Good low cost cloud solution for NAS. Synology should offer

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Good low cost cloud solution for NAS. Synology should offer

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I’ve been a Synology NAS user for many years. As my DS1515+ is obsolete despite attaching an add on system which is only one year old, I am thinking of buying a Mac Mini and just attaching external drives.

If Synology were to provide some sort of cloud service for its NAS it could be a game changer. Currently subscribing to Dropbox, One Drive and iCloud and don’t like them much.
 

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I’ve been a Synology NAS user for many years. As my DS1515+ is obsolete despite attaching an add on system which is only one year old, I am thinking of buying a Mac Mini and just attaching external drives.

If Synology were to provide some sort of cloud service for its NAS it could be a game changer. Currently subscribing to Dropbox, One Drive and iCloud and don’t like them much.


 

Shadow

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fredbert

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I moved away from Mac Mini server when Apple deprecated so many of Mac OS X Server's features that it's now just a mobile device provisioning server. The 2012 Mac Mini was the last one that was easy to upgrade RAM and disk and now they are expensive as a starting point for a complete system (if you want a matching monitor etc, Apple keyboard and mouse/trackpad).

@Synedout what do you use the NAS for and how are you accessing it? How are the public cloud services fitting into your personal device and NAS workflows?

I use Cloud Sync to load Dropbox into my Synology Drive folder and then it avoids the Dropbox three device limit. But then I've mostly moved to using Synology Drive on my devices and Synology C2 for offsite backup of important (can't lose) data: Dropbox is kept to act as a link to family and apps that don't use Drive.
 

Telos

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If Synology were to provide some sort of cloud service for its NAS it could be a game changer.
There's C2... but if you are looking for a "free lunch" (or a 'game-changer'), it's not that. I would either purchase a second NAS for pure storage or look at BackBlaze B2 which is entirely more configurable, less costly, and more reliable than anything Synology offers.
 
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There's C2... but if you are looking for a "free lunch" (or a 'game-changer'), it's not that. I would either purchase a second NAS for pure storage or look at BackBlaze B2 which is entirely more configurable, less costly, and more reliable than anything Synology offers.
I looked at Backblaze, and it does seem configurable... but would force me to figure out how it works, and the older i get the more i'm willing to trade money to replace effort. C2 looks like a click and forget solution that's built into my new machine. I'm just concerned about your 'more reliable' comment. I was going to try to do some S3 offsite backup thing... but C2 looks WAY easier. Am I wrong?
 

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Maybe Telos doesn't like it that they only have 2 datacentre locations in the world (Germany and USA?) currently? C2 is still relatively young compared to other cloud services.
 

Telos

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Over at the community issues with C2 are frequent. No need to bring those here. B2 is accessible through many softwares/platforms, you're not at the mercy of having a Synology-only solution. As well, B2 can be used by all your devices, where C2 is NAS-centric. Many more geographic storage centers available w/B2. And ... for those with significant cloud storage, being able to receive an HDD with your content from B2 can be a godsend. These are just some of the advantages... O... did I mention cost? :cool:

But y'all know these things already... :giggle:
 
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I’m not sure but I think what @Synedout is after is the full (or partial) functionality of our Synology NAS to be offered by Synology in a cloud-based service (a PaaS/SaaS?). Not the backup part. That’s how I read it.

If that’s the case then I don’t believe such a service will be of interest to me.
 
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I moved away from Mac Mini server when Apple deprecated so many of Mac OS X Server's features that it's now just a mobile device provisioning server. The 2012 Mac Mini was the last one that was easy to upgrade RAM and disk and now they are expensive as a starting point for a complete system (if you want a matching monitor etc, Apple keyboard and mouse/trackpad).

@Synedout what do you use the NAS for and how are you accessing it? How are the public cloud services fitting into your personal device and NAS workflows?

I use Cloud Sync to load Dropbox into my Synology Drive folder and then it avoids the Dropbox three device limit. But then I've mostly moved to using Synology Drive on my devices and Synology C2 for offsite backup of important (can't lose) data: Dropbox is kept to act as a link to family and apps that don't use Drive.

