Tag Archives: synology

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SuperDuper! Backup to Synology NAS (or any NAS/Home Server)

At one time I only used SuperDuper! (I’m dropping the exclamation from this point on) to create a backup image to an external disk that’s directly attached to my Mac. Because I don’t keep my external drive connected to my Mac I wanted a way to have a full image backup done automatically every night. This way I’d always get a full image backup without me needing to actually do something. I decided to use my Synology NAS for this, although any NAS or home server share should work.

I use my Synology DS1511+ NAS as my repository for everything backup. I created a new share on the NAS since no existing share was really suitable. I’ll use one share for all my SuperDuper images so that they’ll be easier to find and manage. I called it “SuperDuper” (imaginative, I know). My ID has read/write access to the share.

I could keep the drive mounted all the time and simply schedule SuperDuper to do the backup every night. But I dislike having my backups always connected to the computer they are protecting. SuperDuper will automatically mount the share if it’s not mounted. This was recent news to me, learned as I was creating a macro to auto-mount the share and found that SuperDuper was doing it already. This is SuperDuper 2.7.2 and OS X 10.9.2, both the latest versions at this time. I created a Keyboard Maestro macro to unmount the drive when SuperDuper exits.

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OS Quest Trail Log #81: What I Use – March 2014 Edition

It’s been over a year since I recapped what I use so it’s past time for an update. The timing is also good since I’m about to begin re-examing the way I do things and this will get me going. Not too much has changed in over a year, which means either what I use is pretty solid, or I’m complacent, or I’m lazy. I’d like to think it’s because they’re solid choices.


Windows Home Server

It seems like there was always constant change in this area. So I was a bit surprised to see that not much has changed.

Even though Windows Home Server 2011 is a dying product it won’t drop off support in April 2016. My server has been solid and I don’t have any plans to replace it until I need to, or something clearly better for me comes along. It has four 3TB drives (no RAID) for data storage and a 160GB drive for the OS. It’s an HP MicroServer with a AMD N36L processor and 8 GB of RAM. The server is used primarily for video files and other files I want long term storage for but don’t use frequently. The only add-in is Cloudberry Backup for Windows Home Server 2011.

Synology NAS

Synology feature image tile - blackThings have been stable here too. My Synology DS1511+ NAS was reduced to 1 expansion bay and a total of ten 3 TB drives back in October 2012 and that’s where it still stands.

The DS1511+ is dedicated to backups. The WHS box does a backup to it using Cloudberry Backup via a ISCSI connected drive. It serves as a Time Machine backup destination for all my Macs. Until I retired my web server it backed up to the Synology NAS using rsync. My other Synology NAS boxes also back up to it.

The Synology DS212+ NAS that I added in May 2012 is still going strong. I did swap the two SSDs with two 500GB Western Digital Velociraptor drives in a Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). In this case the SHR is just a mirror. This runs my Synology applications and serves my critical data files from an encrypted share. Synology applications include CloudStation, Photo Station, Audio Station and Video Station, all of which have mobile apps.

My original Synology DS212J is still used for testing and experimentation.

Both the DS212+ and DS212J are run the latest DSM 5 beta which has been reliable. I need stability from the DSM 1511+ so it’s still on DSM 4.

Desktop & Laptop Computers

This is where there have been the most changes, and where the most changes are likely to occur in the near future.

Synergy is used for mouse and keyboard sharing between my desktops and the laptop when it’s at my desk.

Mac OS X

Black Apple logoMy MacBook Air was replaced just days ago with a late 2013 MacBook Pro. The MB Pro is a 13″ Retina Display with 16GB of RAM, a 2.4GHz I5 cpu and a 256GB SSD. While the CPU is a step down, I found I rarely needed the CPU horsepower but I was severely memory constrained. The Air maxes at 8GB and that wouldn’t have been enough for me.

My desk has a late 2012 Mac Mini with a 2.3GHz i7, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion drive. It was just moved to be front and center on my desk so it’s hooked to my primary monitor which is a Dell S2340T monitor. It also drives a second monitor, a Acer H223H 23″ monitor.

