Personal Cloud space at home | a Synology 213+ review

Lately, I’ve been interested in personal cloud technology. NAS devices have come a long way from the dumb storage boxes of the past. These days, higher end consumer grade NAS devices provides applications that are fairly useful to “power” users. The product I ended up selecting was a Synology 213+ 2 bay NAS device. This unit offers several functions where I could consolidate a number of previously decentralized data at home. I’ll provide an overview of how my setup is laid out.

The central point is the Synology 213+ unit. There are more powerful versions of the product, but considering my budget, this was the one that fit the bill for my installation. The original goal was to provide backups for some 40,000+ pictures and hundreds of personal videos captured from my DSLR. The idea was to consolidate my pictures from my desktop 15k photos and 25k photo’s on my laptop into one place. I’ve been using aperture for the most part, but I wanted to switch to Adobe Lightroom, since I use Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 on my desktop.

After looking around the internet I came across the Synology line up and then realized how far NAS products have changed. They allow for personal streaming content as well as automated backups to the “cloud”, in this case Amazon Glacier, where 1GB of cold storage costs $0.01 / month, which is pretty cheap. So I began reading more and found that I could centralize my documents, photos, video, music, and even my code repository on the NAS and then send it to the could as an off-site backup. I haven’t really come across something that would do everything I wanted up until I found this product. Before, I would put my photos and videos on smugmug, documents on google drive, code repository on github. All of which was fairly time consuming to organize and synchronize.

My setup:

I bought the Synology 213+, 2x3TB Western Digital Red drives, and downloaded the Synology apps. Ultimately, I went with RAID 0 since its a 2 bay drive and I wanted the space and performance. My data redundancy comes from uploading the most important content to Amazon Glacier. My rational is that I am keeping the most important stuff there, not dvd rips or other things like that. I wouldn’t recommend this unit if your main purpose is to watch video/movies and make it a media center. This is more of a jack of all trades for me. There are some compromises I made in my decision but my usage is mainly for personal memories that I would not want to lose if my place were to burn down.

Cost:

  • Synology 213+: $299
  • WD 3TB Red drives: $134
  • Total: $568 for 5.5 TB usable space.
    I couldn’t justify spending an extra $200 for 2 more drive bays, that I wasn’t planning on using. If anything I will just get another unit later and reprovision or sell it.

Things that caught my attention:

  • Port Forwarding
  • Apps Used: Cloud Station, Audio Station, Backup Glacier, Plex, Video Station, File Station,
  • Synology MyDS DDNS service which is provided free by Synology. If you already have a domain, you could point a CNAME to the your.synology.me ddns address for free.
  • Setup Directory Structure and Users
  • Setup Amazon Glacier

The unit I got the 213+ isn’t an intel processor, so there are some performance limitations. The 413+ or 713+ is better equipped if you want to use it as a media center, but like I said that was not my original goal. The 213+ uses less power and I won’t really be using the streaming, but a big plus for being able to stream and then display on Apple TV via Airplay.

Performance:

The performance is pretty good in terms of throughput with approx 20mbps-70mbps, but the initial setup with the disk consistency check takes forever. The initial upload of data to Glacier takes forever too. After that though, the unit performs well.

The java based UI is pretty good and very clean. Overall, I like the idea of having a personal cloud and putting all my crap into one place where I’m in control and someone else doesn’t really own my content. The Media station was also a pleasant surprise, but not something I would intend to use regularly via cloud but the documents and photographs are a nice thing to have around when I want. I really like the device and would recommend it to others who are looking to consolidate data for all your devices; laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets to keep all the data in sync and most importantly, backed up, which was the original goal in the first place… It is a little costly, but for me its worth it.

Other alternative NAS devices are made by Drobo, ReadyNAS, WD, Buffalo, and Lacie, but I found Synology had the best reviews for the apps I wanted to use.

A valuable lesson…

The last post I wrote back in February, I wanted to create a training plan. Shortly after that post, I went snowboarding and tore the supraspinatus in my right rotator cuff and injured my knee. It was a freak accident that sidelined me. The injury was pretty bad to my shoulder and this was coming off a torn calf muscle in December from Muay Thai, my body hasn’t been very cooperative with my efforts to exercise, but after time everything heals.

