).

            From DSM Help:

            To expand a RAID Group by replacing existing hard disks with ones of larger size:

            You can expand a RAID Group by replacing existing hard disks with ones of larger size in the following RAID types: RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 6.
            Associated volumes or iSCSI LUN on RAID Group for single volume or iSCSI LUN will be expanded automatically. Please follow the steps below:

            1. Turn off your Synology NAS. You can skip this step if your model supports hot-swapping.
            2. Replace one hard disk with another of larger size.
            3. Turn on the Synology NAS and repair the RAID Group.
            4. Repeat step 1 to 3 until all hard disks are replaced with ones of larger size.
            5. The system will expand the RAID Group automatically.

            Granted with the hybrid system the space becomes useable before all of the drives are replaced, unlike the native raid configurations that cannot be expanded until all the drives are replaced with larger drives.

            I would never consider buying a NAS that did not allow for upgrading drive space without rebuilding the NAS.

            Great article Nick. I just purchased the 1813+ (8x3TB WD Reds) to replace a Thecus 7700 (running 7x2TB WD Greens — been running 24×7 for over 5 years – the green drives can be made to work in a NAS environment by turning off the power saving and head parking). I think it took me longer to unpackage everything, than it did to deploy the raid (RAID 6). Though the parity check took about 3 days to complete.

  15. wavelet

    Thanks very much for the detailed writeup! My main machine is a mac; I’m currently considering the DS1813+ for home use: I currently have 6TB of data spread on 4 external & internal disks (and about to run out of room), plus external disks for Time Machine and a bootable SuperDuper backup. Things are definitely getting unwieldy…

    I was specifically thinking of the DS1813+’s USB3 ports for attaching the Time Machine drives, as you mention. Is that still working well for you? There seem to be a lot of people across many Web forums who have issues with Time Machine backing up to a NAS target (not just Synology, but other vendors as well). The backups would corrupt without an error message.
    Also, I wasn’t able to find specific Synology documentation on using a USB-attached disk for Time Machine (as opposed to a standard internal share on the Synology itself) — was this straightforward to set up?

    1. that1guynick


      Yes, the Time Machine setup is working brilliantly for me, still described as it’s laid out above with the 4TB Seagate drive plugged into the back of the Synology.

      What IS worthy of another post is what I’ve learned about Mac “packages” such as .band, iPhoto Libraries, FinalCutPro “libraries,” etc. And how those are proprietary to Mac OS (Journaled) formatting. And how that relates to using things such as Cloud Station for sync’ing. And you’ll be seeing that post from me very soon.

      1. wavelet

        Good news re Time Machine to the external drive, thanks! I also got a response from Synology that this is an officially supported scheme (I’m impressed with their pre-sale support, and if I had lingering doubts whether I should go for one of the less expensive alternatives, I don’t — the few hundred dollars saved aren’t much when you consider the total cost of a solution with drives, switch & UPS, and amortize it over years of ownership).
        …And looking forward to that other post!

  16. Rikard Olofsson

    Great article hi can i install à program Air video hd server soo i can see my movies fr.o.m. My iPad 2 My Apple tv :) ?

  17. Bagerklestein

    Question – why is SHR giving you more drive space than raid6 – aren’t they both 2 drive stripe parity systems

  18. Section-4

    What are your thoughts on ioSafe 5 bay Synology fire proof and water resistant NAS. That way you can keep your Crashplan backup entirely local instead of offsite and your backup would be in easy reach.
    Too bad the Synology can’t be used as a headless iTunes media server without a Mac or PC running iTunes though!

  19. Section-4

    Also with an 8-bay unit you can have 4-bays configured in RAID-6 with two for redundancy of the RAID-6 and the extra other two as Global hot spares to kick in automatically afterwards!

  20. Bob Rae

    Thanks for the article. I’m a bit confused though. I currently have a Drobo S (with green drives that keep failing and a Drobo that has failed twice). I have 3 2TB WD Green and 2 3TB WD Red installed. I partitioned 4 TB for Time machine backups.

    When my 2011 iMac HDD failed, I installed a new HDD and used the Time Machine backup to restore the data to the new drive. If a drive or two had failed on the Drobo, I’d still have a good backup.

    With your setup, I’m wondering what happens if your external USB Drive fails at the same time as your computer’s HDD? Where do you get your backup from? It seems to me that the whole purpose of the NAS is to use a RAID NAS to ensure that unless the Synology enclosure is stolen (or your house collapses) you will have robust redundancy.

