NAS Notifications – the perils of setting up SMS and SMTP Email Gateways

Posted on May 3, 2011

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Functionality vs Frustration

Once of the things I liked about Synology is that for the most part it just works.  I like Synology’s simplified interface, but to be honest in the case of notifications I find that Synology’s clean simple interface without any help or default settings that would work is pretty much useless, and worse, frustrating!  This is a key difference between Apple’s out of box experience and that of Synology where you have to do a lot more setup to get it to work.

If anyone from Synology is reading this please consider adding some basic working defaults in the setup so that users can get going with a couple of presets. It would be great if Synology notifications included default SMS and Email service settings for the common mobile and email providers.

Imagine if a user could just turn notifications “on” and add their mobile and email addresses and have it work!  You would be ahead of your competitors, and would have turned a checklist feature into an actual benefit instead of having me blog about it.

Okay, off my soap box.

Here is how you setup Notifications for folks using USA mobile phones and either Apple’s MobileMe, Gmail or Yahoo email address.  Please feel free to comment on what works for you.

Setting up Notifications:

This post was done using Synology’s DSM 3.1 release back in May 2011, I added a section titled “Setting up Push Service Notifications to your Mobile device” that is a new feature in Synology’s DSM 4 update.  

You can set up Email or SMS text message notifications to let you know about error and status changes to your Synology NAS as they happen.  It’s better to get a warning that a hard drive is degraded or the UPS is disconnected while you can still do something about it.  If you don’t use notifications, then you’ll need to be good about checking the system log from time to time (Main Menu > System Information) for reported problems.

You can get to the Notification’s control panel by logging into your NAS and going to: Main Menu (arrow upper left corner) > Control Panel > Notification and entering your SMS and Email info (the details are below).

A complete list of the kinds of Synology NAS notifications you’ll get can be found here.  Unfortunately I haven’t found any method for choosing which of the 66 email or 24 SMS notifications you want to receive.  It appears to be an all or nothing kind of thing.  Thankfully most of the notifications are the serious kinds of things you need to know about, but a couple of them like “Download Station’s download task complete” will probably get annoying.

Notifications - A picture is worth a 1,000 words

Setting up Email Notifications:

Email notifications – Synology supports email service providers that use SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol).  You can use Synology’s own Mail Station as your own email service provider, but most of us like to use email from Google, Yahoo or Apple.  To use another email service provider you will need to find out if they support SMTP (as opposed to POP or IMAP) and what settings they use (server address, port number and if SSL/TLS is required).

In the Subject prefix field add something like “Synology Alert: ” to help make your email message stand out in your inbox.  Use the “Send a test email” button and check your email inbox to make sure it is working.

Here’s what your test email will say.

Subject: “your NAS’s name” – Synology DiskStation to user@email.address

Text: Dear User,

Congratulations! You have successfully set up the email notification on “NAS Name.”
For further system configurations, please visit http://10.0.1.18:5000/.
(If you cannot connect to the server, please contact the administrator.)

Sincerely,
Synology DiskStation

Here are the setup details for SMTP setting up Email notifications with Gmail, Yahoo and Apple’s MobileMe:

Gmail Users:
SMTP server: smtp.gmail.com
SMTP port: 465
– check the box “Secure connection (SSL/TLS) is required.
– check Authentication required, add your username@gmail.com and your email password.
– Primary email: username@gmail.com

Yahoo Users:
SMTP server: smtp.mail.yahoo.com
SMTP port: 465
– check the box “Secure connection (SSL/TLS) is required.
– check Authentication required, add your username@yahoo.com and your email password.
– Primary email: username@yahoo.com

Apple Mobile Me.com Users:
SMTP server: smtp.me.com
SMTP port: 587
– check the box “Secure connection (SSL/TLS) is required.
– check Authentication required, add your username@me.com and your email password.
– Primary email: username@me.com


Setting up SMS Notifications:

SMS Notifications – SMS setup requires a 3rd party SMS service provider which usually charges for sending text messages.  I have not setup this service yet since I can’t find a free way to do this from the SMS tab.  I did find Peter Stothers blog posting on how to setup Clickatell to handle SMS messaging here.  This feature is a PAIN to setup and I found it easier to just follow the workaround I list below (the tradeoff/benefit is that you will get all 66 notification types, instead of just the 24 that SMS is restricted to).

Unlike Synology’s SMS setup, this is a free work around where you can use email notifications to send a SMS text message to your mobile phone’s SMS service thru your email.  Read below for more.

Finding your mobile phone’s SMS email address:

SMS Text Message workaround is to use your phone’s SMS Email address and enter it in the email notification tab.  Your phone carrier will translate the email and send your phone the SMS message (and bill you according to your text messaging plan).  Make sure you list your email service provider as the primary email address so that you can use the SMTP email gateway to send out the SMS message to your phone.

For AT&T mobile customers see the example below.

Enter your AT&T cell phone number as 10digits@txt.att.net as the secondary email address.  Your entry should NOT have any dash lines, just your 10 digit phone number 2125551212@txt.att.net

Once you try a test you should see the message come thru in a few minutes.  One annoying thing is that the phone carriers break the message into 140/160 characters so the test message comes across in 3 parts.  If you don’t have an unlimited SMS plan then this might become expensive for you.

