Synology Phase 02 – The Drive

4TB WD RedSo I’ve been sitting on my Synology NAS for not quite a month now.  I had already stuck a spare 250gb drive in it just for the sake of using the thing some and getting to play around with some of the software.  I’ll touch on the software more in a future post, though the short is, I’m pretty impressed with everything except the Surveillance Station.

I was going to wait a bit longer to pick up the drives but “fake” using it really had me wanting to REALLY use it.

To really use a NAS, especially as a RAID, you can’t just put any drive into the enclosure, RAID drives are designed to withstand a much more frequent number of reads to help keep them alive for longer periods.  They are designed to be more robust in general since chances are the user will really be relying on them for potentially sensitive data (say, a business keeping business records).  My only apprehension about this is that I replace an awful lot of drives in the servers at work, especially the HUGE arrays that serve video.  On the other hand, these are machines that are pushing content to hundreds or thousands of people at once so the usage on these drives is probably pretty astronomical.  It’s not really apples to apples.

I’ve had a bit of an internal debate on which drives to get, and it generally comes down to price, reliability, and size.  Price is a factor f the other two points, more expensive tends to be better.  Size is a mater of needs, so that really just leaves reliability.  Everything I have seen, and I mean EVERYTHING from recommendations on Amazon to 4chan threads on /g/ to Reddit search results and posts and random message boards says, “Western Digital Reds”.  My only apprehension on the Reds is that Newegg’s reviews section is riddled with people complaining of failures.  Everything on New Egg goes counter to what I see elsewhere on WD Red drives.  I almost went with another brand but I decided to go with the WD Red drives.

I also almost cut down to 3TB drives.  They are $50-$60 cheaper and do I REALLY need 4TB.  I had to remind myself that yes, I really need the 4TB and the reality is, for the long haul, I SHOULD be buying 6TB drives, which is the largest this unit will support (I think).

So then there is the matter of the drive swap itself.  This didn’t quite work out as smoothly as expected, though if I had been putting two drives in instead of just trying to transition to one larger drive things would have gone better.  I had already been using one drive and had set up several things on this drive.  I inserted the new drive in the empty bay and then set both drives up as a mirrored array.  Wait a few minutes for the sync to happen, then remove the small older drive.

This is where there was some hang up.  Removing the small drive caused the NAS to believe a drive had failed.  i didn’t want to leave it like this and I don’t have a second 4TB drive to stick in there yet.  Unfortunately, there also is no way to break a 2 disk array back down into a single disk configuration.  This mean that as far as the NAS was concerned, there was a 250gb drive involved, which was the max size it would let me use.

I ended up having to dump all the files off to a separate storage and reinitialize the array with the single 4TB drive, then re copy and reconfigure everything.  Not a horrible pain but kind of annoying.