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Hello there! I’d just finished writing this Synology 1512+ review and subsequently deleted it all… Why, you ask? Well – I have a bit of a history in I.T. and as such, found myself getting TOTALLY geeky with my review..
Those of you that have read any of my reviews to date, here on dPS, will know that I try to keep it ‘real world‘ …So, I’m going to write it again and dispense with all the ones and zeros in an effort to help you decide if moving to a Synology NAS is the way forward, or not. Many thanks to the guys at DR for their help with our Synology.
The Synology DS 1512+ is a 5 drive NAS that can give you up to around 15TB of space depending on how you set it up – that’s a heck of a lot. You can also add external disk shelves (DX510 @ about $600) that will take you upto 60TB of space… To put that into perspective, my image library is between 3 and 4TB and it spans the last 10 years.. You may have a lot more, you may have less – but one day you WILL have more.
Here are a few of the specs as per the Synology website. This little black box is no lightweight!
Synology DiskStation DS1512+ offers a high-performance, scalable, and full-featured network attached storage solution that meets the needs of small and medium-sized businesses that require an efficient way to centralize data protection, simplify data management, and rapidly scale storage capacity with minimal time spent on setup and management. The Synology DS1512+ is backed with Synology’s 3-year limited warranty.
The 1512+ can come configured with hard drives already in the unit and set up, mine came without drives and I went ahead and put four 2TB drives and a single 1TB drive in the unit and set it up using Synology’s Hybrid Raid.
SO, very basically, let’s look at what all these crazy acronyms mean, shall we? (Yes, I realise half of you (us) are a little geeky and already know this stuff) RAID for example, is not something my three year old constantly does to the biscuit tin, well, it is, but in this case RAID stands for “Redundant Array of Inexpensive (or independent, you choose) Disks” which is basically exactly what it says on the tin… A bunch of disks, joined together to act in a handful of different ways as one, i’ll explain those in a bit.
NAS or Network attached storage is the next one we’ll cover… So, rather than sticking a USB or Firewire cable in the side of your computer, you can tuck this little fellow away near your home / office router (wireless modem / modem) and, obviously depending on if you have the right hardware, can connect it to your network and access it via either wireless or wired network.. Me, I use a Draytek Vigor 120 ADSL2+ modem attached to an Apple Airport Extreme.. My Synology is plugged into my Airport Extreme and I connect to it wirelessly from my computer.
Now, you asked about the different things RAID could do… Well, there are a few different ‘levels’ of standard RAID, the Synology can perform each of these, though I’m not going to bore the trousers off of you by explaining what each of them do here, you can spend a quiet evening reading up on them …as I said, I set up my NAS using “Synology Hybrid Raid” as it does what I want, and I’m semi-certain if you’re like me, it will do what you want.
These different raid levels provide everything from no disk redundancy to a lot (2x) of disk redundancy with differences in read and write speed at each RAID level… For me, how to choose what RAID level was made very simple with the Synology, as they have the Synology Hybrid Raid. SHR is based on standard RAID, but allows the device to use all of the space on each disk… You can read the exact technical details on Synology’s website if you’re into that – as I said, I wasn’t going to bust out the pocket protector in this review… I do have a good analogy though!!
You have 5 water buckets, three medium sized ones and two large ones (and no, this isn’t a Bruce Willis film) …if you fill each bucket up to the same level as the smaller buckets when they’re full, you will see you have space left in the two bigger buckets… traditionally, that space is lost if you RAID that set of disks together. With SHR, you can group that remaining space together to give you another volume (or another drive letter if that’s easier to understand, depending on how you share it…) so, the first part of your Synology will give you 5TB and the remaining space might give you an extra 2TB. Winning! Finished reading Wikipedia? Have a quick look at this RAID calculator, It’s pretty neat!
Using a NAS / RAID on its own isn’t a backup as such… Be Warned!