Thanks Fredbert. I am concerned as to whether the Mac Mini will be powerful enough.

I use the Synology mainly to house Plex recordings. I run the Plex server on an iMac.

Plex is not working for me at all now.

It has never allowed remote access. Despite paying for a pass for years, it is pretty well known that remote access for most users is not possible. I was hoping to use a cloud service to enable access to files to get around the fact that Plex only works on your own local network.

Now I can’t play anything on the local network as Plex stutters badly playing files in mobile format, which is highly pixelated. If I use a maximum resolution format such as 576i it cannot even start playing. So really think a Mac Pro would be needed but cannot possibly afford that.

Unless the problem is the NAS. Synology advised me that the DS1515+ is no longer supported, but I am loath to invest in a new one if it will be obsolete after only a couple of years.

I’ll have a look at C2. I tried Amazon Glacier some years ago, but after 5 months it had only backed up 5% of my files so I gave up using cloud storage. Perhaps it has improved.

Is Synology Drive the cloud solution? I hope it is not expensive.
Many thanks
 

Rusty

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Despite paying for a pass for years, it is pretty well known that remote access for most users is not possible.
Complety untrue. Running remote Plex server for a decade now.
So really think a Mac Pro would be needed but cannot possibly afford that.
Running 4x4K>1080p transcodes concurrently via remote access from 718/918 models.

Is Synology Drive the cloud solution? I hope it is not expensive.
It is free and it’s Synology on premise version of Dropbox functionality. So it’s primarily a sync tool but it can also do backups as well.
 

fredbert

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I'm running Plex (with Pass) on DS218+ and can access it fine within the home LAN/WLAN. I'm streaming to Apple TV HD and 4K. I'm able to stream MKV of 1080p Blu-ray with Hi-res audio at 50-60Mbps, though this is an exception and most is 720p or 540p 5.1 or 2.0 audio.

My outbound Internet is no-way capable of supporting this but I can* stream ALAC audio using Plexamp (*if I wasn't so tight for paying mobile data).

From what you say it would seem that you're mounting the NAS shared folders that hold the Plex library on the Mac. Then that would mean the Mac's Plex server is hauling the content, on demand, across your network and then streaming it out again across the network to the Plex client. It could be that your Mac's network connectivity cannot keep up with in/out load plus and transcoding that happens. Have you tried Plex server on the NAS?



For Internet access to your Plex server, you have to configure a port forwarding rule on your Internet router to allow the inbound connections. Even without this you can still run Plex server for home clients and authenticate with the web service (plex.tv).
 
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Complety untrue. Running remote Plex server for a decade now.

Running 4x4K>1080p transcodes concurrently via remote access from 718/918 models.


It is free and it’s Synology on premise version of Dropbox functionality. So it’s primarily a sync tool but it can also do backups as well.

I know that some users can run remote Plex server, but I also know many cannot. Saying most can't is unsubstantiated so I have to retract that, but I know many Plex users and none of them can get remote to work, and judging by their forums it is a major problem with the platform.

I guess I should go back to Plex to try again to sort out why it doesn't function, though I have spent endless hours trying to work out why. The Mac is five years old, and the DS1515+ has been back to Synology for repair (didn't change the performance) but just cannot isolate the problem which essentially renders the NAS, its add-on and Plex useless to me.

Wow - thanks for letting me know about Drive. Must be Synology's secret. I'll check it out.
 
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I'm running Plex (with Pass) on DS218+ and can access it fine within the home LAN/WLAN. I'm streaming to Apple TV HD and 4K. I'm able to stream MKV of 1080p Blu-ray with Hi-res audio at 50-60Mbps, though this is an exception and most is 720p or 540p 5.1 or 2.0 audio.

My outbound Internet is no-way capable of supporting this but I can* stream ALAC audio using Plexamp (*if I wasn't so tight for paying mobile data).

