How I Use My Synology (Casey's Network Attached for N00bs)

Casey Liss wrote a post this weekend that I’ve been meaning to write for the past several months about the benefits of Network Attached Storage (NAS) and how he’s using his Synology Disk Station.

Casey’s post goes into quite a bit of detail so I’ll encourage you to read his post first and I’ll supplement with some of my own uses for my NAS.

Late last year I picked up a Synology DS416 (I originally ordered a DS415 play on a special closeout deal but it sold out and this was the replacement unit). The play models typically have better video transcoding abilities and in retrospect, I wish I had coughed up the extra money to upgrade to a 416 play since one of my main uses of my Synology is for Plex, but I find that the 416 is generally fine for playing back videos that have already been transcoded.

My Synology has 4 drives and is reasonably suited for home tasks. I’ve filled all 4 bays with 3TB Western Digital Red Drives which offers ample storage with room to grow. My Synology is formatted using Synology Hybrid Raid (SHR) which means that I have one disk redundancy should a drive fail, I can replace it without losing data. Here’s how I’m currently using my Synology:

TimeMachine Backups

Backing up both my 2016 MacBook Pro and an older Mac mini. I’ve been very happy backing up my Macs via TimeMachine to the Synology and have found it to generally be faster than using Apple’s time capsule. One tip - set up separate data stores for each computer you’re backing up so your sparse bundles don’t conflict with each other.

Archive Storage

There’s something to be said about having a big bucket of storage available. Any file I think I may want to keep to have access to later but don’t necessarily want to store on my computer goes on the Synology.

Plex

There’s an entire MPU episode on Plex, and it’s still good. Since the Apple TV 4 has a Plex application it’s probably my preferred place to manage media. Most of my media content is already stored in a format optimized for playback on my devices so my 416 has no trouble. However, in retrospect, I wish I had coughed up a few more bucks to upgrade to the Play model for additional transcoding abilities.

Surveillance Station

I’ve been experimenting with home surveillance and video cameras. However, I really don’t like putting that video up on the Internet or paying for the subscription services that go along with most internet cameras. Synology’s Surveillance station software works with hundreds of different model cameras and will allow you to view and locally save footage from your cameras. Out of the box my synology came with licenses for two cameras with additional licenses available for purchase. I have a couple of inexpensive D-Link cameras connected to my synology and configured to save the last 24-hours of recordings locally.

Overall I’ve been very happy with my purchase and my Synology has taken over many of the tasks I previously used a Mac mini functioning as a home server for. I feel like I’ve really only scratched the surface of what my Synology can do and look forward to exploring additional features like VPN, file sharing and download station in the coming months.