Redragon K530 Draconic

Here we are with a 60% keyboard. This time, this even smaller K530 model. As for that true-typing experience I was chasing, I’m certainly experiencing more of that. Read on for my thoughts for the K530 Dragonic.

The first 3 days I took this to work, and I had a mixed experience. For purely typing, this is great. The sounds are fantastic, the tactility from the outemu browns feel really good, and doing some n-key rollover tests show this registers all the possible keys I can press (about 40 at a time). The bluetooth feature came in handy for switching between laptop / phone / desktop. I loved the fact that my desk space immediately increased, and it looks very minimal. Professionally minimal as I like to think. For things like web-browsing, replying to emails, and gaming this is truly a great experience. I’ve yet to use the macros, but I’ll soon figure out how they work.

The K530 delivers on a small, effective package that punches above it’s price point. The board feels incredibly stiff, and during disassembly I was happy to find a metal backplate. The USB-C connector works fine, and is now alongside the collection of other USB-C cables on my desk. Removal of keys and switches is straightforward, and the backplate is held in by 7 machine screws. The underside board houses the 3000maH battery with one connector. I love using bluetooth on this keyboard, and simply moving it out of the way when I need more desk space. With the ability to connect 3 different devices with the flip of a switch was certainly the highlight of my day. Punching out paragraphs with the brown switches feels effortless and satisfying. I may have found that true-typing experience!

  • Portable size!
  • Triple Bluetooth connectivity
  • Removeable USB-C
  • Hot-Swappable switches
  • Multiple backlight options
  • Metal backplate

I have to put the disclaimer here that I’m an avid typer, but I still use a full range of Microsoft Office products in my day-to-day. Please keep that in mind while reading this.

The lack of arrow keys along the right-hand side feels weird. I still find myself hitting the bottom right ctrl key when looking for the arrow key. Redragon’s solution is to use the FN+A, FN+S, FN+D, FN+W for those arrows, and it feels alien to my brain. Apparently I’ve been using a 104 keyboard for much too long, since I’ve also grown accustomed to ctrl+shift+arrow to highlight a word. With the K530, I have to use FN+ctrl+shift+arrow, that’s 4 separate keys. This is however the trade-off of a super small 60% keyboard. The entire top row pulls triple duty with the use of not one, but two function keys. Spreadsheets are also frustrating to use; the pgup/pgdn/home/end are all fn+ key, I find myself switching to my regular 104 membrane keyboard for such occasions.

Also using Win+Arrow to snap windows is also a bit of a chore. The combination is :

win + fn + (arrow). The combo cannot be:

fn + win + (arrow).

Even sometimes that combination (in that order) doesn’t work. This could be that the get-focus function on whatever I’m working on is well, focused. But there are times when I feel that these keys have a mind of their own.

The K530 also eschews any multimedia keys. Whereas the K582 and K599 both offered volume control, global media keys for music playback. Again, I’m sure this was done purposely for the small size and to avoid giving quadruple duty to any keys.

Compared to it’s big K582 and K599 brothers, the amount of lighting effects is also much less. There’s no way to change the color of each key unless using the software

In my last review of the K599 60% board, I also mentioned the height of the board being high, the K530 is no different. However, I’m getting used to them, and actually prefer them now.

  • Some adjustments coming from a 104 style keyboard
  • fn + WASD left handed arrow keys
  • fn + key for LOTS of other things, sometimes triple keys

These gripes are however, all based on the last 20 years of using a very particular style of keyboard. If I had started with the 60%, and moved my way up, I’m sure my opinion would be very different. I am VERY keen to practice more on this keyboard, and over time I’m sure I’ll love using this form factor.

I noticed this because I have 2 other Redragon brand keyboards; the font on the keys (legends) are different. See below, the top QWERTY row is from my original K582 Surara, and the bottom row is the K530 series.

My theory is that the K582 and K599 are using a ‘gamer/hacker’ style font, since they’re marketed for the gamer community. Whereas the K530 seems to be marketed for the typist (or just general user who prefers a 60% keyboard). The gamer/hacker font is a boxier style that fills more of the keycap, while the latter font is more of a sans-serif style. The sans-serif style for the K530 is likely smaller to accommodate for the double/triple duty some keys are doing with side legends.

