Synology Part 1: Unboxing a new toy

in STEMGeekslast year


One of the things I love about my job is the fact that I pretty much have free reign over the budget of my department. If I see some shiny and new technology that I think would fit well in our environment, I can just go ahead and buy it (within reason).

It really gives @iikrypticsii and I the feeling that any day could be Christmas when a new package is delivered for us to unbox. That was definitely the case with our new Synology Backup Appliance.

I actually can't tell you the number of cold calls and emails I have gotten from vendors wanting to sell me the Synology Solution for backing up our Google Workspace or Office 365 instances.

It was fairly easy to ignore those contact attempts because I felt the Synology solution was probably too expensive, and backing up my cloud data wasn't a priority for me. It wasn't until we went to a professional development conference and we listened to one of our colleagues talking about Synology that things really started to click.

I talked to @tarazkp a while ago about records retention and how important that is in the public school setting. I think for some documents the requirements are something like 99 year. Additionally, bad actors are starting to target public education pretty heavily with ransomware and just because your data is in the cloud, that doesn't mean it is safe.

I kid you not, while the guy was still talking I jumped on my preferred vendors website and when I found out I could have a full solution for less than $3000 USD, I was sold. As in I put in the PO and order on the spot before the presentation was even finished!

We are a fairly small district so we actually don't have a ton of data. Less than a couple of terabytes to be exact. Despite that fact, I wanted our device to be robust enough to last a while, so I went a little big.

  • Synology Rack Station 820+ : $1005.00
  • Four 8 TB Synology Drives : $1540.00
  • 10 GB NIC Upgrade : $276.00
  • 8 GB Memory Upgrade: $199.00


That gives me a grand total right around $3000, not bad for an enterprise backup solution. If you are interested, they have even smaller units that would fit nicely into a home office environment. If you do a lot of stuff in Google Docs or Office 365 it is worth looking into.

The chassis itself doesn't cost too much, as you can see the amount of money you spend really depends on how big of drives you need to buy. The 10G NIC is backordered right now and honestly, is probably overkill for the amount of data I am going to be moving, but I figured go big or go home and I ordered it anyway.

I think I also could have gotten by with the base of 2 GB RAM, but we know that bigger is always better when it comes to RAM, so I didn't want to skimp.

Something I should note: The Synology does a lot more than just backups (I will get to that in another post), so if you plan on using it for those other things, get as much RAM as you can afford.


As you can see, the chassis is pretty simple. Again, we didn't have a ton of data to backup, so I went with the 1U form factor that allows me to insert 4 hard drives. I expected the device to be as long as some of my traditional servers, but that wasn't the case. It is actually closer to the form factor of a large switch.

You could easily fit this in a two post rack and not need to worry about it too much. I should mention that once you add the hard drives to the front, it does add a bit more weight to the device.


The back is pretty simple too. I would have liked a redundant power supply, but you likely have to upgrade to one of the 2U units to get that. With four NIC slots, I expect you can bond them together or set them up on separate subnets/vLans, but I didn't get into any of that.

There is a console port but no video out. All configuration of the device is done via command line or web interface similar to a switch.



It's actually a pretty sparse piece of hardware on the inside. I expected there to be more "meat" to it, but I guess if they can make a computer the size of a raspberry pi or a smartphone, it doesn't take much to run this thing.

You can see the spot where we needed to add the RAM module in the lower part of the second picture. There is also a riser card on the left hand side that I am assuming will accommodate the 10G NIC when we get it in.

There is an M2 drive you can buy to help with caching since the hard drives are the traditional mechanical style, but it appears the model I purchased doesn't have a spot for that. I am guessing it is something you can add with the bigger units.


As much as I wanted to "get my hands dirty", I let @iikrypticsii have the privilege of adding the RAM module. I also let him put the hard drives in their cradles so they could be slid into the chassis.

Maybe it is just me, but I kind of wish the RAM module had been a piece of blue circuit board. I know no one will ever see it besides us, but it just kind of bugs me that the RAM is green while the rest of the device is blue.

I know, I'm a bit ridiculous!

The process of getting the unit ready for power was pretty painless. Especially if you aren't worried about adding extra RAM or any of that. I think a casual user could have it unboxed and plugged in within a matter of minutes.

Check back next week when I go through the process of setting the device up!

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All pictures/screenshots taken by myself or @mrsbozz unless otherwise sourced

Posted with STEMGeeks

 last year (edited)

With four drives, you likely won't need a 10Gbit nic. You won't be much over the ~110MB/s. 10Gbit nics run really hot, like GPU hot. I would recommend running it in 2.5Gbit mode, it is super cheap to get 2.5Gbit cards for your workstations and a 2.5Gbit switch with lots of ports is far easier to come by and cheaper. You also won't come near 10Gbit speeds with four drives.

