What are the steps to set up a RAID 5 array on a Synology DS420+ for data protection and performance?

13 June 2024

In today’s data-driven world, ensuring that your valuable information is protected and efficient for access is imperative. When it comes to network attached storage (NAS), Synology has established itself as a leader, providing robust solutions suitable for both home and office use. Among the many options available, the Synology DS420+ stands out for its versatility and reliability. Setting up a RAID 5 array on this NAS device ensures a perfect balance of data protection and performance. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to set up a RAID 5 array on a Synology DS420+.

Understanding RAID 5 and Synology NAS

Before diving into the setup process, it is crucial to comprehend what RAID 5 is and why Synology NAS devices, like the DS420+, are suitable for creating such arrays.

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) 5 is a storage technology that spreads data across multiple hard drives (at least three), providing redundancy and improved performance. In essence, it uses parity to ensure that your data is still accessible even if one hard drive fails, thus offering a layer of protection against drive failure.

The Synology DS420+ is a 4-bay NAS that supports various RAID configurations, including RAID 5. It combines powerful hardware with an intuitive operating system (DiskStation Manager), making it an excellent choice for users looking to create a reliable NAS storage system.

Preparing for RAID 5 Setup

So, you’ve decided to take the leap and set up a RAID 5 array on your Synology DS420+. Here’s what you need to know before starting.

Choosing the Right Drives

Selecting the appropriate hard drives (HDDs) is the foundation of a successful RAID setup. You can opt for traditional HDDs or solid-state drives (SSDs). While HDDs are typically more cost-effective and offer larger storage capacities, SSDs provide faster read/write speeds, though they come at a higher price.

If you’re looking for a compromise, you can use HDDs and enhance performance using an SSD cache. This setup allows you to enjoy the storage capacity of HDDs with the speed benefits of SSDs. When purchasing drives, ensure they are compatible with your Synology DS420+ and have enough capacity to meet your needs.

Backup Your Data

Before making any changes, it’s prudent to backup your existing data. This precautionary step ensures that you do not lose any important information during the setup process. You can use external drives, cloud storage, or another NAS.

Acquiring the Synology DS420+

If you’ve not yet purchased the NAS, platforms like Amazon offer competitive prices and fast delivery options. Once you have your Synology DS420+, it’s time to set it up.

Setting Up Your Synology DS420+ NAS

Now that you have your drives and Synology DS420+ ready, follow these steps to get started.

Physical Installation

  1. Unbox the Synology DS420+: Remove the NAS from its packaging and place it in a stable location near your network equipment.
  2. Install the Drives:
    • Open the bay doors using the provided key.
    • Insert the hard drives or SSDs into the drive bays.
    • Secure the drives using the screws if necessary.
    • Close the bay doors securely.
  3. Connect the NAS to Network: Use an Ethernet cable to connect the NAS to your router or switch.
  4. Power Up: Plug in the power adapter and turn on your Synology DS420+.

Initial NAS Setup

  1. Access DiskStation Manager:
    • Open a web browser and type in find.synology.com or the NAS IP address.
    • Follow the prompts to install DiskStation Manager (DSM).
  2. Create Admin Account: Set up an administrator account with a strong password.
  3. Update DSM: Ensure your NAS is running the latest version of DSM for improved security and features.

Configuring RAID 5 Array

With the physical setup complete and DiskStation Manager ready, it’s time to configure the RAID 5 array.

Creating the RAID 5 Array

  1. Open Storage Manager: Navigate to the Storage Manager in DSM.
  2. Create a Storage Pool:
    • Click on ‘Storage Pool’ and select ‘Create’.
    • Select ‘Better Performance’ for RAID type and choose RAID 5.
    • Select the drives you installed previously.
  3. Configure RAID 5:
    • Follow the wizard’s instructions to set up the array.
    • Confirm your configuration and click ‘Apply’.

The system will begin creating the RAID 5 array. This process may take several hours, depending on the size and number of drives used. You can monitor the progress in Storage Manager.

Creating a Volume

  1. Open Storage Manager: Once the RAID 5 array is ready, go to Storage Manager.
  2. Create Volume:
    • Click on ‘Volume’ and select ‘Create’.
    • Choose ‘Custom’ and select the RAID 5 storage pool you just created.
    • Follow the wizard to set up your volume.

Configuring Shared Folders

  1. Access Control Panel:
    • Open the Control Panel and select ‘Shared Folder’.
    • Click on ‘Create’ and follow the prompts to set up shared folders.
  2. Set Permissions: Assign access permissions to users or groups to control who can access the shared folders.

Enhancing Performance and Maintenance

Setting up a RAID 5 array is just the beginning. To maximize performance and ensure the longevity of your NAS, consider these tips:

Using SSD Cache

As mentioned earlier, using an SSD cache can dramatically improve the read/write speeds of your NAS. Synology DS420+ supports NVMe SSD caching, which can be configured through the Storage Manager. Follow the instructions provided in DSM to add and configure SSD cache.

Regular Backups

While RAID 5 provides redundancy, it is not a substitute for regular backups. Be sure to schedule periodic backups to an external drive, another NAS, or a cloud service to safeguard your data.

Monitoring and Alerts

Enable system monitoring and alerts in DSM to stay informed about the health of your drives and the overall system. This proactive approach allows you to address potential issues before they escalate.

Firmware Updates

Keep your NAS and drives firmware updated to take advantage of new features and security patches. Regular updates help keep your system running smoothly and securely.

Setting up a RAID 5 array on a Synology DS420+ is a strategic move for anyone looking to balance data protection and performance in their storage system. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure a smooth setup process and optimize your NAS for robust performance.

From choosing the right drives and installing them into the drive bays to configuring the RAID 5 array and enhancing performance with SSD cache, this comprehensive approach covers all essential aspects. Remember to perform regular backups and keep your system updated to maintain the integrity and efficiency of your NAS storage.

For those seeking a combination of reliability and speed, the Synology DS420+ with RAID 5 support fits the bill perfectly. Whether for home or office use, this setup will protect your valuable data and provide seamless access whenever needed.

In summary, by investing the time and effort to correctly set up your Synology NAS, you gain a network attached storage solution that offers both durability and enhanced performance. This comprehensive guide serves as a helpful report, enabling you to confidently navigate the setup process and make the most out of your Synology DS420+.