See below, the top 1 thru 0 row has at least 3 different functions to suit the rest of the board.

Escape key = Esc, Bluetooth pairing, tilde ~, and backtic `.

1 key = 1, F1, and macro1

And so forth.

I picked up the K530 as a kijiji sale by itself. I didn’t get a box, just this keyboard and third party USB-C connection. I already had a switch puller, keycap puller and a bunch of spare outemu switches. I would imagine purchasing this new from amazon includes all that, manual and likely some spare switches.

I like that this board, much like the K599 doesn’t have a top ‘snap-on’ vanity cover. Disassembly was taking off the keycaps, taking the individual switches off, and 7 machine screws to remove. The entire top, metal (!) pops off, and you can access the battery and ports along the left-hand side in case you need to clean or do some maintenance.

Redragon K599 Deimos

I’ve never tried a 75% keyboard before. And my original thoughts were that I wanted a True-typing experience. I certainly got that, and little more. Read on for my thoughts on the Redragon K599 Deimos mechanical keyboard.

70 keys, n-rollover (Basically means you can mash your palm into the keys and it detects each press individually), all sorts of brightness settings, and a cut-down version of the home/insert/pgup/pgdn/home/end keys.

So what’s all this mean?

As a typing tool, this thing is awesome. It’s small enough not to clutter the desktop, has a satisfying click (Outemu Reds), and has a great backlight with all sorts of color options.

As mentioned, when used strictly as a typing tool this is fantastic. The form factor and layout doesn’t differ much from a standard 104 keyboard. Compared to the Surara K582 (a full sized 104 keyboard), I didn’t have to readjust anything. My fingers found home row about 80% of the time. There’s also the wireless 2.4Ghz dongle option which, I have only used sparingly just to ensure it works since I brought it home. And I like the USB-C connector cable. My desktop is apparently collecting all the USB-C devices for my phone, tablet, and rechargeable mouse, so having another is welcome. The connector is also removeable, which makes the entire package entirely portable with little fuss. This also weights a hefty amount, which makes it feel like a very premium keyboard for the price. Also, when doing tear down (to swap out the switches, and my own curiosity) it was very simple to disassemble.

  • Great size!
  • Wireless 2.4Ghz with dongle
  • Removeable USB-C
  • Good weight for price
  • Arrow keys placement
  • Easy disassembly
  • Hot-swappable switches
  • Multiple backlight options
  • Multimedia key controls via FN+ press

There’s some adjustment to this new device. Namely, my brain has been hardwired to reach for the INS/DEL/Home/End/pgup/pgdn keys in their 104-layout. I still have to physically look for those keys when typing (usually looking for the end or beginning of a line, or editing a document). I’m also very used to hitting the F-keys out of habit to do things like F2-Rename, Alt-F4 close, or F8-execute code (in Visual Studio). I find my fingers sometimes reach for that non-existent row, whereas now I need to use FN-# key assignment. There have also been a few times I miss the backspace or enter key, this is usually because my fingers  are searching for the gap between the enter keys to the arrow keys. I personally wish this device came with a bluetooth option, or the ability to pair to another 2.4Ghz adapter. For anyone new using a mechanical keyboard, it’s worth noting the height difference; the K599 is about 3CM from the base to the top of the key, while many membrane keyboards are 2CM or lower. I suggest an wrist rest for extended sessions.

  • Coming from standard 104-keyboard, there’s some adjustment: ins/del/home/end keys
  • Adjustment for the F-row
  • Adjustment for the Enter/Backspace keys
  • Using the FN-key for LOTS of things
  • Probably need a wrist rest

First, remove all the keycaps with the included ‘red key puller’ included with the package. Interestingly enough, this did not come with any additional switches or a switch puller. If you’re looking to mod, you may want to invest in a separate one. In my case, I had a spare one from my K582 set. After that, remove all the switches gently with the switch remover, I suggest clamping from top-bottom (rather than left right). Once that’s done you should have something similar to this:

There’s about 7 or 8 machine screws with philips heads. These are all the same length, so they can reinstalled in any order. Once all switches are removed you should have just the metal backplate:

After the phlilips head machine screws are removed, pinch the plastic ‘grabbers’ together and lift the metal plate out.

