Synology Releases DiskStation Manager 5.1

Synology feature image tile - blackSynology DiskStation Manager 5.1 (DSM 5.1) has left beta and has been released by Synology. I’ve upgraded three of my Synology NAS’s and all three had a nearly problem free upgrade process. One was upgraded from DSM 5.0 (DS415+) and the other two (DS212+, DS212J) were upgraded from the DSM 5.1 beta.

There are a couple of screens that prompt for information after the firmware upgrade itself. The first asks you how you want the automatic upgrades delivered and installed. It defaults to automatic downloads and installations.

The second screen allows you to consolidate the various Synology services under MyDS. MyDS is Synology’s online service that provides QuickConnect and Dynamic DNS functionality. This can now be managed from a application on your Synology NAS. It now also keeps track of package purchases which is new (at least to me) along with your email subscriptions. This wizard failed for me but I’m not doing Dynamic DNS or QuickConnect through Synology but I do have a MyDS account so that may be the reason. After the upgrade I simply went into the App and entered my MyDS account information.

There’s a lot of new features and enhancements in DSM 5.1. The number of visible enhancements and changes probably would have allowed Synology to call this version 6.

I’m especially looking forward to Note Station. With some recent changes to Evernote I’m looking to get my note taking app under my complete control. I am a heavy Evernote user and don’t expect Note Station to match it on a feature for feature basis even for the subset of features I use. But my initial impression is it may give me the bulk of what I want for Evernote. I’ve got more testing & evaluation to do (first up being a test of a Note Station backup and restore) but I’m optimistic.

Cloud Sync now supports Microsoft OneDrive which is important to me. There’s more control overall as to what file types are Synced and it seems more reliable that the older Cloud Sync. I would sometimes find the occasional file wouldn’t sync to my NAS and couldn’t figure out why. This seems to have gone away in the beta. If a file didn’t sync it was because it wasn’t of a type set to sync.

File Station, Music Station and Video Station enhancements are relatively minor but add some very nice features. My main complaint about Video Station remains the inability to backup the database through the native tools. If the Photo Station and Note Station databases can be backed up through the built-in backup why can’t Video Station? This keeps me from adding my own metadata to organize videos in Video Station since I could lose it all. Synology has expanded what can be backed up through the built-in backup. Although I must admit that if it was really important I could probably find the database and back it up through a terminal connection.

The full release notes are here. Synology lists release notes by model so these are for my DS1511+ but I’ve found that the release notes are the same across DiskStation models and they also contain enhancements specific to other models.

I recently upgraded my main Synology NAS to a new DS415+. This was so new that the beta software wasn’t available for it. I’m happy that I can now upgrade it and begin to take advantage of DSM 5.1.

Synology & “Shellshock” bash Vulnerability

Synology released a statement about the “Shellshock” vulnerability.

From the statement:

A vulnerability of a commonly used UNIX command shell, Bash, has been discovered allowing unauthorized users to remotely gain control of vulnerable UNIX-like systems. A thorough investigation by Synology shows the majority of Synology NAS servers are not concerned. The design of Synology NAS operating system, DiskStation Manager (DSM), is safe by default. The bash command shell built-in in DSM is reserved for system service use (HA Manager) only and not available to public users. For preventive purpose, Synology is working on the patches addressing this bash vulnerability and to provide them as soon as possible.

Only one of my three DiskStations is on the vulnerable list (the 1511+). That particular NAS always gets updated last. It’s used for all my backups and file storage. While recovery would be possible it would take a long time. My test NAS (the 212J) isn’t on the vulnerable list so I can’t test the updated firmware. My main NAS, the DS212+, isn’t on the list either.

Since I can’t test the update I’m not applying it to my 1511+. The 1511+ isn’t accessible from the internet, it isn’t even set up for quick connect, and my router wouldn’t send any Internet traffic to it. So the risk to me seems nearly non-existent and the risk of problems is higher than normal. I’ll wait until others beat on the update for awhile and apply it sometime in the future, maybe just the next update. As I write this the update for the DS1511+ isn’t available from the download center or through automatic update.

Installing the DSM 5.1 Note Station App

Note Station is a new Synology Package that’s available with the DSM 5.1 beta. Since I installed the beta I was eager to take a look at Note Station so I went ahead and installed it. I cover the install process below although it is the same as other packages.

  1. Open Package Center and locate the Note Station package. Then click Install.
    Install Note Station
  2. Once Note Station is installed its icon will be added to the main menu.
    Note Station icon
  3. Starting up Note Station reveals:
    Empty Note Station app
  4. I don’t typically work with the Synology Admin ID so I’ll need to give my regular ID permission to use Note Station. This is done through “Control Panel” -> “Privileges”.
    Synology Control Panel
  5. Highlight “Note Station” then select “Edit”.
    Edit Note Station privileges
  6. Click the user or groups that you want to have permission to Note Station. I like to restrict things on the ID level so I just give my user permission.
    User permission to Note StationPermission could be given to groups:
    Group permissions for Note StationDefault permissions can also be set:
    Default Note Station permissions

Note Station reminds me of Evernote, although it won’t have the application integrations. With all the apps that support Evernote along with other integrations it will be hard for me to replace Evernote but I will give Note Station a try.

