Leveraging a Synology for Local Development

For the past several years I have been able to rely on a near 100% cloud-based development environment. Further, most of my day to day computing was either being synced automatically, or I’d check in or publish what I’d done to an online location.

We had this setup at BraveNewCode, because some of the staff worked remotely, and it just made sense with ample internet bandwidth and the way our products and services operated.

There are many great tools for cloud-based development routines, and with Dropbox, iCloud, Box, etc— easy ways to save all your regular working files to cloud locations and sync them across all of your devices over the web.

Once I moved to Prince Edward County, I didn’t really change anything about my process right away. It wasn’t long however until I started to feel slowed down by all the cloud syncing going on, and also felt it unnecessarily chewing up precious bandwidth just to sync with computers… that were on the same local network 90% of the time.

The first thing I decided to do was shutter my private Girhub repositories. I really only had them for client projects, and there were seldom occasions where I needed to share them. Likely I could have just setup a temporary repo on the web hosting server, or just served it from the Synology in the home office (more on that later).

So I closed the account after making sure all of my repositories were safely on my local machine. I didn’t just want to keep them on just one machine however— I still wanted to be able to sync them with my iMac and my laptop, and also get at them from a remote location if I needed to (like a coffee shop or client office).

So after a bit of research I decided to leverage the capabilities that our Synology already had to do just that. I was aware that it could do it, but I didn’t think previously that it would be that easy to setup and would be significantly better— though as it turns out it was, and is!

Setting up Git is as simple as installing the package from the Synology App Store locates within Disk Station Manager, and then issuing some ssh commands as usual to initialize a repo.

I decided to start fresh with new repos and import my projects— I’d lose my old commit history but for the most part the old ones were just being stored, and the newer ones had little history anyways.

I followed a guide to get my private key setup for easy login and push/pull, and within 15 minutes was already committing to about 10 different repos via my local network, pushing and pulling from my different machines.

One of the immediate things I really enjoyed was just how fast it was to push or pull on the local gigabit network here at home, especially with projects that contain lots of files and in some cases larger files. What would take several minutes to do remotely with github was taking 10 seconds— a big improvement for my local development routine.

After working in web and software for over a decade, I have some RSI issues. As a result I usually move between my laptop and desktop regularly to change it up in terms of posture. Because I switch between them often, I have built my computer setup for years to be a few clicks away from near identical on both machines, so I can migrate between the two with little friction or delay.

So having the Synology making Git syncing effortlessly was great for me for working from home.

Next, I decided to ditch using iCloud and Dropbox for syncing documents and other files I like to keep in sync between my devices, and install Cloud Station Drive on the Synology and my two computers.

With it installed and setup, it works just like Dropbox or iCloud and keeps everything inside a folder in sync identically between my machines, and a copy on the Synology. Because it’s on my home network, it’s blazing fast and is not consuming any internet bandwidth to do so. When I’m out I usually pause it, but I can have it sync remotely too if I wanted. It like having a private, personal cloud service.

And because of its speed in particular, I’m syncing my desktop, documents, downloads and a main Cloud Station folder for a bunch of other things- totaling over 200GB of stuff– absolutely free with no fees.

It’s been working really great, and has a built in backup versioning system in case I need it.

So now I’m completely using the Synology as my cloud storehouse, development centre, and soon will host local websites and databases on it to further leverage its capabilities.

Synology really has been building incredible backup & data protection network attached storage for quite some time— and I don’t think they’re given enough credit for the software that powers it, Disk Station Manager. It’s been rock solid and reliable for me, is packed with features and is essentially a full fledged home server if you want it to be, capable of doing a ton of different tasks, replacing the need for full fledged additional computer to take on the roll.

They’re very affordable too, with really great models in the $400-$800 price range— a bargain compared to similarly spec’d computers that could be outfitted to perform similarly.

And living and working rurally in technology has revealed its strength even more to me.

If you’re in the market for home or small office storage and server capabilities, give Synology a look.

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