NAS Storage Blog

NAS storage news, reviews, tips and tricks

Time to think about replacing the hard disk in my DS211+

One year ago I bought my Synology DS 211+ with two Western Digital 2TB hard disks and I must say I think about disks replacement. The two 2TB WD hard disks in my NAS are not broken or performing poorly but new hard disks are not bad at all. Currently I have the money for two new hard disks for my DiskStation so I do consider buying new hard disks. But hard disks are still expensive because of the flooding in Thailand which is a country that exports a lot of hard disks.

I think I will wait another six months and see if the prices decreasing. I will still buy two new Western Digital hard disks and replace them with my old drives. The Western Digital green hard disks are still the preferred disks because of the large capacity, OK performance and the low power consumption.

Synology releases the DSM 4.1 Beta Program

Synology releases the DSM 4.1 Beta Program and you can join it now by going to the following URL:http://www.synology.com/support/beta_dsm4.1.php?lang=enu. I do recommend that you read the text carefully on the page before applying in order to understand what you are applying for.
Notice the following BEFORE you apply.

  1. The DSM 4.1 beta is for evaluation purpose only. It is suggested that you always back up data on your Synology NAS to other locations first. Synology holds no responsibility for any data loss caused by the DSM 4.1 beta.
  2. The DSM 4.1 beta is NOT REVERSIBLE (VERY IMPORTANT); you will not be able to downgrade the DSM on your Synology NAS to a previous version.
  3. The DSM 4.1 beta can only be applied to Synology NAS with DSM 4.0-2198 and onward.
  4. You are encouraged to report bugs and suggestions to the Beta Program manager.

Win a Synology DS212air

If you do a good job in finding bugs you maybe the lucky person that will receive a Synology DS212air as bonus for your work.
If you join the program good luck in finding bugs and help improve the stability of the Synology DSM.

Where to place your NAS at home

March 30th, 2012

When you have bought a NAS it does matter where you place the NAS device in your home because like other electronic devices a NAS should be handled with care. If your NAS is running 24/7 and it has become one of the gadgets in your home that is used all the time you should place the NAS in a safe place. Here are some things to think about, when you are about to find a suitable location for your NAS look for adequate power, network access and cooling. These recommendations are based on my own experiences:

  1. Keep your NAS away from sun light.
  2. Keep your NAS away from children.
  3. Do not place the NAS where you can not hear the beeping sound from your NAS if it starts to beep.
  4. Place your NAS close to other devices such as routers, modems and so on.

My DS211+ is placed in a high bookcase where it is out of reach from children and away from sun light but still visible.

Lost my 4K resolution on my Mac Mini with Mac OS X Yosemite

After the upgrade to Mac OS X Yosemite I can no longer use the 4K resolution on my Mac Mini 2012. The option for the 3440 x 1440 resolution is just no longer available. So my LG 34um95 4K display is currently not a 4K display. It seems that I am not the person in this world that this problem. Other Mac users have the same problem. According to this thread on an Apple forum there is a solution to the problem. Use the old Mac OS X Maverick AppleIntelFramebufferCapri.kext kernel extension with a slightly modification.
My Mac Mini is a small beast with 16 GB RAM, 500 GB SSD and a quad core 2.6 Ghz CPU but the Intel HD4000 chip is just not the best option for 4K displays but it worked under Maverick and I knew that.

I tried to see if could restore the 4K resolution but with no luck. It is just not a good idea to play around with the kernel extension in Apple but I certainly learned a few things about the Mac OS X kernel API, caching and file locations. Several people seems to have fixed the problem.
3 solutions exists for me at the moment:

  1. Revert to Maverick OS X
  2. Use the Maverick AppleIntelFramebufferCapri.kext in order to patch the running Yosemite on my Mac Mini.
  3. Apple will this in the future (not likely)

I am not sure that Apple will ever fix this. I do know that Apple is aware of the problem as it has been reported during the Yosemite Beta testing. This really irritates me a lot. Come on Apple, fix this.