While web access is possible, so far the iOS app for Note Station has not been released (and the existing apps haven’t been updated for DSM 5.1 beta either). The Android apps have been updated for the beta and Note Station is available on Android.

While Note Station is a nice addition to the DSM package suite it has an uphill battle to replace Evernote for me. And if it can’t replace Evernote completely then I have to decide if Note Station is worth splitting my data between two apps. I’m not optimistic but it’s worth giving it a look.

Upgrading To Synology DSM 5.1 Beta

I upgraded my test NAS to the DSM 5.1 beta. It’s a simple process that I’ll cover here. This is beta software so there will be bugs. The only unknown is the severity of those bugs. Downgrading to the older version can be done but isn’t officially supported and will wipe out the current data and settings. You may want to back up the data and settings before doing this. Do this update at your own risk.

My screenshots were done on a Mac but the only difference on Windows is the file browsing.

  1. Download the DSM 5.1 beta firmware for your specific NAS from Synology. Click the “Install now” button at the previous link and follow the directions. Download the firmware to your local computer.
  2. Log as admin on the the web interface for your DiskStation. Open Control Panel then DSM Update. Once there click the manual update button.
    DSM Update in Control Panel
  3. Browse to the firmware file you downloaded and select it.
    Browse to the firmware file
  4. It will take a minute or two to load the file then you’ll be prompted to confirm the upgrade.
    Prompt to confirm upgrade
  5. Now all you need to do is wait. I was prompted that it would take about 10 minutes. I get this same time estimate with every NAS and every update but in this case it was accurate. The DiskStation will reboot on its own.
    Upgrading progree display
  6. Once you log on a series of tips will be display. Click the screen to advance through the tips.
    DSM 5.1 beta tips
  7. Then a new tutorial is opened. The tutorial is geared to new DSM users, at least new DSM 5.x users. It doesn’t specifically call out new features in DSM 5.1.
    DSM 5.1 beta Turorial main menu

All my installed packages were upgraded when I installed the DSM 5.1 beta. From what I remember, in the past I had to do the upgrades manually after the firmware upgrade. So this was a nice bonus.

It seems that all my Android Synology apps received a recent update. (“Recent” meaning today.) The mobile Note Station app was also available for Android. None of my iOS apps have been updated yet and the iOS Note Station app isn’t available yet either. I’m hoping they’ll appear soon and are just delayed by the iOS 8 app deluge.

There haven’t been any obvious problems since the update. But I’ve yet to really give the software a workout.

Synology DSM 5.1 Beta Released

Synology has released Synology DSM 5.1 beta. As usual, even though this is just a “dot release” (DSM 5.0 to DSM 5.1) there’s a lot of new features and enhancements to existing features. There’s an entirely new Notes application with its own mobile app.

I’ll be installing the beta on my Synology DS212J later tonight to begin testing it. While past betas have been relatively problem free there will be bugs so I’ll be holding off on my production DS212+. I may like the beta so much that I’ll eventually put the beta on it. My big backup box, the DS1511+ won’t get upgraded until the production DSM 5.1 is released.

I’m looking forward to the Notes application although replacing Evernote may be a stretch. I’m also looking forward to the new security and backup features.

Synology DSM 5.0-4493 Update 5 Released

Support – Synology – Network Attached Storage (NAS) DSM 5.0-4493 Update 5.

Synology has released another DSM 5 update. Only two fixes listed but one of them is a security fix:

Fixed a vulnerability that could allow servers to accept unauthorized access.

I updated my DS212J and DS1511+ without incident. While I do use encrypted folders I haven’t had a problem so I can’t verify that it fixed anything. I’ll update my DS212+ at the end of the day and post an update if I have any issues. The update of my DS212+ also went fine.

Synology DS212+ Rebuild

Synology feature image tile - blackI recently ran out of system drive disk space on my Synology 212+ NAS. While I was able to free up the space and resolve the immediate problems I was still having less critical problems. Photos were no longer being indexed and thumbnails weren’t being created. In addition, the system monitor application and widget weren’t reporting any usage information. There may have been other issues but I stopped looking once I decided that a rebuild was the fastest way to recovery. I already had good and verified backups. Since the NAS was accessible again I was able to verify configuration settings to make sure I had the latest information.

Attempts to fix the problem while trying to preserve the data and not do a full firmware wipe and re-install all failed to resolve the problem. Most of the rebuild was easy enough, simple file copies from my backups, but there were some issues worth mentioning.

