thoughts on Synology DS212J for backup and streaming?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by bobright, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. bobright, Aug 13, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013

    bobright macrumors 601

    Jun 29, 2010
    I am new to this whole NAS thing and am still researching it's uses and how they exactly work so please bare with me. Here's a little background I currently have one computer in the household an iMac, iPhone, iPad and just recently a Raspberry Pi. I have three External hard drives two 500GB My Books and a 1.5TB WD Elements.

    I do backups of my iMac monthly to the 1.5TB external via CCC and that's worked okay for me thus far. Now the reason I am looking into something like a NAS drive is with my Raspberry Pi and HDTV it has been a real pleasure watching old music video rips and movies through Samba off my iMac and turning it into a little home theatre. The thing is though I hate having my iMac running all the time just to watch content on the Pi. I have hooked up one of my 500GB My Books to it but it's almost full, and well having that ugly bulky thing sitting beside my Raspberry Pi, and having to disconnect/connect to my Mac to add content and then connecting it back again is just a real hassle.

    It was then that I was recommended on another forum to get a NAS that I can hook up through LAN to my router assuming this is how it works and I could even have it off site in another room away from everything. It not only will allow me to stream to the Raspberry Pi but also to my iPad and iPhone whatever content that is stored on there, is this all correct? I am wondering would I still be able to do CCC backups easily to this DS212J (it doesn't have to actually be connected through USB to my iMac)? Does this entry level DS212J sound like a good choice for my uses?

    I'm not sure if a NAS is overkill for my situation but as my storage grows backing up DVD/CD's to Flac etc it seems like this is the right choice. I appreciate any feedback.

  2. SpeedFleX macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2009
    Personally I would never get a 1-bay NAS, I mean if you are going NAS you might as well go all out so you have all those hard drives that are laying around in 1 area, and get a nice RAID solution going.
  3. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    You should read this manual for Synology software to see if it will do what you want and if there's anything else it does that you may like to use. They aren't cheap and you need to determine if the extra money over a different solution is worth it.
  4. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    I own a DS212j. It's a 2 bay NAS (for SpeedFlex).

    - For backup:

    I don't use CCC, but I use the system tool rsync and it works pretty well. In addition, Synology OS (DSM) provides very useful tools for backing up your NAS to an external disk or to the "Cloud" (Amazon S3 for example).

    - For streaming:

    There is a distinction between streaming and sharing.
    Basically, sharing is about making a folder and its content available on the network (via Samba or NFS for example). The DS212j will do that like a champ. I'm using it to share music and video for 2 WDTV live (the equivalent of your Rasperry Pi) and 3 Sonos devices and I can use all the devices at the same time with different files without any problem.
    Streaming is more about decoding your file on the fly and sending video and sound directly through the network (DLNA for example). The DS212j doesn't have the power for doing that. Practically that means you will be able to use it with your Rasperry Pi, but not with your iPad unless you use a video app that can read a file on a networked share.

    In addition:

    - You do not need RAID. RAID is not backup. Google it to know why.
    - It will better work with a Gigabit Ethernet network.

    My 2 cents: Go for it. My DS212j is the best electronic purchase I've made in the last 2 years. You won't find it overkill. On the contrary, once you'll discover all you can do with a NAS, you'll want to buy a better/bigger one :)
  5. bobright thread starter macrumors 601

    Jun 29, 2010
    Hey monsieurpaul,
    In doing further research it is 2 bay and you're right the thing I'd want to do is share, my fault. I have a question about the system tool rsync on your Synology you use to backup, say my iMac hard drive craps out on me does this backup method allow you to dump the contents into an External HDD and run my iMac as normal off the external as you would in CCC? I hope that makes sense, basically does the "backup" clone the entire iMac and make it bootable?

    It's why I kind of wanted to continue to use CCC as I like that feature. Here is a quote of mine posted earlier to a similar thread where another user recommended NOT using RAID 1 for "backup". Let me know your thoughts close to pulling the trigger on the 213j.

  6. Giuly, Aug 16, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013

    Giuly macrumors 68040


    Time Machine alone does that, too. When you boot the recovery partition, you can create a bootable system on an external or internal drive at the state of latest backup.