From what you say it would seem that you're mounting the NAS shared folders that hold the Plex library on the Mac. Then that would mean the Mac's Plex server is hauling the content, on demand, across your network and then streaming it out again across the network to the Plex client. It could be that your Mac's network connectivity cannot keep up with in/out load plus and transcoding that happens. Have you tried Plex server on the NAS?



For Internet access to your Plex server, you have to configure a port forwarding rule on your Internet router to allow the inbound connections. Even without this you can still run Plex server for home clients and authenticate with the web service (plex.tv).

I have the Plex Pass and also use Apple TV (the one before the current 4k one). I've never been able to go above 576i but now these files won't even start. The iMac was purchased early 2015 and has a 4Ghz Core i7 and 16GB memory. I've taken to running it in safe mode and not having anything else loaded to allow it to just service the NAS and Plex. It must be too old and down-specced for this sort of thing but I am really worried that anything else I buy will not be enough: Mac mini dedicated - quite low spec'd I think and a new iMac I'll want to use for other things as well yet Plex seems to need a dedicated computer?

I am mounting the NAS shared folders onto the Mac. I don't think the Mac has to do any transcoding as I have it set to create a 576i resolution file after it records in its native format, and I select the 576i file to play, (though now I am converting to mobile format to use on my large screen 4k TV, as that can play with stuttering and long pauses, but the picture can be unintelligible). I think they call it direct play. So when I play there should be no work for the server really? (but still it can't cope).

I previously had the Plex server on the NAS but that did not work well and I read that my Synology NAS does not have sufficient grunt to do this (DS1515+?).

For internet access to the Plex server I have set up the port forwarding and had help on the Plex forum, but the remote fail symbol always comes on the Plex settings page after a minute or two and I've never been able to use it outside of the home in five years plus with the Pass?

I'm sorry if I sound defeated, but am really keen to know if there's any thing else I should be doing having exhausted options at Plex. Otherwise I'll go back to using my Topfield PVR which is eleven years old and despite needing regular restarts is still going strong (just lacks storage).

Many thanks
 

fredbert

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I have the Plex Pass and also use Apple TV (the one before the current 4k one)
That's the Apple TV HD (a.k.a. 4th gen.) and the one I stream the 1080p MKV files.

iMac was purchased early 2015 and has a 4Ghz Core i7 and 16GB memory. ... It must be too old and down-specced for this sort of thing
As an alternative to making sure I don't for get to manually add new stuff to iTunes, I've test setups of Plex server on my Mac Mini late 2012 (dual core 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM [because it can], 1 TB SSD, media library on USB3 HD drive) and MacBook Air early 2014 (dual core 2.0 GHz, 4 GB RAM, media library on USB3 SSD drive).

I've just fired up PMS on the Mac Mini and streamed a 1080p film to my iPhone without issue (15Mbps). Setting to transcode to 720p and playback is still not stuttering: uses 35-40% on CPU on Mac Mini.

I don't think the Mac has to do any transcoding as I have it set to create a 576i resolution file after it records in its native format, and I select the 576i file to play
If you're not transcoding then you really should try Plex on the NAS as it shouldn't be doing that much: library scanning and getting metadata will be the main CPU draws.

I'm sorry if I sound defeated, but am really keen to know if there's any thing else I should be doing having exhausted options at Plex
What's happening on the network when you try to stream? Could this be a blocking point?

You could try running the Mac in multi-homed mode with the NAS file serving on wired and Plex clients connecting via WiFi.

If you're using SMB file sharing to the NAS then you could try forcing an AFP connection: SMB has been somewhat problematic in Catalina when using Finder sidebar to connection (try cmd-k to get the Connect to Server window and use afp://nas_ip). This needs AFP to be enabled on the NAS.

For internet access to the Plex server I have set up the port forwarding and had help on the Plex forum, but the remote fail symbol always comes on the Plex settings page after a minute or two and I've never been able to use it outside of the home in five years plus with the Pass?
Can you provide details of how you have setup you LAN and Internet connection. It's hard to know what to suggest:
  • Mac and NAS have manually assigned/DHCP reserved IP address(es) or are they dynamically assigned?
  • ISP assigned IP: is it dynamic? Do you use a DDNS service to maintain a constant domain name back to home?
  • Firewalls: how are they used?
  • Little Snitch or similar on Mac?
  • Does ISP block inbound connections?
 
