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HomeConsumer & SMBNASSynology DiskStation DS1520+ Overview and DSM Initial Setup Guide

Synology DiskStation DS1520+ Overview and DSM Initial Setup Guide

Installing a Synology NAS is easier than you can imagine. This article is a Synology DS1520+ overview. I will show you how to set up and install your NAS for the first time. Also, how to use its dedicated operating system DiskStation Manager (DSM) and perform basic configurations.

I am using the DS1520+, but basically, the same setup applies to any Synology DiskStation NAS. First, we are going through the basics specs and features of the DS1520+. The next step is to unbox it and check all its components. Later, we will quickly overview its hardware, install the drives, cabling, and power it up. We are then installing DiskStation Manager (DSM) and overview its GUI. Of course, any NAS's core is to manage storage space; here, we will create a storage pool, a volume, and finally, a shared folder. Additionally, we are going to through Synology QuickConnect, to access the system from anywhere. 

Note: You need to have your drives ready if you are following this guide. Initially, I will be using two 4TB Seagate IronWolf HDD, and later I will add a third drive. Eventually, I will populate the five bays.

DS1520+ Seagate IronWolf

1. DS1520+ Features and Specs

Synology DiskStation DS1520+ is an ideal network-attached storage solution suitable for small office and IT enthusiasts. Two built-in M.2 SSD slots and Synology SSD Cache technology allow you to boost system I/O and application performance. The scalable storage design of DS1520+ lets you start small and expand storage capacity with Synology DX517 as your data grows.

1.1. NAS Features

  • CPU: 4-core 2.0 GHz, burst up to 2.7 GHz.
  • Cache Acceleration: 2 x built-in M.2 2280 NVMe SSD slots.
  • Performance: Average 19.8% boost to computing-intensive applications.
  • Scalability: Expand up to 15 drives with a DX517 expansion unit.

1.2. Hardware Specs

CPU

  • Model: Intel Celeron J4125
  • Architecture: 64-bit
  • Frequency: 4-core 2.0 (base) / 2.7 (burst) GHz

Memory

  • System Memory: 8 GB DDR4 non-ECC
  • Memory Module Pre-installed: 8 GB (4 GB + 4 GB)
  • Total Memory Slots: 1

Storage

  • Drive Bays: 5
  • Maximum Drive Bays with Expansion Unit: 15 (DX517 x 2)
  • M.2 Drive Slots: 2 (NVMe)

Compatible Drive Type

  • 3.5" SATA HDD
  • 2.5" SATA HDD
  • 2.5" SATA SSD
  • M.2 2280 NVMe SSD

External Ports

  • RJ-45 1GbE LAN Port: 4 (with Link Aggregation / Failover support)
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 Port: 2
  • eSATA Port: 2

File System

  • Internal Drives: Btrfs and EXT4
  • External Drives: Btrfs, EXT4, EXT3, FAT, NTFS, HFS+, and exFAT

1.3. Synology DSM Key Features

  • Multimedia: Complete multimedia solution for management, streaming, and playback.
  • Hyper Backup: Store multiple backup versions with block-level incremental data backup and cross-version deduplication.
  • Desktop Backup: Simplified backup solution for your Mac, PC, and mobile devices.
  • Snapshot Replication: Schedulable and instantaneous data protection of shared folders and iSCSI LUNs for quick disaster recovery.
  • Surveillance Station: Complete surveillance solution for recording, monitoring, and management.
  • Virtual Machine Manager: Run various operating systems in isolated sandboxes. Seamlessly clone, store, and migrate virtual machines.

1.4. Optional Accessories

For a complete list of specs, visit Synology More Specs.

2. DS1520+ Unboxing

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After you take your NAS out of the box, you will find the following components:

  • AC power adapter
  • Quick installation guide
  • RJ-45 LAN cables x 2
  • Drive tray keys x 2
  • 2.5-inch drives screws
DS1520+ Unboxing

3. DS1520+ Hardware Overview

This NAS is built of strong plastic. Its dimensions are 23cm x 16.5cm, its depth is 22.3cm. 

In the front of the NAS, you get five hot-swappable bays to palace your drives. Drives in these bays can each have a 3.5-inch SATA (like the IronWolf I am going to install), a 2.5-inch SATA drive, or 2.5-inch SSD. The drive bays can be prevented from being pulled out accidentally; you can secure them with the key included.

