Synology DiskStation DS223j

How to add a drive on Synology NAS

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Adding a drive to a Synology NAS is an easy process, though it’s not quite as simple as throwing in a new drive and calling it a day. A RAID configuration requires careful consideration of the drive size, as well as taking a few steps to ensure the storage pool is expanded accordingly and data is not lost. This guide will run you through all the necessary steps for adding a drive.

Synology NAS RAID prerequisites

Synology states that to add a new drive to a branded NAS, you need to be using one of the following RAID types:

  • JBOD
  • RAID F1
  • RAID 1
  • RAID 5
  • RAID 6
  • Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR)

Which drives can be added to a Synology NAS?

To add a new drive to a Synology NAS, you need to make sure it’s in working order. You will also need to be using the same drive type, so there can’t be any mixing of an SSD with an array of HDDs. The same goes for SATA and SAS drives. For SHR, the drive needs to be equal to or larger than the largest drive in the storage pool. If you have two 1 TB and two 2 TB drives, the new drive needs to be 2 TB or larger.

It’s the opposite for RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, and RAID F1. For these RAID types, you will need to be using a drive that’s equal to or larger than the smallest drive in the storage pool. For instance, if you have two 2 TB and two 4 TB drives, the new drive needs to be 2TB or larger. Always remember to use NAS drives that are designed for use inside enclosures.

How to add a drive to a Synology NAS

Synology DiskStation DS420+
Synology DiskStation DS420+. (Source: NAS Master)

If your Synology NAS is running DSM 7.0 or above, supports an expansion unit, and is not the Synology DiskStation RS814, DS415play, DS414, DS414slim, and DS414j, it will support drive hot-swapping. This allows you to quickly add the drive without shutting down the NAS and can be helpful if replacing a faulty drive.

If you have a new drive available that meets the requirements for your RAID, the storage pool has a healthy status, and the drive is not part of a storage pool, you’ll be able to quickly activate it by following these steps:

  1. Shut down the Synology NAS. (Skip to step 2 if you have hot-swap support.)
  2. Remove a free drive tray.
  3. Install the new NAS drive.
  4. Reinsert the newly populated drive tray, and turn on the NAS if following the guide from step 1.
  5. Open Storage Manager.
  1. Go to Storage.
  2. Click the … button on the selected storage pool.
  1. Click Add Drive.
  2. Choose the new drive(s).
  3. Follow the rest of the wizard.

If using a single volume for the storage pool, DSM will automatically expand it to take into account the newly added capacity. If it’s a multi-volume storage pool, you can manually edit the pool and assign the capacity accordingly.

Which drives to use inside a Synology NAS

You can’t just use any old drive with a Synology NAS. It is possible to use the same drives you would with a desktop PC, but these aren’t designed for continuous operation. They also don’t have the same features and protections to make them better suited to systems with multiple spinning motors. This is where NAS drives come into play. I would recommend a Seagate IronWolf or Western Digital Red HDD.

Seagate IronWolf

Seagate IronWolf 8TB
Seagate IronWolf 8TB. (Source: Seagate)

I’m a big fan of Seagate’s IronWolf series of NAS hard drives. If you’re serious about storage, the Pro range offers a few advanced extras.

Western Digital Red Plus

There’s plenty to love about the Western Digital Red Plus. They’re similar to the Seagate IronWolf range with almost identical speeds and features.

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