Above is the system PCB board in all it’s glory. Taking it step further, gently lift from the bottom (not the top) and you can see the bottom board and rechargeable battery.

Be careful of the USB-C along the left hand side, since it’s soldered onto the board, just make sure it aligns up properly before screwing down the metal backplate.

The included outemu red switches, I also swapped out with AKKO Jelly CS Whites. These I like mainly because of the soft press, and these are slightly less noisy than the red’s. Just be careful when you’re putting the switches in, push them directly from the top, not off-set or anything, otherwise you might bend a pin.

For the money, this is a compact, beautiful looking keyboard with tons of functionality and usability. I personally find this board to the most comfortable of the bunch, at just the right size. I find this the most comfortable board for gaming or speed typing on

Redragon K582 Surara

The OG keyboard in the house. The first mechanical I purchased, and by far the most utilized tool in my arsenal. This is the board that got me into the wide world of mechanical switches, and has reliably served me since the Covid lockdown. The Surara was originally my budget purchase, but it’s now a staple and fixture in my home as the one that started it all.

Covid-19 hit the entire world in 2020. I, a cloud analyst figured since I was working at home for the next few months wanted a comfortable, fun and enjoyable typing experience. I looked at some youtube clips, made some notes and hopped on Amazon. Some refer to it as ‘Red-Dragon’, where as some of the UK actually say ‘Re-Dragon’, because they say things properly over there. I picked up this keyboard based on price, backlight options, hot-swappable, and that sound.

This is the workhorse of the bunch of keyboards I own. Since I swapped out the Red switches for Akko tactile CS jelly purples, it’s awesome for every day use. For some reason I don’t feel this is my most comfortable board, that goes to the Redragon K599. I however prefer the full 104 key layout for the number pad, full F-key row, and the overall esthetic. Many times I just feel comfortable using this keyboard for daily tasks or gaming.

For a ‘budget’ mechanical keyboard, there’s a surprising amount of heft, and this provides a premium quality. The metal backplate gives weight on the bottom, since this is a wired board, there’s no sound deadening, nor any insulation on the inside. The keys, and switches are hot swappable, and if you really want, you can actually remove the outside outer plastic cover that covers the bottom and top. The multimedia controls are easily accessible via the Fn+ F keys along the top – volume control, media play-back to name a few. Plus, there’s 18 different lighting modes for the backlight – who really needs a desk lamp these days?

  • Standard 104 size
  • Multi-media shortcuts
  • Backlit, many different lighting modes
  • Easy disassembly
  • Hot-swappable keys + switches
  • Included extra switches + key puller + switch puller

As a budget board, the number of connectivity options is limited: USB-A, and that’s it. Compared to some of the newer boards I picked up, some have 3x bluetooth, detachable USB-C, or 2.4GHz wireless dongle. This isn’t a deal breaker, but if you’re sparse on desktop space you may regret not having the option of a detachable USB-C to connect your other keyboards. There’s also times I wished there were a physical knob at the top of the board; but these are just my thoughts. For the price, and the options provided it’s still pretty good.

Removal of the plastic housing requires only a bit of finesse. A plastic pry tool does the job quite nicely. After that, removal of keycaps, and switches is straight forward. I highly suggest when pulling keycaps to make absolutely sure the metal tool pinches COMPLETELY from top to bottom – I’ve cracked a few by not paying attention.

Once the switches are removed, there’s 8 machine screws holding the K582 together.

The PCB board is very simple, with just the USB-connector attached at bottom. As you can see below, there’s nothing else in the bottom housing; no molding, no tape, no sound deadening, no battery, just a big plastic, empty shell.

While I can’t say for certain the experience with ALL keyboards, it take a few months of my wrists adjusting to the height of this keyboard (which, is pretty much standard for all mechanical boards). At it’s highest (the F-row) it’s about 4cm high. I would suggest anyone new to mechanical keyboards look at a wrist rest since this seems to alleviate the problem almost immediately.

