Single Shared Folder vs Multiple Shared Folders

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Single Shared Folder vs Multiple Shared Folders

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Hi there,
I bought my first Synology NAS (1522+) last fall and been enjoying it ever since. I am using a Mac.
When it comes to data organization, i can't seem to settle on an organization hierarchy. I am a single user with pretty much basic data, that, until now, i have it grouped into multiple shared folders like below:

1. Archive - everything that is not really needed very often, stuff i want to keep etc. goes in here
2. Documents - our entire household "documents cabinet"
3. Photography - I am doing photography as a hobby, so this stores my entire RAWs files
4. Pictures - our entire lifetime photos and home videos, iPhone photos, and exported edited pictures from the "Photography" catalog. I tried using Synology Photos under the /photo shared space but i hate it for various reasons (different discussion :)).
  • i don't have any other needs since i am a believer of keeping my "lifetime" precious data on a storage medium "bloat" free from other stuff.
  • stuff like a media folder (plex, music etc.) or any other "homelab" tinkering (docker etc.) will go on a separate device
  • this NAS is purely for my precious data, will be devastated to loose type of stuff, so no "bloat" here, no extra services ... just SMB storage + essential services / packages (hyper backup, snapshots etc.)

One of the things i don't like is having to mount a different shared folder every time i'm doing a different task. If i mount all of them at startup, my Mac's desktop becomes cluttered.

So, long story, short :

1. Are there any other benefits of multiple shared folders vs single shared folder (with subfolders) ? Other than the obvious ones i know ? (see below) Is there ANY REASON at all (other than the ones below) to have data split into multiple shared folders, now or in the future, no matter how large my storage grows ?

* permission granularity - don't really need, i am single user, using this as purely SMB storage for lifetime important stuff (NO extra services)
* snapshots granularity - since this is my important stuff, i guess i could apply a "blanket" snapshot policy to all my data (don't need different snapshots retention for different folders).
* backup - yes, i will "cherry pick" folders for offline cloud backup, but i will backup all of them using USB storage (via hyper backup)

2. If i want to switch my stuff to a single shared folder can i move data safely within DSM using File Station, risk Free ?

3. Is there any checksum verification involved when moving data between shared folders ? Or i am better to migrate the data from scratch via the 10 GBe network using an Rsync (with checksum verification enabled) software like Carbon Copy Cloner ?

Sorry, for the long post. I was struggling with this for a while and it keeps bugging me having to mount a bunch of shared folders to my Mac. If i had just one spot mounted, life will be much easier i think.
 
One of the things i don't like is having to mount a different shared folder every time i'm doing a different task. If i mount all of them at startup, my Mac's desktop becomes cluttered.
I use Windows, and rather than mapping each shared folder (none are mapped), I have a shortcut link on my Desktop that opens Windows Explorer to a NAS view showing all shared folders, just as you would see in DSM's File Station. Seems like you should see the NAS' network connection in Finder (maybe not, I'm not a heavy Mac user).

Otherwise, my shared folders are not so different from yours... Documents, Downloads, Media, Library, Photos... and some specialized folders such as Docker (primarily config bind mounts for backup ease).
 
This is sort of tangential, but maybe not. The post got me thinking. Can you have nested shared folders? For example, a top-level folder called Farnsworth with sub-folders containing the sort of files cited by mistd? In my case, Plex Media, Music, and Leela. The latter are all shared folders. The reason I ask is for backup purposes. I use a Mac-based backup program and it would be easier for me to back up a single folder with sub-folders than have to run three unique backups. I admit part is laziness, but also clutter on my desktop. I'd only have to mount Farnsworth, not the three shared folders. Thanks

Stephen
 
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Seems like you should see the NAS' network connection in Finder (maybe not, I'm not a heavy Mac user).
Yes, you can see the Nas server in finder's sidebar, but it's not really "mounted"

You have to connect to it and every time. After connecting via Finder's sidebar, when you access a share (double-click on it) ... only then that particular shared folder becomes literally "mounted".

This creates a problem when you use for example Adobe Lightroom: you need to be sure that the "Photography" shared folder where all your RAW's are, is always mounted before you open Lightroom.

