After three years, the original 3.6TB (3 x 2TB HDD) SHR raid (Synology Hybrid RAID) has finally been reduced to less than 50GB of free space. So with the price of a 4TB drive about the same bang for buck as even a 2TB drive I decided to go and grab one and see how this hot swappable disk expansion works. This was the exact reason I decided to get this NAS solution, expandable storage with different size hard drives providing RAID and disk fail protection. I could wait until I needed to add storage space (and when it became cheaper) before adding more, rather than filling the NAS with equal size hard drives (with less total space down the line) and having to do a lot more fiddling with it, although I do wonder what would happen if the biggest drive (in this case the 4TB) had an issue and needed to be replaced. Having thought about that, I suppose with 10TB of hard disk, the free space on the volume is equivalent to 10TB minus the largest disk, so in my case 6TB, therefore the 4TB could be removed without problem, I guess they thought of everything (except what do I do in this scenario if two disks die?).
Well, now that the deed is done, I can go over what happened, if you didn’t work it out from the picture gallery I will explain it step-by-step:
I got this box about a month ago now and have been testing it out for a while now, I haven’t gone out of my way to test the read/write speeds because it’s not a big deal as long as playback is fast enough. I’m not that nerdy to set up my own NAS using a cheap motherboard and case and configure the crap out of some open source project, that is too much effort for me, I just wanted something that I could plug in, plug hard drives in, and put it to work. Originally I was going to get a drobo, but after a bit more research I found this to have more positive feedback.
Quieter and faster, but more expensive (about $100), it just seemed like the better option, with pretty much all the same features (plus a costly option to add up to ten more hard drives). Setup was pretty easy, plug it in, connect to the network (I used both cables for redundancy), plug the hard drives in, turn it on, and launch the software from the CD on your computer. Actually, I think the software was a little difficult to find at first, probably because I didn’t read the manual (the problem for me was that the setup files were .pat files and on my macbook for whatever reason .pat files are associated with the Gimp), so it was a little confusing but once I worked that out, it was a breeze. I loaded it up with three 2TB hard drives using the Hybrid RAID (the Synology proprietary setup) which allows me to mix different size hard drives in the RAID for ease of use, meaning I can add 3 or 4TB (whenever they become available) to the system and the system will do all the hard work of assigning the disk space for me. This gives me about 3.6TB of usable hard drive space as one hard drive is used as a backup, at the moment I’ve only used up about 500GB so the need for more hard drives is still a long way off.
So having copied all of my videos, music, photos, and also set up my Time Machine to backup to the NAS, everything is running pretty smoothly I must say. I never managed to work out how to migrate my existing Time Machine backups (from my MyBook external hard drive) to the new location, I didn’t want to try doing the block copy and erasing existing data from the NAS as I’m not sure if that meant changing the file system so I just started a new Time Machine backup and have kept the MyBook as is for now. I did the initial backup over the LAN and now just have incremental backups working wirelessly, working like a charm. I set up the media server using the DSM web application which works perfectly with my WDTV Live thank you very much. I’ve not used that many features of the NAS, and I’m not really sure that I will need to but so far what I have used, Time Machine, Media Server, and the NAS in general, have been excellent, more than I expected (the software runs very smoothly).
The top picture is taken from the Synology DS1511+ page.