21 November 2009

Synology CS407e NAS Cube Station and file move/copy errors

I've been using the Synology Cube Station CS407e as a home NAS for about a year now, and up until a few weeks ago it worked flawlessly. I'm only using it as a network attached media server, not all the other whizzy features it has.

The setup: I have three different machines at various times coping and and moving files around on the box. Trying to be overly clever, I set up a user "write" on the Synology with write permissions so if I had guests in the house using the media server they by default couldn't clobber any files with the default guest access.

Several weeks ago I started having permissions and file move/copy errors. The errors didn't make sense given the relevant context. I tried relaxing permissions by enabling user guest with full read-write permissions. I tried changing login credentials and permissions from the three different clients I used to copy and move files around. Various brick walls. And yes, I was on the latest firmware Synology had available for the CS407e.

I then noticed that I could ssh into the Synology. As I said, I had just been using it as simple NAS. Viola, after logging into it (btw, admin and root logins have the same password) I had access to chown/chgrp via the Unix like busybox interface and tidied up the permissions.

While that solved the problem, it's worth noting that it appears something about the permissions handling on the Synology is broken. The user and permissions setup via the web interface on the box isn't consistent with the errors happening (I had enabled guest with write permissions, still got client side errors) and what I saw at the filesystem level via the command line. So while repairable (ssh interface to busybox), the repair isn't viable for non-techs.

If you're non-technical and not comfortable working at a Unix command line but you still want to use the Synology, I suggest you do not set up other users. Just stick with user guest with the permissions set wide open.

If you've already dug the hole for yourself as described above, I think you can copy everything someplace else, delete all the offending files/directories, re-create a new directory structure with the guest user, and copy everything back.

Lastly, don't let this one problem put you off from considering a Synology for your home NAS.  I've had reliable use of the Synology CS407e for over a year now (as compared to two different Sans Digital MN2Ls previously - yikes, stay away).  It's quiet, reasonably fast, has a top quality management user interface and it Just Works (assuming you don't monkey with non default users!).

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