    Also, the RAID5-ish implementation on a Synology NAS is called "Synology HybridRAID" and allows you to A) use drives of different capacities B) add more drives later on, as long as they have equal or more capacity than the smallest drive in the RAID. Even with the DS413J, you can start your NAS with two drives and add the other two later on one at a time.
  7. bobright, Aug 16, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013

    bobright thread starter macrumors 601

    Jun 29, 2010
    ^the 4-bays and RAID5 seem nice but like I said they're out of my price range

    If I were to go the RAID1 route so as to avoid something bad happening to one drive and it being mirrored to the other is there any way I can manually mirror to the second HD? So that way if something goes bad on one I can catch it before its copied to the other one?

    I was hoping to do the above using x2 2TB HDD and then with a 1.5TB external I have lying around do manual backups of what's on the NAS to keep offsite somewhere (given the NAS is not full). I currently only have about 1TB of video that will be going on the NAS so am good there.

    Does this sound like a bad idea?!?
  8. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    No, it sounds like a good idea. Besides, it's what I'm doing actually with my DS212j :) .

    IMHO, using RAID bring more trouble than advantages, especially for a 2 bay NAS. RAID is about disk redundancy = my system still works even if one of the disk is dead. That is very useful for a server where you need a very high reliability fro example. On the other hand, if your data get corrupted they will be corrupted on both drive instantly, or if you erase a file you shouldn't have, poof it's gone from both drives, or if your NAS breaks, good luck to restore your data.

    My setup:

    - a DS212j with two 2 TB WD green, each formatted as single volume
    - 2 USB enclosed drives plugged to the NAS, one of 2 TB and the other of 1.5 TB.
    - Daily automatic local backups from the NAS to the USB drives
    - Daily automatic cloud backup from the NAS to an Amazon S3 account (it costs me less than 1 $ / month for 100 GB with Glacier).
    - Manual backups from my macs to the NAS using rsync. It is not automatized yet and it's clearly the weakness in my setup.

    You can start with just one drive in the NAS and another plugged to it via USB. You can then expand later depending on your data needs.

    rsync is an UNIX tool, therefore available on Mac OS X. I'm not sure you can clone an entire disk with it though. I can't see why CCC wouldn't work with your NAS.
  9. mike457, Aug 19, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013

    mike457 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2010
    I, too, have the DS212J and got it for much the same reason you're thinking of. I don't really want to have my iMac on 24/7 with a maze of external hard drives connected.

    Synology offers additional software, including an iTunes server and a media server. I have found hte iTunes server works very well with audio; I haven't tried it with video. In my case, my A/V receiver has DNLA but does not support ALAC, which is what my music collection is in. The Synology's media server is able to convert the ALAC files on the fly to a format that my receiver will play. I have also used the media server to share 1080p MKV files without issue.

    Synology does offer apps for listening to music and watching videos on the iPad and iPhone. [Additional information] I just tried the video app on my iPad with various MKV files, and they would not play. ALAC files did play on the iPad through the audio app.

    I don't think that you will get the results from the CCC that you want. If I understand the Synology correctly, it cannot be used as a boot drive. You could set aside a partition on the Synology and use it for a Time Machine backup. Synology's operating system can set this up easily.

    I must confess that the intricacies of RAID are beyond me. I did follow the default set up for the Synology, which is RAID1. While it is true that any corrupted file would automatically appear on both, I'd rather not have to reencode 650GB of music. I can live with one or two files becoming corrupted.
  10. rnauman821 macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Honestly, for the money I would build a freenas box. ZFS is one of the safest filesystems available. You can throw gobs of ram at the machine for cheap. The processor wont be underpowered. With a cheapo IBM SAS card you can add 4-12 more drives in addition to the onboard sata. You can us a rackmount or desktop case.

    For the money, I wouldn't be able to pull the trigger on a Synology unit knowing the hardware is based on 6-7 year old technology.
  11. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    A DS212j can be found for less than 200$. Maybe you can build a FreeNAS box for this price, but with the Synology you have a working NAS out of the box with a very user friendly and powerful OS.
  12. rnauman821 macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2004
    You could build a desktop running freenas within the same price range. It will be more powerful and more expandable.

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