If you have a different shared folder for Backups where you also backup your Lightroom catalog, then you also need that "Backups" shared folder mounted.

If, you also worked on some documents ... you will also mount the "Documents" shared folder

.... and so on

Suddenly, you have to mount each shared folder individually, each time, or have them automatically be mounted on startup all-at-once (this can be done automatically on startup ... but it's still at the shared folder level, our main problem :) )

Mac will show on desktop as a shortcut only the actual "mounted" shared folders (if you configure this in finder's settings), you can't setup the NAS to be shown on desktop as a shortcut.

So, if you need 4 shares accessible on startup , these will populate your desktop. When you mount another share, another desktop shortcut will clutter your space along those 4 initial ones ... and so on.

If you also have some other externals like SSDs as "working" drives .... oh boy. This can turn really easy into a pile of mess.

One way to solve this is to just disable the desktop shortcut for "connected servers" in finder's settings but then every time you need something from NAS there are extra clicks (open Finder and click on the NAS from sidebar instead of just accessing the nas from the desktop)
-- post merged: --

The reason I ask is for backup purposes. I use a Mac-based backup program and it would be easier for me to back up a single folder with sub-folders than have to run three unique backups.
No, i don't think there is such concept as nested shared folders on a NAS. Only shared folders (top level) with nested subfolders.
 
Shared folders are top level folders. Of course you can create any structure of subfolders within a shared folder, just like with a PC.
As I understand it he wanted the actual shared folders to be nested. Like creating multiple “real” shared folders in another shared folder. Yeah, subfolders can be created within a single share.

One thing I stumbled upon today that will fix my issue. Unfortunately I don’t think is available on Synology.

TrueNAS makes a distinction between SMB “shares” and “dataset” (the actual shared folders on synology).

The cool thing is that you can create a single mountable SMB “share” at the root level of the pool / volume …. so you can have just 1 mounting point for all your “datasets” (aka synology shared folders)

That TrueNAS feature would solve all my problems 🙂 (1 SMB mounted point with a bunch of shared folders)
 
Still researching this subject …

Do you guys know how the “Move” command is handled in File Station ?

Is there any checksum verification done by the system after/during move to ensure that data is moved without errors / corruption ?

If i will stick to a single shared folder i have to move some data around.

Debating if i should move data within File Station (from one shared folder to another) … or re-copy everything over the network using an rsync tool like Carbon Copy Cloner with checksuming enabled.
 
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mv is simply renaming the file to its new location(which is why it happens almost instantly.) cp is actually creating a duplicate file, so mv is safer. This of course assumes you are moving or copying within the same file system, not between systems. There is no benefit to moving say from your laptop to the nas as far as safety is concerned, it has to copy the file which ever command is used.
I move files alot and have never had an issue.
 
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mv is simply renaming the file to its new location(which is why it happens almost instantly.) cp is actually creating a duplicate file, so mv is safer. This of course assumes you are moving or copying within the same file system, not between systems.
Thanks Paul !

Yes, moving data from just one shared folder to another within the same, single, BTRFS volume (same, single, storage pool).

I had the impression that BTRFS will actualy copy the data to the new shared folder following with a delete in the “old” one.
 
I can't say that I know the answer to that. This is the first system I've used with btrfs. You could be right. I will say, I copied a large file from one folder to another, the progress bar appeared and it took several seconds to complete the copy with the drive lights on the nas flashing all the while. I then moved the file to yet another folder and there was no progress bar and the lights flashed once, time to move almost instant. Seems to me that it's behaving the same as ext4 in this regard.
 
So far i came to this conclusion regarding shared folders ...

Multiple Shared Folders

BENEFITS


- better permission control. Permissions can be also set-up at the sub-folder lever with some drawbacks (not as "clean", user will be able to see folders he can't access etc.)

- better for multi-user environment where there is a need to segregate data and access based on users / departments

- better for "segregated" backup workflows: you can have various task backing up different shared folders to different locations and the management it's easier.

