The ten MUST HAVE apps for any new Synology user

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The ten MUST HAVE apps for any new Synology user

Operating system
  1. macOS
Mobile operating system
  1. iOS
In a previous thread, one of the long-timers said (I think as a joke) that we should start this thread. I think we should. There seems to be a number of apps that most people need to get up and running. My question is... what are they? Thoughts?

If your buddy offered you a bottle of scotch/wine/coffee/whatever and said, "hey, setup up my NAS for me would ya" what are the ten apps you'd install on their box?
Beyond, VPN server, Snapshot and replication, Docker, HyperBackup, Drive and VMM, I use a lot of Docker image to expand my needs.

There are just a few. Have about 30-40 apps depending on the "need"
for me


are the necessities

- Drive
- Active Backup for Business

these in case you don't have another better way to backup your PCs or servers

- Photostation
- Calendar
- Contacts
- NoteStation

are nice caddies if you need / like them

- VPN server

a must have, BUT I see adventages running it at the router/firewall

there are a lot more depending on one's needs (like Unifi Controller as an example )
It really depends on everyone’s needs, but on my NAS is:
  • Hyper Backup
  • Snapshot Replication
  • CardDAV
  • Calendar
  • Note Station
  • Synology Drive
  • Plex
  • Docker (with a bunch of services)

Stopped using Moments and currently only uploading photos from mobile via DS file. Waiting for Photos in DSM 7 if it will be better. Don't like how Moments create folders for each day in File Station...

Next thing is to set up Active Backup for Business.
It really depends on everyone’s needs

  1. Audio Station/DS audio: it can stream direct to UPnP/DLNA speaker and Airplay (hey even my Airplay 2 Apple TVs are working again when PIN access is enabled), plus Casting ... never tried this.
  2. Media Server*: music serving to my HEOS devices.
  3. Plex*: because it works well and tags easier than VS. A pity it doesn't support Airplay.
  4. Video Station/DS video: cos the family finally use this in preference to iTunes library content (cos I stopped updating that).
  5. Moments: I'm lazy and just want something similar to Apple iCloud/Photos.
  6. Synology Drive: Works for my needs and is enough original Dropbox-y now that Dropbox is bloated and a client resource hog.
  7. Note Station/DS note: For recording stuff like a note/scratch pad... unix and setup commands that I'll forget.
  8. Docker: for those unpackaged applications that are useful to try out and/or keep.
  9. Hyper Backup: all the data needs protecting off-NAS.

That's nine and I can't decide which is the last one:
  • DNS Server: run an internal server so that I can access devices by a simple name and also bypass Internet resolution for my home domain.
  • VPN Server: if I didn't run VPN Plus server on SRM router then this would be it.
  • Mail Server/Mail Station: as a mail archive for emails forwarded from Internet services (set firewalls to only allow SMTP in from those Internet servers).
  • Web Station: if nothing else then to ensure that DSM doesn't listen on HTTP 80/HTTPS 443.

I run but only out of curiosity the calendar, CardDAV/Contacts, etc services. For now iCloud is enough and I don't get the extra hassle to support that too.

*Media Server is preferred over Plex's DLNA server because I can configure the menus to provide only music. If Plex was more configurable (I still use age classification access control to video) then I might use it instead.
If your buddy offered you a bottle of scotch/wine/coffee/whatever and said, "hey, setup up my NAS for me would ya" what are the ten apps you'd install on their box?

I'd then ask back: 'What are all the things you want to get out of it'?
And talk about the possibilities.

Only then I can tell which (Docker) Apps to run on it.
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For me I’ll just add to most of the above (since no one mentioned it), Surveillance Station. I’m also using Emby media server.
But it really depends on your needs.
Finally, a few weeks ago I've added Virtual Machine Manager from the Synology Package center (on DS720+, which I really like). I've installed DSM7 there with VPN always on. Use it only for Download Station. Maybe I'll add Docker to install and try some other download apps via Docker.

I've also added the Web Station, MariaDB, and phpMyAdmin to play with XenForo forum software on my NAS. It works quite well.
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My list (above) is quite dated now, so a revision is due:
  • Docker
  • Synology Contacts (for CardDAV alone)
  • Synology Calendar (for CalDAV alone)
  • Plex (sourced from
  • Tailscale (sourced from developer site)
I run many packages through docker. In addition, I use third-party sync/backup tools, such as Syncovery, Rclone, and Duplicacy.

Synology packages I once tried but have long since been uninstalled include Audio Station, Video Station, Active Backup for Business, Cloud Sync, Synology Drive, Synology Office, Download Station, Snapshot Replication... As for Hyper Backup, I use it solely to keep a regular backup of my configuration.
I’ll say Navidrome (Docker container) instead of Audio Station. Free, open source, easy to install, easy to maintain, multiuser support and a beautiful interface.

Mobile apps are available for iOS and Android, some are free.

Minor Disadvantages:
No podcast support yet (but can be addressed with a separate podcast downloader).
Doesn’t show folders so a tag editor app is a must to tidy scattered albums.

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