Configuration Backup

In addition to the file backups I also backup the Synology configuration once a week but I did it again just to make sure I have the latest configuration.

This is done through the Control Panel as show in the following screenshots. The results is a single file with a .dss extension.

Synology DSM 5 Control Panel
Select “Updates and Restore” from the Synology Control Panel
Synology Configuration Backup
Select the “Configuration Backup” tab then click the “Backup Configuration” button
Confirm the backup
Confirm the backup by clicking “Yes”

Reset Procedure

The reset procedure worked as described, with one change. In step 6 I had to do the reboot manually, otherwise the NAS was in “Migratable” mode and not install mode.

DSM 5 Synology Assistant
Migratable – not what I want – it didn’t fix my problems.
DSM 5 Synology Assistant
Not Installed – what I want

The reset procedure is:

  1. Have the Synology system in the ready state.
  2. Look at the back of the Synology System, find a small reset hole near the USB ports.
  3. Using a paper clip, gently depress and hold down the recessed button for about four seconds.
  4. The system will beep once.
  5. After hearing the system beep once, release the button and press it again for another four seconds.
  6. The system will beep three times and execute a reboot. This is where I had to manually reboot.
  7. After rebooting, launch the Synology Assistant and install the firmware.
  8. Restore the configuration file.

The configuration file restore is done through the same screens as the configuration backup except the “Restore Configuration” button is selected.

Share Creation & Package Installs

I had to recreate my shares. While the user IDs were restored with the configuration I did have to set the share permissions and any disk quotas.

Packages also had to be re-installed and any configuration manually entered. Any package which requires an index needs to rebuild that index. For me this was Audio Station, Video Station and Photo Station. Photo Station was a hassle and gets a section dedicated to it down below.

Photo Station Re-Install

Photo Station was the biggest hassle among all of this. This was mainly due to the DSM 5 Photo Station Uploader. I has actually just used the DSM 4 Photo Uploader to move the Photos to my DSM 212J and it wasn’t bad. But I upgraded to the DSM 5 uploader to be on the latest version, which in theory is always best.

The DSM 5 uploader definitely uploaded the photos faster than the DSM 4 uploader, but it missed many of the thumbnails so the Synology NAS started to do its own, much slower, thumbnail creation.

The Photo Uploader does the thumbnail creation on the computer (which in my case is a Mac Mini). I could see multiple convert processes running during the upload and my Mac wasn’t otherwise busy. I had to group the uploads in relatively small batches. Because of my directory structure this was at most 2,000 files per upload. I definitely had problems anytime I tried to upload more than 4,000 files. It’s like something started to break around 2,000 files and it came completely off the rails after about 3,000.

But even this wasn’t perfect. There were several times I went in and deleted directory trees where the upload failed to upload thumbnails. The re-upload then worked OK. But this was tedious and in the end out of about 40,000 uploaded files Synology told me it had about 8,000 files to index. This took a few days.

The uploader is capable of running multiple upload windows on the desktop . This made things worse when I tested it so only doing one upload process at a time is recommended based on my experience.

If the NAS is busy, say with an unrelated file copy, the photo upload will also miss more thumbnails than it uploads. I quickly learned not to even try uploading the photos until the rest of my files were restored.

While not a bug, one thing to keep in mind is the way that Photo Uploader handles the “skip files that have been uploaded” option. In my testing it seems the uploader only looks at the file name and not any other attributes. For example, I put all my original photos in specific directory tree (albums). I have other albums (directories) with “best of”, edited photos or by a topic for viewing. The same name is frequently used across all albums even if there is some minor editing. With this option selected only the first file encountered gets uploaded and the rest are skipped. The file names are remembered from session to session.

Using the photo uploader as part of the reset process does work, it’s just very time consuming. I’ll be testing the built in application backup to see if it works any faster.

Wrapping Up

The good news is I was able to completely restore my Synology NAS from my standard backups without any lost data. Under lessons learned I need to look for a better way to restore the Photo Station files. I like Photo Station and expect the number of photos it manages to grow. Hopefully the application backup will work faster.

Looping Synology NAS Logon

Synology feature image tile - blackMy Synology DS212+ NAS went wonky today. Wonky seems like an appropriate technical term. It had stopped indexing some photos I uploaded so I took the usual troubleshooting step and rebooted. Then things went down hill from there.

After the reboot, and logging on with the admin ID, I would keep getting the initial Welcome Wizard although it wouldn’t let me actually do anything and run through the wizard. Despite this, I could access the file shares.

Screenshot showing welcome wizard

After the usual browser troubleshooting steps I hadn’t made any progress. I found that I could access the server from my iPhone if I used DSM Mobile. But as soon as I would try the full DSM I’d get the wizard.

