Ain’t no party like a network-attached storage party.

I’m a relative overachiever when it comes to complicating things in my technological life. I like tinkering. But I’ve always kept local storage a little on the basic side, with a few external hard drives cloned to one another using Carbon Copy Cloner. When one of these drives started to go recently, I finally decided it was time to take the plunge on a NAS setup in my home. I asked for recommendations on Twitter.

The answers were overwhelmingly in favor of the Synology family of products. A quick trip to Amazon and several hundred dollars later, and I had my ticket to board the train to NASville.

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Anyway, my needs are fairly straightforward: I just want a big drive to store a bunch of stuff, and I want redundancy. After looking over the different models, I went with the DS414j as my entry point to this brave new world. I coupled it with two WD Red 3TB drives to start (leaving two bays free for later).

Holy hell, this thing is cool.

It took about 10 minutes to set up. I was prepared for a protracted land war, and it was more like a game of laser tag. The box opened up, the drives went in the box, the box got closed, it did some magic, and then I had a web interface to see the box. It was so easy, I was convinced I did something wrong for a minute.

The web dashboard has a ridiculous amount of options, most of which I’ll never even use or look at again, but it’s crazy how much these boxes can do. I got about 1.3TB of data copied over the LAN in 10-11 hours, and I was done. I can’t remember the last time I had a big computery task to do that was this easy and non-enraging.

I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I plan to play with it and explore a bit more soon. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about something like this, start your search with Synology. So many people recommended it without hesitation, and now I can see why.

Author: Seth Clifford

I'm here for the open bar.