I'd also recommend something like this over Synology. Synology uses very weak CPUS and everything is really sluggish. For a small office it is "fine" but if you want more bang for your buck. My server ended up costing me around $1,800 with 17 drives, 10Gbit, 800Mb/s, 16 xeon cores, and lights out. Granted it is all used, you could build something similar with a Ryzen 5600 or better with not a lot of money more.

I'll look into throttling it down. I got FCC money to upgrade our backbone to 10G. It's likely more than we will ever need, but I wanted to future proof since I will potentially be gone in a few years. I was looking into some of the other solutions, but for what we are doing this works pretty well and the software is easy enough that anyone should be able to come in behind me and figure it out after I retire. I've spent more money on stupider things. Thanks for the tips and advice! If I look into setting something up at home I will go your route.

That's an awesome bit of kit that you get to play with there. I love unboxing new IT gear. My most recent purchase was a new laptop because my 8-year-old one was too slow when clicking on mails in ListNerds and it was taking me too long to surf.

I really love the new faster M2. hard drives, it makes a huge difference. I wonder how much faster are they going to get!!

ListNerds brought me here.

Thanks for sharing. 🙂

Solid State Drives have totally changed the landscape of computing for sure! I always cringe a little when I have to sit down in front of the old style machines and listen to them churn away! Congrats on your new laptop! I just picked one up myself a short time ago. It's a sweet little machine!

Thanks! I did upgrade my old laptops to an SSD and it was a huge improvement. But the speed of these M2 drives is out of this world.

Enjoy your new laptop too! :)

A great review of this, I do agree with you about the green RAM would look so much better if it was blue

I Have been tempted to get a backup storage system for all my photos ( i have too many more data than your school system LOL) but as of yet I havent got around to it

You should check out some of their home units. You can get the hard drives pretty big these days. A nice desktop unit could easily give you 10 to 20 TB of backup.

true enough I have looked at them, but then when I have the money ready for it I find I new lens or camera I think I need LOL

Haha :)

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Why is the requirement to save documents for 99 years?

We did a health project where the (standard NHS contract) required us to save documents for 65 years, but no one in the NHS could explain to me why or what for. I guess for certain procedures or interventions there may be a later claim but having learned elsewhere that information governance was fragmented (the kindest term) and documents, material and digital, were dumped in repositories with no indexes, I wonder if anyone in the future would ever be able to find the relevant documents if needed.

I guess you have to respond to regulation as best you can 😎.

Yeah, governments just like to government. Who really knows why they mandate half the stuff that they do! I just need to make sure we are in compliance!

Yeah, I get it 😍

I felt the Synology solution was probably too expensive

I've sold numbers of Rack Station to my customer to be used as their non-critical data backup repository.

Most of them at first were unsure with Synology performance mainly because of the price tag. But after using it for few years, they now have a farm of Rack Station 😁😁

I know there are a couple of other ones out there. I think some of them are open source which kind of appeals to me, but I am not going to be here forever and at the end of the day you just can't beat how easy the Synology is to use.

Give the RAM a break BOZZ it aint easy being green

Haha, yeah good point. I knew it was a pretty trivial thing, but it still bugged me!

It's fun playing with tech, fresh from the box, that new chip smell. The difference between SS drives and the traditional clickity click hard drives is very noticeable. Someday, spinning hard drives will be seen as antiquated, like a vinyl record player. "You mean it PHYSICALLY spins???"

The crazy thing is those higher capacity drives are all still the old style. They need to work on bringing down the cost of high capacity SSD's. Maybe one day they will make a comeback like vinyl has!

That's what I use to think too that Google is a safe place for my documents and I know a lot of people do think so too.

Who will not jump on good things at once? That's a good heart you have to think of the welfare of your organisation.

I most say thank you on their behalf

I will like too keep reading from you

Thanks, I appreciate that. I cover a ton of different topics, so you never quite know what you are going to get from me. I know a lot of people use the Google Photos to store their images and stuff. If you do that, it is a good idea to have a backup of it somewhere.

Thanks for sharing. A very nice diversion from stories, recipes, and poems especially for the technically oriented nerds like me.

No problem!

@themarkymark might be interested in this post :)

This is different to the document management I was talking of, but this is cool! I need to set up some backup drives since I don't have any, and this might be something (at a smaller scale) I could manage :)

Thanks for remembering to tag me mate.

No worries! It seems like it is a really good fit for our environment. We do have a hosted data silo that stores student transcripts. This covers our cloud data since more and more people are using their Google Drive now.

 last year 


Left a comment with my feedback.

So this is for just storage? No much big files in there? yeah that should be enough

That's how I am using it. You can do other stuff with it too.


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Woa, such fun to see you unbox and toy around although I hardly have any knowledge about these.
Still it is a great blog and you deserve the

Thanks, I appreciate it!

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