In the front, we also have a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port and the power button. On the right border, you see the system's status indicator lights and drives one to five.  

DS1520+ Unboxing

On the back, you have two fans on the top. Below these, you get a Kensington security slot, a reset hole factory reset the device, another USB 3.2 Gen 1, and two eSATA drives. And with this model, you also get four gigabit LAN ports.

DS1520+ Unboxing
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On both sides of the NAS, you have ventilation grids, Synology branded.

DS1520+ Unboxing

Finally, on the button, you get two NVMe slots for Read / Write Cache.

DS1520+ Unboxing

4. DS1520+ Hardware Installation

The first thing you need to do to get the NAS sorted out is to install the hard drives. For both Consumer and SMB Synology NAS, the HDD installation is almost the same. 

For the DS1520+, pull the drive trays out, then the (two) fastening panels from the tray's sides. Install the drives into the drive tray and insert the fastening panels to secure the drive in place. I am using 3.5-inch HDDs, so that will do for me. But if you are using 2.5-inch HDDs, you need to use the 2.5-inch HDD screws to secure the drives.

DS1520+ Hardware Drive Installation
DS1520+ Hardware Drive Installation

Insert the drive tray back into the bay (now with the seated HDD). You will hear a click when the tray is locked into place. Then do the same thing with each tray you plan to use

DS1520+ Hardware Drive Installation

You can get away with a single drive and later just add more. In fact, I'll start with two 4TB HDDs; then, I will add a third one. I'll be using only these 3 HDDs, and shortly, when I get some extra budget, I'll populate the whole (five) bays.

Connect the AC adapter to the power port located in the rear of the NAS.

Use any of the available LAN ports in the NAS's rear with a LAN cable to connect the NAS to your network. You could be using a router or switch. Ensure the NAS is in the same network domain as the device (laptop, PC, phone, etc.) you'll be using to configure it. 

Press the power button to power your NAS.

5. DiskStation Manager (DSM) installation 

When you buy your NAS, the hardware is not the only thing to take into account. These devices are quite expensive, if you ask me, considering the hardware you get. You are actually paying for a best-in-class operating system to take care of your data, like the DiskStation Manager (DSM) included with your Synology purchase. 

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Once your NAS is powered on and connected to your network, you can find it via a web browser using the Synology Web Assistant. Remember, the NAS must be connected to the same network domain.

Enter the following URL on your browser: find.synology.com 

Note: If you cannot find your NAS with the Web Assistant, you can also try to download Synology Assistant from Synology's Download Center. Synology Download Utilities. I am not covering this step in this guide.

The web browser will start searching for your NAS. 

DiskStation Manager (DSM) installation

Once your NAS is found, you'll be able to connect and start configuring it. Note that you will see the same device as many LAN ports connected with your NAS. I am using two out of four LAN ports, so I'll see my NAS twice.

DiskStation Manager (DSM) installation

Accept the Synology EULA and Privacy Statement. Click Continue.

DiskStation Manager (DSM) installation EULA
DiskStation Manager (DSM) installation

Now the system will be prepared to install the Synology DSM. After the assistant loads:

  1. Click on Set up and then on Install Now.
  2. Preferably, make sure that your drives are blank.
  3. Note that all the data in your HDDs will be erased.
  4. Check the warning message and click OK to install DSM. The system will get the latest version automatically.
  5. During the installation process, do not switch the power off.  

The installation will take 10min approx. The NAS will restart automatically right after the DSM installation. You will hear a short beep when it's done.

DiskStation Manager (DSM) installation

Once your NAS is rebooted, it will show the account creation screen. Here, you have to create your DSM administrator account. Enter the server name, username, and password. You need to use these credentials to log in to your Synology NAS and its complementary services.

DiskStation Manager (DSM) installation

You can configure QuickConnection in the next step or later when the DSM installation is completed. For this, you need to create a Synology account. Check the last part of this guide to configure QuickConnection later. Click to Go to start using your NAS. 

DiskStation Manager (DSM) installation

Now, click Got It to the Smart Update option. Once a new DSM is ready, the NAS will automatically check if the update path addresses any issue in your current DSM configuration and services in use. The system will determine whether to notify of such updates.

DiskStation Manager (DSM) installation

.

