Feature Overview: Synology Cloud Station Backup

Screenshot of Cloud Station backup complete message

While Cloud Station has been part of DiskStation Manager 5, Cloud Station Backup builds on it and is new with DiskStation Manager 6. The name pretty much sums up it’s function – it backs up files on your local computer (Windows, OS X, Ubuntu or Fedora) to your Synology NAS.

Cloud Station Backup does require that the Cloud Station Server package be installed on your Synology NAS, but it does not require that the full Cloud Station Client be installed on your computer. (There is a Cloud Station Backup client that needs to be installed.).

Cloud Station Backup does do what it claims and it seems to work well. Depending on your Cloud Station Server settings it can save up to 32 historical versions of your files. In addition, backup is near real time as the client will monitor your local directories and backup files as they change. Still, the software does have the feel that its functionality has been bolted on to extend software into areas for which it wasn’t originally designed.

Installation is simple with only one caveat for long time users of Cloud Station. By default Cloud Station Backup will use the directory \Backup in your Cloud Station Drive and it will set the directory to not sync. Also FYI – The full Cloud Station client also sets the \Backup directory to not sync if it already exists, even if Cloud Station Backup is not installed. This does make sense as a safe choice since syncing a backup back down to a second location on the computer would be a waste of space. But, if like me, you already have a \Backup directory in Cloud Station and want it to sync this requires you to pick a non-default configuration.

The other place that Cloud Station is lacking is in the restore process. Namely, there isn’t one, at least not from within the client. To do a restore you can connect to the Cloud Station share (assuming it is shared) where you can access the latest copies of the files. This would work if your doing a full restore of the latest files, but in many cases you probably want a slightly older copy of the file. To do this you need to connect to File Station (via the web interface) and then browse to the file(s) you’re interested in and then use the “Action” menu to browse the versions (or recycle bin). While this may be intuitive to someone familiar with the Synology NAS, if you’re supporting others doing their normal work this won’t be self-serve if they want a file back.

The online help for Synology Cloud Station Backup is available here. It’s worth noting the list of files that won’t be backed up for each operating system. Most of them make sense, although it’s worth reviewing the list.

The only issue I’ve had so far is with the Windows client. When configuring a directory to backup for the first time I would often get an error and the directory would be excluded From the backup. Going back in and re-selecting it would resolve the issue and it would back up fine. This may be unique to the few Windows client I have, all of which are Windows 7. I haven’t encountered any issues with the Mac client. That said, my experience is limited to a few test restores. The “rough around the edges” UI keeps me from suggesting this as a solution for most clients unless they are already familiar with the File Station UI.

Pros

  • Easy to setup and configure the backup.
  • Reliable (it seems), real-time backup of local files.
  • Integrates with already established Cloud Station versioning so if you are familiar with it, it will be easy to use.
  • Does not need to backup to the same Cloud Station server location as your Cloud Station Drive (if also installed).
  • Stays out of the way once installed and silently does its thing.

Cons

  • No integrated UI for restores. You must be familiar with File Station and how Cloud Station integrates with it to get anything more than a restore of the latest files.
  • No benefit if you already use Cloud Station to store and sync all your local files.

Are you using Cloud Station Backup? Why or why not?

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