If you use a different carrier here is what I could find to use as your cell phone’s SMS email address, but if you can let me know if it worked for you.

AT&T: 0123456789@txt.att.net [VERIFIED]
Sprint: 0123456789@messaging.sprintpcs.com
T-Mobile: 0123456789@tmomail.net [VERIFIED]
Verizon: 0123456789@vtext.com

Clicking on “Test Message” will send this SMS message to your iPhone:

Synology SMS Notification Alert from AT&T's Maryland 1-410-000-001 SMS Gateway

I have no idea why the time stamp is 3 hours and 10 minutes from the past, but the whole formatting comes across a bit wonky, but if you haven’t already sync’d your NAS to Apple’s Time server now is a good time to do it (it would be great if Synology shipped DSM with a defaults for several time servers, including Apple’s for those of us that have our Macs already set to it).

Setting up Push Service Notifications to your Mobile device:

This section added April 2012

I hate hacking old blog posts with new info, but this is such a cool feature I had to do it.

If you are running the new Disk Station Manager 4 your Control Panel – Notification has a 3rd choice called Push Services.

Simply select the box “Enable mobile device notifications” and you’ll get your NAS notification on your smart phone from the DS finder app.  Just make sure on your iPhone that your settings allow Synology “DS Finder” app to notify you.  This is a very cool DSM update Synology!

Also worth noting is that the advanced tab in DSM4’s notifications now allows you to customize what notifications you want to receive.  I don’t see one for power failure where the NAS shuts down gracefully via the UPS backup, but maybe it works under the category of improper shutdown.  If someone tries it before me let us know.

Setting your Synology NAS to sync to a Time Server:

Set your NAS and Macs & PCs to the same Time Server

Main Menu > Control Panel > Regional Options, On the Time Tab, select “Synchronize with a NTP server”  Set frequency to whatever you like, set “Network Time Server” to: “time.apple.com” or any other time server that you prefer (but it is probably best to make sure your Macs, PCs and NAS all share the same Time Server to keep your logs in sync).

Viewing Notifications:

Beyond getting notifications via SMS or Email you can also find notifications in the following 3 ways.

  1. Beeping.  Incessant beeping from your Synology NAS means something has gone wrong, like a failed hard drive.  Your Synology normally beeps once at startup and once at shutdown,  Fortunately DSM 3.1 has an option for turning on/off notification beeps.  Main Menu > Control Panel > Power > Beep Control Tab.  You have beep choices for Beep when fan malfunctions, when volume crashes, when system power on and when system powers off. Turning off on/off beeps is useful if you keep your NAS in a sleeping area and use a power schedule that would otherwise wake you.
  2. Notifications that pop up in the upper right hand corner when you log into your Synology.  DSM 3.1 shows notification alerts as well as a blue exclamation !that you can click on to view important notifications.

    Notifications can be found under the blue exclamation ! in the upper right

  3. Viewing the System log.  Goto Main Menu (flipped down arrow in upper left corner) > System Information (blue italic !)  and choose the last tab “Log” to see all the various logs that your NAS keeps track of.  Items with a red X are important notifications that you should pay attention to.

    Main Menu > System Information > Log tab > Choose which log you want to view

Some additional gotchas regarding notifications:

If your NAS, router and modem are not all on your UPS battery backup system you might not get your email or SMS notification until after power is restored.  This is something of an irony if you didn’t set your NAS to auto restart after power failure and you manually re-power it back on to then get your notification after the fact!  Avoid my head smacker and test your UPS setup ahead of time.  you can read more about setting up your uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for your NAS in my previous post found here.

To set your NAS to auto restart goto Main Menu (upper left corner arrow) > Control Panel > Power > General Settings, check the box that says, “Restart automatically after a power failure.”

In testing notifications and UPS backup I did find out one distressing thing.  Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM) 3.1 doesn’t seem to seem to have a notification for letting you know it is running on UPS battery power, or that it is going to do a safe mode shutdown because the UPS has asked it to do so.  You won’t get any notification at all that your power failed, that the NAS safely shutdown because of it, and that it restarted once power was restored.  How do I know this?  I tested it twice in writing this post and the one on how to setup your UPS.  Having Synology add these notifications in a future Disk Station Manager version would seem prudent (I tested this scenario under DSM 3.1 in May 2011).

Other ways of monitoring your NAS

Setting up notifications and logging in to your NAS to view logs is not the only method you can use to monitor  your NAS.  Synology DSM also supports SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol).

This is something that most IT guys have setup to keep track of servers and other IP devices from a central computer using a SNMP monitoring program like Cacti (donations, Windows/Linux) or Lithium ($229 Mac and iOS).  These programs will allow you to keep tabs on your NAS’s traffic, disk usage, and memory usage.  It will not be able to track many of the Synology specific notifications, but it does give the ability to track and record usage over time (pretty charts of activity, disk usage, etc.).

To turn on SNMP goto Main Menu > Control Panel > SNMP

Community name default is public, but you should use whatever community name is already setup for your business or organization.  Name, Location and Email are optional, but very helpful if an IT guy needs to find out where this device is physically located and who is the owner of it!

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