Fun uses for a NAS?
February 28, 2021 12:42 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought a Synology NAS to use for storing backups and serving media, but I’m still sitting on lots (& lots, & lots) of unused space (and a smidge of RAM). While I’m very happy with the NAS doing exactly what it’s doing, I’d also like to play with this toy a bit. Do you have a NAS / know a NAS owner that has done something a bit more intense and interesting with their device?
posted by Going To Maine to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is it beefy enough to run some apps? PiHole is awesome, and an ebook server.
posted by wenestvedt at 2:04 PM on February 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes came in to say PiHole on Docker.
posted by sol at 2:05 PM on February 28, 2021 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Is it beefy enough to run some apps?

DS420+, so I think so. Really wanted to have 2 drives of protection.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:12 PM on February 28, 2021

Best answer: Plex Media server.
posted by kschang at 2:53 PM on February 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You could probably use it to cache/store a bunch of Freenet, if you're in to that sort of thing.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:02 PM on February 28, 2021

Best answer: Tons of cron scripts, plex, pihole, calibre server, duckdns, openvpn, seafile, radarr/sonarr/lidarr, droppy.
posted by turkeyphant at 3:15 PM on February 28, 2021

Best answer: Thought of a few less fun but Very Important Roles: automatic backup to Backblaze, automatic backup to another synology you put at a relative’s house.

Once you have lots of backups you could use your synology to make your own Dropbox file syncing clone.
posted by sol at 3:29 PM on February 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I initially tried going this route with my second-hand DS410j, but eventually found it far more satisfying to start with a far more capable general-purpose power sipper running a full-fledged general-purpose OS, hook a bunch of cheap USB3 drives onto it and use that for my NAS along with everything else it's handy to keep a box running 24x7 for. Notably, BitTorrent works much better if you never have to switch it off. So do security cameras.
posted by flabdablet at 6:40 PM on February 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding @fladablet: I previously had a NAS (Iomega ix4) which I hacked to run various other functions but it was just not great at it. So, use the NAS as a NAS (back-end secondary backup/storage location +/- local file and media server) and run a full-featured fanless low-power server in the front. I previously used a Soekris net5501 but have moved to the PC Engines apu2 platform. This fanless, low-power server can be configured with multiple USB ports, NICs, etc., and is currently running OpenBSD and a host of useful systems, including firewall (pf), local cloud storage, back up to my dedicated NAS, webserver, local ad- and malware-blocking DNS server (unbound) , reverse proxy, Tor endpoint, and so on. Much more useful and fun.
posted by sudogeek at 8:29 PM on February 28, 2021

Best answer: The DS420+ can run Docker, so that opens some options up. I got that from mathowie on Twitter; flipping through the pages gave me some ideas. You might also slog through official Synology packages and SynoCommunity packages.

There are different levels of power for Synology NAS series; here's a brief comparison. The J has less CPU power and memory than the Plus.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:23 PM on February 28, 2021

Best answer: I run a similar Synology that supports media and backups. (My second, with the previous being one of the ARM based ones.)

Backups are just Time Machine and whatever Windows calls their built-in. (And a "backups" volume I point Steam at and do manual backups to. In times of plenty (i.e., it's the end of the month and I haven't hit my data cap) I'd download stuff and then get it off my SSD onto the NAS for some future date.)

Video/music I'm using official Plex packages through the Synology package manager (to eke out a few drops of additional transcoding performance on the metal). Hardware has been pretty anemic for Plex, though, so make sure your media is set up for direct play, if possible. (Optimizing for TV/mobile is doable on-device, but pretty slow.)

Everything else is Docker images, which has been soooo much better than trying to shove SynoCommunity stuff on it. My favorite / most used service is a headless Calibre I use for ebook management, complete with browser based VNC so I can just visit the bookmark when I need to touch it. (With the right setup of plugins and accessory apps, I press one button on my Android e-ink device and everything I've marked unread centrally is downloaded, and everything I've marked read on device is updated on the server. So much tweaking to be so lazy.) I also used to run calibre-web with a reverse proxy so I had a nice browser based view of my library on the go, but I haven't left the house in a year...

I also run a Minecraft server (Bedrock, not Java, and it seems to work okay). Easy way to have all the kids in the house on a shared world.
posted by Anonymous Function at 1:49 AM on March 1, 2021

Best answer: I just came back to suggest Minecraft!

Also, you could install some wiki software and start collection information about your house (manuals, remodeling plans, serial numbers) or vehicles (service history) or whatever.

Also fun would be to put any family info into genealogy software and serve it up for everyone to add to.

Serve up the very best pictures and a calendar like a Magic Mirror to anyone in the house that wants to load it into a web page!
posted by wenestvedt at 4:45 AM on March 1, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks for the many suggestions! I’ve had plex up and running for a while (watch together seems like a dang appealing feature, too bad it will surely cost money soon), and have added Pi-Hole. Still going through and thinking about all of these v. cool ideas. (Buying a tiny fanless computer, while undeniably more potent and cost effective, is probably a bit more of an intense project than I’m currently thinking about atm.)
posted by Going To Maine at 9:54 AM on March 2, 2021

google photos backup (my site)
I would strongly recommend installing portainer to manage docker containers.
Also strongly recommend sonarr/radarr/sabnzbd/etc... (although I run plex on a different server via mapped drives to the synology)
I've also installed bitwarden (lastpass clone that you can self host)
I have stood up filesharing using nextcloud.
Get a good UPS (I think you can use a network protocol to gracefully shutdown your NAS as well)
posted by kookywon at 3:28 PM on March 2, 2021

calibre-web for ebook library serving. I have a Synology and I run it in Docker. If your Synology has Docker I recommend learning about that, easy way to deploy all kinds of things.

Dokuwiki for journals, note taking, saving technical articles, etc.

Home Assistant is amazingly fun and powerful if you have any smart or network-connected devices.
posted by bradbane at 10:10 PM on March 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

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