Synology Question

Ok, so we’ve been looking at and for a multi-computer backup system. We need a system that can support 4-5 computers and, ideally, 6 iOS devices (4 phones, 2 iPads).

We’ve looked at cloud based backup, but it’s unreasonable where we live. Not the cost, the access. On our best day, we get 4-7mbps down and .25 up. The down is slowish, but uploading… FML FFS. I can’t pay for a higher upload speed, apparently, so unless we move (highly unlikely) we are stuck with it.

So I’ve been looking at Drobo and Synology and it seems that Synology might take the cake. Anyone here found ways to back up their iOS devices to Synology? It seems I can backup photos, no problem. If photos are taken care of, we can probably do iCloud (or whatever it is being called now) for other data.

Second, with wifi transfers at home, can I easily set up a device to device network (probably not the right name) so that our iOS devices aren’t facing upload limitations when syncing data while at home?

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Assuming Apple doesn’t remove it from the macOS Catalina version of iTunes, why not back up to iTunes, then save your Mac files normally to the Synology?


If one of your computers is a Mac I would recommend considering setting up Content Caching. This is designed to help with what you described - basically the Mac downloads updates one time and can share them with multiple Mac and iOS devices. It also caches iCloud photo updates and so on. This site describes the types of content the service can handle.

The above isn’t the whole solution for you but from what I can tell should be of some help. I have a Synology (ds416play) and it has been great. I highly recommend getting a model with an Intel CPU. The ones with the lower end CPUs are much more limited and don’t save you much money.

I have no personal experience but the prevailing sentiment here has been that Drobo has been supplanted by Synology. As to backing up iDevice’s, I thought I heard that functionality was being moved from iTunes to Finder with Catalina.

I haven’t looked into content caching for myself but it looks like it could help in your situation (thanks @ronguest).

Rather than expound upon the possible,
this is what I do, other opinions may vary.

I run Time Machine, Network shares, and
Synology Drive, (and others)

Each user has their own “directory” on NAS
which is accessed via Synology iOS app DS File
(or File Explorer or any app that will access an
SMB share. Coming soon native to iOS 13)

iOS devices get “iTunes Backup” to Mac
which gets backed up with Time Machine.
Time Machine backs up Macs (and the corresponding iOS backup)

Anything that needs syncing between users
goes into Synology Cloud Server.

The file shares are async and private, the cloud
server is synchronous and public.

The “content caching” is a good suggestion.
However, I have been unable to determine
how much it caches.

BUT - if you turn it off, it says “content caching has been disabled“, so it must be doing something :+1:t2:

In addition to the great suggestions from others, if you have an always on Mac, you can use Time Machine for Mac to Mac backups.

And you can stagger the backups if necessary.

For backing up iOS devices, I recommend an always-on Mac with iMazing, although you could use an NAS as the actual storage for iMazing, but I’m not aware of any NAS software for backing up iOS devices.

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For your uses I’d probably go with a Mac mini as a backup solution and file server. I’m a huge Synology fan but my needs are a bit different. The mini seems to solve all of your needs.

I would agree with @tjluoma for backup of ios devices an always on mac with iMazing is the best soluton.

This is how I have it set up. iMazing running on my always-on macmini and the location for saving backups set to my Synology.

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If you don’t have a lot of churn on your data, you might be able to do an initial online backup by borrowing access from a nearby educational institution if they have an open guest network that’s quick. I discovered this by accident a few years ago, I was at a university for an event and suddenly noticed that Photos was uploading my library to iCloud (which I’d been chipping away at for a couple weeks at home) at a ridiculous rate - something like 10 GB in about 10 minutes.

This has been good to help clarify what I think I/we want/need.

At the moment, what seems to be most ideal would be:

Synology with a directory for each user. In our home directory, we can Time Machine backup our Macs (I tend to prefer Carbon Copy Cloner, maybe do both?). We can sync our actual devices on our computer and consider that backup to be adequate.

I’m considering a fifth directory specifically for images. Does this sound reasonable? Then an individual directory for pictures? Everyone can upload their images to the Synology device. Related question - does the Synology image app play well with Photos for MacOS? I’ve read about uploading images form the iPhone, but haven’t read much about bringing images back (meaning if my daughter uploaded images, could my wife bring them back on her iPhone and/or MBP?). Really, I think pictures are really what kicks our butts the most. Every upgrade means that the picture file sizes are going to be dramatically bigger.

Does this make sense?

Added question - does it make sense to have the NAS on a home-only network so the speed of transfers between devices and the NAS isn’t limited by the upload/download speeds? Does this make sense?

I back up using iMazing and store a copy of the backups on the Synology


I agree - if anything, this post is forcing me to think through all the problems I want to solve.

First is back up for multiple machines. We run 4 staggered generation MBPs. My wife and I usually have newer models, the kids our older ones. We don’t have a full time always-on Mac at home.

Second is backing up photos and a centralized photo depository. While the idea of backing up to our individual computers then just backing the computer up and calling it good is appealing, our hard drives get over-full with images. At any given time, we have little space on our computers beyond images.

In an ideal world, we’d do iCloud or something, but that’s just not effective. We have pretty significant limitations for upload and download is meh. We did try going places with faster upload, but we just don’t have the time to do the uploads. Then if we need to download images, well… we may or may not have time to completely download the Photos library. As much as we’ve appreciated Photos and iPhoto before it, we need something different and preferably home based.

My idea was NAS with RAID type drives because at the moment, we have home backup drives, drives at our offices, and I have a small portable drive that I take everywhere. Because I’ve lost (and had to pay $2400 in recovery costs) a hard drive before, I’m a little anal about backing up. This solves backing up kinda, though not super efficient at home, but it does not help address the pictures. All the pictures.

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The Synology iOS DS File app, will
back up all your photos and videos
to the NAS automatically.

I then “sort” them on NAS and only
bring into Photos the “keepers”