Stephen Inoue blogging about his experience using the Synology Network Attached Storage device from a mostly Apple household point of view at https://macsynology.wordpress.com

mack•sin•ol•o•gy – One man’s study of how to setup the best NAS for Macs
29 Responses “About” →

  1. Greg Martin

    May 1, 2011

    Thank you so much for your blog. Where can I find the work arounds for apple tv working with my synology ds411? Thanks!

    • Hi Greg,

      See Ralph’s comments and my suggestions. I’ll be tackling Apple TV after I blog about setting up the iTunes NAS SHARED folder. Thanks for reading. Stephen


  2. Evan Hindra

    May 11, 2011

    Hey Stephen,

    Thank you so much for sharing such valuable experiences with the Synology. I’m pretty sure the guys at Synology owe A LOT.

    Anyway, I placed my order, with similar setup as yours. I’ve gone with 4x2TB, though.

    A few questions:

    1) Once the drives are installed, formatted, partitioned (I guess volumed?), I presume the next step is to actually access or mount the volumes on the Mac. Is it safe to assume the guide on Synology’s official wiki would work on 10.6 or 10.7 machines?

    2) Any tips regarding setting it up the DS411J with a Time Machine on a Late 2008 MacBook Pro (or any Mac laptops for that matter)?

    3) Any tips on how a common/most-folk should divide the volumes in their NAS should be? I’m thinking of doing it like this: TimeMachine (750GB), Media (4TB), Public (100GB), and I’m leaving the rest empty? Should I merge all four HDDs, and split them into the volumes I mentioned?

    4) I’ve got one of those HD Media Players (A.C.Ryan’s PlayON!HD 2), what’s the best way to share files between the player and DS411J? I’ve tried using SMB between the player and my Mac, but that wasn’t pleasant at all. It was painfully slow to transfer files. (incase you’re curious, it’s this player right here: http://www.playonhd.com/en/?upn=products&subpage=playonhd2&info=specs)


    • Hi Evan,

      Cool you are going thru the same stuff I am.

      1) Mac 10.6.7 should have no problem accessing the files on your Synology. Most users connect to it as a Mac Server thru the finder. FTP is actually much faster than AFP (Apple File Protocol), but I don’t usually have to use FTP unless I’m doing a big data dump.

      2) My next blog will be about Time Machine (probably end of next week). Setting up a dedicated volume for Time Machine is better than sharing a volume and trying to limit data access sizes thru privileges. Lots of issues if your Mac sleeps during time machine backups. Currently looking at iSCSI work around and will report back in
      My next blog post.

      3) Read modified post on setting up hard drives as SHR and doing custom setup to set multiple volumes. You can increase, but if you need to decrease you have to delete volume and create a new one (painful) so your idea of not using all the space until you get a sense of your needs is a good one at giving you flexibility.

      4) Your A.C.Ryan’s PlayON!HD 2 looks cool. Keeping content local on it plays fine? I’m assuming question is how well will it stream from your Synology NAS to the media player? Gigabit Ethernet with correct cabling and switch box blows wireless out of the water. Can you hardwire your setup with Cat 6 or 5e and a Gigabit switch? I’m working on a future post of NAS iTunes server to apple TV which can requires some workarounds that may give me some insights into optimizing your setup if you post your work flow.

      😉 Stephen


      • Evan Hindra

        May 12, 2011

        Oh, it works out fine. It’s just that it would be nicer to have it streamed. I guess I’d have to download/copy the files (through Cat6e) to the internal player’s disk before playing content.

        I’m really looking forward for your iTunes NAS setup post!

        By the way, are you also sharing all these information on the official wiki?

  3. Thanks for your blog! Eventhough it’s a bit dated – there is lots of good stuff for me to read.

    • I stopped blogging for the last 6 months when I couldn’t resolve Time Machine backups, but all is resolved for now. I toy with the idea of writing an e-book for Mac users to setup their Synology NAS that would cover DSM 4 that they could use to walk through a complete setup of their NAS. For now I’ll try to continue and just blog about my own personal setup and struggles and try to take the time to document any setup instructions I have at the time that would help others. My goal is to help build a strong Mac user community around Synology to help address the many holes in Apple’s offerings where a Synology NAS would do a better job (like Time Machine backups!).

  4. Hello,

    Thank you very much for this website and it’s fantastic content.

    One question about the DS411j, is there any room within the case with 4 Hard Drives for an additional fan?
    Also how “hot” does it run? Do the included fans perform OK? Any temps you can post?

    Thanks Heaps,

    • Are you having heat issues? The DS411j already has 2 relatively quiet fans. You can see a photo here. You could remove the metal case, but my experience has been that it doesn’t always improve air flow (the fans are optimized to pull hot air out of smaller enclosed spaces than a big open space). If you did have a heat issue and you did remove the case I would put a large external residential fan next to it to keep the heat off the drives.