    I was thinking of a Synology 1813+ with 5 Red 3TB drives to start and partitioning 8TB for TM backups (I have several macs on my home network. Thoughts?

    Also, have you played with the security camera functionality? If so, how does the setup work and what software is used to store the video on the Synology unit?

    PS Love the Mac Mini idea for running iTunes although my 27″ iMac is never shut off so I’ve been using that iMac to run iTunes.

  21. FLACus

    Besides filesharing are you using anything else from the NAS ?
    Like apps for example :)

    1. that1guynick

      I am using Cloud Station, but other than that, no. I’ve tried Download Station but find it easier to just run uTorrent on my Mac Mini that is also running iTunes. Photo Station is also potentially on my list, but considering I’ve been doing more and more photography, I need editing ability and that somewhat rules that out for now.

  22. Dasi

    Hi may I know… how to upload folder instead of file to 1813+

    And how to use it on my tablets?

  23. Craig McKenna

    Is it possible to place my footage directly onto the Synology and edit from it using FCPX with no slow down like I do with my Thunderbolt drives, or would I need to keep my footage on a Thunderbolt drive and just use this as my back up storage? Sorry if this is a noob question, I want to read through your post eventually, but currently really hard pressed for time with deadlines at work. Thanks if you can help!

    1. that1guynick

      Craig, I still use my WD Velociraptor t-bolt for working, and I have that drive added to the Time Machine backup that goes to a USB3 external that hangs off the back of the Synology. Make sense?

      Theoretically, you COULD work from the Synology, but if you’re doing any serious sort of edit, you’re going to want SAN or Tbolt.

  24. Cloud Advantage

    I set pretty much this installation up at home and works really well. I found it is quite touchy on the Cisco SG300 creating the LAG. Make sure you enable LAGC on the lag. Thanks so much for the post.

    1. that1guynick

      Yes, that one is tricky. I have another post on here with a walkthrough video of setting up LAGG on the SG300. Glad the post was helpful!

  25. Wade

    Nick thanks for the write up. I’ve been looking at the
    Synology for a few years. The main reason I haven’t purchased is because it
    doesn’t have native support for CrashPlan. I know there’s an unsupported method,
    but I’m not willing to take the risk. Instead, I’ve opted to use Windows Server
    file services. I run CrashPlan on Windows Server which backs up everything to the
    cloud. I’m also backing up multiple computers in a fan in approach to the
    Windows Server for free using CrashPlan. Simple, cheap and reliable.

    1. that1guynick

      Wade, I went through the same process. I’ve been staring at one for years, but mostly couldn’t “make” myself write the check. Literally up to the point of purchase, I was asking myself, “Nick, do you REALLY need this?!”

      Ultimately, it’s been a dream. I store almost everything (except working podcast and video content) on there remotely, and sync most of my REALLY important live stuff in my Documents folder to Google Drive. CrashPlan has been absolutely flawless, and as “unsupported” as it might be via Synology themselves, PCLOADLETTER is absolutely ON TOP of releases and updating his builds as well within the repository. I cannot vouch for it enough.

  26. Andy

    Great write up! I got a 1513+ myself and working through the setup. One thing i found interesting is that you only created one share and but everything in folders instead of creating multiple share. Any particular reason why you did it this way?

  27. Peter

    Just saw this great post today and am now considering a Synology. I do not plan to keep it running 24/7. Can any owners here confirm that WoL magic packets from Internet and port forwarded to my Synology will reliably wake it up? If so, can you estimate how long it takes for the server to be usable? (I am sure there is some variance here depending on config.)

    Also, are there any other (LAN-only) activity-based rulesets to determine wake/sleep state? For example, stay awake while streaming from Sonos or playing a movie, but go to sleep after x minutes of inactivity.

    My old WHS with the Lights-Out addin actually supports these things well, and I’d hate to take a step backwards in my power management.

  28. James

    Nick, good article. In the last picture, it looks like you have a Airport Time Capsule. What are you using the ATC for? Basic router feature?

    1. Nick Howell

      Oh, it’s just the Airport Extreme for routing and Wifi. Not actually using any of the USB ports.