Whilst you have ‘fault tolerance’ when using a Synology Hybrid Raid setup, the same as with most RAID arrays, you still need a backup of your data. For example, my main portion of space is across four hard drives within my NAS as per the image below, if one of those drives should have an untimely death, my Synolgy would chuckle, beep and carry on serving data – this is how (some) RAID levels work. Here’s an overview of how my Synology is setup.
4 x 2TB Hard Drives, joined together using SHR to give me a single drive with 5.36TB of useable space – you can see that in the image below.
I also have a single 1TB drive in the Synology as it takes 5 disks and I didn’t have five 2TB disks, so I’ve added a single 1TB that I’ve called ‘Media’ and I use that to serve music, movies, tv shows and pictures to anyone on my network / to my Android DTV box. I also have “iTunes server” installed, this is software that installs in seconds and runs on the Synology and can serve any iTunes content out across my network to iTunes clients… (You can also add USB speakers to your Synology and play music directly from the unit… rad…)
But the best thing is that I had a few of these eSata hard drives sitting around, not all the same brand or model, yet the Synology will happily treat them all nicely – have a look below at the list of drives.
So how do I use it?
After continually growing my photo library for the last 12 years or so, I have a lot of digital image files – the majority in the last four years as file size increased etc. So disks get bigger and rather than have a set of single external drives looking after my archive, I’ve employed this Synology. You can see above that I have 4 separate disks that are looking after my archive, they’re a similar size to the G-Tech I use as my working drive…
You use a G-Tech too? But didn’t you just implement a Synology?
Yes! Remember that part where I said that a NAS on its own isn’t a backup? Well, when you look at my workflow below, you’ll understand where the Synology comes into its own.
Here’s my workflow;
Take a photo -> Lexar USB 3 CF reader -> Macbook Pro with Lightroom 4 -> G-Tech 4TB which is my Firewire attached disk, the drive I work from etc. Now, where I’ve added this network attached storage drive is at this point – when I import a card full of images, I ask Lightroom to make a second copy to the Lightroom folder on my NAS, you can see in the image below..
You can see at the top that I’m importing to GT1, a 4TB G-Tech Firewire drive, then below that you can see i’m rendering 1:1 previews and then below that I’m making a second copy to my Synology. All done, all backed up… At the end of my import and subsequent edit, I can export that catalogue into the same raw backup folder on the NAS and everything from that shoot is in one convenient place.
Sure, but why a NAS?
Well, yes, why a NAS? The Synology is around $800 and then you need to buy disks for it, whilst not the most expensive unit on the market – actually, it’s very competitively priced – it’s not spare change. For me there are a number of reasons to choose a Synology NAS, and after having the Synology installed and kindly and quietly doing exactly what I’ve asked it for a month or so, I question myself as to why I didn’t do it a LONG time ago! Here are my reasons for NAS…
The ability to access my data from anywhere (with an internet connection) including my phone etc, knowing that my disks are monitored and i’ll be alerted if something looks fishy, to be able to grow my disks with ever increasing storage needs… major plus ticks in my book.
The Synology was so simple to setup, yes, I have an IT background but here’s what I did to set the unit up and connect to it… Plugged it in to the power, plugged in one of the provided network cables and put that in a free network port on the back of my Airport Extreme… and, err, turned it on… That was about it! I’ve since upgraded the operating system (DSM) which is a very simple and quick task. I’ve installed the virus software on the box which is an app and manages itself. There is also a great support forum, lots and lots of enthusiastic users etc.
The Synology is a very good unit with lots of software available to do anything from manage ip security cameras to run your small business network and back up your files to an offsite location. A great tool in my toolbox of digital life.
Who is the Synology 1512+ for? Anyone with storage requirements, but I’ll be personally suggesting it to anyone looking to break free of the constant external drive purchasing circle.
I find no negatives, only positives with the Synology DS 1512+ …bravo, Synology – 11 stars
August 25, 2013 05:46 am
went in for a quote on a 1512 and they tell me it's discontinued. They cannot get it. I'm looking at the 8 bay now
July 17, 2013 09:13 pm
Great review. Helped me a lot.
