Synology NAS: Storage Setup – Part 4

Introduction

Now lets finally set up the whole point of buying a NAS. Storage! A Synology NAS is just a box that has a bunch of hard drives in it. The role of NAS devices has grown over the years. Besides just holding files these NAS devices are doing more light weight server roles like, plex, web servers, network music servers, etc. But it all begins with Synology NAS storage setup.

NAS vs. Servers

Before we configure the storage lets go over the high level differences between NAS’s and Servers.

The advantages of a NAS versus a Server generally are as follows:

  • Simple
    • Web management – just point and click.
    • NAS manufactures generally have well documented knowledge bases to get everything set up.
  • Cheaper
    • NAS devices comparably are easily a tenth of the price compared to HPE or Dell. This is also before you factor in software licensing, service contracts, and warranties.
  • Energy Efficient
    • A NAS generally has a lower end CPU. In this particular case the Synology DS918+ has a quad core intel Celeron J3455 that runs at 10 watts. Most server CPUs start at 65 watts and goes up higher when add more cores. That is a noticeable (to your power bill) amount of energy when most of the time the NAS will be sitting some where in your house idling doing nothing.
  • Smaller
    • Generally the “cheaper” servers are low end tower servers. Even though these tower servers have gotten smaller as server components have gotten more efficient, there still is a noticeable different in size. The dimensions of the DS918+ are 6.53″ x 7.83″ X 9.17″ compared to a HPE Proliant ML110 Gen 10 are 17.32” x 7.68” x 18.92”. The width is about the same but with the dimensions of the HPE server, you could fit 4 DS918+ units in the same space as one HPE Proliant ML110.

In the end it brings the cost of entry down to consumers to have a centralized file server (and other features) without bringing on the infrastructure, cost, and knowledge requirements for a windows or linux server.

Now that the comparison is done lets go through and set up some storage.

Synology NAS Storage Setup

Storage Manager

Start by logging into the NAS and click on the Storage Manager on the desktop.

Go to Volume and click to Create.

This starts the wizard to create a storage pool and volume.

RAID Configuration

By default the Synology NAS selects the Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) option. SHR is the lazy way to have some level of protection if you just keep adding random hard drives to the unit. If you do any planning or buy at least 2 identical hard drives to start selecting custom is the better option.

Select Custom and click Next.

On a Synology NAS a volume has to reside on a Storage Pool. Since I don’t have one create Synology is forcing me to create one.

Click Next to continue.


I’m going for the best performance and the simplest setup. In this case simple is better, I’m going to create one giant volume on the storage pool. I’m going to keep the default option of Better Performance and continue on.

Choose the best option for your set up and click Next.

On this screen you select the RAID Level and name for the storage pool. In my case I have 4, 6TB drives so I’m going to select RAID 5 so I’ll have ~18 TB usable and can survive a drive failure. Select a name and RAID level that works you and click Next.

On this screen select all the drives you want to use in the array. I want to use all the drives the until for this array and for a RAID 5. For a RAID 5 you need at least 3 drives. Overall for the optimal drive configuration. it depends on the unit you have, how many drives you have in it, how many drive failures your want to be able to withstand and the performance you want to achieve. to decide between RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, or RAID 10.

RAID Options

  • RAID 1:
    • exact mirror of the data. double the read performance single drive read performance.
  • RAID 5:
    • minimum of 3 drives
    • Usable space is 1 less then the total drive space.
    • Scales up to 32 drives.
    • One drive can fail without data loss.
    • The parity calculations causes a hit to write performance.
  • RAID 6:
    • minimum of 4 drives
    • Usable space is 2 less then the total drive space.
    • Scales up to 32 drives.
    • One drive can fail without data loss.
    • The parity calculations causes a hit to write performance, greater then Raid 5 because of the dual drive failures.
  • RAID 10:
    • minimum of 4 drives
    • Striped mirrors
    • fastest performance
    • usable space is the total space divide by 4

But whatever you do, DON’T use RAID 0 on NAS. RAID 0 has no redundancy so if you loose a drive you loose everything.

Select your drives and click Next.

This is the standard warning when you format any hard drive, this is Synology’s version.

Storage Volume Creation

Click Ok to continue.

Now that Storage Pool is created, we have to create the volume. I just want one giant pool of storage, so I’m going to create a giant volume. I clicked the Max button and clicked Next.

Select the size of your volume and click Next.

Now we need to select a volume format. Synology DSM software is just customized Linux. So we have Linux file formats as options.

File Format Options

  • BTRFS
    • BTRFS is the new Linux file format that adds additional functionality that you can see in the screen shot.
  • ext4
    • EXT4 is the is the tried and true Linux file format standard.

I’m going with BTRFS for the advanced features.

Choose which option you’d like to use and click Next.

On the this page of the wizard. it’s the last chance to change any settings before everything is applied.

If everything looks good, click Apply, if you need to make a change click Back.

Confirmation and Maintenance Items

After the wizard is complete you will be brought back to  Storage Manager to look at your new volume. You’ll see that some maintenance tasks started. These tasks run periodically and help maintain the volume on the storage pool. While these tasks are running there is an impact to performance. The time that these tasks will directly depend on the size of the hard drives in the NAS. The larger the drives, the longer these tasks take.

Conclusion

Well That is how you set up storage on a Synology NAS. This Synology NAS Storage Setup is complete and ready for file sharing. If there is any questions let me know in the comments.

Synology NAS Build Out Series