Backup strategy and Synology Online backup

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Backup strategy and Synology Online backup

I’m happy to see that more users are starting to use NAS devices (Network Attached Storage) to store and share their data, music, photos and videos within a household. Many people choose for a setup with a RAID 1 configuration which means that they have installed 2 harddisks that hold a copy of each others data (mirroring). Within a RAID 1 configuration, one harddisk can fail while the other still holds the data. You replace the faulty drive and your system / NAS is up and running again without any dataloss (usually you can still use it while one drive is faulty).

This RAID 1 protection is one step in safeguarding your data but, depending on your needs, you might want to think about additional protection. Now you are asking, why should I? Because think about what will happen when lightning strikes ruining you electrical devices, your house catches fire or a virus on your computer that starts deleting all data on your NAS. When you delete data, it is also removed from a Raid 1 configuration.


There are some additional measures you can take to avoid data loss:

  • Create a backup on external HDD (electrical device that will die when lightning strikes!)
  • Create a backup on CD/DVD/BluRay disks (your drive may die, but your disk will probably survive)
  • Store the external HDD and/or CD/DVD/BluRay disks on another location (when your building burns down)
  • Create an online backup

The first 3 options are probably no rocket science for you but the last one, create an online backup, might be.

I devide online backup in two area’s.

  1. Online storage services like dropbox, skydrive, strato Hidrive.
  2. Online sharing services like i.e. Flickr, Picasa, etc

I have written an article before about using Flickr as a backup facility for your photos which you can find here. Many other solutions are available like dropbox and Live Skydrive. In this article I want to focus more an a specific solution I use for backing up my data online. I describe a specific solution for the Synology NAS devices in combination with Strato Hidrive. This might inspire you to find a similar solution for you NAS device.

My backup strategy

First I have to make a difference between online sychronization and online backup. A synchronization means that your data is always in sync. When you update a file, that updated version is available, the old version is gone. If you delete a file, the file will also be deleted from the online storage !
A backup means that a version of your data of a specific moment in time is available. This means, if you create a backup every day, you will have the old version of a file in the backup of yesterday and the new version of that file in the backup of tonight.

Fortunately, depending on your synchronizations software, there are options to NOT delete files that are being deleted on the host system.

The above is important to understand.

My backup strategy consists of a RAID 1 setup, an additional external harddisk with a copy of the NAS data being synchronized every 2 days. An online synchronization of specific data folders without removal of deleted files is performed every night and periodically I create a backup of specific data on Bluray disks which I store remotely too. I recently upgraded to bluray because the amount of data became to much to use DVD’s.

How to setup your synology NAS with Rsync and Strato Hidrive

I am using a Synology NAS DS207+ with DSM 3.0 installed. This should work the same on every Synology using DSM 3.0. The online storage I use is hosted at Strato which offers packages of 20-1000 GB of data. You need Rsync functionality that is offered starting at the 100GB package. Rsync is the synchronization tool that is build into the Synology.

First of all you need a Strato Hidrive with the appropriate size. Check out and find Hidrive. Order the package (or Trial) with the appropriate size. Remember you need Rsync functionality that starts at the 100GB package!

In the Hidrive admin panel, create a new user account and assign it rights to use ‘Rsync over SSH’. The directory that is being created for this user account is in my case /users/username/
I created a subfolder manualy that is named ‘rsync’ like: /users/username/rsync. You can do this using the filemanager of Hidrive. The online backup will be placed in this subfolder (it’s optional because the synology creates a subfolder with the name of your Synology too).

In the Synology go to the admin panel and choose the dropdown list (top left corner) and select ‘Create and restore backup’ (I have the Dutch version so I don’t know the exact English translations). Then choose to create a backup. You will see a wizard guiding you through the proces.

Enter a name of the backup (my online backup) and click next. Then choose ‘Network Backup (rsync compatible server). (you see there is also an option to create an online backup to another synology NAS at i.e. a friends place).

Then enter servername or Ip addres:
BackupModule (path): /users/username/rsync
Add your username and password of the account you created above.

I also flagged the encryption and compression option. I flagged the backup on block level too.

A very important option is the ‘Do not remove backup files’. When you leave this unflagged, a file deleted from the NAS will also be deleted from the online storage. When you flag it, deleted files will remain on the online storage so you have a backup of the file. So now and then I open the settings of the backup and unflag this option, have one backup made and flag it again. This makes that deleted files are indeed being removed. I only do this when I’m 100% sure that I don’t need it anymore (when are you 100% sure??)

