Thinking of moving to Synology - Advice?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by salohcin, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. salohcin macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2008
    So I've been a Drobo user for over 5 years now. I have three of them, including a 1st generation one. Love them, couldn't be happier with them. They've each been running pretty much non-stop since I bought them and I've never had any real problems with them.

    However, I'm beginning to run out of room on my Drobo S with 5 3TB drives in it. I've been considering getting an 8 bay Drobo for future expansion, without having to buy the largest(and most expensive) drives every time. I realized though that if I was to do that, I'd pretty much hit the 16TB volume limit on the Drobo with just the drives I have laying around. Now I know it would just create another 16TB volume and put the excess space on that, but that complicates my iTunes library management. I've already dealt with trying to span my library over several drives before, and it can get out of hand very quickly.

    I probably won't hit the 16TB mark for at least two more years, but I'd like to try and future proof my setup as much as I can. So I started looking at Synology. Specifically, the DS2413+. As far as I can tell, they solved this problem a couple years ago, and I'd have to fill it with crazy sized drives to reach the new volume limit.

    I guess what I'd like to know is if anybody that has gone from Drobo to Synology before could share their experience and maybe give me some advice. Especially with the different RAID options. I'm interested in how this "Synology Hybrid RAID" works. Also, I haven't seen anything talking about it, so I'm guessing that Synology doesn't work the same as Drobo when it comes to variable drive sizes. Is it just like regular RAID systems where the smallest drive reduces the usable space in all the rest to the same size?

    I wanted to post this here, because I value the opinions of the people in this forum, and I wanted a more balanced view than what I'd get at one of the company forums.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    There is a world of difference between DAS (Direct Attached Storage) like the Drobo and NAS (Network Attached Storage) like the Synology.

    I have a second Gen (FW800) Drobo and a Synology 411slim. I dont use either one for my media library anymore, but if I were going to, it would be the Drobo. I ran my media library on the Synology NAS for over a year before just getting tired of having issues every time my iMac restarted. iTunes on NAS does work, it's just not nearly as convenient as DAS.

    I use plain old RAID5 on my 411slim, so I don't know much about the Synology Hybrid drive, but I believe it is similar to Drobo's BeyondRAID. It is basically a type of Software RAID (over simplified). This allows flexibility and simplicity for the user, but will cost you in terms of read/write performance. For Media Playback, these systems are more than fast enough. The only times I really felt a performance issue with my Drobo were when transferring about a Terabyte over to it the first time and when ripping DVDs to it from two computers at once.

    Just understand that putting your iTunes media on a NAS is going to add complications. I would rather deal with splitting my library over multiple DAS volumes than deal with a NAS, but that's just personal preference.
  3. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    I have played with many NAS's and in the end I always go back to DAS. A NAS always seems like such a great idea, but in the end there is so much variation in speed and having to wait for everything to connect just drives me insane. I'd rather just hook up a couple of Hard drive enclosures directly to my main Mac and just turn on file sharing. Cost is considerably cheaper and I tend to leave whatever is my main Mac (meaning whatever is running iTunes) on at all times anyway so there isn't an energy savings to go to a NAS.

    Why can't you just have two DAS's going (i.e. two drobos)?
  4. Attonine macrumors 6502a

    Feb 15, 2006
    Kent. UK
    I'm thinking of making exactly the same move. I have a 2ng gen Drobo, used solely for my iTunes. It's getting a bit long in the tooth so I have been looking into replacing it with a Synology NAS, probably DS413j.

    Could you expand on complications the NAS would add if used for iTunes media.
  5. poloponies Suspended

    May 3, 2010
    Aside from my not at all understanding how adding a second 16TB volume would in any way "complicate" your iTunes management (I currently have 2 Drobo volumes on my iTunes, one for music, the other for movies), looking for a 2013 solution to a potential 2015 problem is a little shortsighted in that we have no idea what will happen in the next 2 years. I'd say don't fix something today that ain't broke.
  6. LaunchpadBS macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2008
    16TB :eek: what do you store????????

    I've been running a Syno NAS for 2 years now, keep all my media on there and also use it for time machine backups with my Mini, which is always online so the speed isn't a problem.

    I stream media to 1 ATV, 3 iPads, 2 Macs and a PC without issue.
    It all depends on your requirements.
  7. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    Like comparing apples and oranges

    I have a QNAP 4-bay NAS and while it's good enough to use as a dumping ground for 'stuff', storing documents on SMB shares, media streaming, etc, etc but I wouldn't use it for photo editing or running VM's.

    I've got itunes running from a NAS an it's not so great. It's slow to start. I've tried it on both Windows (with SMB) and Mac (persistent NFS export) and it's a bit better on the Mac but not much - iTunes seems quite chatty when it starts up and Ethernet is not so great for this.

    Personally I'm going to move to a Drobo 5D for my media and VM's, then just use the QNAP for backup and documents that need sending offsite automatically to Amazon S3.
  8. salohcin thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2008
    Thanks for all the replies, this is exactly the kind of insight I was looking for. I have seen other people talk about connection problems, but I've never been able to experience it for myself, so I can't really compare how much it would bother me vs my library on multiple volumes.

    I think you're right, it all comes down to personal preference, but it's a steep price to pay if I buy a NAS and find out that's the more annoying option for what I want to do.

