Any major upgrade or update can lead to problems as well as resolutions or even major feature additions to the platform or appliance running it.
The same principle applies to Synology's DSM (Disk station manager) OS running on their NAS devices. In the anticipation of the new DSM 7 and its new features, which should arrive this summer (no official news as of yet), some pointers apply to scenarios such as upgrading to a major version.
DSM 7 has been in public beta since December 2020 (and closed beta since September), and until now we have had only a single version of DSM 7 beta that is unusual for Synology and their beta rollout. Usually, we get a new beta every 3 months and then after about 6 months, the final version.
This has not happened this time around, and if we look at some sources, Synology is preparing for a summer rollout of their new NAS OS.
In this article I would just like to reflect on some steps that you could (or should) take into consideration, and execute them should this be your first major update from DSM 6.
When doing any update on any software/app/service that runs your "production" setup it is a good thing to do a backup (QuickTip No1 and 2)! On top of that, bear in mind QT No17 as well (no downgrade possible!).
So before you move forward with this brave step, please do a backup of the most important content, settings, and anything else that you might need to recover from potential problems that OS upgrade might bring.
Backup configuration settings Backup apps and services Backup critical data
DSM configuration settings backup can be done using the Control Panel > Update and Restore > Configuration backup. This will allow you to export most of the configuration settings on your NAS should you need to restore any of them at any point. More info on how this will look like in DSM 7 can be found here.
Another method to do it is by using the Hyper Backup app that can also back up your configuration settings as well as backup all of Synology apps and their settings, and the NAS content.
Speaking of content, backing up everything all the time is sometimes impossible, so be sure to back up the most critical data as a minimum in case you can't (or don't want to) backup 100%.
As said before you have several options when it comes to backing up your NAS data and settings.
Hyper Backup and Snapshot Replication (on selected models) are Synology's top applications when it comes to keeping your data safe as well as offer features and options for restoring that same data should you find yourself in a similar situation.
An example of using HB and Synology C2 cloud backup to keep your data safe, and another one for Snapshot Replication.
Don't update on day 1!
Unless you like to live dangerously and have a spare NAS or two, do not, just don't update on day 1. There were several situations, not just with Synology, that even though the beta period was long a possible small or big update problem surfaces and you find yourself in the deep end.
The best advice is to wait. Wait about a week or so until you are sure that the feedback has not revealed any potential (major) problems that might stop you from updating yourself. Some say to wait until it hits 7.1, but to be honest that might be another year or so considering the time Synology is taking to update to DSM 7 in the first place.
For now, avoid day 1 update and you will be fine.
Prepare for the worst
No matter how trivial the update process is with Synology, and it really is, it can go wrong. That's the truth, no way around it. In any case, this is the reason you should be prepared to take action in case your update makes a mess of things.
What can you do? Well, if you have production class services running on your NAS for yourself, your family, or your business, be sure that you not only have a backup ready but also a disaster plan in place.
By DR I mean as much as you can. If you have services running that are vital for your day-to-day operations, then you need to make sure you have them up and running all the time with minimal or no downtime.
Example of DR solution using Snapshot Replication.
That can be running your company website, documents, Synology Office apps, password managers, documentation platforms, you name it. With a major DSM update you need to consider the following:
01. read the release notes and check for any breaking changes 02. make sure that your services will continue to work after the update 03. prepare for any possible downtime (activate your DR site, double-check your backups, the works 04. make sure your users are aware of a potential extended downtime of services in case you can't secure them running during the update
Take the time to execute the update
Do not rush it. You know that time of day or night when you have some free time and decide to pull the trigger thinking all will be well? That time is not the time you want to do any major update. The same goes for your NAS.
Hopefully, all will be ok, and in most cases it is, but it is still best to follow through with your DSM update. Also, try not to run your update during a thunderstorm with no UPS support, or when you have some work around your house, like fixing the tiles or something similar.
If you care about your data, take the time to do it right is all I'm saying.
Running a major version update can be both a great or a horrible experience. It can lead to great things or days of problems. It can be stressful, no question about it, but sometimes you just have to do it no matter what. Today, being up-to-date is mandatory. With all the exploits, ransomware, HW, and SW problems, staying updated is one way of keeping your data safe.
Still, saying that, do not underestimate the process and be prepared to take action. In case you get into trouble, do not panic, do not try and do something that you might regret.
Contact support, your friends, the forum, or write here (or use the RocketChat icon in the top right corner for some IM support), and try and get help, before you start nuking the hell out of your failed update.
On the bright side, many features are coming to DSM 7 so do not give up on the update, just be prepared for the worse.
Let me know how your update to DSM 7 went down in the comment section below.