      This is more of an issue for folks that put their NAS in their entertainment cabinet jammed with everything else (in my case our ATV, PS3, wii and Mac mini). Good air flow is always good (we leave the back panel off our entertainment center to let plenty of air in). If it is in a closet or closed cabinet then you can expect the temperature to soar as the fans just circulate the increasingly hot air around.

      The hottest drive is the one on top. Funny how the motherboard really doesn’t generate much heat since our ARM processor doesn’t do the heavy lifting that the hard drives do (maybe with the exception of when the ARM is doing super slow photo thumbnail generation). I would be interested in knowing if folks with the Intel based Synology units have increased heat issues.

      You can check your hard drive temp by going Synology’s storage manager and choosing HDD Management. Currently with all 4 drives my lowest stacked disk 4 is reporting 41 celsius/106 fahrenheit and my disk 1 is the hottest at 44 celsius/111 fahrenheit. You can see a picture of the drive order here. So far I haven’t had any heat issues to report.

      If you’re worried. You can setup notifications to get an email or SMS text message if your fan fails here.

      I’ve also seen a French script for monitoring heat on Synology as a graph over time, but haven’t checked it out. You can find it here if you aren’t afraid of some work.


  5. Denise

    March 1, 2012

    This is my first time using these wonderful remarks

    I think I’ll end up by supporting my trusty old MacBrook Pro with a Synology hub to hold my lifetime’s music, poems, documents, etc together with a small Sonos system as I am preparing for a one room residence in retirement


  6. Daren Tobert

    April 22, 2012

    The thing is absolute storage. I want to use a NAS for my large Aperture library, iTunes library, and family video library, but my wife would kill me if we lost a single photo. I want to be able to access the full libraries from iMac, MacBook Pro, and iPads/iPhones.
    A NAS won’t protect you in a house fire, so what about online backup services for the NAS, such as crashplan? Do you have any thoughts about that?

    • Fortunately there several online photo sharing services that allow for unlimited photos for a yearly fee. I use Phanfare, but Smug Mug and others are also good choices. Some have monthly data upload caps so getting large numbers of images online can take time. You may want to buy an external drive, backup your collection and leave it with your folks, sibling or friend.

  7. It may be unrelated but I have just swopped out my 2 x 1TB discs in my DS211j with a pair of 3TB disks. All fine and just setting it all up again, until it became obvious that it was not so simple to transfer what had been on the Raided 1 TB discs to the new 3TB discs. I had rather naively expected the mac mini with Leopard running would read the movie and music files as they were uploaded from the mini in the first place. Apparently not, the 1TB disk is not recognised. I will try hooking up a single 1TB disk via the USB on the synology to see if it will recognise it’s own file system and copy, otherwise it might be a long night getting it all retrofitted and backed up to various mac externals, before refitting discs and loading them up. Life should be simpler than this…Any help?

    • Hi Keir,

      Not sure if I understand the problem, but if the old 1TB drives are no longer in the SYnology and you want to use them as drives for the Mac you would need to reformat them use the Mac Disk Utility to HFS from the EXT4 that Synology had them at.

  8. I accidentally dismounted my DS211J from finder, and i can’t figure out how to get it remounted. I tried going through the “Go” menu and connect to server. i used the Lan side IP address, but it wouldn’t work. Any suggestions?


  9. I’d like you opinion but first I want to say thank you for this excellent and informative site. I’m a blogger so I understand the time it takes to record all that you’ve done here.

    Here’s what my current setup looks like:
    3 – MacBooks (wireless networked)
    Mac Mini (hardwired to APX, dedicated to home media use)
    Gigabit Apple Airport Extreme (APX)

    I have an external usb drive connected to the APX which all 3 notebooks wirelessly backup to with time machine. I also have another external drive connected to the Mac Mini which houses media content for iTunes. I use a 3rd external drive for a secondary cloned backup for my main MacBook.

    I’m consistently running out of disc space on my main MacBook which is being overrun by my wife’s photography (I’ve already upgraded the HDD twice).

    I would really like to centralize everything with the follow capabilities:
    -easily expandable storage space
    -redundancy for protection against drive failure
    -wireless time machine backups for all 3 macs
    -iTunes content (mostly home videos) available on demand to MacMini media center
    -photo library wirelessly accessible to main MacBook for use with Lightroom.

    Do you think I could accomplish all of this the Synology?

    • You are at the same place I was last year when I undertook this project. Once your USB connected hard drive starts to run into issue (lack of redundancy, getting too full, mounting issues) then I think you’ll be ready for a Synology.

      Your wife’s photo collection issue is probably the biggest hurdle. iTunes needs everything local, but Adobe light room does a good job with external volumes. I use an archives volume on my Mac’s external drive for my photos and use Synology to back it up (Time Machine and rSync).

