Hello World!…. Ok, what next?

Posted on May 23, 2011


It makes toast, but what else can it do?

Okay, so we finally have our Synology DiskStation NAS up and running!  Drives have been configured and tested.  UPS is setup.  Notifications are turned on.  We are all set to start using this big toaster box of a NAS to finally do something fun!

So what can Synology do?

I’m sure you have your own reasons for wanting to buy a NAS, but I was amazed at how many other things a Synology NAS could do.

Here is the list of all the key things I’m aware of that you could do with your Synology DiskStation NAS running DSM 3.1.

Apple Mac and Apple TV features:

Apple iPhone, iTouch, iPad and Android apps that access your NAS:

  • DS audio – Stream music from your NAS to your iPhone, iTouch or iPad
  • DS cam – Stream recorded and live video from your NAS surveillance Video IP camera
  • DS file – Remotely access any of your files stored on your NAS
  • DS finder – Monitor your NAS to make sure all is well (status, disk space, even power on for some models)
  • DS photo+ – View your photos, watch your movies streamed from your NAS to your mobile device.  You can even upload new photos and movies from your mobile device into new albums on your NAS.
  • AirPrint Support (Apple only) – Print from your iOS device (iPhone,iTouch,iPad) to a NAS USB connected printer.  Synology adds Epson to Apple’s list of HP supported printers.

Synology DiskStation Services (or all things with a Station suffix):

  • Audio Station – Complete access to your music library and internet radio via a slick web interface.
  • Download Station – Use your NAS to run a multitude of file sharing clients.  BitTorrent, eMule, FTP, HTTP, MegaUpload, NZB news server and Rapid Share are all supported.  You can now do file downloads and uploads without needing to keep your Mac or PC turned on.
  • File Station – Web based file sharing
  • Mail Station – Host your own email service on your NAS or send/fetch 3rd party email
  • Photo Station – Share your photos and videos albums via Web, RSS feeds, Cooliris and Blog.  Get around limits found in Picasa Web, Flickr, MobileMe Gallery, Phanfare, Snapfish, Shutterfly, etc.
  • Surveillance Station – Connect and view Video IP Cameras via your NAS allowing you to keep tabs on your house remotely.
  • Web Station – Host up to 30 websites on your NAS.  Save on hosting and file storage fees by running everything off your NAS.

Other Synology services that don’t have the name station in them:

  • File Sharing – Access files on your NAS via File Browser, FTP, WebDAV and Win, Mac or Linux file system.
  • DLNA/UPnP – Stream media from your NAS to your TV via XBOX360, PS3 or other devices
  • Print Server – Connect up to 2 USB printers to each NAS.  Support for multifunction Printing, scanning and faxing capable printers.
  • Remote Access – Remote access to your NAS via PPPoE or DDNS.
  • SqueezeBox Server – stream audio to digital audio receivers (Logitech, ROKU and Chumby)

Backup Support:

  • Data Replicator – Windows PC backup to NAS.  Synology should rename this Backup Station.
  • Server Backup – Backing up your NAS via external disk, network server, rsync or Amazon S3.
  • Time Backup – Basically Apple Time Machine UI for backing up the NAS

3rd Party Apps for Synology (32 apps) – a complete list can be found here.

  • Hosted Blog System (5 including WordPress) – Host your own blog
  • Bulletin Board (4) – Create your own user group bulletin board (Discuz!, MyBB, etc)
  • Content Management (6) – Host your own CMS solutions to organize and collaborate data
  • Customer Relationship Management (2) – Take on SalesForce by hosting your own CRM solutions.
  • Database Management (2) – SQL Buddy and phpMyAdmin databases
  • E-Commerce (4) – Add the ability to sell stuff from your own website with these shopping cart solutions.
  • E-Learning (3) – Host your own virtual school by offering online courses
  • Gallery (2) – Go beyond DSM Photo Station with these hosted photo sharing websites.
  • MediaWiki – Run your own Wiki site (from the folks that brought you WikiPedia.org)
  • Ticket System (2) – Install your own customer help desk system complete with case numbers.
  • WebCollab Groupware – Project management software for tracking deliverables.

Your NAS – Jack of All Trades, Master of a Few at a Time…

Jack of All Trades

It is amazing at what you can do with your Synology DiskStation!  Just looking thru the 32 third party apps it is amazing at how any small business could benefit from the cost effectiveness of adding a NAS to their operation.  For home users like me it really is more than I would ever need.  It also brings me to the point, that although you could do all of these things, you really need to spend some time and come up with a list of what you realistically would want to run on your NAS.

For performance reasons I would recommend only choosing a handful of features to run at any given time.  This is where Synology’s “+” models shine by using their Intel based CPUs and larger RAM to outperform their ARM counterparts (like my DS411j).

I would also give some planning for what is to be public and what would be private.  I would recommend setting up your hard drive volumes to reflect this.  I would also caution putting sensitive personal files (finance documents, PC backups, etc.) on the same NAS that you make publicly accessible (file and web station) on the internet.  The last thing you want to do is mess up permissions and make sensitive stuff publicly accessible.

So what to try out first?

The purpose of my blog is to write about Synology from an Apple-centric perspective because I believe Synology is the best NAS for Mac users and I want to verify that these solutions work as advertised.

While I’d never use all of the above posted features, I will try to get thru the Apple and Synology services and share my results.  If any of them work better than what I’m currently using I’ll leave it on the NAS and add it to the checklist of reasons why someone should buy a Synology NAS.

The first thing I’m going to check out is backup.  It was the reason why I started to look at a NAS as a replacement for Apple’s Time Capsule (or Apple Extreme with USB hard drive in my case).  I’ve got 3 Macs and 2 Windows machines that I’d like to see how well they back up to the  12TB Synology NAS vs the 4TB drive I currently have connected to my Airport Extreme router.

Stay tuned…

Posted in: Setup, Synology