Synology NAS is no cloud replacement nor a G Suite competitor

The short version: Synology does not care about the DSM apps (add-on packages) that come with their NAS. DSM apps that are supposed to replace cloud services are not stable enough to trust them with your data. And synology support is just abysmal.

For the past five years Synology has advertised their NAS as a means to get control of the cloud. You are supposed to use the DSM apps (add-on packages) that Synology offers for their NAS as an alternative for popular cloud services. But the sad truth about almost all cloud replacement apps is: they are in an unusable state.

The difference between Google G Suite and Synology Cloud apps is the G Suite works and Synology apps dont.

Note Station – the Evernote replacement

At the time of writing and 2 years after the release of Note Station it still has massive issues synchronizing notes from a mobile device that has been offline for some time. There is still no way to export notes to reuse them in other apps or migrate them to a another Synology NAS. There are still reports in the synology forum that data disappears after application updates.

I have nothing positive to say about Note Station. If you value your data do not use DS note.

Office – the Google Docs replacement

Office that has been out of beta since late 2016 has no way to set up documents for printing. There is no control of borders or of page margins. You can create documents but you cannot print them properly. The included download functionality only generates a docx files. You have to either use a cloud service to convert docx into pdf or have to have a locally installed office software to view (and probably print) the Synology Office file.

Google Docs may have many shortcomings with its limited functionality but it works way better; including print setup, pdf download work and document import.

You can create documents but you cannot print them properly.

MailPlus (Server) – the Gmail (Business mail domain) replacement

Synology Mail and MailPlus is nothing more than a fancy interface for either a remote mail server or a frontend for your own Synology Mail Server. The interface does work for the most part but you still have to rely on antispam filtering on the mail server. Synology Mail and MailPlus does not handle spam filtering on the level of Gmail or outlook.com does.
Setting up the Synology MailPlus server is not as easy as advertised. Fighting spam will be the biggest issue here and you will have to do everything by yourself. The app does not help you with useful presets. You need to have a deep understanding how mail servers and DNSBLs work.

This is in no way an alternative to what Google offers with their G Suite business mail domain and Gmail/Inbox.

Calender

Setup of the calendar app is straightforward. But using the calendar has similar issues as Note Station. Syncing dates does not always work as intended. And this is a much bigger issue than on a note taking application because it falls back on your reputation when being late multiple times because of the same “new” calendar app. Having experienced that a few times I moved to a more reliable alternative. There is also an unsolved issue (for over a year) of where to find the calendars on the file system to backup them for disaster recovery.

Sync issues are a no-go for any form of calendar. Just do not use Synology Calendar.

In the official forums there are quite a few threads about this and all of them end in resignation.

Cloud Station Server

Cloud station server works fine unless you have a large number of files to take care of. Ever since its release cloud station server desktop clients (Windows and Mac) have been having  issues with large file numbers. Large file numbers start in the tens of thousands. The client tends to eat up chunks of CPU. In the official forums there are quite a few threads about this and all of them end in resignation.

Cloud Station is one of the better apps and that makes it as good as dropbox was in its early days. Dropbox also used to have issues with large file numbers but they fixed the problem half a decade ago.

Conclusion

Synology NAS are great for local storage, home audio, home video, home surveillance and even docker testing. But if you are looking for a cloud replacement Synology NAS are not what your are looking for. Synology is strong when it comes to hardware and their main interface. But they are helpless when it comes to apps that should run on their NAS or as clients on Windows, Mac or mobile devices.

Synology seems to be stuck in the old mantra of storage solution instead of innovating to be a real competitor for cloud services providers like Google.

The difference between Google G Suite and Synology Cloud apps is the G Suite works and Synology apps dont. – Sadly 🙁

(163 Posts)

20 years of coding and working as software engineer but I am still eager to learn more. I am very passionate when it comes to open source, Linux and Java. But I made my peace with Windows long ago to fully enjoy my PC gaming hobby. I have a soft spot for 90s electronic music and Babylon 5.

8 thoughts on “Synology NAS is no cloud replacement nor a G Suite competitor

  1. mrebholz

    I totally agree with you: Synology and compliance is a mismatch – sadly. I was intrigued by all their innovative approach and hoped for a real alternative to all that cloud spy junk, but when it comes to business and production environment, all that counts is reliability and business continuity. This is, where Synology falls short (With their fancy apps, not with hardware as you mentioned), unfortunately. Best example: MailPlus; who was the Muppet that tried to bring together eMail Service and licensing? And I’m not giving up NSA’s prism just to call home to Taiwan on second attempt, that doesn’t make sense at all.