      • Thank you for the reply. Could you detail for me more about your photo work flow? Do you use Lightroom? Finding a solution for the mass amount of photos is my most pressing concern.

  10. Hi,

    Was browsing and found your blog. Finding it most interesting as I am just moving from a PC household to a Mac based one. I have been using the Synology units for a while though. Started with a two bay unit then onto a 4 bay unit and as I am trying to get it to do as much in the house as I can I have now moved to an Intel based 5 bay unit.

    For time machine I created a directory for the backups, then created a user who I gave sole access to that directory and limited the disk space the user was able to use. I then selected that user for Timemachine on my Mac desktop. Seemed to work for me, but as I said new to mac stuff.

    With my photos I have left them all on the Synology unit and store them how I want with folder heirachy etc. Photos in raw so taking up a bit of space. It is probably the next thing on my list to get correct after my movie collection.

    As I mainly play my music on squeezebox units it is all on the NAS using the supplied logitech software solution. Library added to itunes but I organise the music how I want it.

    Movies – well going back to read your blog again after this but as I said moving everything from vob files. I have been playing with Plex on the ipad and iphone and really like what I see. There is a Plex server that works on the intel based Synology units. Again if you have an Apple TV 2 you could jailbreak and install Plex.

    I am using my old 4 bay NAS to backup my main NAS but still have the issue that if the place burns down then you lose it all. Thinking of taking it to work and bringing it home one weekend a month to update it. If I had better bandwidth and usage limits I could even put it at a mates place after the initial sync.

    Anyway enough of my status, you have been bookmarked and I hope to learn some more here.

    All the best



  11. Lee Webb

    July 31, 2012

    Hi, excellent blog. I have a friend with a synology ds212j. He would like to setup iTunes on it and has asked me for help. Together, we’re not quite sure of the best method. I can’t find a post about iTunes setup; maybe you’re doing one soon, or can advise somehow?

  12. Hey, you guys have any idea why dat transfer with the DS212+ connected directly to a MacBook Pro is super slow on SMB and OK fast with FTP?

  13. Hey there,
    I wanted to take the time to say thank you for dedicating the time needed to not only create thsi blog, but to keep it updated. As of today, my DS411j is on order and due to arrive 9/4/2012. I have read quite a bit about this little powerhouse, and like you, I am a Mac user. I bought this unit after a scare with deleting over 10k of photos out of my iPhoto, and having a pathetic backup plan. Luckily, I did manage to get back about 80% of the photos, but this kicked me (finally!) into gear on creating a solution.

    Your website has been extrodinarily helpful, and I hope to read more about your experiences.

    BTW…I own a jailbroken ATV2, and can’t wait to see how this all works together….


  14. Hi, need some help. I have a Synology 212 and an usb minipro external. I want to backup my iTunes music folder to the minipro external so I can then play those files on a computer at work and to also use superduper to sync the minipro with a LaCie external. The problem is the formatted of the minipro. What format should I use as the EXT3 does not work on my mac as I can just read the files. Should I use FAT32? I don’t see a choice for NTFS on the synology control panel.


    • Probably not the best setup. There are 3rd party Mac EXT3/4 drivers out there, but iTunes needs complete read/write access to the volume and doesn’t want other apps messing with the files, otherwise you’ll get a lot of iTune library corruption.

      I would look at iTunes Music Match and use playlists to let Apple manage your music in the clouds. You can also look at DropBox for a free account if your have a small music collection.

      I would use your Synology NAS to do the Time Machine backups of your Master iTunes collection, but not to sync an external drive that goes between multiple machines.


  15. David Hunter

    October 14, 2012

    I have been contemplating purchasing a Sonos music system. The problem is that I’m a ludite. I know I also need to get a NAS and I was contemplating either a Time Capsule or Synology ds212j. Both are confusing to me but when I read how to synegize the Synology and Time Machine, I got a splitting headache. I had no idea what you were talking about. Is there any way you could help me with this issue? I would greatly appreciate it.
    David Hunter

    • This is definitely the world of headaches. Consumers have been taking to the clouds and letting others manage their data. Time Capsule and Synology is for those that don’t trust having all our data in the clouds, but along with keeping track of all our data comes a lot of headaches!

      Sonos connected to an Apple iPad running iTunes Music Match and Pandora would probably go a long ways in managing your music online without having to worry about all of this crazy stuff.


  16. Gary Jones

    October 28, 2012

    Great information and thank-you !!! for taking the time to share your NAS knowledge and experience. I was struggling with which NAS unit to purchase and after reading the info you provided I went with the Synology ds413j. I plan to use the NAS for my Apeture library, HD videos and Time Machine. The Synology unit is on the way and now on to choose the HDs. Looking at the Western Western Digital Red WD20EFRX 2TB vs Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB. Same price for either drive. Are the NAS features of WD disks worth giving up 4TB of storage with the Segate?

  17. Great website – such a boring topic but you made it fun to read!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: