What are the detailed steps to configure a RAID 5 array on a Synology DS420+ for improved data redundancy?

12 June 2024

In today's data-driven world, ensuring the security and redundancy of your data is more crucial than ever. For those using a Synology DS420+, configuring a RAID 5 array can be an effective solution. This setup not only provides data redundancy but also boosts performance and maximizes storage efficiency. In this comprehensive guide, we walk you through the steps to configure a RAID 5 array on your Synology DS420+.

Understanding RAID 5 and Synology DS420+

Before diving into the configuration, it's crucial to understand RAID 5 and how the Synology DS420+ can support it. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. RAID 5 is a type of RAID configuration that provides both data redundancy and improved performance by distributing data and parity information across multiple drives.

What is RAID 5?

RAID 5 requires at least three hard drives and provides a good balance between performance, storage capacity, and data redundancy. The data is striped across the drives, and parity information is distributed among them. In the event of a single drive failure, the data can be rebuilt using the parity information from the remaining drives, ensuring data integrity and continuity.

Features of Synology DS420+

The Synology DS420+ is a robust and versatile NAS (Network Attached Storage) solution designed for both home and small business use. With four bays, it supports a range of hard drives and solid state drives (SSDs). It features a powerful processor, ample RAM, and multiple USB ports, including USB Gen 3.2 Type A, making it a top choice for those needing reliable and scalable storage systems.

Pre-Configuration Requirements

Before configuring a RAID 5 array on your Synology DS420+, there are several preparations you need to make. Proper preparation ensures a smooth and hassle-free setup process.

Selecting the Right Drives

Choosing the right drives is crucial for the performance and reliability of your RAID 5 array. The Synology DS420+ supports both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch SATA drives. It's recommended to use drives from the same brand and model to maintain consistency and prevent potential compatibility issues. Ensure the drives have the same form factor and storage capacity for optimal performance.

Preparing the Synology DiskStation

Before you start, make sure your Synology DiskStation is properly set up and connected to your network. Plug in the power adapter and connect the DiskStation to your router using an Ethernet cable. Power on the device and wait for it to initialize. You will need a computer with an internet connection to access the Synology Web Assistant for the initial setup.

Creating a Backup

Although configuring a RAID 5 array provides data redundancy, it's always wise to create a backup of your important data before making any changes to your storage system. Use an external USB drive or another NAS device to store your backup data. This precautionary step ensures that your data is safe in case of accidental loss during the configuration process.

Step-by-Step Configuration Guide

In this section, we detail the step-by-step process to configure a RAID 5 array on your Synology DS420+. Follow these steps carefully to ensure a successful setup.

Initial Setup and Drive Installation

  1. Install the Hard Drives: Open the drive bays on your Synology DS420+ and insert your selected hard drives. Ensure they are securely placed in the bays.
  2. Power On the DiskStation: Connect the power and network cables, then power on the DiskStation.
  3. Access Synology Web Assistant: On your computer, open a web browser and navigate to the Synology Web Assistant (find.synology.com). Follow the on-screen instructions to initialize your DiskStation.

Creating the Storage Pool

  1. Log In to DSM: Once the DiskStation is initialized, log in to the DiskStation Manager (DSM) using the credentials you set up during initialization.
  2. Open Storage Manager: Navigate to the Main Menu and open Storage Manager.
  3. Create a Storage Pool: Under Storage Manager, go to the Storage Pool tab and click on Create.
  4. Select RAID Type: Choose RAID 5 as the RAID type for your storage pool. Select the drives you want to include in the array.
  5. Check Drive Health: Before proceeding, DSM will check the health of the selected drives. This process may take a few minutes.
  6. Confirm Settings: Review and confirm the settings. DSM will now create the RAID 5 storage pool. This process may take several hours, depending on the size of the drives.

Creating a Volume

  1. Go to Volume: Under Storage Manager, go to the Volume tab and click on Create.
  2. Select Storage Pool: Choose the newly created RAID 5 storage pool.
  3. Configure Volume Settings: Follow the on-screen instructions to configure the volume settings, such as file system type and allocation size.
  4. Complete the Setup: Review the settings and click Apply. DSM will now create the volume on your RAID 5 storage pool.

Optimizing and Managing Your RAID 5 Array

Once your RAID 5 array is configured, it's vital to optimize and manage it for long-term reliability and performance. Here are some tips and best practices.

Regular Maintenance and Monitoring

Regular maintenance and monitoring are essential to ensure the longevity and performance of your RAID 5 array. Synology DSM offers several tools and features to help you keep your system in check.

  1. SMART Tests: Enable and schedule regular SMART tests for your drives. These tests help detect potential drive failures before they occur.
  2. Health Monitoring: Use DSM’s Health Monitoring feature to keep an eye on the overall health of your storage pool and drives.
  3. Firmware Updates: Regularly update the firmware of your DiskStation and drives to ensure they are running the latest features and security patches.

RAID Backup Strategy

Even though RAID 5 offers data redundancy, it's not a substitute for a comprehensive backup strategy. Implementing a robust backup plan ensures your data is safe in case of multiple drive failures or other catastrophic events.

  1. External Backups: Regularly back up your critical data to an external USB drive or a different NAS device.
  2. Cloud Backups: Consider using cloud backup services for additional redundancy and offsite protection.
  3. Automated Backups: Utilize DSM’s built-in backup solutions, such as Hyper Backup, to automate your backup processes.

Configuring a RAID 5 array on your Synology DS420+ significantly enhances data redundancy and provides a balanced approach to performance and storage efficiency. By following the detailed steps outlined in this guide, you can set up and optimize your RAID 5 array with confidence.

Remember, while RAID 5 offers robust protection against single-drive failures, it's essential to maintain a comprehensive backup strategy. Regular maintenance, monitoring, and updates ensure the longevity and reliability of your storage system. With your RAID 5 array in place, you can enjoy enhanced data security and peace of mind, knowing your valuable data is well-protected.