6. DiskStation Manager (DSM) Desktop - GUI Overview

After you finish the DSM installation and initial setup, you will be brought to its system GUI, aka, the DiskStation Manager Desktop.

This system is straightforward, which is great for non-tech users. The first time logging into the GUI, the system will provide you three essential tips for its usage. 

DiskStation Manager (DSM) Desktop - GUI Overview

Finally, you will have access to the DiskStation Manager Desktop. The desktop is where your application and package windows are displayed. You can also create desktop shortcuts for frequently used applications.

On the taskbar, you have the Main Menu on the left side; and on the right, you have Notifications, Options, Search, and Widgets. On the desktop area, you get app shortcuts and all widgets you decide to add. Two widgets are immediately displayed: System Health and Resource Monitor.

DiskStation Manager (DSM) Desktop - GUI Overview

7. Manage your Synology Storage Space

Suppose you're using the NAS for the first time; you need to create a volume to store all your files and precious data. First, I will create one storage pool using Synology Hybrid Raid (SHR), then a volume, and finally, a shared folder.

This Synology NAS model supports the quick creation mode. You can create a volume and a storage pool simultaneously. The Volume Creation Wizard will automatically optimize storage capacity and performance. I prefer creating a storage pool first to have more control over the storage spaces.

7.1. Create a Storage Pool

From the Main Menu, open Storage Manager

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

From the storage manager, you will have the following options: Overview, Volume, Storage Pool, HDD/SSD, Hot Spare, and SSD Cache. You can see that we don't have any volume or storage pool configured from the Overview tab. Also, you can see two unused drives (the ones I installed) and three more available slots.

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

Selecting the HDD/SSD tab, we can monitor and double-check the installation of our drives.

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

First, we need to create a storage pool. Here is where you need to build a RAID area where all your data will live. Click on the Storage Pool tab, and click Create to start the Storage Pool Creation Wizard.

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

In the next step, I am selecting the Higher Flexibility option, as I want to use SHR. Click Next.

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

Here I am naming my pool "Pool-1" and selecting SHR under the Raid Type option. Click Next.

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

In this step, select all the drives you want to use to create the SHR Storage Pool. In my case, I am using two drives. Click Next.

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

Click OK to confirm the warning message. The data in your drives will be erased. 

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

Select Yes, to perform a drive check.

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

Confirm all the settings to this storage pool and click Apply. The storage pool will be created, and in the background, the system will verify the drive's parity consistency. This process will take some time; however, you can keep utilizing your NAS without any interruption.

Synology DSM Create a Storage Pool

7.2. Create a Volume

A volume is the essential storage space on your Synology NAS and is constructed on a storage pool. It is also the storage space where you install a file system to rule your data. 

Now, it is time to create your first volume. Move to the Volume tab and click Create to start the Volume Creation Wizard.

Synology DSM Create a Volume

We can create two kinds of volumes. As I already create a storage pool, Custom, is the only option available. Please select it and click Next.

Synology DSM Create a Volume

Now, select Choose an existing storage pool, and click Next.

Synology DSM Create a Volume

In this step, select a storage pool. I am choosing the one created in the later section. Click Next.

Synology DSM Create a Volume

Now you need to select the file system. The first, btrfs, is the one recommended by Synology for general purposes. This is a modern file system that can provide more advanced features, such as background snapshot creation, shared folder duplication, file self-healing, and a lot more. On the other hand, ext4 is now recommended for advanced users and extra (a little more) performance. Select btrfs and click Next.

Synology DSM Create a Volume

You can use all the storage pool capacity to create your volume and then administer your storage using shared folders. I prefer to create multiple volumes, depending on the proposed data. Here, I will build a 2TB volume. Later, when I expand the storage pool, I will distribute its capacity among other volumes. For example, I am using this volume for multimedia. I will use another one for a testing lab and virtual machines.

Synology DSM Create a Volume

Confirm the settings and click Apply to create the new volume.

Synology DSM Create a Volume

7.3. Create a Shared Folder 

A Shared Folder is an area of storage on the NAS that can be accessed over the network. You need to create a shared folder to allow your devices to interact with your NAS data.

From the Main Menu, open File Station. There is also a shortcut available from the desktop.

Synology DSM Create a Shared Folder

A notice will indicate that you don't have any shared folder created yet. Click OK to create a new shared folder.