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Fredbert thank you very much for your extensive and considered response. I've been away for some months and am home now and contemplating what to do with my NAS and Plex which was completely unavailable for the months I was away (I've never been able to get Plex remote access to work in five years despite extensive help on Plex forums - it does seem that many many users cannot get it to work) and I cannot access the Synology from outside the home (it would be good if I could find a way to do that). Also nothing recorded for two months as the NAS unmounted from the iMac server as soon as I left home. So no Plex again.

The one piece of good news was that I moved the iMac server closer to the NAS and this has improved performance. For example I could previously only play Plex media at mobile phone resolution (with pre-conversion) on my 4K TV which was highly pixelated and unintelligible (I stopped using the setup for a long time because of this as well), but now I get a sparkling 576 picture (I'm told this is still not very good).

I'm thinking of:
1. ditching the NAS and just watching Netflix!
2. replacing my DS1515+, DX513 and new iMac which seem to be hopelessly under-powered for running Plex even without any transcoding, with a DS1520+ and DX517 and run the Plex Server on the NAS instead of the Mac (to get around the unmount problem). It is scary investing further in Synology when for most of the life of the 1515+ it has not been able to do the job; or
3. Fully investigate existing config as per your pointers.

I am hopeful that the 1520+ might be more up to the job particularly if I avoid transcoding. (I previously once had the server on the 1515+ but it was too weak, so I moved it to the iMac).

I understand that the DX513 is incompatible with the 1520+ which is disappointing as I haven't had the 513 for long? If so I would need the DX517.

Also by having the server on the NAS I would avoid the Mac unmounting problem.

I would pursue your extensive approach to investigating the issues with the existing config, but I don't have the expertise and time is tight. Though ideally this third option is what I should do!

I am wondering if there is some network problem. I used Synology Assistant to load the web interface and it did so quickly today, but when I log into DS Manager I find it takes about three minutes to access - would that be normal? Also when I looked at Package Centre (all packages) it took a long time to load them.

Very interested in your thoughts on my three options.

With thanks, A
 

Rusty

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3. Fully investigate existing config as per your pointers.
right off the bat, I would say this has to work. 1515 with a mac as a plex server (especially without transcode) just has to work. I had the setup back in 2010 with a DS211j model (that's like miles worse than 1515) and plex server on a mac and it was flawless for 1080p.

So again, this has to work and there is no need to invest in a new NAS. Best to do it get to the bottom of your local problem whatever that is and fix it.

Personally, I am intrigued. If you want I can try and remote in and have a look from the SW side of things what's going on because you would be throwing your money with 1520. Your current setup should be more than enough.

Ofc option 1 is always an alternative, but then again plex can offer a lot more than Netflix can.
 

fredbert

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A second example of a lower spec NAS working as a Plex server:

Recently setup my old DS215j as a test Plex Media Server to see how/if it could stream MKV files from Blu-ray. So consider a 1080p file with 24fps MP4 video and audio tracks of DTS-HD 5.1 and PCM Stereo. I can get this to stream to my Plex app on Mac and the DTS-HD track will be transcoded in real time to AAC stereo. The PCM Stereo is direct streamed, as is the MP4 video in both cases.​
Notes:​
  • NAS on DSM 7 beta.
  • Can't have the NAS doing anything else (it's day-job is a Time Machine backup) as it causes some pauses if transcoding the audio. I noted this also in DSM 6 (pre-TM usage) when Plex server was tagging media and I tried to stream the same files. CPU ranges 60-90% for Plex server.
  • Audio direct play (PCM stereo) hasn't the pauses and CPU is lower, 30-60%. Avg 43Mbps.
I can't see why your DS1515+ would be struggling more than a DS215j.
 

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