The K582 is a solid choice for the price. As my daily driver from the past 4 years I still think this board is by far one of the most reliable, if not the most utilized keyboard in my inventory. While other keyboards are slowly making their way onto my desk, the K582 will always be the original.

The search for the perfect keyboard

This title might sound a little misleading. Actually, it’s not. It’s exactly like it sounds. I’ve been on the prowl for a good keyboard that sates a few of my minutia. I’m not a writer or coder. I do enjoy writing and I code when I have to for work. I script, so more of the brackets, semi-colons, curly-braces, special characters and so forth do make their way in. Mind you, when coding it’s more ‘cut/copy/paste’ once I have the main idea, then it’s logic that takes over. I’m not some wonder-kid who scripts like a mad man or anything.  But, when I type something for my own enjoyment, I like a certain feeling when my fingers press keys. And that was why I was in search of a keyboard that just feels right to me.

This is not meant to be a prescriptive article, these are my findings based on what I feel to be sort of the generic brands out there, and what I’ve found works for me over the years. Keep in mind, this is the technology that happens underneath the keys, a typical user likely won’t care – but since this is a geek/tech blog, I care.

Types of keyboards:



Membrane keyboards are easy to clean, just pop off all the keys, vacuum all the crud, and give the base, and keys a wipe. That ‘island’ style keyboard however cannot be cleaned without some serious effort.

How They Work

Basically a plastic membrane of the same layout of the location of keys is laid over a circuit board. Each ‘key’ has a slight rise, and in an ‘open’ position, pressing down ‘closes’ the position, sending that down/closed motion as a key stroke.

The Experience

These are perfect office keyboards. They’re quiet, unobtrusive, give no real personality since you can’t really customize them. Great for the dull, drab, gray office setting. Everyone that owns a computer has likely felt the ‘mushy’ feeling of the keys; unlike mechanical keyboards, there’s no feedback or click pressing down.

-Common -Cheap
-Fairly durable
-No customization
-‘mushy’ feeling

Scissor Switch

Scissor Switch

Common in laptops due to their very slim profile. You can find these in certain bluetooth accessory keyboards, or ultra-slim keyboards. You only need a small amount of force to actuate, and super quiet. Again, ideal for office settings. From past experience, any broken key or busted scissor component can be replaced; although it requires research into the brand, type, year, even size of key. Cleaning is a pain – since each individual key has it’s own scissor switch, it’s incredibly easy to break multiple scissor components. Just best to leave it alone, or hold upside down, and shake out all the loose crud.

How They Work

The underlying  technology is basically the same as a membrane keyboard, however there’s a two-piece ‘scissor’ mechanism that pushes the keys upwards to their neutral position. Pressing down still contacts the membrane, and registers as a keystroke.

The Experience

If you’ve done work on any laptop for extended periods of time, you’ll find it’s quite comfortable. Since you don’t need to press very hard, and it’s nearly silent it’s an office-style keyboard, and low-profile saves space.

-Low profile -Quiet -Common-Difficult to clean
-Easy to break / difficult to repair


Roll-up keyboard

Made of flexible plastic / silicone and can be rolled up. I’ve only used one in the past, and while it was handy to roll up the keyboard, the novelty wore off very quickly. The water-proofness meant cleaning was a breeze, however most silicone keyboards have a textured grip, meaning constant cleaning, and the type of material just attracted dust and other debris.

How They Work

Same as a membrane keyboard, only instead of rigid plastic keys pressing down, it’s another membrane on top of the circuit membrane.

The Experience

Not every keystroke registers. This is by far the most annoying part. For a keyboard, that is supposed to register each key pressed, it was easily a 50/50 chance. For any touch-typist, you are now limited to half your typing speed. There’s no actuation, no rigidity, without the feedback of pressing down, it takes some adjustment. The reasons for a roll-up, waterproof, and dust attracting keyboard is simply novelty, and little else. Someone posted that roll-up keyboards are ‘rugged’, however part of that rugged terminology means the keyboard performs all the same functions without issue – since it’s a 50% chance it registers the keystroke, this is not rugged, it’s unreliable. I do not recommend these.