May 11, 2013 03:19 pm
So I'm using the iTunes for my entire music library now - what I do is load my iPhone via iTunes before I'm headed out / when I set up my iTunes music library. A lot of my music is not purchased via iTunes, a good mix of ripped from my personal CD's etc... I copy it to my iPhone via iTunes and I'm good to go.
I can access the iTunes server via my Sony HX750 tv, my Apple TV via iTunes and my iPad and iPhone whilst on my Wifi network.
I've not used it for outside of my wifi network music access yet, I do use DSPhoto now and it's awesome... Music is coming next.
A fantastic NAS. Hope this helps!
May 11, 2013 02:47 pm
I'm interested in using a Synology as an iTunes server, and storing all my music there.
Can I set it up to copy that music to my iPhone, so I can listen to it even in flight mode? Or will I have to be in Wi-Fi / internet range? (Not all my songs are from iTunes.)
February 23, 2013 02:35 pm
Hey Colby, sorry, meant to reply earlier!
As I wrote this from a non tech perspective, let me explain it in that way, too :)
In the DSM, I click on control panel, share folder and 'create'
(Short answer is AFP or Apple Filing Protocol)
February 23, 2013 05:06 am
Recovering data when bad things happen is always overlooked when people select NAS technology. The more proprietary (think Drobo), the worse your life is when things break.
I opted for building my own NAS using an old PC I had lying around (we all have an old worthless PC sitting in a corner). I put 5 SATA drives in it (plus a 6th system drive running Ubuntu) and that was it. The array is RAID 5 (Linux software RAID) and can survive one disk failure. Using Linux software RAID is simple and the easiest to recover, move the disks to new hardware, or simply rebuild the array after you reinstall the OS.
I can write to the array across the Gig-E network at ~825Mbps. Reading from it is quicker. More than ample speeds, far more flexible (I can cram more drives in) and cheaper (I spent ~$300 total for 5 2TB drives - pre-tsunami prices).
February 23, 2013 03:30 am
My question is for Sime, the author of the article.
February 22, 2013 11:50 am
I have the Synology DS 412+, and I'm still trying to figure out which is better to use, ISCSI connector for from Win7 or just setting up shares. I don't know which one is actually faster but I would like some feedback as to which other people are using.
February 22, 2013 09:31 am
As for the connection then I have to say yes! Windows inbuilt iSCSI works fine and the default share for windows and macs are good - just tick the box in DSM and set a folder share up. I decided for home to use local users on the NAS and just default the connection password into either Win or OS X and at work we linked to AD.
This may help http://forum.synology.com/wiki/index.php/How_to_enable_File_Sharing_Services as a starting point.
p.s. FTP works fine but get a good client. Names can be an issue if you cannot handle UTF-8 character sets.
p.p.s. Check the drive compatibility list if you are trying to save money and build it up. Data is worth more than a small outlay saving.
February 22, 2013 06:03 am
I've had a Synology 1511 for years and love it. Highly recommended and extremely reliable. Also keep in mind, while RAID offers some protection, backups should still be part of your data management strategy.
February 22, 2013 05:51 am
I must of missed how you are connecting the NAS to your computer.
Are you using AFP, SMB or iSCSI? I've been looking at this compared to the Drobo 5D (Thunderbolt attached) and OSX doesn't include a iSCSI initiator and commercial ones go for upwards of $200.
February 22, 2013 01:34 am
Interesting to read. I have two rack mounted Synology boxes at work, one desk mount (still LAN connected) and 3 big (or BIG) Equilogic SANs and one 3TB Synology at home
A few points that may interest others:
1) Watch how you mix and match drives. Though the system will get the best it possibly can out of it always start with the smallest in the lowest drive bay and get larger (e.g. 1GB,2GB,2GB not 2GB,1GB,2GB)
2) Mac user ? Set up Time Machine on the box - works great. Consider not having all your backups in one place though. Macs support multiple time capsules so you may want to keep a weekend backup in the car / office as well as a home backup for 'whoops I did not mean to trash that' moments)
3) Buy a smaller / cheaper one to backup to. DSM (the operating system) can look after this for you and you do not need RAID on a backup of a backup You could even pop it in another room or in a cupboard to hide it from theft. Share wireless cover with a neighbour - buy one each and cross backup?
