Here we go. Geeky techy post again. Prepare to drop off to sleep at any moment.
My previous post was about ordering a Synology NAS device. I’m pleased to report that the hardware doesn’t disappoint.
It was simplicity itself to set up. The drive bays in this particular unit have plastic strips down each side that you remove, insert a hard drive and then replace (not all Synology NAS hardware is like that). No need to screw the hard drives into the caddy although you can if you wish and there are screws in the box for this purpose.
The 1513+ has lockable drive bays not present on the 4-bay unit I was considering. Nice to have. Once inserted I plugged the NAS into my router and then turned it on. You simply navigate to find.synology.com in a web browser on your network and then your NAS is found and the installation of the operating system begins. This took about 10 minutes for me, although I am on fibre broadband so the download stage was pretty quick – it could take a little longer if you’re not so lucky. Amusingly, the installation screen said “This will take about 10 minutes. Go and have a cup of tea.” I willingly obliged.
Once I’d finished my nice cup of rosy, I could log in to the Synology Disk Station Manager software (currently at version 4.2) and begin to configure my system. Meanwhile, the hardware was running a consistency check on the disks (this took about 10 hours, but naturally largely depends on how many disks you have, their size and speed). After this there was an optimisation of the disks which took another couple of hours. You can use the Synology during this time although performance may be a little slower than you would otherwise expect.
I quickly set up shares, users and permissions and also configured a Time Machine share. Synology recommend you create a Time Machine user with a quota, thereby enabling you to limit the size you want to apportion to TM backups.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the Synology Time Machine share instantly appeared as an option in Time Machine on my Mac without the need to mount any drives. I can only assume it works the same way as a Time Capsule – in other words, it “just works”. I was also able to select my NAS as a Time Machine disk for my wife’s ancient first generation MacBook laptop which is running Snow Leopard (it won’t run anything more recent). As that device only has a 100Mb ethernet port and is connected via Home Plugs the 55GB backup from there took longer than the 400GB backup from my Mac Pro (see my forthcoming post about network changes I’m making).
I’ll comment more on the NAS’ performance in a future post because at the time of writing I’ve only just got it hooked up to a full Gigabit infrastructure. I can report that noise levels are pleasingly quiet. I can hear it, but it’s really not that loud at all even though it’s sat about 5 feet away from me as I type this.
I’ve only filled 3 of the 5 bays in this NAS. The reason I bought one with 5 instead of 4 or even 3 bays, is that as I’m using RAID I immediately lose space for redundancy and will likely fill up the 6TB of available storage in the fullness of time. The remaining bays will give me some room for expansion as well as the option to set up a hot spare should I ever need to. The 1513+ is also compatible with expansion bays Synology sell so I really shouldn’t run out of room to store my data any time soon.
In summary. It’s early days. I’ve only had the NAS for 4 days and at the time of writing it’s only been on a Gigabit network for the last couple of hours. I also haven’t put much data on it yet (and there’s a good reason for that which I’ll talk about more next time) but first impressions are good. I’m already delighted with my purchase and the way that my new-look network is shaping up.