Synology DSM Create a Shared Folder

The Shared Folder Creation wizard will show up. First, name your folder, select the volume location (if you have more), thick on any additional option you consider, and finally click Next. In my case, I am just giving the name and leaving the rest as default. 

Synology DSM Create a Shared Folder

You can also encrypt this folder, so only the people with the encryption key can use it. For now, I don't need this option.

Synology DSM Create a Shared Folder

In the Configure Advanced Settings step, I leave everything as default. 

Synology DSM Create a Shared Folder

Finally, confirm the settings and click Apply.

Synology DSM Create a Shared Folder

The next thing you need to do is decide who can interact with this shared folder. 

Synology DSM Create a Shared Folder

The shared folder will be created under Control Panel > Shared Folder.

Synology DSM Create a Shared Folder

You can also access the shared folder and its data from the File Station app.

Synology DSM Create a Shared Folder

7.4. Access the Shared Folder Within the Local Network

First, you need to make sure the relative file sharing protocols have been enabled for your Synology NAS. Go to Control Panel > File Services, and enable all services you need based on your device's OS. At the moment, I just need SMB for Windows.

Synology DSM Shared Folder Within the Local Network

There are two methods to access these folders. One approach is to run the Synology Assistant and select the server from the server list. For this, click Map Drive and follow the onscreen steps to finish the setup. Upon completion, you can access the mapped shared folder directly in Windows Explorer.

A faster method, the one I will use for this guide, is to enter your NAS's name directly in the windows file explorer. My NAS's name is NAS_mulcas; then I should use the following format: \\NAS_mulcas. The same name as the one point in the image above.

You will be asked for the NAS credentials, and once you enter them, you will have access to NAS and shared folders.

Synology DSM Shared Folder Within the Local Network

Then, you can right-click into the shared folder and add it to Windows Quick Access. Or create a shortcut on the desktop.

8. Synology QuickConnect ID Setup

Setting up a Synology QuickConnect ID will help you connect your Synology NAS to other devices via the internet without complex network configuration. You can set up this option during the DSM installation, but you can do it now if you miss it.

First, you need to have a Synology account. You can easily create one from the following link: https://account.synology.com. You will get a confirmation email. With the Synology account, you will be able to access all Synology-related services from one portal.

Once you create your account, go to Control Panel > QuickConnect. Here, thick the Enable QuickConnect option and then logging into your account. Then enter your preferred QuickConnect ID, and click Apply to save the settings.

Synology QuickConnect ID Setup

Now, you can access your Synology NAS using your QuickConnect ID from the following link: https://quickconnect.to/.

Synology QuickConnect ID Setup

Synology will establish the connection for you, no need to worry about any additional configuration.

Synology QuickConnect ID Setup

Finally, use your Synology account to login into your NAS. After this, the system will bring you to the DSM Desktop.

Synology QuickConnect ID Setup

After these final steps, you should have finished all necessary configurations for our Synology NAS. Now, you are ready to move your precious data to the NAS, and later, depending on your needs, you can try out all the apps and services that DSM offers. 

9. Conclusion 

Synology had some popular NAS released last year, among those, the DiskStation DS1520+. This NAS is one of the most proficient and powerful network storage devices for home and small business users currently in the market. This system is specially designed for various purposes, allowing you to perform demanding and straightforward tasks, possible to its powerful hardware and the web-based Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM). 

DSM will help you manage your digital assets. It uses intuitive wizards to create basic tasks such as storage spaces, including storage pools, volumes, and shared folders. The system comes with a proprietary RAID, Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), a powerful option allowing for mixed drive capacities and many more features. DSM also comes with fantastic features such as QuickConnect, a solution to connect with your Synology NAS via the internet without complex network configuration. From Package Center, you can find and install various packages for backup, business, security, collaboration, development tools, and other essential solutions.

The DiskStation DS1520+ and DSM are perfect if you are looking for a media server for your home, either for productivity or entertainment. It is also a powerful file server for small offices, ideal for employee collaboration. Overall, it is a comprehensive solution for all your storage needs, such as multimedia, desktop backup, surveillance station, virtual machines, and more. 

Juan Mulford
Juan Mulford
I have been active in IT for over fourteen years now. I am a solutions architect, working with storage, virtualization, and VDI solutions. For the past ten years, I have been living and working in Taiwan.

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