How to Backup a Synology NAS

External hard drives are a miracle of modern computing that can be a real life saver. Hardware is fallible, it’s just a part of life. But when your computer or local hard drive fails, having an external HDD will help circumvent a ton of needless anxiety and emotional pain caused by lost data. And if you have a NAS (Network Attached Storage), you can provide an entire network with a central place to backup data.

But they are far from perfect. A lot of users make the mistake of only backing up one copy of their files on a NAS. NAS devices are fallible, and will ultimately bite the dust just like the hard drive in your laptop. So this begs the question: have you backed up your backups yet? By backing up a storage device such as a Synology NAS, you can carry on your merry way with the peace of mind that you won’t lose all your data. But there are a lot of different methods to backing up a Synology NAS, as we’ll discuss later.

While it is entirely possible to backup a NAS device by simply copying and pasting files to another location, this isn’t a preferable solution because it takes a tremendous amount of time. Ideally, you’ll want to use a backup service that’ll be able to expedite the process for you. Some services will even be able to make redundant hard copies of your data and mail them to you for safe keeping.

Amazon Glacier

Synology-2Glacier is perhaps one of the cheapest and most cost effective solutions for backing up and archiving data that doesn’t need to be frequently accessed. Unfortunately, Glacier isn’t as feature rich as other services, and as a result, is honestly a little clunky and not very streamlined. You may want to consider using it in conjunction with Arq, which runs on the computer (not on the NAS).

Believe it or not, you can get an entire terabyte for the low, low price of $10 per month, which is about a penny per gigabyte. Though this may not be the best solution for backing up monstrous volumes of data, it is certainly one of the cheapest solutions.


CrashPlan is an interesting tool because it can either be run from a computer or the Synology device itself, and is cable of backing up entire network storage devices. It doesn’t have the most streamlined interface with the most features, but it is certainly more advanced than Glacier. However, the largest problem with any of these services is going to be their speeds.

Synology3Remember, because you are transferring masses of bulk data to the cloud, your Internet connection will be a key determinant regarding how long a transfer takes. If you’re backing up a terabyte of data, the transfer could easily span days, especially if you’re on a basic ADSL connection. It’s best to babysit the transfers in smaller chunks and to let it run in the background.

Using DropBox

The following method details how to backup a NAS using DropBox on a Windows installation. However, the process is extremely similar in other environments such as Linux and Mac OSX.

Also, understand that the following procedure is most effective for users who have a blank NAS device that they wish to automatically backup. While you can certainly do manual transfers for existing data, it’s best to automatically backup files as they’re created to avoid a bulk data transfer that could last hours, or even days.

1. Select the DropBox icon from the Task Bar, and then find the preferences section by clicking on the small gear icon.

2. Find the Advanced tab, and select the “Move” option.

3. Navigate to your NAS device through Windows Explorer. Alternatively, if you have mapped your NAS drive to a specific letter, you can navigate to it’s mount point instead.

4. Now your NAS device contains the default syncing folder for DropBox. All of the files that you save within this location on your NAS device will become backed up automatically to DropBox, removing the manual burden of dragging and dropping files.

Final Thoughts

Backing up bulk data can be a real pain in the neck, so I’d highly recommend using shortcuts such as automatic processes or zipping files. A little compression goes a long way and can easily cut down the total amount of time it takes to complete a transfer.

I’d say that Glacier is probably one of the cheapest options and best for archiving data that doesn’t need to be accessed very frequently. However, it’s software is quite watered down, in which case you may want to opt for CrashPlan. Lastly, DropBox does provide a great way to automatically backup files, but it does have a couple drawbacks. For example, if you take your computer off of the local LAN where the NAS is stored, you’ll lose access to the shared drive – creating the need to manually copy new files to the NAS device to be automatically backed up by DropBox.

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