Windows 8.1

Windows LogoMy Windows hardware remains the same but now runs Windows 8. The drives have changes. There are now two SSDs in RAID 0 as a 500 GB system drive and two more SSDs as a 500 GB RAID 0 data drive. I recently added a 2 TB spinning drive for file storage. The RAID 0 (scary RAID) is provide by the on-board controller and has been surprisingly reliable. Backup is to the WHS server using the connector software. The ancient Apple 20″ Cinema Display is now attached to this Windows box and the universe hasn’t exploded.

Future Considerations

I moved the Mac Mini to be front and center on my desk, replacing the Windows 8 desktop because I’m considering going “all-in” with Macs as my desktops and laptops. Part of this is because I want to free up the desktop hardware for other uses. The desktop hardware is the most capable hardware I have for some server testing. It helps that I’m finding myself more productive on the Macs.

Portable, Mobile and Media Devices

My Windows RT came and went. I liked it, a lot actually. But it was still rough around the edges and I found I wasn’t using it much anymore. I may get a replacement in the future but for now it’s gone.

I still have the third generation iPad and also don’t use that very much. It never leaves the house. It’s primarily used for viewing videos from Amazon or from my Synology NAS. I also use it for viewing reference books on my desk through Kindle reader.

I have a Nexus 7 with AT&T wireless and this is the tablet that leaves the house with me. I ended up using very little AT&T data but I like having it available without needing to tether. I also gets a lot of use around the house. Except for Amazon it used the same way as my iPad. There are a few additional apps on it that I’ll cover in future posts.

Nokia Lumia 928 next to the iPhone 4SMy primary phone is an iPhone 5S on Verizon. I still have my Nokia 928 Windows Phone which is also on Verizon. I like the Windows Phone OS but the apps are frustrating. It’s not the lack of apps, but the quality. I don’t know if they’re buggy because they are hard to write or because not enough resources are dedicated to writing the apps. For example, I need to constantly bookmark the audio books in Audible because it frequently forgets where I am. The frustration drove me back to using the iPhone as my primary phone.

I have a Microsoft Wedge Mobile keyboard that I use primarily with the Nexus 7 although it works with the iPad and iPhone too.

You can see the iOS apps I’ve tried on Applr although I’ve only begun to review the apps and favorite the ones I like.

My TV is still the same Vizio 42″ and the DVD player is the same LG BD670. My TV viewing has changed from basic cable to a digital antennae for over the air broadcasts.

Home Network

I still run pfSense on an HP MicroServer and it’s still reliable. The HP ProCurve Gigabit Managed Switch that could do link aggregation was destroyed in a water pipe break and wasn’t replaced. Basic NetGear Gigabit switches are currently used.

The Netgear WNDR3700 router still does wireless duties. It’s dual band and I have both a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz wireless network. The 5 GHz network gets less interference so it’s the network of choice whenever possible. A D-Link DAP-1522 serves as a wireless bridge to my workbench.

My ISP is still Comcast and they’ve been reliable as long as I don’t have to talk to a person. It seems every human interaction requires a follow-up or three to fix a new problem. Luckily these interactions are rarely needed.


I’m finding Mac apps are allowing me to be more productive. So I’ve been tentatively moving away from my focus on cross-platform apps. This has just begun so we’ll see where it leads.

Productivity & Communication

I use Google Apps for Domains for most of my email. I do use Microsoft Outlook.com for one heavily used email.

My primary browser is Google Chrome but I use Firefox too. With my emphasis on using OS X I just started trying Safari as my primary browser. It’s improved over my last attempt but the jury is still out.

LastPass is my password manager. I have a Microsoft Office 365 Home subscription and it’s my Office suite.

I have several cloud services but primarily use three of them. Synology’s CloudStation is my private cloud. There’s no Internet storage but all my devices can get back to my Synology NAS and sync over the Internet.

Microsoft OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) also gets a lot of use. My phone photos get saved to it automatically, my Office docs use it, and I use it whenever I do want offsite storage.