You also have to select all folders that you want to synchronize to the online storage. I only backup the things I cannot recover like documents and photos.  Decide on this in relation to the costs of the online storage packages.

Then you have to select a backup schedule which should be depending on the frequency that you update your files. I do a daily backup because I expect changes every day and besides, when nothing has changed, nothing is being updated!

The same procedure can be used to create a regular backup on an external harddisk. In this case choose local backup instead of network backup!

With this article I hope to inspire you to think about your backup strategy. To many people have lost their data because of ignorance or slackness.

By |2016-10-30T21:20:17+00:00February 23rd, 2011|Computer How-To, Lifehacking, Tech|15 Comments

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  1. […] there is no valid excuse to not have a decent backup. I wrote an article about online backup using a NAS (network attached storage) a while ago and there are several other solutions available […]

  2. Tino July 13, 2011 at 12:48 - Reply

    Dank voor de info. Ik heb ook eens even een bezoekje gedaan aan Strato. Dit artikel heeft me erg geholpen.

  3. Reg September 12, 2011 at 23:19 - Reply

    Hi Alexander,
    Thanks for a good article. I have the trial HiDrive service from Strato including Rsync capability. I am trying to set this up on my synology DS209. I have followed you instructions however whenever I type anything in the “backup module” field it disappears after a couple of seconds. Also the drop down within the “backup module” field is blank. As far as I understand the “backup module” should point to the folder where the backup will occur. Any assistance appreciated.

    • Alexander September 13, 2011 at 09:01 - Reply

      Hi Reg,
      I’ve send you an answer by email.
      For other people interested: /users/username/rsync is the folder that I have in the ‘Backup Module’ field.Where username is the hidrive username that you use on the hidrive site too to access your files.

  4. Alan Falck May 19, 2012 at 11:05 - Reply

    Hi Alex

    One major problem with Synology ‘Local Backup’ onto say USB HDD is if you use restore points the hard links (symbolic links) cant be preserved on an external HDD so each restore point is extracted to is full original size. So if you have 100Gb of data on 5 restore points the primary storage is the first full and 4 x deferential backups the Local backup is 5 x 100 GB of data. Any suggestions on how to overcome this. PS I tried TAR but its not feasible on large data sets as you cant open the ‘index’

    • Alexander May 24, 2012 at 22:27 - Reply

      Hi Alan,
      unfortunately, I don’t know how to solve this. You might want to post your question in the Synology User forum.
      Best regards,

  5. Arne June 13, 2012 at 18:46 - Reply

    Hi. Is there a way to backing up your lap-top while on travel, to the NAS located back home? Or place a NAS-drive in someone elses home (for example, i place mine at a friend, and vice versa), to get the backup at another location, and from one network via the internet, to another network?

    If you understand what i mean?

    Thanks, Arne.

    • Alexander June 13, 2012 at 22:39 - Reply

      Hi Arne,
      There are several solutions for your questions.
      The new Synology DSM 4 offers ‘Personal Cloud’ which is kind of DropBox functionality. You have a Personal Cloud folder on your windows PC which will be synced with a folder on the NAS. In case you go offline you still have your files locally available. When you are online, it will sync the contents of that folder. This is not really a backup but it is a way to have your files on your NAS too while you create something on the go.

      To create a backup when you are on travel, you have several options. It depends on what and how much you want to backup. You could just use synology file station via the webinterface of your synology to upload (and/or download) files to and from the Synology NAS. You can also configure the FTP server on the NAS so you can upload files using a FTP client. Also with the newer DSM version (4.0 for sure, but maybe with 3.2 too) you can install a VPN Server on the NAS. In that case you can create a VPN between your laptop on the GO with your Synology NAS at home and just use it as you would normally do (only slower).
      It all also depends on the amount of data. I would not like to backup Gigabytes of data over a slow DSL line, it would take to much time.
      I myself use Geniebackup manager pro 8 to create a real encrypted backup file of my laptop on my NAS. It can do Full, Incremental and differential backups. You can configure the program to store the backup file on an FTP server, so a combination of setting up the FTP server on synology with Genie backup manager Pro could do the job.
      As you see there are plenty of ways to get your files on your synology even on the go.

      Regarding your question to have the NAS backup to another NAS on another location, the answer is YES.
      I would just keep your NAS at home and the NAS of your friend at his place. The Synology support Network Backup which is created to do just what you want. Backup the synology to another synology. So use your NAS at home and have a backup stored at your friends NAS.

      you could also look at Strato Hidrive which supports RSYNC backup protocol. Then you can have your NAS backup to the Strato Hidrive datacenter and have a backup there (no friend necessary).