In July, a friend of mine during dinner made a comment that changed everything. She said to me, “did you just get your wisdom teeth pulled out?”. Apparently, after my injuries I had let myself go more than I had thought. I did not get my wisdom teeth pulled out. Shortly after, I went on a road trip with another friend and he made the comment, “oh man, you have man boobs!”. After that, it was on… We decided to make a bet on who could reach 15% bodyfat by October. Before we started, we decided to get our bodyfat checked with one of those mobile water dunking services. I was shocked to see that my bodyfat was 22.1%, my weight was 201 lbs. and my friend was at 22.9%. From there, I started building my plan to get back into shape. I broke it down and figured I’d do some other things in my “reboot”. I wanted to get fit so I could do triathlons again, and I took the opportunity since to adjust a few things.

At first, I did the usual, I was running and going to the gym, but as usual that rarely works for chronically chubby guys. So instead, I decided to get on a plan or modified plan so to speak. My shoulder was still injured and my doctor recommended that I not lift heavy weights for bench, over 100 lbs., so that was a limitation and I couldn’t swim. Try not to swim in a triathlon, it doesn’t work. Taking that into consideration, I was researching the best exercises to get back into shape. I used to do crossfit and I enjoyed it, but my physical condition limited me in a lot of ways and I didn’t want to pay all that money if I couldn’t go 100% at crossfit. It was then I found, Stronglifts 5×5. That program focused mainly on compound movements, which I learned the movements from my time doing crossfit and really enjoyed.

Strength – Stronglifts 5×5

This program focuses mainly on strength building. The workout is fairly simple and alternates 3x a week.

StrongLifts 5×5 Workout A StrongLifts 5×5 Workout B
Squat 5×5 Squat 5×5
Bench Press 5×5 Overhead Press 5×5
Barbell Rows 5×5 Deadlift 1×5

I ended up modifying it a little bit because I didn’t want to do just those exercises, so I added bench press, clean & jerks, and front squats. For the bench press, I started with just the bar and worked up to 135 lbs, I won’t go heavier than that until my should feels better. Under this program, I’ve gained a considerable amount of strength. My shoulder is still healing and building strength. I only do what I can handle and not very heavy with anything overhead. Over the course of 8 weeks, I was able to build my deadlift back up to 365 x 2 and backsquat 315 lbs. I didn’t try to go higher than that since I’m happy where that is right now. Generally, I’ll stay around 225 and go for sets and gradually decrease my rest period. Every other week, I’ll push it one day to 285 lbs. Cleans I went from 45lbs, to 155 for sets. Jerks 45 lbs to 135 lbs, my limit for anything overhead.

Cardio

I was running 2-3 mile every other day but not getting the results I wanted so I adjusted that a little. I still run an average of 3 miles per run between 8-12 minutes, and added interval running. I started off with 1 mile and worked my way up to 3 miles at interval. For my long runs, I go up to 4 miles but still haven’t gone beyond that. Prior to my injuries, I did 10k’s and half marathons, so I’m still not where I’d like to be, but I’m getting there.

I also added in cycling with the same premise. Some long rides 25+ miles and some intervals 16 miles of varying speed. Usually 1 long ride and 1 interval ride and I’ll alternate with the running to spare my knees from the constant pounding.

Nutrition

Up until the last couple of days, I’ve been watching what I eat, but no really tightened up my diet. I haven’t lost any weight with a consistent regimen of healthy food, strength training, and cardio. The last mile I decided to really develop my nutrition goals. I’m on a restricted caloric intake of 1800 calories with a 40/40/20 split. The current restriction, I’m losing about .4 lbs a day which is reasonable for 22% bodyfat. I’m not doing this without help and guidance. I’m currently under the myfitfoods.com program to achieve my nutritional goals. I decided to take the 21 day challenge, which I might extend if it proves valuable.

I also started doing Hot Yoga and was able to finally swim again after 7 months of being sidelined. In addition to the changes above, I also quit smoking. I glad I haven’t gained any weight from smoking. Most articles I’ve read usually tell stories of weight gain of up to 10 lbs following quitting smoking.

More to come later…

A valuable lesson…

The last post I wrote back in February, I wanted to create a training plan. Shortly after that post, I went snowboarding and tore the supraspinatus in my right rotator cuff and injured my knee. It was a freak accident that sidelined me. The injury was pretty bad to my shoulder and this was coming off a torn calf muscle in December from Muay Thai, my body hasn’t been very cooperative with my efforts to exercise, but after time everything heals.

