I have been using a DROBO-FS NAS server for several years with good luck. The system has been reliable yet with only basic features. I lost a drive a few years ago and the system kept running while I replaced a drive – mission accomplished. But recently it started making noise and was about 85% full so I started looking for a way to get more storage in a better supported server. After much research I decided to go with a couple of Synology DS1515 5-bay NAS servers to replace my singe DROBO FS.
Upgrading to Synology DS1515 5-bay NAS Server
I ordered the Synology DS1515 5-bay NAS servers from B&H Photo, along with five 4TB Seagate drives. My plan is to get my first DS1515 up and running with all my data moved from my Drobo to the DS1515, then decommission the Drobo and move two 4TB drives from the Drobo into the second DS1515. I also had three other 4TB drives I had been using to back up the Drobo so I plan to put those in the second DS1515.
While my DROBO has been quite reliable, I have always been a bit nervous with having only a single server in a single location for all of my data storage. It was too expensive to pay for 10TB or so of cloud storage each month. My solution is to set up a second DS1515 NAS and mirror my first NAS to my second NAS. Once the mirroring is complete, I will move it to an off-site location and set the mirroring up to occur at night.
Once the units arrived, set up of the first DS1515 was a piece of cake. Cost was about $1,200 per unit with drives. I easily placed the drives in the carriers, plugged the unit into my network, and used the Synology Assistant app to find the server. Once found, it logged me into the unit using a web browser, where I was able to name the system, configure the RAID storage (I chose the default Synology RAID configuration), set up users and drive shares, and it was ready to go. I was able to connect with the unit from my Mac in about 20 minutes. I could start using it while the DS1515 worked in the background to verify the drives. This verification process took about 24 hours but didn’t seem to impact the performance much.
Migrating Data from DROBO to Synology
Once my DS1515 was operational, the next big challenge I faced was how to migrate 9 TB of data from an older unsupported NAS server to a newer server. I know I didn’t want to just drag and drop all my files. That would take weeks and is fraught with problems and it is very easy to miss files. If the copy process fails for any reason, then I would have to either start over or try to figure out what got copied and what didn’t get copied. I did this on my last NAS upgrade about 5 years ago and it was a major pain in the rear and a real time suck. I knew there had to be a better way to copy files and since both the DROBO and Synology NAS uses Linux as an operating system, I figured there was some type of utility that would allow me to copy from one to the other in the background with full error checking.
Bit Torrent background copy routine
My DROBO supposedly had RSYNC installed, a LINUX utility for mass copying of files. I couldn’t get that to work. I did further research and discovered I could install Bit Torrent on both units. My DROBO is no longer a supported product so I had to do a lot of research to figure out how to install Bit Torrent on the Drobo. That was NOT an easy or simple task. After 3 hours of work I finally got Bit Torrent on my DROBO. Installing Bit Torrent on my Synology DS1515 was a piece of cake – just a few clicks and 5 minutes later it was up and running.
Once installed I was able to set up a Bit Torrent copy routine and now all my data is getting copied over to my new NAS server. That will take several days but is an automated process that just runs in the background of my server.
Google Drive Sync
Next I discovered I can set up my server to sync with Google Drive or Dropbox. SWEET!!! Kay uses Google Drive extensively for her real estate business. I used Synology’s Cloud Sync app to sync with Google drive. It was really, really simple and runs in the background on my server rather than on my desktop computer. Now we have a full copy on our own server, synced with Google’s server. It allows me to turn off Google Drive on my home computers, since the server does the sync. I then just map a drive from my home computer to Google Drive on the server. Anything I place there gets synched to Google Drive and from there to our laptops, iPads and iPhones.
If you are not aware, Google Drive is an unreliable resource hog on a desktop computer. We have to restart the process on each computer about once per week it seems. It also really bogs down the desktop computer when doing the sync. This way my server does the synching and we just access the server.
Time Machine Backups
Next up was to set up the server to accept Apple Time Machine backups. I could set Time Machine on my Mac by just pointing to a drive space on my server, but this meant the entire 15TB of available storage could be used for Time Machine. I didn’t want that, since Time Machine keeps EVERYTHING until it starts running out of space.
I did a bit of reading on the Synology support page and they recommended setting up a specific SHARE just for Time Machine, and creating a user login just for Time Machine. This way I could set a quota on the user. My desktop Mac has a 2TB drive with about 1.7 TB used, so I set the quota at 3TB. This allows my Mac to get a good backup and allows multiple versions, but forced Time Machine to start pruning old backups before it can use too much of my available storage on my Synology NAS. Nice and a much better solution than with my Drobo.
Server to Server backup
My next task is to set up my second Synology DS1515 server, install Bit Torrent on it, and start the sync process from my primary DS15115 to my backup DS1515. Once that is complete I will move the second DS1515 to an off-site location and set the sync to run at night.
Now that my transfer has been running around 36 hours, I am starting to get a better idea of how long this will take. According to my early calculations, it is going to take about 15 days to transfer all the data from my DROBO to my Synology NAS. Maybe less, since the first day the Synology was also busy verifying the new disks. But it seems the Synology server is mostly waiting on the DROBO, which makes sense, since the DROBO is well over 5 years old. Unfortunately the DROBO doesn’t offer detailed performance statistics like the Synology does.
So far I REALLY like how the Synology DS1515 is working for me. It offers far more features than I expected from a NAS and is very, very easy to use. Performance is great for me, although realize that my situation is not a typical office with dozens of computers all hammering at the server at the same time. I am very happy with my purchase decision so far.
Now I am sure that my DROBO is the weakest link in my system. The copy process from my DROBO to the Synology DS1515 is taking a REALLY long time. Last night I backed up 1.8 terabytes of data from my 27″ iMac to my Synology using time machine. That didn’t take long at all and I could see the network and server utilization on my Synology was much higher than when only the DROBO is sending data. Whereas my network utilization was between 30% and 50% when my desktop was backing up using Time Machine, now when just the DROBO is backing up, network utilization is more like 2% to 5%. So yea, my Synology system is WAY faster than the old DROBO.