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What backup/snapshot strategy do you use on your Synology? Poll is created on Sep 13, 2018


Synology Snapshot vs Backup, What Should I Be Using?  



I have a few questions on snapshot vs backup, any insights super appreciated:

(1) What is the philosophical difference between doing hourly backups and snapshots? I have zero intuition for this and was hoping others might chime in.

(2) If you use snapshots, how frequently do you set the snapshot to occur?  What is Snapshot replication (it sounds like some kind of backup of snapshot data, like an alternative reality time machine)?

(3) It seems that snapshots maintain versions on disk, so reversion to earlier versions should be much faster than copying from a backup, but then if you use replication of the versioning, isn't that basically the same thing as the hourly backups?  I'm confused; especially since cloudstation seems to automatically do some versioning stuff.

(4) Ultimately I’m wondering if I should (a) just stick with hourly backups on my Synology, (b) drop hourly backups and move to snapshots/replication, or (c) should I do both (belt and suspenders). 

Would love to hear your thoughts on that (here or on geek gab). I also set up a poll to get a feel for what others are doing/using.  

Thanks for any advice/pointers!

4 Answers

@Dave, I changed my DS415Play which didn't support btrfs to a DS918+ which does support it. So since I wanted the Snapshot feature I made the move when I transferred to the new Synology. My since both those units have 4 disk bays, and mine had all 4 disk taken(4X6TB), but my data, after a lot of cleaning up, was fitting on ONE of my 6TB drive. So, I removed the last drive from my DS415play and put it in the new DS918+, it recognized it anyway as a part of a SHR volume and I had to wipe it completely and it's where I did the btrfs change. After that, I had to copy everything over from the other NAS. Then added one drive, so it was now a SHR with protection, but still 6TB, and after that, the last two 6 TB. Man, that took so long to do the verifications and merging or whatever it does. AND, I still had only 6TB! What?? I didn't know this, thought it was automatic, but no, you have to go in the volume and tell it that it can now access all 4 drives space. I guess I could have put another volume in there but didn't want to. Anyway, now everything works fine and it's faster than my previous NAS. So the moral of this story is, be patient! It takes a lot of time to migrate. Like almost a week I'd say.

Thanks, Jeff. Yeah... I wish Synology had created a ext4-to-btrfs conversion much like we get with HFS+-to-APFS on macOS and iOS. 😉


btrfs conversion was a total pain. One of the Synology reps told me the cleanest/easiest way to move it was via cloud station client on the Synology itself.  Was a bit of a kludge, but did the trick. At least it was a one time thing.


Hi John, I'll explain what I have done on our Synology at work, which is different from my own Synology for personal use.

At work, I'm using the following backup strategies. 

1. Backup my Sharepoints to a second volume on the same Synology (a DS1813+) via Hyperbackup. I was doing this every hour but switch to only once a day since I have migrated the versioning with Snapshots. See fallowing point.

2. Snapshots of my Sharepoints every 5 minutes from 7am to 6:55pm, keeping them 24 hourly, 12 daily, 7 weekly.

3. Shared folder Sync with another Synology at home which syncs the shared folder once a day.

We are not using CloudStation sync or Drive. Everybody work directly on a mounted shared point via AFP on their Macs.

So that way I have the versioning with the Snapshots, I also set them visible so that everybody has access to previous version without having to ask me or another admin for their files in case of mishap. I also have the Hyperbackup on a second volume so if by any bad luck the volume one gets corrupted I would still have the data locally on it. And, last but not least, I backup to an external destination so if fire strikes or theft, I still have everything elsewhere. I coule probably go without the Hyperbackup though but since it was already running before I migrated to btrfs I just reduced the number of backup to once a day to reduce the ressource it was taking while we are working.

For home, I use the Snapshots and backup my most of my folders using one way Cloud Sync one two 1TB Microsoft OneDrive accounts (part of a home office 365) and my Dropbox 1TB plan. The rest of my data is either redownloadable or temporary.

Anyway, hope that helps.

Thanks, Jeff! At the risk of hijacking this thread, I'm curious if you migrated from ext4 to BTRFS or simply started anew with BTRFS?

The mounted share point is interesting, but it seems difficult.  One think I like about cloudstation is it uses your synologyID to figure out what the IP address of your synology. 

For some reason they do not let you use that technology to just mount a share point to your mac.  I would love it if they did.

Anyway, the other thing I've seen in synology videos about snapshots and back ups is about replication. That seems to send snapshots to an offsite NAS, and then if your primary NAS dies, the replication lets you turn the second NAS into a failover server. The video of course provides no detail as to how involved it is to get replication working, much less the failover functionality.

@JohnKeith I'm assuming your referring to Shared Folder Sync when you say mounted Sharepoints. This works with your QuickConnect ID, so no need to know the remote IP adresse or if you have a Dynamic IP Adresse like most of us do at home. You do have to open up some ports on your router though to let Shared Folder Sync work. The only problem with that is that the permission are "wrong" if you just want to share those same share points. BUT, you would only need to access them IF you have a major failure of your main NAS. Otherwise, it's a backup, not a sync even though it's what the name implies.

As for the Replication, my understanding was that it was meant to have the Snapshot functionality on a remote NAS, and have it done in a way that it was not working on the "live" data as with the Spapshots feature. But maybe I'm wrong about this. 


Huh... never thought about doing it with Cloud Station Client... that's an interesting workaround.

@Dave that suppose you have more than one NAS and can actually do this. If you have only ONE NAS, and all drive bays are occupied and in a Volume, you have to make a backup on external drive, then recopy everything. Not pretty. Now I get how complicated it most have been for Apple to do this with APFS.