- better for "segregated" snapshots schedule: different snapshots schedule / retention policy for different shared folders

- a little better security thru obscurity: you don't expose everything on SMB, you can connect to data "vaults" (shared folders) as needed and/or keep some data completely un-exposed on the network. Mitigating a little bit of ransomware impact when it's coming from the network.

- better when you use the NAS for running services (docker, plex etc.) or using the Synology proprietary "media" app (photos, video, audio etc.) : you can have data "segregated" based on service and/or give permission settings per service at shared folder level (although, i'm not too keen to "expose" my main precious data vault to any of the service automatically, not even as read-only)

- data is a little bit more organized, being split into "big" categories / different utilities directly at root level.

DRAWBACKS

- A little cumbersome if you want to have all your data at your fingertips. You have to mount multiple shared folders all the time or automatically mount multiple ones on startup.

- If you like to use desktop shortcuts for "targets" (external drives etc.), your desktop will become cluttered with all the shared folders (you can't mount the NAS root, mounting has to be done at the individual shared folder level).

- If you have applications that needs data stored on NAS to be accessed on launch (ex: Lightroom, Backup Tasks) you have to automatically mount those needed multiple shared folders on startup, MANDATORY .... for a frustration free workflow.

- file operations between shared folder is slower: shared folder are "sub-volumes" at BTRFS level, so any data juggling between shared folders is "expensive". You have to decide your structure beforehand and make sure that you reside within a single shared folder in a particular workflow (no constant moving of files all the time between shared folders).

- because of the point above, if you try to restructure your data down the line you will need some additional space available, equal to the data being moved between the different shared folders. It doesn't work like a regular HDD where you can simply move the stuff from a folder to another, within the same space "footprint".

TIE

- there is no performance benefits or loss one way or the other (single vs multiple shared folders).

So far these are my conclusions. If i am being wrong somewhere, please correct me. I am still undecided whether i should keep my multiple shared folders structure or migrate everything under a single share.

I would LOVE to "see" on my desktop the entire NAS storage like a huge external HDD (mounted easy without iSCSI ).
 
mistd — I thank you for your summary. It captured everything I was thinking. For me, ease of use is the key. The problem is that certain programs expect to see shared folders — Plex for example (although I could be wrong on that). If I had to do it all over again, I would create one shared folder and put everything in that folder except the Plex files. Why? Nobody but me uses the NAS other than for Plex. I got frustrated after one too many times overwriting new files with old ones from work. So I created a central location where the NAS is the main location and everything is mirrored to my laptop and desktops, wherever I am. I have not had the file issue for 4 years now and it was worth the loss of speed (Direct access vs network access).

Stephen
 
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If I had to do it all over again, I would create one shared folder and put everything in that folder except the Plex files. Why? Nobody but me uses the NAS other than for Plex.
Thinking the same. I am a single user and i don't even want to use any services (like plex) on my main NAS.
If i will want any additional services i would use a separate server. In that case, yes, multiple shared folders makes perfect sense.

I want my main, irreplaceable data "vault", simple, minimal, super secure and "clean"

As far as i experienced since i got my first NAS before holidays, using a single shared folder is the only way to get that simple, "external-drive" type of experience on a NAS

You can go down the rabbit hole pretty easy with all kind of granularity, a bunch of services ... and soon you realize that you use your NAS also for making coffee every day. I did that :)
-- post merged: --

I use a shortcut on my PC desktop that opens up to all shared folders with one double-click. I don't map anything.
On the Mac can't do that. The only way to access the "root" of the NAS (viewing all the shared folders) is thru Finder.

But, still, the nas data is not "mounted" actually (the shared folders are not "visible" for other software )
For example, additional software like Lightroom doesn't see the files within the shared folder unless that specific shared folder is mounted.

It gets mounted only if you do it specifically or double-click on the shared folder within Finder.

I think on the PC is the same but unless you are referencing some files in some software you can't tell.
On PC i think you also have to mount a specific shared folder (i might be wrong here) in order to directly access it in let's say Adobe Premiere.