-Cheap  -Attracts dust / debris
-50% chance keystrokes register
-Zero tactility



Unlike membrane keyboards, each individual key has it’s own ‘switch’ that contacts directly with the PCB (printed circuit board). The switches are typically made of a housing, a spring, a slider, and sometimes additional parts. The switch connects to the PCB via direct, metal contact (sometimes gold). Wikipedia calls these ‘metal contact’, however the most common term is simply ‘mechanical’. The major producer of mechanical switches is the Cherry corporation since they patented the technology in the early 1980’s. Cherry was the exclusive manufacturer of the technology, effectively their own monopoly in the mechanical keyboard market until around 2014 when the patent expired, and multiple switch manufacturers appeared in the market around that time. Since then, mechanical keyboards have become more affordable, easy to maintain, and come with a multitude of options, connectivity and additional features. Manufacturers have also taken a queue from the hobbyist community and offer a very large range of different springs, switch materials that provide different tactility and pressure sensitivities. The combinations are nearly endless, and the mechanical keyboard community flourishes with tips, tricks, and deep research articles. Cleaning a mechanical keyboard while easy, is time consuming: removal of keycaps, removal of keyboard housing, removal of switches, and so on. While time consuming, some articles point to the ‘zen-like’ feeling of understanding the function of each individual component.

How They Work

As mentioned, each key has it’s own individual switch that connects directly with the PCB. The PCB is typically rigid, and more premium mechanical keyboards are weighted to provide a luxury feeling.

The Experience

There’s nothing quite like a mechanical keyboard. Each keystroke is crisp, and depending on the tactility or linear type of switch, the feedback is different, and altogether enjoyable. I must emphasize the sound. Hobbyists and enthusiasts alike know the unique clickety-clack tones only the mechanical keyboard is able to produce. Typing on this keyboard is an event that has to be experienced. However, the sound also means this is not an office-style keyboard, much to the annoyance of some coworkers, it can be distracting to others. Since 2014, the market has been flooded with a plethora of different options and prices, all geared to the consumer’s interests. Mechanical keyboards are offered with different styles, configurations, materials, connectivity, weight, languages; just about anything you can imagine is available. Huge online communities post their research about building, tinkering their own boards with interesting results.

-Highly customizable -Large hobbyist community
-Loud (depending on configuration)


Using Powershell to Pull API Information

Up until recently, I was familiar with the idea of client pulling down information from a database. A database requires updates, patching, and maintenance. Usually, I’d be the one doing all that care and feeding, additional to taking proper care of the client application. Recently I’ve been playing with api-ninjas.

API-ninjas requires a free account, and provides back to you an API key. Some of the things you can pull include:

  • Airline flight information
  • Cocktail recipes
  • Conversion of Currency
  • DNS lookup
  • Holidays
  • IP information

The list is quite exhaustive. An API is a great alternative to that pesky database maintenance above. Api-Ninja includes code on pulling the API’s in python, C#, ruby and so forth. However, it did not include anything about powershell.

Below, I’ve pasted code to get a random fact of the day:

$apikey  = "###supersecretapikey###"
$params = @{
    "Uri"  = ""
    "method" = "get"
    "headers" = @{"X-API-Key" = $apikey
Invoke-RestMethod @Params | fl
##Sample output##
fact : A sneeze zooms out of your mouth at over 600 m.p.h

To use or change this code, change the Uri paramenter above to the value given by api-ninjas. Examples include:$input #for taking input for cocktail recipes$IP #for taking input for IP address

Azure – resetting a password for a Domain Controller VM

I came across a situation the other day.

In my Azure Tenant, I have a VM, a domain controller that hosts, well… my domain.

I only use it for testing, most recently I was doing some SSPR testing. I only turn it on occasionally for testing some powershell scripts, this password reset utility, and other things that only an on-premises Domain Controller can really do.

Over time, over about 2 weeks I didn’t need it and had this server sitting in a powered off state. When I did need it again, after powering it on, I realized I couldn’t login with my Domain Admin credentials. The error was that my password had expired, and I needed to reset it.