  29. Adrian

    Thanks for the write up! I have a setup pretty similar to yours. Mac Air as main machine with dedicated mini running iTunes. I’m about to pull the trigger on a Synology NAS. Can you provide some more detail about how you’re using both Time Machine and Crashplan? If you’ve setup a Crashplan server on the NAS and your Macs are backing up to it why are you also backing up via Time Machine?

  30. Richard Hagan

    I really enjoyed reading this article. It really hit home with me. My system started out with the DS413+ And since then I have picked up a DS2413+ along with the DX1211, newly acquired. The DS2413+ is populated with 3TB drives. I had quite a mixed bag of drives, 9 were from my early days with the DS413+ and various other drives. I am changing out my old drives and I am now using the HGST NAS 3TB drives. I think the mixed bag of drives is what got me into a 2 drive failure of which I have just dug myself out of the hole. Viewing the green check mark with your system is working well for the first time in weeks is just wonderful. My DX1211 is being populated with HGST-4TB NAS drives since the price for them has dropped.

  31. Jason

    Nick, thanks for the article- it was definitely nice to read how someone else approached their data hoarding/sharing woes. I’m curious what your position is on bit rot or flipped bits in general. I KNOW it’s rare and an esoteric concern, but it’s one that started to really nag at my inner perfectionist. I should say that I’ve had a ZFS-based freeNAS server (which addresses bit rot) running for about 5 years now and it’s been great- but it came time to upgrade and the MOBO couldn’t handle any more of the sweet RAM ZFS needs to do it’s magic.. so I went looking for other alternatives.

    In the end, I ended up building a nice server running Windows Server 2012 R2 with ReFS and Storage Spaces. With the RAID6 configuration and a few SSDs as cache drives, the thing works really well- and my data is safe from both disk failure and data glitches (be it a cosmic ray or power glitch or what have you). Of course I’m using ECC RAM and a XEON processor- otherwise what’s the point? I’m also keen on the fact that I can run all the apps (PLEX, CrashPlan, LogMeIn Hamachi VPN, etc) natively without relying on the good will of community developers (though those people should be praised every day!). I also already had an HP Managed Gigabit switch, so LAGG is in effect for the dual Intel NICs on the Mobo- piece of cake really.

    So- my question to you and the community- am I just overly-paranoid about bit rot? Will I regret rolling my own server and the increased energy usage that comes from it? I’m not a MSFT fanboi at all, and the choice between ReFS and btrfs was TOUGH, but enough Linux gurus out there cautioned against btrfs at this time, while enough MSFT engineers out there claim to have good stability with ReFS.

    I’d love to hear what you guys think!

    Shoot.. edit: I forgot to also mention that the Windows 2012 server supports SMB3 for awesome file communications between advanced (Win8+) Windows clients (we use a lot of Windows boxes here); it’s not a boon for other OSs.

  32. Ryan

    I enjoyed your review and I have a DS 1513+ NAS. I enjoy your iTunes post as well but i’m not sure if you noticed that you can now actually have iTunes running on your NAS with phpvirtualbox and have homesharing working. I wrote fast post about it @

    The real reason i’m typing this is to ask you about your experience with FreeNAs. I just ordered a NAS from iXservers and i’m courious why you felt it was not good enough for your needs. Besides the heat was there anything else?

  33. Mike

    How do you get your synology to hook up with your apple TV, the synology has no wifi capabilities….

  34. whitexeno

    ajax would be a much better disk speedtest, I’ve found the blackmagic to give inacurate results

  35. Anders Berner

    I read your blogpost with great interest, since I have a DS1813+ myself and a Macbook pro. One thing is not clear to me:
    do you need link aggregation when a single connection should bring
    1gigabit/s (125 Mb/s) to your mac? I am puzzled? I know this is
    theoretical speeds.
    I tried to cable up my macbook
    (2013 with 512 GB SSD but no RJ45 ports) directly to the NAS via
    Cat6-cables, but I can’t read and write speeds over 50 MB/s.
    I have 8×4 TB WD Red disks running in SHR-mode.
    My macbook has not ethernet connection but I use a ethernet-USB3 port adaptor… OR ethernet to thunderbolt adaptor from Apple. But this setup has bottlenecks – but I dont know where? What am I missing?

    Best regards

  36. Tim B.

    I know it’s been 3 years. I have received my DS916+ and having installed DSM 6.1 i am seeing iTunes Server (by Synology) in the Package Center. Am I hallucinating or this thing is something you tried and it failed, or it’s a brand new thing?

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