Thursday, January 05, 2017

NAS Update

I’m about two weeks into having the NAS and so far so good.  I’ve spent much of the last two weeks sorting out all my pictures (see my other blog posts about that process) in preparation for the big move.  I’d spent so much time at one point or another making duplicates or moving files around that I had at least two copies of almost every picture I’d ever taken.  Needless to say, that wasn’t really sustainable long term.  It also meant that my file server had more than its fair share of extra files on it.  Now I’m at the point where I have, basically, one good copy of all my pictures.  Oh, and I’ve held onto the iPhoto libraries from all the way back too, just in case.

This means that I was able to move some of my three terabyte Western Digital Red drives into the NAS.  Of course, in true moving-a-bit-too-fast-for-my-own-good style, I grabbed the wrong drives out of the server only to have it boot up and tell me that it had no working arrays … whoops.  Fortunately for me, the Synology’s Diskstation Manager (DSM) didn’t immediately grab the drives and try to reformat them.  As such, I just stuck the correct drives back into the old server, grabbed the right drives, booted the system and all was well.

With the additional drives in the new NAS, it was time to add them to the array.  Right now (24 hours later), it’s at 25% expansion of the array.  It’s definitely taking longer than I would have expected to complete the expansion, but I’m hoping that’s a one-time deal.  It is something to be aware of, though, if you plan on expanding an array in a hurry.

A few other notes:

  • I currently use my old server as an iTunes server.  No worries, DSM offers both Plex and a native iTunes server.  The issue I’m seeing right now is the built-in server doesn’t support playlists, other than smart playlists.  Given that I have a playlist I’ve played for the kids almost every night since my son was born, not having access to that capability is a bit of a pain.  To top it off, I can’t seem to get Plex audio playlists to show up on my Roku. Update: Turns out I was wrong, I just needed to install the Synology Audio Station to create static play lists. With that, and the Video Station, I’ve uninstalled Plex for now.
  • The web based UI is decent.  It’s still a web-based UI, but overall it seems competent.  There are places where I can’t always seem to find what I’m looking for, but that’s how it goes.  The biggest issue for me is the split between items you control in the control panel, items you need to go to the package manager to manage and “applications” that appear in the app start menu thingy (see the UI below with the menu expanded).  The big one was the Storage Manager application.  I had to go there to change how the storage was managed.  An OK thing once you know about it, but, to me, that belongs in the control panel.  I guess that’s a minor gripe, because now that I know where it is …
  • Synology also offers Android and iOS applications for certain key features, such as photo, video and music browsing.  I haven’t spent too much time with those yet, but they look interesting and may provide a decent alternative to Plex.  And they have Google Cast capabilities built in!


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