Okay, I’ll use my backup Domain Admin account to reset it. The problem was, the backup Domain Admin account was giving the same error.


My primary, and backup domain admin accounts to my one cloud controller that is not replicated anywhere are both locked out. Now what?

Luck has it, there’s as way to do this that’s fairly painless and actually quite simple.

  1. Create a .ps1 file. The only contents it needs are one line:
Net user AD-Admin NewP@ssword!

Name it something relevant like “password_reset.ps1”

This HAS to be an account that’s active in your AD, and perferrably a Domain Admin account. The password can be whatever you want, as long as it fits your password domain policy.

2. Goto -> Storage accounts -> any_of_your_storage_accounts ->containers (create one if you have to) -> upload. Upload the .ps1 file you created in step 1 above.

3. In -> Virtual Machines -> Your_VM_DC -> Settings -> Extensions + Applications -> Add a Custom Script Extension

Browse to the storage container in step 2, point to the .ps1 file created in step 1

Let the deployment run

6. Log onto your DC VM in Azure with the credentials from step 1 above. RESET any or all your domain admin passwords that have that requirement.

7. Uninstall and delete that Custom script extension from step 3 for this VM. Otherwise, every time it boots it will reset the password for this one user.

Delete that .ps1 file from the storage container too!

Azure – Import users into cloud via CSV file

There’s a few different methods to import users into your Azure tenant.

  1. In the Azure Active Directory Portal -> Users -> Bulk Operations -> Bulk create
  2. Or you can use a little powershell

This will focus on the powershell method. Mainly because the Azure Portal only requires point and click. Plus, this is way more fun.

The Sample CSV format:

nabendun@customdomain.onmicrosoft.comNabendu NahasapeemapetilonNabenduNahasapeemapetilon$null104667339TrueMinorSpringfieldnull United States null856-511-6827    304-960-7231    Guder Lao2810Nepali Illinois43090 Jay Drive314-812-4954US      Member
jimboj@customdomain.onmicrosoft.comJimbo JonesJimboJones$null142259518TrueMinorSpringfieldnull United States null546-298-0636    558-695-5632    Purabaya2810Hebrew Illinois39176 Weeping Birch Court851-166-3492US      Member

And here’s the sample code below.

Make sure before you run to execute connect-azureAD first!

$CSV = Import-Csv C:\path_to_CSV_file.csv -Delimiter ","
foreach ($User in $CSV) {

         Set-AzureADUser -ObjectID $user.UserPrincipalName `
         -jobTitle $User.jobtitle `
         -AgeGroup $User.AgeGroup `
         -City $User.City `
         -CompanyName $User.CompanyName `
         -Country $User.Country `
         -Department $User.Department `
         -FacsimileTelephoneNumber $user.FacsimileTelephoneNumber `
         -Mobile $User.Mobile `
         -PhysicalDeliveryOfficeName $user.PhysicalDeliveryOfficeName `
         -Postalcode $user.PostalCode `
         -State $user.state `
         -Streetaddress $user.StreetAddress `
         -TelephoneNumber $user.TelephoneNumber `
         -UsageLocation $user.UsageLocation

        write-output $User

Synology DS420+ review




A little over 7 years ago, I purchased a DS413J. It was everything I needed; lots of storage, ample power, and served media in the house suitably well. Fast-forward to 2020, the DS413J is feeling rather aged. The Web UI and 2FA login sometimes takes a little longer than two minutes to fully login. Transfer speeds at 30Mb/s feels unimpressive, and it takes sometimes up to 10 minutes to reboot.

I decided it was time to get into a DS420+. This would serve as my main file/media share while to leverage the CPU, upgradeable RAM and much improved performance.



Synology mainly deals in networking products. The company started with consumer network storage, and have expanded into IP surveillance, and consumer router hardware. Synology’s network storage is pliable across consumer to SMB all the way to corporate SAN. This is also where they really shine. A NAS – Network Attached Storage runs file shares without the overheard of a running server that consumes space, cooling, network, licensing, and power. Most of the NAS models – the DS series, which I’ll cover below are small, quiet, and very unassuming.