DSM Mobile gave me enough access so that I could give my regular ID system administrator privileges. Once I did that I could logon to the full website with my regular ID but with greater access to check things out. That’s when I noticed that the DSM Upgrade gave me a out of disk message. A full system volume sure would explain a lot although there’s not much I could do from the GUI.

Screenshot showing out of disk message

First I enabled SSH:

Screenshooting showing SSH setting

Then I used terminal to SSH into the Synology NAS as root. The root password is the same password given to the Admin ID.

>ssh root@192.168.1.100    (IP address of Synology NAS)

One connected I ran the following commands:

 >mkdir /tmp/work/  
 >mount /dev/md0 /tmp/work/  
 >cd /tmp/work/  

Then I worked my way down to find out which directory is using too much and then the large files:

>du -hs *

This will list all the directories and their sizes. I change into the largest directory (mine was nearly 2GB and was var). I switched into the directory and executed ds -hs * again. Eventually I found I had two 800+ MB files in /var/log/httpd. Both were archived logs so I deleted them as follows:
>rm sys-cgi_log.1
>rm sys-cgi_log.1.xz

I still had a much smaller sys-cgi_log file so it seemed safe to delete those two.

I rebooted after deleting the files.

I still had to run through the welcome wizard when I logged on with admin. I simply picked the option to “skip” any configuration and was brought to the DSM desktop. My user specific desktop settings were gone but all files and services are there.

The monitoring app and widget can’t connect to the service so won’t run. This is a minor annoyance. A search of the forums shows a re-install as a solution. If this is the only problem I have, I’ll wait to see if the next patch fixes the problem.

What caused the log to grow so large still needs some research. But for now I’ll monitor their size.

End of an Era

Windows Home Server splash screen tileJuly 2014 brought the end of an era that began in January of 2008. I shut down my Windows Home Server. Except for a brief two month fling with an Ubuntu home server I’ve had a Windows Home Server running for the last six and a half years. There’s nothing replacing it. Although, an existing Synology NAS takes over some duties.

My Windows Home Server started with two small drives on a HP Windows Home Server version 1. It grew to a home built box with over 20 TB of disk by the time WHS 2 was released. Eventually it began to shrink and by the time I shut it down it was an HP MicroServer with four 3 TB drives plus an OS drive. My needs continued to shrink and even this was more than I needed.

By far most of my drive space was used by video files. These, along with files being archived, were all that was on my Windows Home Server. All my non-video data had been moved to my Synology NAS.

The growth of streaming and cloud services meant my local video library rarely grew. Even in the rare cases where I bought a video, all else being equal, I’d prefer a cloud purchase and not have to worry about local storage. My Blu-Ray purchases for the past year could be counted on one hand.

I rarely accessed the WHS files, yet the server was running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So as I was looking to downsize and save electricity, this was an obvious first choice.

So I cleaned up the files on my Synology DS1511+ NAS which I uses for backups and files storage and copied my video library to the available space. I had so many duplicate files and backups I was also able to free up another five 3 TB drives that were in an expansion unit and still have room for the WHS files.

So I copied the Windows Home Server files to the Synology 1511+ and then copied them to a few of the freed up drives to be put in storage as a backup. The Synology 1511+ just gets fired up every weekend to refresh backups and verify the drives still spin.

I moved a couple of the 3 TB drives to my Synology 212+ NAS which serves as my main data storage for what I consider my active data. The extra space will be used for time machine backups and future needs.

Windows Home Server will be supported into 2016 so there was no rush for me to replace it. Despite this, time has moved on and now my Synology NAS is better suited to my needs which doesn’t include needing terabytes of files being always available.

SuperDuper! Backup to Synology NAS (or any NAS/Home Server)

Synology feature image tile - blackAt one time I only used SuperDuper! (I’m dropping the exclamation from this point on) to create a backup image to an external disk that’s directly attached to my Mac. Because I don’t keep my external drive connected to my Mac I wanted a way to have a full image backup done automatically every night. This way I’d always get a full image backup without me needing to actually do something. I decided to use my Synology NAS for this, although any NAS or home server share should work.

I use my Synology DS1511+ NAS as my repository for everything backup. I created a new share on the NAS since no existing share was really suitable. I’ll use one share for all my SuperDuper images so that they’ll be easier to find and manage. I called it “SuperDuper” (imaginative, I know). My ID has read/write access to the share.

I could keep the drive mounted all the time and simply schedule SuperDuper to do the backup every night. But I dislike having my backups always connected to the computer they are protecting. SuperDuper will automatically mount the share if it’s not mounted. This was recent news to me, learned as I was creating a macro to auto-mount the share and found that SuperDuper was doing it already. This is SuperDuper 2.7.2 and OS X 10.9.2, both the latest versions at this time. I created a Keyboard Maestro macro to unmount the drive when SuperDuper exits.

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