Friday, February 21, 2014


Just picked up an APC CS500 UPS to float the NAS drive.  Only 500VA but all I'm supporting is the NAS chassis itself to protect against hard shutdown and surges - if nothing else, 16 hour array parity checks will suck.  That will provide about 50 minutes of runtime, and all I need it to do is provide 2 mins for a polite shutdown.

Has USB comms to the chassis, and the chassis will also return-signal the UPS to go into sleep mode as a last-gasp function so the UPS doesn't drain itself and offer no protection on mains restore.

Joys of compatible hardware:  plug in and fire up the NAS.  Check the detected hardware and tick "enable NAS" and select low-battery shutdown threshold.  Tick e-mail notifications.  Chassis e-mails me to tell me the UPS is only, 92% battery and charging, estimated 2146s to battery EOD if required.  Job done.

The only small gripe is that APC insist on using an RJ-50 10P10C interface for the client device connectivity.  Theoretically, this allows support for USB, RS-232 and 10xBase-T SNMP comms for client connectivity with the device directly, remotely, via network cascaded device etc.  In reality, this makes APC corporate pricks who then charge $35 for a USB cable with an RJ-50 terminator on the end of it.

Luckily, the pinout is child's play to understand, and RJ-50 terminators and crimpers are a few dollars from [danger-time sink] - but I also just found I can get APC-compatible cables all nicely premade with injection moulded boots etc from evilBay for $25 for 3, just in case I trash one.

$109 at Scorptec, and batteries are only $32.  Value.

Also grabbed a WD MyBook 3TB USB drive for critical oh-shit-sky-falling backups.  The NAS has a software package that allows file structure level backup jobs to be configured, with either new time-and-date stamped backups, or incremental, with or without deprecated file retention.  And it mounts the WD device natively as an expansion drive so it's fully readable either through the NAS DSM desktop interface, or from a remote Windows client mapping.  Sweet.

WD external drives come in several variants, which WD are a bit obscure about explaining.

MyBook - basic disk-inna-box, some useless software that I deleted
MyBook Essentials - extra $20 for licenced backup software which I don't want
Elements - MyBook, but with hardware-based disk encryption, which means it's impossible to rip the drive out of a failed chassis and mount it in a PC for data recovery.

Guess which version I purchased???

I do remember reading that one variant also supports idle spin-down, but I have NFI which one considering that was at 4:15am, and given I'll only connect the thing up for scheduled backup - meh.

The DSM interface only allows formatting as FAT32 or EXTx, but is quite happy to read/write to NTFS as long as it's been formatted from a Windows box, so that's what happened.  (It actually comes out of the box as NTFS, but there's a bunch of system crap which DSM couldn't get rid of.  A format seemed the solution, and since I wanted NTFS for large file support, onto a Windows boxen it went.)

Next step - throughput test!  SHR1 5-disk array as the source, WD MyBook on native USB3.0 interface directly onto the Synology chassis as the target, transfer scheduled from DSM so it's not via the client Windows machine.

5GB .mkv file - 65 seconds.

Made up a backup job targetting 109GB of data across dog alone knows how many files - I didn't time this one, but by the time I got a glass of claret, wrestled with the dogs a bit, and annoyed the handbrake enough that she told me to go back and play in my office and stop annoying her (win!) - it was done.  Sounds good to me, and it's all in conventional file structure too, so it's directly readable to Windows.

$159, excellent value for the money.


Interestingly, my first reaction with the perceived need for a tinfoil-hat grade backup for the backups was to go classic - buy an external enclosure and bung a HDD in it.

That is, apparently, old school thinking these days.

A decent Welland or Vantec enclosure is about $40-50, and then a reputable (Samsung or WD, we don't do die-for-no-reason Seagate) 3TB drive is about $140, even in a "green" variant.  That's at least $180 for the same solution, compared to $159 for the out-of-the-box WD MyBook.  I don't know why you'd bother, and indeed, I didn't.

The clincher is the presence of two USB3.0 ports on the NAS.  It also has two eSATA ports, but I (think I) only have one eSATA on my desktop mobo, and it's on the backplane, so CBF really.  I certainly could find a USB2.0/3.0/eSATA enclosure for $50 - at least not a Happy Flying Panda branded one.  eSATA might get up one of these days, but I'm not expecting to see it anytime soon - I suspect that the convenience demand driven wireless USB standard will beat into submission, or at least relegate it to nice-idea-remember-that status like Laserdisc (last known sighting - video store, Hyde Park centre Townsville, circa 1995).

Seems like some of the old enthusiast skills are now being supplanted by demand and convenience?  You don't even have to just damn well *know* that WD drives won't mount as a single drive on a parallel cable without the jumper set to CS anymore (no, master/single will *not* work) to play.  Wossis SATA PNP crap??

I'm torn between whether this is convenience making our lives easier, or expedience dumbing them down.

It does seem easy. though.

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