The consumer NAS market is competitive, with names like QNAP, Terra Master, Western Digital, Drobo, and Buffalo to name a few. While I won’t go into each of those name brands, I typically see consumers here in Canada picking between QNAP and Synology.

If you’ve ever wondered about the naming convention of the Synology NAS devices, I’ve broken it down here:

Synology DiskStation naming explained
  • 1 – Leading letters [DS][RS][DX]. DS – Diskstation (the formfactor you see here). RS – RackStation (Rack mounted NAS). DX – Diskstation Expansion, and so on.
  • 2 – The first number(s). Sometime a single digit. This is the maximum amount of internal drives the NAS can house, with expansion units. [ie. A 1812+ = 8 disks in unit, with 10 extra disks from expansion units allowed]
  • 3 – The last 2 digits. Demarks the year released. [DS413J = released in 2013, DS420+ = released in 2020]
  • 4 – The very last character denotes the performance. This does change depending on the market segment. Generally, the most common ones are J= home entry level, Play = media specific functions with some encoding, Plus (+)= performance level, XS = Top tier specifications.


Who buys a NAS? Who is it meant for? A NAS is meant for anyone with lots of data that needs to be securely and safely stored in a central location. I emphasize ‘central’ because we all know the pain of multiple USB drives. While convenient, they do end up in odd places or sometimes misplaced when you need them.

This is where a NAS steps in. One location for storing all the files, easily accessible by smart devices, and more flexible and cost friendly over cloud storage. A NAS can also stream media; which means you have the option to watch any owned, stored media on your device of choice. And, no streaming service fees either.

The Synology Diskstation Manager also offers a massive menu of different applications; security, webhosting, authentication, and surveillance. For guys like me, there’s Virtual Machine manager, Radius Server, Active Directory integration – the list keeps growing.



Intel Celeron J4025 2-core 2.0GHz, burstable up to 2.9GHz


2GB DDR4 [expandable to 6GB]

HHD Bays

4 x 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA HDD/SSD (not included)

2 x M.2 2280 NVMe SSD (not included)


2 x USB 3.0 (front and back)


2 x 1Gbe RJ-45


100 V to 240 V AC

HD Drive bays are all plastic and screwless. Everything has markings for sliding into the standard 3.5″ HDD pin holes. Included are screws for 2.5″ HDD’s as well. Once the HD’s are in the unit, they’re snug with no vibration. There’s also a Synology Key for each drive bay to lock each independently. The front of the unit has indicator lights for status, each individual drive, and the power button. One USB 3.0 connection in the front, and one USB 3.0 in the back. Sadly, there’s no Esata connection for expanded / backup storage. The double RJ-45 connections can also be used independently, teamed, or for failover.

Network protocols


File System

-internal: Btrfs, ext4

-external (connected via usb): Btrfs, ext4, ext3, FAT, NTFS, HFS+, exFAT

RAID types

SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0/1/5/6/10

SSD Cache

-read/write cache support

-M.2 NVMe SSD Support

File Sharing Capacity

-Max local user accounts: 2048

-Max local groups: 256

-Max shared folders: 512

-Max concurrent SMB/NFS/AFP/FTP connections: 500


Vmware Vsphere 6.5, Hyper-V, Citrix, OpenStack


Once again, the Disk Station Manager web GUI is flawless. On initial boot you’re asked to install the latest DSM, then format any installed Hard Disks. After it reboots again, it’s off to configure your RAID storage. Interesting note here, the official spec sheet mentions Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) as an option. On first install with 2 disks, SHR was available.

Volume Creation Wiz rd 
Configure storage pool property 
RAID type: 
Minimum number of driæs 
r RAID: 
Sto g e_ 1 
1 (SHR with only one driæ will 
able to driæ 
This is the RAID type for uærs. this type 
pu to driæs of siæ in the to optimiæ siæ and 
to data

After installing another 2 disks, SHR was absent? I have a feeling the option was quietly removed to favor disks of the same size to fit industry standards.