      Oh and don’t forget, if you have large data sizes to backup on the go, a backup to DVD-R or USB Stick (use two sticks!!) could do the trick too. All depends on size, transferspeed, etc.

      Good luck!

      • Arne June 14, 2012 at 10:08 - Reply

        Hey. Thanks a LOT for a good and really quick answer!! 🙂

        I use a MacBook (Apple computer), with Time-Machine. I am not entirely sure of how it works, but i think it is a differential backup-system. But i like it, and it fulfill my needs! When i am home today, it will backup to my TimeCapsule. But because of my work, i travel a lot. So i would like to have the ability to do the same kind of super-easy backup when i am at work. Super-easy, meaning that i don´t have to even think about it, it just backs up everything i do, without me having to do anything, because lets face it, backing up is not the most enjoyable thing to spend your time with.

        The Personal Cloud-way doesn´t seem to fulfill my needs, but i think the VPN server is just what i was looking for! But Time Machine will probably have some difficulties backing up over a VPN? And regarding to encryption, there might be some issues, but i can probably figure out something!

        But neither me or my friend have bought the NAS yet (still looking for the right one), but it seems the Synology DS411 is the right way to go. Then we will each have 2 HDD´s at each location (it has 4 slots).

        Thanks, Arne

        • Alexander June 15, 2012 at 23:43 - Reply

          Hi Arne,

          a little delay in the answer this time ;-(.
          The VPN could be a solution. It makes your connection to the NAS like you are on your own network. I think it will work although I still have my doubts about transfer speeds. If you have little changes on your system it won’t hurt. But if you have a lot of changes and backups grow, this might become a bottleneck.
          You might want to monitory your time machine as you use it now. Check what sizes it copies during the day and calculate the transferduration of it over the internet.

          Good luck and let me know what your solution finally becomes. And in case of questions, try asking me 😉

  6. GPC February 6, 2013 at 08:29 - Reply

    Hi, I came across this post the other day whilst researching online backup options for my Synology NAS. After examining all the possibilites I decided to follow your reccomendations and go with Strato. Just to let you know that they now have a package that you can install directly on the NAS to manage backups with HiDrive

    • Alexander February 6, 2013 at 18:54 - Reply

      Hi Guy,
      Thanks for your reply! Happy to hear you’ve decided to go with the Strato solution. I’m still happy with it.
      I’m using the package for a while now on my new DS212+. I believe it does not work on the older ones like the DS207+.

      Best regards,

  7. Bob Mijwaard July 11, 2013 at 17:38 - Reply

    Dag Alex,

    Ik heb sinds een week een test Hidrive aboo afgesloten en geprobeerd via het synology pakketje HiDrive backup een backup te maken. Dit werkt in zoverre dat er elke keer een volledige backup wordt gemaakt en geen incremental backup. Daarnaast is de backup super traag (8Gb in 16 uur).

    Ik proneer nu de door jouw beschreven methode uit maar loop aan tegen een foutmelding bij de inloggegevens op de synology:

    gebruikersnaam share-****
    backup module /users/share-****/rsync
    map backup_test (map op hidrive)

    Ik krijg vervolgens de melding:
    Kan geen SSH verbinding maken.

    Wat doe ik verkeerd. Hoop dat je me kan helpen.


    • Bob Mijwaard July 11, 2013 at 18:03 - Reply

      Het is me inmiddels gelukt, had een map verkeerd staan :-(.

      Bemerk wel dat dit exact dezelfde procedure is als het eerder genoemde pakket. Ben nu met een test bezig maar vermoed dat het uploaden even langzaam gaat, terwijl ik toch een VDSL verbinding heb.

      Begrijp trouwens ook niet waar om er geen incremental gemaakt wordt.



      • Alexander July 11, 2013 at 18:08 - Reply

        Hi Bob,

        Ik heb je net een email gestuurd. Ik gebruik het pakketje al tijden en dat werkt prima. Heb je Backup op block niveau ingeschakeld?
        Meet je VDSL snelheid eens via Ik verwacht dat je upload tussen de 100 en 400 kb/sec ligt, dat is dus heel grofweg tussen de 360 Mb en 1440 Mb per uur. Dus zo gek is die 16 uur over 8 Gb niet. Laat nog even weten wat je VDSL abonnement snelheid is en wat je daadwerkelijk haalt.

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