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February 10, 2014 / Brandon

Synology NAS, Cloud Sync and Backups – B+W Engineering and Design Blog

Synology NAS, Cloud Sync and Backups #CivilEngineer

As we get more projects we also accumulate a lot more files, meaning even more to backup. I have seen many different systems being used at different size companies. Recently I saw how an Architect was using Dropbox and really liked the simplicity of how he set Dropbox up. I knew the Synology NAS we are using would have some interesting feature to make this even more seamless. And wow, Synology did a good job on their 5.0 Beta of their DSM, or Diskstation Manager.

We started off with a simple Buffalo NAS and quickly outgrew that. Not only did this NAS seem unreliable, but the speeds were poor and the interface was truly terrible. It got the job done and had the main feature, RAID 1, or mirrored drives.

Onto the upgrade to a Synology NAS, the Synology DiskStation NAS DS212j. From reviews this looked like the workhorse we needed. The NAS is very easy to use and setup. The transfer speeds are fast. The unit is reliable and hasn’t crashed or deleted data after having the power go out. We used WD Red 2 TB NAS Hard Drives to make sure we have storage space for the future. This may or may not be overkill as the Synology can do so much more, but I have been very happy with the product except one thing. The dreaded Cloud Station software.

The Cloud Station software is supposed to make the Synology NAS act as cloud storage. Really simply you put your files on the NAS, add and configure the app, and install the software on your computer. The idea is that whenever you make edits on the computer, the NAS will be updated. This never worked quite right. I would have a partial backup on my laptop and a partial backup on my PC. Wilson’s PC and laptop would have partial backups. And most of the time the software just broke and stopped working. After trying to figure this out for months with the forums, tech support and reading online I gave up. So I would copy the changes directly to my PC as a full backup. This is not a very good use of my time and energy.

I am so glad I went to an Architect’s office when I did. I saw he was using Dropbox and would just work from his PC and the dropbox software automatically synced in the cloud. So I started thinking does Synology have a Dropbox option? How sweet would that be? After I talked with Wilson about this he suggested Google Drive. Funny I have the excel spreadsheets I have made on Google Drive but never thought lets backup using that. The timing couldn’t have been better. It turns out that Synology released a Beta update to the NAS a couple of weeks ago that added the option to backup a specified folder to Dropbox or Google Drive. This new option is called Cloud Sync. Now we are in backup business. To top this off did I just read that Google charges just $0.25 per GB over the first 15GB per year? That is impressively cheap for piece of mind.

Onto converting over to this backup method. I updated the Synology DSM a couple of times to get to the Beta. I learned from past experience don’t just automatically update this device when an update comes out because sometimes there are nasty bugs. You need to be on the most current DSM to get the Beta though. That went smoothly. Next was how do we best use Google Drive on a clean account? Google makes this really easy with us making a completely new account. Then install Google Drive on the PC and setup a directory to use. Last but not least we setup Cloud Sync to Google Drive and we are off. This part takes a while as everything is uploaded into the Cloud and depends on your internet connection speed. As I test this out by working from my main PC the Synology NAS is updating the files within 30 seconds of changes. Now that’s fast.

The only cons about Cloud Sync so far is that you can only select a main folder and sync that folder. You cannot select and deselect within the folder. So some cleaning had to be done to remove things we don’t want in the cloud. In the end we now have a very good backup system on a mirrored NAS and cloud. And every once in a while for good measure I can turn a laptop on and that will be updated. Very cheap piece of mind and works so seamlessly. I can’t wait to see what options Synology adds once the DSM gets out of Beta.

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