Following on from my initial post (12 hour mini review), i've been getting more familiar with my NAS and wanted to share some experiences;
First of all, as someone who is not an IT professional, I think that I wasnt fully prepared for what I bought, although ultimately I think that by luck more than design, I will end up with what I want.
I essentially had various drives, with various media, all over the place, and was becoming increasingly concerned that if a drive failed then I would lose alot. Although my photos were backup up, it was only being done on a "when I can remember to do so" basis, and nothing else was backed up.
I got my Synology and loaded 2 of the bays with 2 TB drives, selected the 'standard' system to manage volumes (which it uses RAID 1 for mirroring), and after close to a day or so of the NAS processing the drives (checking consistency etc) it was ready to rock and roll.
After installing its OS, i had 1.8 TB of useable drive space.
My initial frustrations about poor transfer speeds (of around 4 MB per sec) was due to me transferring files via my web browser, and the loaded java applet... at the time I didnt know that there was any other way to load files on to the NAS, and the whole thing felt quite underwhelming.
Mapping a network drive
Then a friend pointed out how to map a network drive on to your PC (basically right click on 'My Computer' or 'Computer' depending on your version of windows) and select "map network drive...". You then enter your NAS IP address, folder name, username and pasword and you are away!
So working backwards from Z, i have 5 drive letters for Pictures, Photos, Documents, Music and Videos, and also mapped the same drives to same letters on other laptops in the home.
Suddenly this whole NAS thing makes alot of sense - I transferred my previous music drive to the NAS but changed drive letters so my computer thinks the new location is the old one, and iTunes was simply able to open up and work, retaining all my ratings. Now all of my computers have access to all of my music, without having to get iTunes to do any 'Home Sharing' etc.
So far I have around 800 GB of stuff on it, including music, home movies, dvds etc.
I have also since added in a couple more drives (this time i put in 2 Western Dig EARS drives to sit alongside the current Samsung F3's), and the NAS has begun the process of adding and converting the array, changing itself from RAID 0 to RAID 5, and am anticipating having a total of (just under) 6 TB of space to use, which should be plenty for the future (i hope).
I must say though that this process has not been quick, which I anticipated, however... I started this on Sunday 9am. It took approx 12 hrs to do disk checking, which I thought was quite quick, but then it began integrating the new drives into the array. When I left the house this morning (Tues 7am) it was still going through this process! The whole thing is happening automatically which is good, and I anticipate that it'll all be done when I get home this evening. Also, throughout this process all of my files have remained accessible, so it's no bad thing (quite clever actually - it still hurts my brain when I try to mentally picture how RAID 5 works).
The NAS itself is quite quiet although my Samsung drives are audible. The Western Dig's are much quieter, and moving from 2 drives to 4 hasnt really increased the noise. Conversely, my Samsung drives are reported as remaining under 35 degrees C, even whilst heavy seeking, whereas both WD's are reported as 41 degrees. Still, i cant imagine that 48 hrs of thrashing drives will be a common activity, so i'm not concerned.
Currently the NAS sits on my desk next to me, however i plan to move it in to a draw (but ensure good airflow), since this is all in the living room and I want to have it all looking good. Am also organising for an electrician to install home networking (Cat 5E) and a gigabit switch, so all in all i'm hoping for really quick access to my files.