UPDATE:
Finally fixed this. After the whole patching circus i found a little trick for display more resolution options. Go to System Preferences in Yosemite -> Displays -> Display tab. Hold down option + left mouse click on Scaled. BOOM! Now the 3440 x 1440 resolution could be selected.

Synology Cloud Station vs Dropbox. What to use?

I have been using Dropbox for some time now and Dropbox is a great way to store data in the cloud, and I do use Dropbox on my iPhone, iPad and Mac. In that way many of my files can be accessed on multiple devices. But I do NOT trust Dropbox when it comes protecting and snooping my data. So most of my data is encrypted BEFORE placed on Dropbox servers but files that contains data with no importance I do not encrypt.
For some time I have planned to create my own cloud via Synology Cloud Station. The whole concept by having my own cloud is total control of my data and that is something that is very important to me. The problem with having my own cloud is the maintenance and the setup which could lead to a bit more work but I do think it is time well spent.

Synology Cloud Station setup

Synology has made a very nice tutorial for setting up the Cloud Station on a Synology NAS device. Just follow the tutorial then you should be good to go. If you want to access the Cloud service from outside your local network you should make a port forward to port 6690 on your router. Remember to enable SSL.
Is is also possible to use Synology QuickConnect. With QuickConnect you just create a unique ID for your device, so you can access your data everywhere. With QuickConnect there is no need to portward to your router because you send your internal and external IP address to a server which stores this data for easy lookup. A nice service but I stick to port forwarding because I know it works.

I think I will go for a private cloud very soon but still have the Dropbox account. Creating a hybrid cloud could also be something to test. Synchronize the private cloud with Dropbox. It could very well work but this setup could be dangerous and should be tested, before actual use.

The Synology DS214+ NAS as a replacement NAS

My good, old but very trustworthy Synology DS211+ NAS is till going strong for the fourth year in row. No hard disks failures, no critical system failures except for the system fan that I had to replace. I am currently looking for a replacement NAS and the Synology DS214+ is the one I am looking for. When I look at some of the hardware specifications in DS214+ I am pretty convinced that is the one I am going to buy.

  • Dual Core CPU
  • 1 GB DDR RAM (Double on memory)
  • Supporting 12 TB storage (Currently I have 2 TB which is not going to last forever)
  • Dual LAN support (I do not need that but nice to have)

Two new WD Red hard disks

Western Digital has made some nice hard disks for NAS devices called WD Red which should be the perfect match for any NAS. So far I have only heard positive things about the WD Red disks. They are fast, stabil and do not use that much energy.

If anyone got any experiences with the Synology DS214+ please respond with a comment. I would like to know if I am on the right track buying this device.

Recently moved from Macports to Homebrew on my Mac

For some time I was using Macport as the easiest way to install and manage common libraries and utilities that are not bundled with Mac OS X. Usually I did not have that many problems with Macports and was actually happy with the usage. But then a colleague of mine showed me Homebrew I was pretty excited and I must say I was blown away how easy it was to use and manage. I really liked the idea that you can place the Homebrew installation anywhere you like. I do not think you have that option with Macports.

One major difference between Homebrew and Macports and the reason why I now prefer homebrew is that, it will not overwrite things that should be installed “natively” in Mac OS X. This means that if there is a native package available, homebrew will notify you instead of overwriting it and causing problems further down the line. This is actually quite nice.
Another thing I really like about Homebrew is the git integration. It is all git and Ruby under the hood. I am a big fan of git.

2013 MacBook Air uses PCIe flash for storage

The Apple MacBook Air 2013 uses PCIe (PCI express) flash in order to store data and the read and write of data is fast, very fast. When I added an OWC 480 GB 6G SSD to my Mac Mini earlier this year, I never thought I would see better read and write operations for a while but I was wrong. My new 13 MacBook Air with PCIe flash is faster than my Mac Mini when it comes to I/O operations. The MacBook Air is capable of reading data with a bandwidth that is higher than 700 MB/s.
I had to read a bit about the PCIe standard in order to find out why the PCIe is so fast.

