Backing up via Time Machine to a Synology NAS

As my business grows ever-reliant on a functional laptop, ensuring that I have a reliable backup plan is one of the most important parts of weekly workflow.

Fortunately, I have a Synology NAS device at home, which is able to take Time Machine backups from my Macbook Pro.

I'm not going to run through the instructions. The team at Synology have done a far better job with this article than I ever could!

Also, if you would like a visual demonstration of how to set your Synology NAS device up to receive Time Machine backups, check out Don McAllister's tutorial over at ScreenCasts Online.

Synology to Backblaze B2

Early in 2016 I published a post on how I setup my Synology NAS to backup to CrashPlan from Code42. It certainly wasn't an out of the box process and involved a lot of behind the scenes hacking on both the Synology and my laptop in order to get it going. It did, however, work well.

For a time.

I started to notice a pattern in that, with every iteration of the DSM platform or Java update, the CrashPlan service would just stop. I'd get it going again, but each time, it was not as simple as clicking the Start button next to the Service window. No, it was always far more detailed than that and I started to grow weary. I even went weeks at times without backing up my NAS, and this was not a situation I could tolerate any more.

At the time, when researching backup solutions, I felt disappointed that Backblaze weren't offering any kind of solution for this. I had been using Backblaze for several years on my Mac devices and always found it to be a solid, reliable and unobtrusive piece of software. I've only needed to restore a few items in that time, yet each time the process was quick and easy. This is what I ideally wanted on my NAS.

Well, now I do.

Backblaze now offer a B2 Cloud Storage which links directly to my Synology NAS. Rather than paying a fixed monthly fee, B2 works in a very similar mould to it's cloud storage competitors in that you will pay per GB (currently $0.005 per GB), so working out your appromiate monthly bill is simple.

The best part about this solution is, without question, the ease of setup and subsequent lack of worry. You can 'set it and forget it', just like on your laptop or desktop machine. Backblaze provide an intuitive guide which lays out the steps in a logical, well explained manner.

I'd say more, but once the guide was followed, I haven't had to carry out any more maintenance. It's important to note that this is a Cloud Storage solution for your NAS as opposed to a fully fledged Backup solution. I use this solely for duplicating all of my NAS content to cloud storage. I can then download on any device with an internet connection.

So quick, so simple, so hassle-free.

That's enough of a selling point for me.

CrashPlan and my Synology NAS

I wrote recently about how happy I was with our Synology DS214se NAS device that is now in place at home.

It's been in for a few months now and with the addition of the Plex application on the 4th Gen Apple TV, it helps form the cornerstone of our entertainment system with the built-in Plex server.

One thing that I needed to get my head around was setting up an effective backup strategy for it. I've got local resilience, in the form of the RAID 1 array that protects against a drive failure - however this is no help at all in the event of a burglary, disaster or similar event. I needed to get an off-site backup somewhere.

I asked some colleagues how they go about backing up their NAS devices and was met with largely the same response - we don't. (a little bit disconcerting as they are IT 'experts') however when person I respect and begrudgingly admire told me that he uses CrashPlan to backup his Synology NAS. I was familiar with CrashPlan as I had been toying with using either that or BackBlaze for my MacBook Pro backup and I know it's a highly reputable product, so I thought I'd go for it and download the trial.

I thought it was going to be a simple case of downloading the package to the Synology and running it, however there was a lot of naivety there! It was a touch more involved and took a lot of research to get going, however it's now running like a charm.

What follows are the steps I took to get there - I hope they are helpful to some of you out there.

1) Add Java Manager

You are going to need to install Java on your NAS as CrashPlan is written using the Java environment.

First, go to the Java Download and download the right file for your system. I downloaded jdk-7u60-linux-arm-vfp-hflt.tar.gz. Place this in a folder on your local machine for now as you will transfer it to your Synology soon.

Over to your Synology (via a web interface) and open Package Manager. Type in java in the Search field and install Java Manager.

Once Java Manager is installed, open it and install Java. You will be prompted for the location of the file you have just downloaded.

2) Add the correct CrashPlan package

Firstly, we are going to add the source for the package that needs to be downloaded. To do this, connect to your Synology NAS via a web interface and go to:

Package Centre -> Settings -> Package Sources

You are going to add http://packages.pcloadletter.co.uk as a new repository, with a name of your choosing (it just acts as an alias).

Now, staying in Package Centre, scroll down to the Community menu item on the left and select. You will see some packages that are available for install on the right hand side. Select CrashPlan.

When it's installed, you are going to need to stop the service and then start it again. Easily done, click on the Action drop down box and stop/start the service from there.

3) Install CrashPlan on your main client

Naturally, for me this is a Mac. Go to the download page and install the right client for your machine. What you have to remember here is that you are going to point the CrashPlan software to your Synology, not to your local machine. That involves some Terminal work.

Open Terminal and type in the following command:

sudo nano /Applications/CrashPlan.app/Contents/Resources/Java/conf/ui.properties

Here, you need to remove the # symbol from the #servicehost line and replace 127.0.0.1 with the IP address of your Synology device. Type ⌃X to exit out, saving changes.

The next job for Terminal is to SSH into your Synology NAS and run the following command:

echo cat /var/lib/crashplan/.ui_info (please note the backticks, NOT quotes in that syntax.

What you will be presented with is is a line of text. You will have a port number (4243), followed by an authentication token, ending with an IP address. You need to copy this token to your clipboard as you are going to replicate it on the equivalent file on your Mac.

Now, exit your SSH configuration and modify the following file using this command:

sudo nano "/Library/Application Support/CrashPlan/.ui_info"

Replace the token in this file with the one you have just copied and replace the IP address binding at the end with the IP address of your Synology.

All should now be done.

4) Verification

You should now be able to open the CrashPlan application and , on the Settings menu, the name of the device being backed up will be your Synology. Click on the Files button to select exactly what you wish to be backed up.

PCLoadLetter have a great page to visit for walking through the procedure above, with updates and comments as appropriate. It's worth bookmarking in case you run into any issues.

Knowing my NAS device is backing up efficiently off-site is such a relief, but I won't be counting my chickens until such a time as I've performed a test Restore operation - backups are only good if you restore effectively, this cannot be over-emphasised.