I use a free DropBox account for apps  that require it for syncing.

Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Drive haven’t caught on with me although I do use them in cases where they integrate well with an app or service.

My finance app has switched to Quicken. It’s the least annoying of my choices. This is mainly because it can easily do online updates of all my accounts. I’ve skipped this year’s upgrade and will consider alternatives again when support runs out with their 2015 release.

Backup & Security Software and Services

As I mentioned, I run the Cloudberry Backup on my Windows Home Server. It backs up to both offsite to Amazon Glacier and locally to my Synology DS1511+ NAS. For my Macs I use Arq Backup for offsite backup to Amazon S3 and Glacier and Time Machine for local backups to my Synology DS1511+ NAS. My Windows machines, both physical and virtual, use WHS backup. They don’t store critical data so there’s no offsite backup.

I also use CrashPlan on my Windows Home Server for redundant offsite backup.

I use Microsoft Security Essentials on my Windows PCs, including virtual machines. I use Malware Bytes on my main Windows PC. I don’t use anything on my Macs and rely on safe computing habits. I do use ScriptSafe and NoScript in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. I haven’t found a comparable add-in I like for Safari.

Digital Media and Entertainment

I dropped my Netflix subscription after it went unused for two months. I liked the online streaming and some of their exclusive shows but just didn’t use it.

Video is from my own DVD library or Amazon Online Video. My DVD library is ripped to files and sits on my WHS. I copy some video files to my Synology NAS to simplify viewing on my devices. I also use VLC Media Player for viewing. Slysoft AnyDVD along with Handbrake to rip and transcode my DVDs. MakeMKV is used on the few Blue-Rays that I have.

I have Amazon Prime and do view Prime Video. I also buy some TV series through Amazon Video which is considerably cheaper than a cable TV subscription.

My photo management is messy at the moment. I mainly use Aperture to organize and touch-up photos I’ve taken since they are raw files. JPGs and others usually just get saved in a folder structure. Synology Photo Station is used to manage and view pictures in those folder.

Misc Apps

Evernote is my primary information organizer. Pinboard is my bookmarking service. I no longer use Sumatra PDF for viewing PDFs, I find both the Windows and OSX native viewers fine for my needs.

LogMeIn is still my current remote access tool although the free version is going away. My free version extension is up in July and I’ll switch to something else before then.

VirtualBox runs my virtual machines. It’s free and good enough for my needs.

Path Finder is my file manager of choice on OS X. Transmit is my FTP client of choice and is also Mac only.

That about sums it up in just under 2,000 words. I suspect applications will be changing in the next few months but hardware should be pretty stable for the rest of the year unless things start breaking.

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Synology: Disk Replacement on DSM 5

I wanted to replace the drives in my older Synology 212J NAS which is running the new Diskstation Manager 5 beta software. Specifically, it’s running DSM 5-4418 Update 1. There was two Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB drives and I was replacing them with Western Digital Red NAS drives, also 3 TB each.

Replacing hard drives is super-simple in a Synology NAS, even one without hot swappable drive bays. All that was needed was a Phillips #2 screwdriver.

My Synology DS212J has two 3TB drives configured to use Synology Hybrid Raid (SHR). With just two disks of the same size this is a mirrored volume similar to RAID 1.

To replace both disks they’ll have to be done one at a time, allowing the SHR to rebuild after the first drive. While no data *should* be lost it’s always a good idea to have backups that are current and known to be good before mucking with the drives. In addition, the replacement disks have to be the same size or larger than the existing drives.

It will take several hours to rebuild the volume once the drive is replaced. The Synology NAS will be usable but there might be a performance hit. I tend to do drive replacements in the evening to allow the rebuild to happen while I sleep.

Here’s the process (click any image to see it full size):

1. Logon to the Disk Station Manager (DSM) web interface and shut down the Synology.

screenshot showing the shutdown

Once the NAS shuts down it’s time to replace the drive.