So on the Mac:
1. You mount each shared folder individually showing all of them on desktop.
2. Or ... you open Finder , click on the NAS under "Locations" ... double click on the desired shared folder that gets mounted afterwards. Then you can use the needed software like Lightroom. Otherwise Lightroom won't "see" the shared folder at all (since is not actually mounted)

You have to do this for each shared folder. If you use software that makes use of multiple different shared folders ... imagine the fun each time your start the computer. 😅

By having a single shared folder .... you mount that one automatically on startup, and Voila ! Here is your huge external hard drive available for all your tasks, apps, whatever.
 
On PC i think you also have to mount a specific shared folder (i might be wrong here) in order to directly access it in let's say Adobe Premiere.
Can't speak to Adobe, but opening a file in Microsoft Word, I have all shared folders available...
arzFy5U.png
 
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Can't speak to Adobe, but opening a file in Microsoft Word, I have all shared folders available...

Thanks for the screenshot ! I tried using the Adobe Lightroom's "import" dialog (similar to Word's "open file") and i can navigate to the NAS even if i don't have shared folders mounted (similar to what you experience on Windows).

I think there is a difference between using the "open file" window dialog in specific software (that triggers the OS's "explorer" functionality: Finder in the case of Mac, Windows Explorer for Windows) .... and having the software "library" or any other function working with files from a specific shared folder automatically.

Example - Adobe Lightroom on Mac
* I have all my photography RAW files stored in a "Photography" shared folder on NAS

1. I have connected to my NAS within Finder, i can see all shared folders but none are mounted yet.

nas_1.jpg


2. Lightroom will show the "Photography" shared folder as unavailable. Basically it can't see it.

lightroom_1.jpg


3. If i double-click a shared folder in Finder, this becomes "Mounted" (similar to maping it in Windows) ... see the "eject" button next to it. You can also have this auto-mount on startup, but it is individual, per shared folder (similar to windows)

nas_2.jpg


4. Now, since this shared folder is mounted, Lightroom will pick it up automatically (see the green light, and all folders available without the question mark).

Lightroom_2.jpg


5. The mounted shared folder also gets displayed on Mac desktop as a drive (if you configure Finder to show "connected servers" on desktop).

desktop_2.png


So basically, you have to actually mount individual shared folders in order for them to be used inside some software as a library, other functions etc.

For example, i experience the same thing with Carbon Copy Cloner (a mac backup tool similar to Acronis on Windows). If i don't have the backup shared folder mounted, the backup task will not see it.

In conclusion, you can imagine how frustrating this can be if you want all your NAS data available. Juggling with multiple shared folders, mounting some or all of them but keeping the clutter out of desktop etc.

Using a single shared folder: You just mount that one single point and that's it .... all your NAS is available to the desktop in the proper way.
 
One negative of putting it all in one folder versus separate shared folders is if you ever want to use Synology Drive to locally sync files to your Mac (eg like drop box).

Synology Drive is good for syncing about 500,000 files, and above that, there be dragons and it starts to poop itself.

For those that have a lot of files, that means you must break up your files to load-balance not having more than about 500,000 files in any one shared folder.

If you are just mounting file systems, this is somewhat irrelevant. But I use my Synology Drive to keep my desktop and laptop drives somewhat in sync.
 
It is possible to create a share which provides access to every other share.

Years ago, before dsm offloaded move operation across shares to the nas, I created a script to either bind mount or symlink shares into a single share. Whenever I moved files across shares, the where copied through my workstation. This script prevented that files were copied through my workstation:

Code:
#!/bin/bash
#
# Save this file in a terminal: /usr/syno/etc.defaults/rc.d/S99ZZZ_customize.sh
# chmod 755 /usr/syno/etc.defaults/rc.d/S99ZZZ_customize.sh
#
# mount/bind some folders on startup and umount them on shutdown/reboot (http://www.synology-wiki.de/index.php/Mount_Bind)
# Write to system log, event ids in /usr/syno/synosdk/texts/enu/events (http://forum.synology.com/enu/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=6396)

