I’ve been looking at several of the Synology DSM 4 apps (a.k.a. packages). I’ve only looked at a few but I’ve been rather disappointed. Since I’m unlikely to use them enough for a full review in the near future I’ll cover my frustrations here. For the record, this is on a DS212J running DSM 4.0-2219.
Synology describes this a “Your Personal Cloud” and says its:
…actually a private cloud that always prepares itself up-to-date.
There are clients for Windows and OS X. The release notes do indicate that extended attributes of files and folders will not be synced on OS X, causing problems for some people.
While the lack of extended attribute replication on Macs is a potential concern, my real problem with Cloud Station is the lack of security. I couldn’t find any official Synology documentation but the forums make t pretty clear that communication is unencrypted (not using SSL/HTTPS), even over the Internet. Unlike other tools which have an HTTPS option, there is no such option for Cloud Station. It appears the password is hashed but that doesn’t give me a warm-fuzzy feeling.
Backup and Restore
I was excited to see Amazon S3 Reduced Redundancy Storage was now an option when using Amazon S3 as a backup destination. (Technically, Backup isn’t a app/package like the others in this article. It is part of the OS and does not need to be installed.) But that excitement turned to frustration as I went through the configuration. I could not enter an encryption key and encryption (of the files) wasn’t an option. I don’t want my data sitting out on Amazon S3 unless it’s encrypted with my own encryption key so this was a non-starter for me.
When I saw WordPress as an available package I hoped to use it as a quick way to create (and re-create) a dev environment. I installed the available package only to be frustrated when an older version of WordPress was installed and I couldn’t update it. I suppose an update my be hacked but this defeated my “quick” expectations. I’ll try a regular WordPress install which should work unless I hit some security restriction.
MySQL and PHPMyAdmin
When I installed WordPress I saw that the MySQL root password was blank. Even though I didn’t intend to put this on the Internet this security whole bothered me. So I figured PHPMyAdmin was the easiest way to change the password. So I installed it. Sure enough, when I fired it up it did recommend I set the root password. Then it frustrated me at every attempt. No error message, but no password change. Eventually I just uninstalled it and MySQL.
I’ll stick to the command line for what little MySQL work that I do. For the Synology NAS it’s at: /usr/syno/mysql/bin/mysql.
Cloud Station still says “beta” in the release notes although it’s not labeled beta anywhere else that I saw. There’s plenty of requests in the forums to add https communications to the software. I’m hoping it will be added soon which would make me more comfortable with this. I do typically connect using VPN when I’m out and about with my laptop, but it’s not automatic. So there are workarounds and I may try it out.
For WordPress and PHPMyAdmin I’ll abandon the packages and go for a standard WordPress install and the MySQL command line.
Like many bundled apps these apps seem to fall just short of my needs. None of this makes these bad apps, they just don’t meet my own needs and requirements.
Anyone using these or other Synology apps?