Mar 31, 2010

Using Amazon S3 to Backup a Synology DS110j

One of the most important features of the Synology DS110j NAS is the ability to let it backup itself. This is actually a new feature in V2.3 of the DiskStation firmware. Here are my first impressions.

There is one thing that bothers me; I could not re-use the old bucket which I created when using Jungle Disk, at least what I could tell. When selecting the existing bucket, the DiskStation does not accept it because of its long name. The Jungle disk also create strange directory layout with something that looks like a tree map. This is in normal cases hidden for the user; Jungle fixes to mount a network drive. The network drive looks like a normal directory. If I remember correctly this is something that I choose when creating the original bucket. Anyway I tested and created a new bucket. I then started a backup of a small amount of files to test how it worked. The DiskStation solution is much simpler than Jungle Disk. One must consider that the Amazon backup is a new feature of the DiskStation software, while Jungle Disk has been around for some time. For example, you could not encrypt the content. You only use an encrypted transfer, that is you are using HTTPS for transfer. Another thing that I miss is a progress bar or similar. As it is today, you only see the status like this:

You only see that the backup is going on. I think I need to file a feature request for this. Notice that the backup type is a little bit misleading. As I wrote earlier, it is only the transfer that is encrypted.

The Jungle Disk desktop software discovered the new bucket I created for the DiskStation server. It informed that the bucket was compatible with Jungle Disk. I was then a little bit surprised when I could not discover any contents there. I decided to get another Amazon S3 browser. I found the CyberDuck browser. It has the capability to browse an Amazon S3 account, as well as a multitude of other servers like FTP, Samba etc. The FTP browser could come in handy when connecting to the FTP server in the DiskStation. (I have actually tested it and it worked without any problems.)

The CyberDuck browser works like a charm with all my buckets, see the picture below.

This shows the directory layout for the DiskStation and the Jungle Disk buckets. Notice that I have decided to do no incremental backup for the DiskStation. This is because I want to be able to restore my data, even if my DiskStation crashes. I could for example use CyberDuck to download all the contents. I think that I have configured the Jungle Disk to do incremental backup, which is like comparing apples and oranges. Anyway I am a little bit wiser than I was when I configured Jungle Disk from the beginning. The drawback is of course that is uses a lot of more space on the server. My opinion is that it is worth the extra money to be on the safe side. It is going to take some days to backup the pictures once more, but the DiskStation could work 24/7 without affecting my daily work. Meantime I could test other DiskStation features. There seems not to be any performance problems using other services while doing the backup. But this is only a problem during the first backup. When the initial backup has been performed, I have scheduled the backup to run at night every.

All in all I think that this solution is much better than the old one. All of our media files are now stored on the DiskStation and the backup is done as described. On my Mac I run TimeMachine to backup my laptop automatically. I will be able to go to sleep each night being sure that the things that I have added are safely transferred to my Amazon S3 account.


Jarle Hansen said...

Very cool that you have this up and running now.

So far I am only using a usb-drive for time machine and dropbox for all important files. Does a NAS alternative provide more than my current setup? I am a bit hesitant after reading about your problems with the firmware as well as looking at the mediocre feedback the Apple Time Capsule have gotten.

My Open Source Software Development Blog said...


the one thing it might add to your setup is the automatic backup when your computer is shutdown. Currently I am testing Apple Time Capsule, but it seems to be working. But you really never how good it is when you need to restore your computer. The backup with Apple Time Capsule seamless.

I only had problem with the firmware because of my poor knowledge of Mac OS. The firmware itself seems to be working OK.

My Open Source Software Development Blog said...

BTW What do you mean by "the mediocre feedback the Apple Time Capsule have gotten". Is it considered to be a bad application? What are the problems?

Jarle Hansen said...

I should probably explained this a bit more. Time machine is great, I have nothing but positive experience with it.

The "Time Capsule" I was referring to is hardware. Its basically a network disk and router combined created by Apple. I have read a lot of bad feedback on this unit where it simply stops working (this might be fixed in the newer versions, I don't know and I have not actually tested it myself).

Have a look here, and you'll see the feedback isnt great:

My Open Source Software Development Blog said...

Aha, I read about the Time Capsule yesterday in a Swedish magazine. They claimed that there is a cooling problem. Apple is supposed to fix the issue.

I notice that I have written Time Capsule when I mean Time Machine. Thus I have no experiences with the Time Capsule hardware, but the software.

Ariel said...

Hi there!

Did you sign up with Amazon Web Services? If so, how much is you monthly bill?
How difficulty was the setup to the Amazon S3 Cloud easy?


My Open Source Software Development Blog said...

Hi Ariel,

I had an old Amazon S3 account which I used earlier on to do some backups. It was a while ago I did it, but if I remember correctly it was quite easy. Also it is connected to your ordinary Amazon billing.

The setup was quite easy. Today I pay around $6/month for pictures that I have taken over a period of 6 years. So I think it is a cheap insurance for my pictures.

Stork said...

Thanks for recounting your initial experiences with the DS110j. I, too, am looking at the unit.

BTW, I currently have a D-Link DNS-323 with 2 Seagate 7200.12 1Tb drives. Nice unit, but it's too much a hobby unit, rather than an appliance.

The more I read about the Synology NAS line, the more impressed I am about the units.

I'm looking forward to more of your experiences. I'm going to order a DS110j today. With a 2TB drive size limit, I should be good to go!


My Open Source Software Development Blog said...

The more I use it, the more I like it. It is real professional unit.

The only thing not working properly is the PhotoStation. I have issued a bug report, so I hope that I will get help from Synology.

I hope you like when you get it.

raudi said...

Me again :-}

incremental? i didn't see that option anywhere. but you are right, that when i press "Show information" on the backup task it says incremental: activated
maybe that comes from the do not delete uploaded files option i chose???
another thing: if you make/made your feature request then i'd support that. it's absolutely horrible not to have a ETA or a percentage completed or anything at all. i mean at least it could show "432 of 123345 files completed"

My Open Source Software Development Blog said...

Yes, the incremental option is a little bit strange. I have created a thread where I request some more feedback when doing backup. Please help me to get attention about it and write your comment there as well. BTW you need to register. Here is the thread that I started:

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