# source:target:mode, 0 = mount bind, 1 = symlink
MOUNT[0]="/volume1/data1/:/volume1/all/data1/:0"
MOUNT[1]="/volume1/data2/:/volume1/all/data2/:0"
MOUNT[2]="../../data3:/volume1/all/symlink/data3:1"

function _check_root {
    if [ "$(id -u)" != "0" ];then
        /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys err 0x11800000 "$0: script must be run as root!"
        echo "$0: script must be run as root!"
        exit 1
    fi
}
function _mount {

    mode="${1}"
    source="${2}"
    target="${3}"

    if [ "${mode}" == "0" ];then
        # match regardless if trailing slash was used or not
        grep "${target%/}" /proc/mounts  > /dev/null 2>&1
        is_mounted=$?
        if [ "${is_mounted}" == "0" ]; then
            /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys warn 0x11800000 "$0: ${target} already mounted"
        else
            /bin/mkdir -p "${target%/}"
            /bin/mount --bind "${source%/}" "${target%/}"
            mount_ok=$?
            if [ "${mount_ok}" == "0" ]; then
                /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys info 0x11800000 "$0: Mounted ${source} to ${target}"
            else
                /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys err 0x11800000 "$0: mount failed: could not mount --bind ${source} to ${target}"
            fi
        fi
    else
        if [ -e "${target}" ]; then
             current_source=$(readlink "${target}")
             if [ "${current_source}" == "${source}" ];then
                /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys warn 0x11800000 "$0: symlink ${target} already up to date"
             else
                ln -sf "${source}" "${target}"
                /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys warn 0x11800000 "$0: symlink $target updated from ${current_source} to ${source}"       
             fi
        else
            ln -sf "${source}" "${target}"
            /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys info 0x11800000 "$0: symlink $target created from ${source}"       
         fi
    fi
    return
}

function _unmount {

    mode="${1}"
    source="${2}"
    target="${3}"

    if [ "${mode}" == "0" ];then
        # match regardless if trailing slash was used or not
        grep "${target%/}" /proc/mounts > /dev/null 2>&1
        is_mounted=$?
        if [ "${is_mounted}" == "0" ]; then
            /bin/umount "${target}"
            if [ -d "${target%/}" ];then
                            /bin/rmdir "${target%/}"
fi
            /usr/syno/bin/synologset1 sys info 0x11800000 "$0: Unmounted ${target}"
        else
            /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys warn 0x11800000 "$0: ${target} was not mounted, nothing to do"
        fi
    else
        if [ -e "${target}" ]; then
             current_source=$(readlink "${target}")
             if [ "${current_source}" == "${source}" ];then
                unlink "${target}"
                /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys info 0x11800000 "$0: symlink $target removed"       
             else
                /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys warn 0x11800000 "$0: symlink ${target} points to ${current_source} but should point to ${source}, skipped unlink"
             fi
        else
            /usr/syno/bin/synologset1  sys warn 0x11800000 "$0: symlink ${target} does not exists, nothing to do"
         fi
   
    fi
    return
}

case $1 in

start)

    _check_root

    for ((i = 0; i < ${#MOUNT[@]}; i++)); do
        while IFS=':' read -r source target mode; do
            _mount "${mode}" "${source}" "${target}"
        done <<< "${MOUNT[$i]}"   
    done
    ;;

stop)

    _check_root
   
    for ((i = ${#MOUNT[@]} - 1 ; i >= 0; i--)); do
        while IFS=':' read -r source target mode; do
            _unmount "${mode}" "${source}" "${target}"
        done <<< "${MOUNT[$i]}"   
    done
    ;;

*)
    echo "Usage: $0 [start|stop]"
    ;;

esac

The script will bind or create symlinks in the order they are listed and unmount them in the opposite order.

If I am not mistaken DSM6 started to offload the move operation, so I stopped using the script. It should still work, but I am not sure with DSM7 if files in rc.d are still processed on boot.
 
Whenever I moved files across shares, the where copied through my workstation.

Ooops, that is bad. I never thought that will be the case.
I had the impression when you move files via SMB between different shared folders, the move will actually happen on the nas and not having files traveling over the network to your PC and back to the other shared folder.

One more reason to think about. Thanks for the insight.

PS: I kind of stayed away from all kind of "artificial" linking inside the filesystem. I want to keep things as "native" and "clean" as possible.
 

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