4) Though they support iSCSI to become 'real drives' we find the SANs are better at this (but then again they cost ++++more). Position these as backup not primary storage
5) Wired all the way. Even now wireless is worth the cost you pay for the medium (and air is still free). Copper is hard to beat for speed and resilience
6) Think before you open this up on the internet. It sounds very tempting to hang everything off one device (and the new ones have the ADSL built in) but are you a firewall expert? Can you sort a DOS attack if these are found?
7) Printer sharing can be fun - Macs find the printers fine but Windows struggles as the manual and web site are wrong. Try usbprinter1 or usbprinter2 as the share name
8) Do not use DHCP on the box - it is very flaky when some are Wifi and some cabled. Oddly it issues addresses randomly in the range.
Would I buy another? Yep - they beat the spots of the others I have tried (going back x years to a 300GB Maxtor) The software can be a bit rough and catch you out (esp the firewall) but tech support has always come through when we need it.
Just remember - this is not a local disk (even at work we do this sparingly with the big multi-processor / max memory boxes) and will not be as fast.
February 21, 2013 10:24 pm
It just wanders along in the background and doesn't use much overhead on my connection Mark - if it gets stupid or if I have to transfer masses of data across, I can plug a drive into the back of it. But yes, sometimes wired is required. --S
February 21, 2013 09:45 pm
I would also recommend using cabled connections rather than wireless. Wireless is ok for casual file access but it's hardly reliable, it's slow, and not really suited to making backups. You won't really see any benefit of that speed either even with wireless N.
February 21, 2013 01:31 pm
As a Synology user since 2007, I would highly recommend one to anyone who is even remotely serious about backing up data while providing tremendous additional functionality as well. We had a 207+ and have since upgraded to a 411+. My wife loves it as it just works.
As mentioned in the article it isn't as secure (fire proof) as off-site storage, but I've had 2 drives fail in the past 13 months and haven't lost ANY data - so I sleep very well at night. We have two additional external hard drives that we use to backup from the Synology and then rotate to the safety deposit box for our off site storage. So our data is very safe. Consider the other things we do with our Synology....
1. Every day, play to our iOS devices all of our music we have saved to the server.
2. Play our movies through our Apple TV 2 (jailbroken + Firecore ATV flash)
3. Built in web server which runs our wordpress blog
4. We can access our music while on the road using their DS audio app.
5. Access our files from anywhere in the world. While on vacation we uploaded our pictures of Paris to our server while in Paris.
6. Easy access from PCs and Macs and iOS devices.
I know that the above list isn't the most taxing activities for the Synology, but like people used to say about Apple, "it just works"....at least it does for our family. After our iPhone, it is probably the single most enjoyable piece of technology we have.
February 21, 2013 01:20 pm
Hi Mark, Yes, SHR across four disks, You're right, the 4 disks need to be spun up as a set, or, and this is why I'm not super worried.. as the Synology SHR is based on standard raid, I can pop the disks in standard external USB caddies and use something like R-Tools (or even disk manager in the Mac I think?) to run them up as a raid set. I've done this previously (When the G-Raid that this replaced died... though with only two disks) --Sime
February 21, 2013 01:01 pm
I use a drobo (similar idea to the Synology) at work and have thought about a NAS at home. One question about your statement that when your 5 disks fill, you swap them out. I assume that the SHR set is written across the 4 raided disks, is that right? So, if they are like other RAID systems, they are not readable independently. This means that the only way you could recover data from them is to put all 4 (not the independent one) back in a similar Synology box. If such is not available a few years down the road, you could run into trouble accessing your archive, couldn't you? If this is not the case, the Synology is truly remarkable compared to other units.
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