In July, a friend of mine during dinner made a comment that changed everything. She said to me, “did you just get your wisdom teeth pulled out?”. Apparently, after my injuries I had let myself go more than I had thought. I did not get my wisdom teeth pulled out. Shortly after, I went on a road trip with another friend and he made the comment, “oh man, you have man boobs!”. After that, it was on… We decided to make a bet on who could reach 15% bodyfat by October. Before we started, we decided to get our bodyfat checked with one of those mobile water dunking services. I was shocked to see that my bodyfat was 22.1%, my weight was 201 lbs. and my friend was at 22.9%. From there, I started building my plan to get back into shape. I broke it down and figured I’d do some other things in my “reboot”. I wanted to get fit so I could do triathlons again, and I took the opportunity since to adjust a few things.

At first, I did the usual, I was running and going to the gym, but as usual that rarely works for chronically chubby guys. So instead, I decided to get on a plan or modified plan so to speak. My shoulder was still injured and my doctor recommended that I not lift heavy weights for bench, over 100 lbs., so that was a limitation and I couldn’t swim. Try not to swim in a triathlon, it doesn’t work. Taking that into consideration, I was researching the best exercises to get back into shape. I used to do crossfit and I enjoyed it, but my physical condition limited me in a lot of ways and I didn’t want to pay all that money if I couldn’t go 100% at crossfit. It was then I found, Stronglifts 5×5. That program focused mainly on compound movements, which I learned the movements from my time doing crossfit and really enjoyed.

Strength – Stronglifts 5×5

This program focuses mainly on strength building. The workout is fairly simple and alternates 3x a week.

StrongLifts 5×5 Workout A StrongLifts 5×5 Workout B
Squat 5×5 Squat 5×5
Bench Press 5×5 Overhead Press 5×5
Barbell Rows 5×5 Deadlift 1×5

I ended up modifying it a little bit because I didn’t want to do just those exercises, so I added bench press, clean & jerks, and front squats. For the bench press, I started with just the bar and worked up to 135 lbs, I won’t go heavier than that until my should feels better. Under this program, I’ve gained a considerable amount of strength. My shoulder is still healing and building strength. I only do what I can handle and not very heavy with anything overhead. Over the course of 8 weeks, I was able to build my deadlift back up to 365 x 2 and backsquat 315 lbs. I didn’t try to go higher than that since I’m happy where that is right now. Generally, I’ll stay around 225 and go for sets and gradually decrease my rest period. Every other week, I’ll push it one day to 285 lbs. Cleans I went from 45lbs, to 155 for sets. Jerks 45 lbs to 135 lbs, my limit for anything overhead.

Cardio

I was running 2-3 mile every other day but not getting the results I wanted so I adjusted that a little. I still run an average of 3 miles per run between 8-12 minutes, and added interval running. I started off with 1 mile and worked my way up to 3 miles at interval. For my long runs, I go up to 4 miles but still haven’t gone beyond that. Prior to my injuries, I did 10k’s and half marathons, so I’m still not where I’d like to be, but I’m getting there.

I also added in cycling with the same premise. Some long rides 25+ miles and some intervals 16 miles of varying speed. Usually 1 long ride and 1 interval ride and I’ll alternate with the running to spare my knees from the constant pounding.

Nutrition

Up until the last couple of days, I’ve been watching what I eat, but no really tightened up my diet. I haven’t lost any weight with a consistent regimen of healthy food, strength training, and cardio. The last mile I decided to really develop my nutrition goals. I’m on a restricted caloric intake of 1800 calories with a 40/40/20 split. The current restriction, I’m losing about .4 lbs a day which is reasonable for 22% bodyfat. I’m not doing this without help and guidance. I’m currently under the myfitfoods.com program to achieve my nutritional goals. I decided to take the 21 day challenge, which I might extend if it proves valuable.

I also started doing Hot Yoga and was able to finally swim again after 7 months of being sidelined. In addition to the changes above, I also quit smoking. I glad I haven’t gained any weight from smoking. Most articles I’ve read usually tell stories of weight gain of up to 10 lbs following quitting smoking.

More to come later…