Help a newbie with their first NAS


I’m trying to set up a backup solution for my home PC and Laptop. My idea was to get a DS120j and a 6 TB HD. then I want to use hyper backup as the Software to run everything. In an other Synology forum I asked if this would work before I start buying things. Well… their answer was that I’m an idiot and that I should use google instead of asking them stupid questions. But what I got from it was that

  • hyper backup is apparently not the right tool for the job and I should use active backup for business (ABB) even if I’m not a business.
  • a j model does not support ABB, for that I need a + model.
  • an image is not what I thought what it is. (It would be cool if some one could explain what an image is and if I need to back it up.)
  • I need twice as much storage if want to back up both my image and my data. (Why? The tutorial I watched said Images are small)
  • Disk recovery will not work on a disk smaller than the size of the backed up. For example, the size of the backed up disk is 256GB, it is not possible to restore to a disk of 250GB. Is that correct? As far as I see it a backup can never be bigger then the disk it came from, even if the disk I’m saving the backup on is bigger.

So, it would be nice if some friendly people from the community could help this absolut newbie out. And just to make it clear:

  • I don’t know anything! I’m an absolut caveman when it comes to anything Network, NAS, BackUp, etc
  • I have started researching this topic 1 day ago.
  • I have a tight budget and can’t afford the more expensive solutions.
  • Yes, I know about the 3-2-1 rule. No, I don’t have the money to implement it. (However I’d be interested for online storage solutions for the future.)

So, what do I need to buy?
What Software do I need to use?

Also here are my notes on the project where I tried to figure out my requirements:
What to back up? ------------

  • Laptop

    • ~ 2 TB HD
  • Gaming-PC

    • ~ 2 TB SSD (C drive with mostly only windows on it)
    • ~ 2 TB HD
  • 3rd PC

    • ~ 150 GB (data of other family member on their machine)

When to back up? ------------

  • Daily file backup
  • monthly image backup (suggestion from a tutorial, but I don’t know what it means)

How to back up? -------------

  • automatic (NAS)

    • I want the back up to run without me doing anything once everything is setup.
      This includes not having to plug in external HDs every day. So I’m looking for a NAS solution.
  • “Push notification”

    • If the external hard drive breaks down and needs to be replaced, I want the software to inform me.
      I don’t want to check on the external drive manually because I know that if nothing happens for some years, I will eventually stop checking.
      Something that just tells me the state of the external drive every time I boot my Laptop, would already be enough.

Why to back up? -------------

  • Hardware failure

    • My Laptop is ~5 years old and the HD in the gaming-pc is from an old pc that was standing in a corner for ages.
      So, I’m most worried about the Laptop/HD just stop working one day and I quickly need to setup an replacement.
  • Software failure

    • Malware is of course also a concern, but less then the hardware failure.

What solution for back up? –

I would suggest considering if you really needed a NAs or just an external drive will do. Will has a good video on whether you need a NAS or DAS.

I went through this same journey over a 8 - 10 yr time frame. started with an external drive and then a sudo NAS and then jumped to Synology. First a single drive then dual.

One thing to consider you only need to back up your important data not necessarily everything. Just because you laptop has 2 tb , your not using it all up and you likley don’t need to back up everything. Windows can be used to backup your important data to an external drive. As for the kids Gaming laptop, you really don’t need back up as much as you think. Worst case they can redownload the game and you only need to back up their saved games. And very likely they save their games online anyway.

The other thing to consider, will you really be using your NAS as a backup or really a file server providing “Shared drives” or network storage. More a device to share your files across your devices. When I first made the jump to form of network storage I used more as shared drive. Technically that is not really a backup. Start small with an external drive and when you out grow it move to a NAs and you can use your “old” external drive as a backup for the NAs.

I got the set up at home your considering. I backup my kids Laptop to the nas through Backup for business, I used Hyper backup to back up my important content from NAs to an external drive. And use my old single drive Synology as my off site backup. But took a few years to get to this point.

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Active Backup for Business is a game changer in my opinion, and has been great to restore entire workstation and server hardware. Haven’t used it to restore a Synology NAS, but that is a more recent feature, and will try it out when I get the chance. ABB does a good job at de-duplication so it isn’t using a lot of store, say if you have 10 windows PC, a lot of the data is the same with Windows OS files. When a hard drive has failed for me, it has been very easy to restore the workstation to the latest daily backup from Active Backup for Business.

I would recommend staying away from the one bay models, I have one of them, but just use it for application testing and as a sandbox. The cost difference with the DS723+ or DS223 is not that great. The benefit of having the two drive model NAS, is that at a minimum you can have a RAID setup on your NAS incase of drive failure.

Think the Active Backup for Business software on NAS would be great for you to backup entire devices automatically. Keep in mind that ABB supports starting from Windows 7 I believe, not sure how old gaming machine is or what operating system it is using.