    Reply
  2. Aurelio

    I use DS Note for a shopping list for quite some time. It is however not useful if you modify a document when it has already been modified on another device. It simply overwrites all changes on the server.
    I would be tolerant however concerning the Office suite and with Synology Calendar. It is still in Beta and in continuing development, and the editing capabilities are quite fine. Yes, you cannot print yet, that is at this moment the biggest missing functionality. But since it is still in Beta, be happy that you can test and get a feeling for it, but don’t criticize it too much or compare it to GSuite that exists for years and where there is much more capital behind. And particularly, you don’t pay for GSuite with something you have to install but you pay for it with your data. Always be aware of this!

    Reply
    1. Lars Händler

      GSuite is actually a commercial product. It is 5 euro/ user and it has – for me and my wife’s business – to comply to European data protection rules.

      Synology sold their Office not like a Beta but as a full blown software. Since they advertise Office the way they do I expect it to work properly. Printing a document is a basic requirement for any Word-like software.

      But you are right with saying that Synology is constantly improving their software. For me it did take too much time. I needed a working solution within weeks. I am not happy about my Google choice but their stuff just works.

      Reply
      1. Aurelio

        OK, I confused GSuite with GDrive which includes editing text, table and spreadsheet documents. I learned now that for those 5€/user GSuite has some more functionality useful for the S of SME.
        I don’t understand however how Synology Office can be confused with a “final” office suite. I never saw an advertisement of it, but if they sell it as a full blown solution, they are just wrong, you are completely right. But to install Synology Office, you have to enable beta software in DSM, and still then, in the icon it says “Beta”. Actually I appreciate it (as a beta), but it isn’t at all useful in a commercial environment, even less if you need something reliable. Google stuff just works, right 🙂

        Reply
  3. Mitch

    All of the synology apps are improving over time. If you use a decently powered NAS (1815+upward – i usually throw in extra ram as well) these NAS have proven so far in my experience to be pretty darn good.

    As for dsnotes – i have a database with over 4000 notes full of images and files – several customers of mine have used DS Notes heavily and none have lost data. I am not denying it has happened – i am just quoting on personal experience. At anyrate you can allways pullout last nights backup if things do go south – the backups system is very solid.

    As for cloudstation – its pretty darn good for file collaboration – muliti layers of backup (hourly shadows at the server end if you like) but most people i know use it for not synching 10s of thousands of files – but for personal folders or perhaps group collaboration. It allows for transparent operation auto offsite/onsite file updates and it is so much more convenient than dropbox. I must test this issue on cpu utilization however. How did you discover this problem? I know on say 1000 files it barely goes above 5% on lenovo laptop CPU (i7-770hq)

    What synology were you using? How long did you test it for? My experience involves administration/programming and deployment for companies using linux/windows/vmware etc and 15 synology deployments in small med companies without one issue todate (apart from hard disk failures – which is no fault of the nas and replacement was a breeze. I would rate the synology as great value for money. All the wares are heading in the right direction and improving all the time.

    Reply
    1. Lars Händler

      Hi Mitch,

      good to hear positive things about Synology software. Please keep in mind that this is my personal experience as well as what I got from “official” forums and synology support.

      I do in no way question the performance of synology’s hardware. They do a great job when it comes to setup and itegration as windows shares or nfs Linux shares. The backup apps work just fine and restore is indeed easy. I have been using onsite and offsite (plus glacier) backup extensively. I do not question these capabilities.

      I have my issues most of the “cloud” apps. Take DS Note where other people have similar issues (see Aurelio’s comment). Cloudstation is the most stable out of the bunch I used but it had synching issues (the client and not the NAS) with 11k mp3 and flac files. A friend of mine uses it for his image collection and has similar struggles.

      What I described in the article is the situation of early 2017. Apps might have changed since then. I made my peace with synology and no longer use any of their cloud apps. I replaced most of them with other cloud services. But the central storage location for my data is still my NAS.

      Reply
  4. GoPlay

    You should never sell your beliefs and privacy for a little comfort!

    Google is multi $Billion company, with interests far beyond SF – want to make them even bigger, give them more power? go ahead, this is not the world I want my kids to live in, a world of IT.

    [Lars: profanity removed]

    Reply
    1. Lars Händler

      I appreciate your comment. You touch a totally different topic that is worth dicussion separately.

      This blog post compares features and the final verdict is my personal opinion.

      Reply

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