In this day and age, backing up has become an absolute necessity. Not only is our data at risk of becoming corrupted through issues such as hardware failure, but it is also at the significant risk of falling prey to malware and all sorts of other issues!

Because of this, it should be of no surprise that people are beginning to take steps towards securing their data such as investing in cloud storage and suchlike. It should also be of no surprise, then, that the more tech-savvy individuals decide to go the extra mile by investing in a NAS (or, ‘Network Attached Storage’) device. Of course, the higher end versions of these devices can be rather costly, with Synology’s range of NAS devices being prime examples of this fact.

So, this begs the question: What do you invest in if you lack the money to invest in a high-end NAS with? Well, you could simply opt to pursue some other form of backing up your data. Alternatively, however, you could still get your hands on a NAS (and a Synology branded one no less) without having to pay an arm and a leg for it, and this is where the wonders of perseverance come in rather handy.

Interested? If so, join me after the jump as we delve deep into the step-by-step process of how to get your hands on a Synology NAS clone!

hpmicro server

The ‘HP ProLiant’ micro-server. This is the rig that I will be using as part of this guide.

Still with us? Good. Before you begin, you will need to make sure that you have access to the following:

  • A PC/server/micro-server with plenty of hard-drive space and a sufficient amount of memory (RAM).
  • A USB pen-drive, which will be used to give the NAS something to boot from.
  • Several files, which can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/38533835/SynoBoot_3612xs_4.1%2B%2B.img
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/38533835/DSM_DS3612xs_2668.pat
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/38533835/DSAssistant_2636.zip
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/38533835/win32diskimager-binary06.rar

Once you have made sure that you have all that, you need to extract the ‘win32diskimager-binary06.rar’ archive, using a program such as WinRAR. Once you have extracted it, you will notice that there is a new folder in the location that you chose to extract the archive’s contents to. Within that folder is an application called ‘W32DiskImager’. Run the application.

save2

Next, if the application executed as it should, you will notice that you have been presented with a small window. Before doing anything, make sure that your USB pen-drive has been plugged into an available USB port on your computer system. After you have done this, go back to the window that I mentioned and click on the icon that looks like a folder. From the window that appears, browse to wherever you downloaded the ‘SynoBoot_3612xs_4.1++’ file to and select it.

save

After that has been selected, you will be taken back to the main window for the application. From the dropdown box positioned on that window, select the drive letter that is associated with your USB pen-drive (e.g. C:, D:, etc.) and, finally, click on the button that is labelled with the word ‘Write’.

save2

Before doing anything else, take a well-deserved breather! (You’re going to need it, anyway.) When you are ready and the writing process has completed, you will need to move to your PC/server/micro-server and enter its BIOS. This can be quite tricky, as the key to press in order to enter the BIOS tends to vary. If you are unsure as to what key you need to press, start up the PC/server/micro-server and pay close attention to the boot screens to see if there are any prompts telling you which key to press in order to enter the BIOS.

An example of a prompt telling the user how to enter the BIOS on their system

An example of a prompt telling the user how to enter the BIOS on their system.

Once you have entered the BIOS, navigate to the section of it that allows you to change the boot priority on your system. As the appearance of the BIOS differs depending on the motherboard manufacturer, you will have to try to find it by yourself. However, when you do manage to locate the section of the BIOS that lets you change the boot priority, you will need to set it so that any plugged-in USB devices are given the highest priority while any hard-drives are given a lower priority. After making sure that everything has been altered correctly, make sure that you save your settings and then exit the BIOS and turn off the machine.

Next, ensure that the hard-drive(s) that will be used in your NAS have been formatted. If they have not been formatted, you can use a program such as CCleaner to do so.

Once the formatted hard-drives are in your soon-to-be NAS, you can plug your USB pen-drive into it and turn it back on. One thing you will notice is that you are presented with high quantities of tech-related jargon flashing by equally high speeds. Don’t worry about what these messages actually mean and instead, wait patiently until it has settled down.

While you are waiting, return to your regular PC and run the ‘SynologyAssistantSetup-4.1-2636’ application which you should have extracted from the ‘DSAssistant_2636’ archive earlier. After the application pops up, simply follow the instructions to install it.

After the application has been successfully installed, run it and you should be presented with a screen similar to the following, providing your soon-to-be NAS started up correctly:

synology1

The name of the NAS will most likely be different to the above, and the status will most likely be ‘Not Installed’ or something along those lines. Before continuing, you must disconnect your USB pen-drive from the NAS! Right-click on the result (there should only be one NAS listed, after all) and select ‘Install’. In the event that no devices are listed automatically, simply click on the button labelled with ‘Search’.

From the install wizard, you will need to configure a range of settings, but first, ensure that you browse to and select the ‘DSM_DS3612xs_2668′ file before continuing. One of the aforementioned settings will be choosing the name for your NAS. Since you will want to be able to distinguish it from any other NAS devices that you may or may not get in the future, it would be wise to give it a unique but memorable name. Also, when it comes to choosing a password for the NAS’ administrator account, you should choose one that is rather complex (consisting of a number of numbers and/or symbols), but also one that you will be able to remember with ease.

One of the most important settings to configure from the wizard would be the network settings for your NAS. Getting this part correct is crucial, as otherwise, you will be unable to backup your files over a wired or wireless internet connection. So, if you do not know the settings for your network, it would probably be a good idea to find out what they are or, if you cannot, simply select the option that attempts to automatically detect the configuration for your network.

After the process has completed, turn-off your NAS if it does not do so automatically. This must be done manually by pressing down on the power-button of the NAS and holding it down for several seconds.

Now, once the NAS has been powered-off completely, re-insert your USB pen-drive into one of its available USB ports and turn the machine back on. Once the booting process has completed, return to the Synology Assistant application and click on the button labelled with ‘Search’. If everything was successful, you should notice that the default name of the NAS has been replaced with the name that you previously chose whilst configuring it. You should also notice that the status of the NAS has changed to ‘Ready’.

Finally, you can access the interface for the NAS by pointing to the network settings that you had previously configured. This will involve entering your IP address and the appropriate port. See the example below for an idea:

http://<ip address>:5000/
http://111.222.3.44:5000/

Et voila! You should be presented with a login screen. From here, you just have to enter the username (‘admin’) and the password that you defined during the configuration process. If the details are correct, you will be presented with an interface similar to that of a Windows or Mac PC, and that is the end of this guide!Thank you for reading, and be sure to keep watching this space for more interesting guides and tech news!

[NOTE: Each time you turn on your NAS, you will need to ensure that the same USB pen-drive is inserted into it. Otherwise, it will fail to boot!]