    I think the reason why I'm hesitant to go the multiple volumes route is because I did that once before with just hard drives in a plain external enclosure and when I went to move to the Drobo I had to rebuild a good chunk of my library since it wasn't all in the same location. As I've upgraded from Drobo to Drobo, it's been easy. Move everything over (it usually already is since run back ups from one Drobo onto another) and since all my data is in the same place as my library file, it already knows where everything is. Now this may have changed in the more recent versions of iTunes, but as far as I can tell it's because it's able to use relative links rather than the full path to each file.

    In the end, it's not a huge deal to rebuild my library, but I either have to relocate each file one by one, or lose all my play count and last watched date data for those items, which to me is important.

    Are the problems you have with a NAS mostly when you restart your computer/iTunes or do they also come into play when you try to view content on you Apple TV (or other device)? I rarely restart my computer or iTunes, so that might not be as big a deal for me.

    This is good information and has given me more to think about. Thanks for all your input.
  9. lexvo macrumors 65816

    Nov 11, 2009
    The Netherlands
    Both. And both rely on the ethernet connection from iTunes to the NAS. I seldom restart my iMac but I encountered these problems so often that I store my photos on the HDD of my iMac now. I think a HDD directly connected to the iMac with FW800 or Thunderbolt will be problem free also, but I don't have experience with that.
  10. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    I agree that a single volume is easier to deal with. I know that it is possible to split a library, but I would rather just 'set it and forget it'. You can also use JBOD (Spanning) to make multiple drives appear as a single volume.

    For me, it was always the restart issues. Once everything was restarted and happy, performance was never an issue for me. I had everything connected on Gigabit Ethernet and only have one device to stream to - the best case scenario.
  11. rock15478 macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2007
    I've been in both boats...

    Currently running my iTunes library on a Synology 1511+ with 5 x 3TB drives. I like the fact that with the mobile apps, I can get to any file on my NAS wherever I'm at. I also love the fact that with DSvideo, I can simply add my iTunes library, and get to any movie in my library on the go (same thing with music in the DSaudio app).

    Everything is wired in my house via CAT6 cable and I honestly can't tell that much of a difference, at least for streaming.

    I know I'm in the minority here but I find that ever since I've switched to the Synology, my tech life is much more organized and less stressful.
  12. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    Just buy a Synology model that suits your needs, you'll be so glad you did.

    I've been using them for years, (upgraded to larger models as my needs grew) and have had nothing but truly reliable and terrific experiences. Not only that, at least in my experience, resale is excellent and there's always a demand.
  13. bbapps macrumors regular

    Jan 19, 2008
    I've been looking at the Synology NAS; either a ds213 or ds213+... Question about the video streaming functionality...

    Would I be able to stream media purchased from iTunes or only non-drm media?

    And, is that streaming straight from the NAS to let's say an ATV3 or would that need to go through an iDevice. (NAS->iPad->ATV3)?
  14. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I use a NAS for my media library. My computer, hand components, TV, blu ray player, media streamer all can see the NAS with zero issues.

    I use iTunes for music on my computer and have zero problems because I took the time to make sure it was set up so that the NAS was always available before I opened iTunes. What you need to investigate is how to see a particular NAS volume when you boot up your computer. Another way is to create a mini script that opens up the media volume on your NAS then ends with opening up iTunes. There are several ways to ensure continuous access.

    Drobo has worked well for you which suggests that direct storage is still a good option (with or without a Drobo). Some of us will prefer NAS for our set ups because it makes sense for the way we want to do things. If you plan to go beyond iTunes at any time, then the NAS is a great option. My media includes files for all iTunes related, hi def music ranging from lossless CD based files to 192/24 flac files from HDtracks. I also have my entire movie library archived.

    Other than using a TiVo for regular TV, everything else comes off my NAS or a newly bought or rented Blu Ray on my Blu Ray player. Life is good.
  15. bbapps macrumors regular

    Jan 19, 2008
    I like the idea of the NAS vs DAS for two reasons... 1) planning on moving to a MBP as my main computer (e.g. retiring the iMac). Not going to have a desktop to hang those DAS drives off of. 2) I consider a NAS to be a specialized mini-desktop tuned to be available 24/7 and for the purpose of serving files from it's drives. Just what I'm looking for....
  16. i1100 macrumors newbie

    Feb 28, 2012
    About a year ago I was in a similar position, i had my media on a 4-bay 2nd Gen Drobo and a 5-bay Drobo S. Space was running low and i wanted to be able to expand and perhaps increase speed as well. I ended up with my current setup which consists of a Synology DS1812+, and two expansion units (DX510 and DX513). I am running the maximum 18 drives with three volumes (each device is running 1 volume). I use SHR (which is similar to RAID 5) and all together have around 40TB of space. The Synology was easy to figure out and setup once you understand the basic limitations of each format. Performance wise, its much faster than my Drobos were for file transfer. The Drobos were connected to my Mac Mini server with FW800. As others pointed out, DAS is easier as there is no networking, and with thunderbolt available, you get even faster speed. The one thing i found to really fix all of my connection issues was MountWatcher, a software package that as it says, watches your mounts (NAS Volumes) to make sure they stay connected. I have had three drives fail over the last year (due to my foolish populating of one of the extensions with WD Green Drives) but the Synology handled it like a champ. Their support was slow to respond initially but very helpful when i needed them. I still run a set of Greens, but the main unit is Seagate and the newer extension is WD Reds.

    The Synology has the Drobo feel when it comes to ease of use, but just opens up a ton of added functionality and expansion ability. If I had to start over, and have the same budget, I would have the same setup (minus the Greens). Thunderbolt might be faster, but the price point and feature set is not there yet.

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