PCI Express or just PCIe is a high speed bus which is capable of delivering a very high data throughput and that is just what we want. When the MacBook Air uses PCIe it avoids the potential SATA bottleneck and thereby use a more native data transfer.
I did a read/write test with the Disk Speed Test tool and I was very impressed by the performance. The MacBook Air is capable of writing with more than 420 MB/s and reading with more than 710 MB/s with these numbers in mind I had to compare them with my OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD. See the numbers in the table below.

Storage device Read Write
OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD 520 MB/s 435 MB/s
MacBook Air PCIe flash 716 MB/s 429 MB/s

The new 2013 Mac Pro also uses PCIe flash for storage so it will be interesting to see some benchmarks from the beast when it will reach the public later this year.

I you are going to get a new MacBook Air I strongly recommend to upgrade RAM. 4 GB RAM is not enough those days so add the extra 4 GB and reach 8 GB RAM total. You can not upgrade from 4 GB RAM to 8 GB RAM yourself, because the modules are molted to the motherboard so unless you are a technical genius and can do the upgrade yourself buy the extra RAM.

Using Apple Time Machine for multiple computers

It is possible for Apple Time Machine to backup more than one
computer and this feature should be used if possible. If you have more
than one Apple computer that needs to have a backup I would strongly
recommend Apple Time Machine. Apple Time Machine handles multiple
computers perfectly.

I just bought a new MacBook Air and even
though the data on the new MacBook Air is not that different than the
data on my Mac Mini I still want to have the data backed up separately.
The backup for each computer is stored in a separate folder on the
associated Time Machine drive.

Currently my Time Machine backup is located on my Synology NAS211+ so my Apple Time Machine is always available on the network. NAS devices are perfect for backup solutions so use them.
You can use Apple Time Machine for multiple backups in the following ways:

  1. Use external hard disk: Backup the first Apple computer with the Time Machine hard disk and then backup the next computer.
  2. Use network backup (NAS): Assign the network Time Machine for each computer on the network and backup. Nice, simple and always available when connected to the network.
  3. Use Apple Time Capsule. Apple TIme Capsule is build for this purpose but it is a bit expensive and not that feature rich as a NAS server. The Synology NAS servers are powerful devices that will outmatch Apple Time Capsules in many ways in my opinion.

So to summarize: If you got more than one Apple computer you can easily use the same Time Machine backup.

Synology releases DS213j

Synology has just released the DS213j NAS server. The unit is a 2-bay NAS with 512MB RAM and designed with a cool white design which will fit nicely in every office or home.

The DS213j is designed with low noise and energy efficiency in mind so it will be perfect as your first NAS server.
With a fast CPU and 512 MB DDR3 RAM you can easily run several processes on the DS213j without the cost of performance.
I am bit disappointed that the DS213j does NOT support SATA III and that the external HD interface is NOT USB 3.0. I know that several other not Synology NAS units are using SATA III which is a lot faster than SATA II. I do know that QNAP has several new NAS units equipped with SATA III.

Synology DS213j hardware specifications

The DS213j is not a high end NAS server from Synology but it will provide good performance and flexibility in the home or in small business where the number of users are limited. It is the perfect solution for your home cloud storage.

  • CPU Frequency: 1.2GHz
  • Hardware Encryption Engine
  • Memory: DDR3 512MB
  • Internal HDD/SSD: 2 x 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA(II) (I recommend hard disks from Western Digital or Intel if you are going to use SSD)
  • Max Internal Capacity: 8TB (2X 4TB HDD) (Capacity may vary by RAID types)
  • External HDD Interface: USB 2.0 (This is bit disappointing. Why not USB 3.0)
  • Weight : 0.91 Kg
  • LAN : 1 x Gigabit
  • Wake on LAN/WAN (This is a nice feature)