If you recently purchased or thinking about purchasing a Synology Network Attached Storage device such as a DS214 you may or may not be aware of Cloud Station which is Synology’s own version of Dropbox. Cloud Station does have some big advantages such as no monthly costs and since it’s hosted at your office it’s a great private cloud solution that allows you to share your files without having to expose them on a public platform.
This tutorial assumes your Synology NAS is already setup in a basic configuration. That means you have 1 or 2 hard drives installed, a volume already built and you’re able to log into it from a web browser over the network. In this example I am using DSM 5 which is the latest and greatest.
So you have all of your files on a share folder in your office, now what? You probably want to have access to those files from your laptop while travelling or even from your phone or tablet. The first thing you need to do is install Cloud Station which is a free download and can be downloaded right from the Synology device itself. The default url to access the NAS through a web browser is https://deviceipaddress:5001
Once you are in you will notice the Package Center icon on the left hand side. This is where you can download a decent selection of addons and plugins for DSM so please click on it.
Now you will see the Package Center screen, click on the Business section to bring up all the software in that section. You will see Cloud Station listed with an install button so click on that.
Assuming your network settings are correct it will download it and install it without any prompts. Before you can actually start configuring Cloud Station you need to enable home services for users which is located in Control Panel -> User (In the file sharing category) -> Advanced Tab
On this screen just click “Enable user home service” and choose the default volume location if you have more than one. If you want to enable a recycle bin for each user you can click on that as well and click apply.
The Cloud Station icon doesn’t appear on the DSM desktop so you have to select the menu in the upper left of the screen and select it from that list.
You will see a dialog pop up asking to enable cloud station and say yes.
In order for users to reach your NAS from outside your network you have two choices - Use QuickConnect or open ports on your firewall. Synology recommends that opening ports on your firewall might allow for better performance but for this tutorial we’re going to use QuickConnect which is a easy way to get the same result without touching your firewall.
At this point you should be on the Cloud Connect screen and it should say enabled with a green check mark. From this screen you can also easily download the Cloud Station client on your computer and mobile device by selecting the pictures near the bottom.
Click on the Action menu and select QuickConnect Settings.
The next section is pretty straight forward. Just select Enable QuickConnect and add your account - if you don’t have an account there is a Register Now button to get one. Fill in your account and password and your QuickConnect ID which could be anything you want it to be but it has to be unique, for example CompanyNameNAS. You might get an error if you save this screen so be sure to check your email and activate your Synology account before proceeding.
After you filled everything in click Apply.
There are only two more settings that we need to change to get everything ready for file sharing on the NAS - Privileges and Sharing.
Click on the Privileges screen and you should see a list of all the users you have created. I just have the default admin account here, you have to enable each account you want to be able to use Cloud Station. Simply select enable to the right of the user account and save your changes.
Next go to the Sharing section and enable the shared folders you want to include in much the same way. Synology Cloud Station is a bit all or nothing so if you have user A and user B and share 1 and share 2, both users will get access to both shares. You can’t configure user A to only have access to share 1 out of the box. I did speak to Synology about this and if you were to integrate the DSM into active directory and configured ACL permissions on a windows workstation you can restrict folder access.
If you have MainShare and in that you have SubFolder1, user A and user B will get full permissions to SubFolder1 even if you restricted access for that user in the DSM. I mention this because you need to be careful or you may find out that users have access to information you don’t want them to see even though you restricted it in the DSM.
Save your settings and your DSM is pretty much ready to use outside your office, the last thing we need to do is setup the Cloud Station client on your PC.
Once you install the Cloud Station client software just enter the QuickConnect ID you created earlier and the Synology NAS username and password. If you enable SSL you might get a warning message that the SSL certificate isn’t trusted, just say ok.
After the Cloud Station client is installed it will create an icon on your desktop with your share and start syncing. The Cloud Station client icon can only point to one share, it will sync any additional shared folders you made under MyDocuments, each with it’s own windows folder. If you go to the settings of the Cloud Station client you can change which share is considered the main share.
While the Synology NAS does allow versions you can’t restore versions from the client software. The user will have to log into the NAS through a web browser and get a deleted document from the Synology DSM directly, the same method applies to recovering items from the recycle bin as well. While versioning is a nice feature to have the method of having to log into the NAS directly is pretty cumbersome.
This concludes our Cloud Station tutorial. As you can see there are pros and cons in using the Cloud Station when compared to a more robust product like Dropbox. Overall though it could be the perfect answer for a small office or a company that has simple requirements.