2. Remove the two screws on the back of the NAS (other models may have different ways to open which doesn’t change the overall process). Once the screws are removed slide the two sides of the NAS apart so it opens.

Then open the unit and put the cover aside so you can get at the drives.

photo of the opened DS212J

The DS212J opened up. The Seagate drive will be replaced.

3. I’ll be replacing the Seagate drive which is on top. But it doesn’t need to be removed if you’re replacing the bottom drive. Remove the screws for the drive you’re replacing. Also note that the drives are labelled 1 and 2. While the new drive will be obvious in DSM, the number will match its number in DSM.

Once the screws are removed, slide the drive out. It may take a little force to slide it out of the connector but you’ll be fine if you pull it straight out along the rails.

4. Slide the new drive in along the rails so the SATA connector on the drive slides into the SATA connector in the NAS.

5. Then put the cover back on and fire up the Synology. Eventually you’ll hear a beep. This means DSM has detected a degraded volume. (Assuming you haven’t turned off the beeps.)

photo of the now re-disked Synology DS212J

6. Once the NAS finishes booting logon to the Diskstation Web Interface and start Storage Manager.

screenshot of opening the storage manager7. You’ll see the attention screen with the warning that a disk is degraded and needs to be replaced. The whole reason for the warning is that we just replaced the disk, so we’ll ignore the instructions.

screenshot of the Storage Manager alert8. If you want to confirm it’s the new disk that was bad select HDD/SSD in the left column to see which disk is bad. (But with two drives and a running NAS there really isn’t any other option.)

screenshot if the disk status screen

Our new drive isn’t initialized

9. Select Volume in the left column then click the Beep Off button to silence the alarm. Click the down arrow to show all the column information.

screenshot of the initial volume info screen

The SHR is degraded

screenshot of the expanded volume info screen

The new hard drive requires rebuilding the SHR

10. We can ignore the recommendation since the drive is already replaced. Click the Manage button to start the management wizard.  Select Repair which should be the default selection and click Next

screenshot of the disk maintenance wizard

Select the disk to add, which should be the default selection

screenshot of the disk maintenance wizard

Acknowledge the warning

screenshot of the disk maintenance wizard

11. Click the Apply button. Don’t be misled by the claim that this …”will take a few seconds”. It will take a few seconds to apply the configuration change but the repair will take hours (depending on the disks used)

screenshot of the final maintenance wizard screen

The rebuild will begin when “Apply” is clicked. It will take several hours, depending on the disks.

Finishing Up

You’ll see notification popups as the rebuild progresses.

Screenshots of notifications during drive swap

Notification sill appear during the drive swap

Now there’s not much to do except let the repair finish. Like I mentioned, I usually let this run overnight. The Synology DS 212J is still usable while the volume is rebuilding. Performance may be impacted if your activity is disk intensive. This particular rebuild of two 3 TB WD Red drives took just under 9 hours.


Here’s a gallery of the photos and screenshots from the article that can be viewed in order. Click the first one to open the slide show which you can click through in order.

A comic alarm clock ringing

OS Quest Trail Log #80: Long Overdue Edition

I expected to upgrade my Surface RT on Saturday. I figured any initial rush would be over and it should be smooth. I’m using a Microsoft OS on Microsoft hardware, how many problems could there be? Well, apparently enough, either in quantity or impact, that Microsoft pulled the Windows 8.1 upgrade for Windows RT by the time I got around to it Saturday morning. I’m in no rush to upgrade my desktop and didn’t want to lose the PC for the weekend in the event I had problems. I may try it Sunday night, but for now I’ve yet to see Windows 8.1

So for now I have my recovery disks and backups and I’ll wait for the Windows 8.1 RT upgrade to return. This is disappointing.


I’ve been running DSM 4.3 since the beta and installed the final released as soon as it was available on August 27th. There’s been three bug-fix updates since it’s release, the latest on October 15th. The second one fixed an issue I was having with photo thumbnails, but I was still having sporadic performance issues on my DS212+. So I ended up re-installing from scratch. I’d been having performance issues since the beta. most due to a thumbnail generation problem. But the performance problems had continued, just with different processes using the cpu. The re-install resolved those issues. I figure the problem goes back to the beta software.

On my DS1511+, which never had the beta software, the update brought an annoying problem. I use rsync to backup this web server to the DS1511+. The destination is an encrypted file share on the Synology NAS. Since the upgrade the copy has failed. It’s was problematic to troubleshoot since the error would occur at different times in the copy process, although more often at the initial connection. I finally found simply dropping and remounting the share resolved the problems. Keeping a encrypted volume mounted when not needed probably isn’t the best security practice, so I just mount it before each backup rather than look for another solution.

I use Video Station on my DS 212+ and this is also being finicky, at least on my Mac. It doesn’t play some of the larger video files, such as movies. No error, it opens but never plays. It’s fine on my Windows PC and shorter videos, such as TV episodes, play fine. I say shorter, because it doesn’t seem to be related to file size. Large Blu-Ray rips of TV episodes play fine while smaller DVD movie rips have the issue. But VLC plays fine on the Mac so there’s a work around.

I’ve gotten used to Photo Station 6 but can’t say I like it. Photo Station 5 can be installed although I’ve avoided going back to that. I figure it’s only a matter of time before I’m forced to 6. I don’t like the iOS apps, whether it’s Photo Station 5 or 6 on the back end. I like the Android version much better.


I couldn’t bring myself to use my Windows Phone as my daily driver. The lack of a good podcast app was a killer although not the only reason. I use the Audible app and like it more than the iOS Audible app but it’s buggy. It’s gotten better but it can kill my battery in hours if I pause playing and fail to “back” all the way out of the app. But, I could listen for hours without much impact on the battery. I’ve found other audio apps to be buggy too so I wonder if there’s a inherent problem in the OS or it’s just hard to program for.

I love the app switching model, yet I never have more than 3 or 4 apps in the history that I can switch to so I never know what I’ll find in the list. I also find the back button itself confusing – will it bring me back in the app or out of the app?

So I upgraded my iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5S. I find the 5S to also be buggy, some of the bugs were on my iPhone 4S with iOS7. A lot of apps crash occasionally. Waze crashes every time I resume it, without fail. Other crash randomly. I been forced to power off and on the phone twice in the two weeks I’ve had it in order to restore stability. I like it, although it does have it’s flaws.


I’m hoping to clear out the cobwebs and get this website active again. I’m consider a redesign to simplify things, especially the maintenance of the site. If I do start writing here more it will probably be web server and WordPress related at first and I test out different things and do some upgrades. So hopefully there will be changes coming.

DX1511+ and DX510 expansion units

Synology Expansion Unit/Drive Swap

Last Sunday I woke to find alerts from my Synology DS1511+. The fan in the DX510 expansion unit had failed and one of the drives was reporting as bad. The unit didn’t feel warm but the two were probably related. The drives in the expansion unit are configured as one Synology Hybrid RAID drive (similar to RAID 5) which my Windows Home Server uses an a iSCSI target drive for backups.

I’ve been downsizing local drive storage but at one time my DS1511 had two DX510 expansion bays and that second unit was still there as a ready spare. Being cautious (and lazy) and not selling it off now seems like a good decision.

I did a normal shutdown of the Synology NAS. Then I moved the drives into the spare expansion unit, keeping the drives in the same order. This included the bad drive. To be safe I put the cable into the same expansion port that was used by the bad unit. When I powered up the drives were seen the same as they were in the other unit. The drive was still reported as bad but the logical drive was still accessible by my Windows Home Server. The fan alert was gone too.

I swapped out the drive that showed the error with a spare that I had and began the repair process. With 15TB (5 X 3TB) it took over a day to rebuild but the drive was usable during this time. I assume performance was impacted but the scheduled WHS backup still completed within the usual time frame.

I still need to fix the fan on the now out of warranty expansion unit and do a warranty swap on the hard drive. But it’s nice that the problem was easily solved and took less than 30 minutes out of my weekend.