Storage Pool Creation Wizard 
Configure storage pool property 
Storage pool description (optional): 
RAID type: 
Minimum number of drives per RAID: 
RAID 5 Description: 
RAID 5 provides fault tolerance and increased 
RAID 5 can sustain the loss of a single drive. I 
reconstructed from parity striped across the re 
performance is severely impacted while a RAID 
space and cost are more important than perfor 
RAID 10 
hree drives is required. 
from the failed drive is 
ad and write 
D 5 is ideal when 

SHR has the ability to protect disks of different sizes. This isn’t a deal breaker to me, but it’s worth noting for someone that’s looking for this functionality. Just to point out, it IS best practice to use disks of all the same size for any sort of RAID configuration.

The Web GUI is incredibly quick and responsive. This largely because of the Intel Celeron J4025 processor and 2GB DDR4 RAM. Even after adding 2Factor authentication, it’s much speedier than my 413J. Creation of shares, installation of new packages, configuring Media services and Video station are easy and intuitive. During my initial burn in period, I mounted some external CIFS shares around my network to copy the data onto this 420+. I was never disappointed, the new DSM even provides an estimated time of completion for large jobs.


Disk Station Manager (DSM) rocks. Simple as that. Super robust, quick, snappy, it just does everything that regular desktop machine would do, just within the browser. Anything is at your fingertips within DSM. Some of the things I use on a regular basis are Hyper Backup, File station (when I want to do CIFS to CIFS transfers), Synology Drive and Storage Manager.

D isk 
Task Manager 
Connected Users 
Speed Limit 
Performance Alarm 
DSM Help 
Memory Composition 
Netvm rk 
Type : 
4.6 Ga 
Click to up nctifiætions. 
utilization 8 
used 3.31 TE 
capacity: 7. IE TB 
O System H It h 
Ym_'r S',molcgy NAS 
Resou«e Monitor 

Everything is intuitively set up. I do recommend setting Control Panel to ‘Advanced Mode’. Just in case you want to see things like the indexing service, external devices, Terminal or Privileges icons. All things are very straightforward, and the help menu is surprisingly, well, helpful. Customization of the login screen, desktop background, color theme, even image or icons are available. I’ve enabled 2FA for login, email notifications, quickconnect, media services all just by clicking around menu’s. The interface is simple enough to get you to your location, yet sophisticated and secure enough to give me comfort when I leave the house.


Super Feature packed. I’ve noticed the Plus (+) series of Synology NAS offers much more packages than the plain “J” series. There’s even a beta package section I’ll be trying out soon. Each new feature brings new items to tweak, and more value to the Synology. Just the other day I configured Replication services, and Synology drive, next up will be Directory server.

It really is a dazzling array of programs this little NAS can run. There’s multiple sites that report using this strictly as a 4K Plex Server. I’ve even seen a few startup businesses using some of the bigger + (plus) models for storage and security with IP cameras. These really are customizable to no end, and based on the new up-and-coming Kubernetes images, these could one day replace traditional server technology.

The 420+ also offers an M2 cache buffer. I’m not quite using it yet, perhaps when I try out mail station or get heavier into web development I’ll populate the drives.

This also has an upgradeable RAM slot on the right of the unit to compliment the current 2GB DDR4. I’ve already got a 4GB stick in there – not best practice, I know; it should ideally be a matching 2GB stick. But I had an extra stick that matched the voltage lying around and thought I’d give it a shot. It’s been 3 weeks without any sort of hiccup.

The Android App store also has many of the general items, like file, video, audio, moments and DS cam. I also noticed there’s a Synology Chat icon in there, which I’m sure complies with secure communications between you and some friends. I’ve been using the DS finder since I have 2 NAS’s in the house, and it’s been great looking over the current usage when I run backup jobs or kube containers.


Absolutely worth every penny! Speed, security, feature rich, and reliable name brand. Synology is really improving their DSM with every release, DSM 7.0 is already beta testing, which hopefully is a general release within 2020. My only complaint is a missing e-sata connection in the back of the unit. I could use some of the bigger DX expansion series – if I ever could fill that much space! For the price, the included features, the never-ending applications for any sort of business or personal need, this is another near perfect offering from Synology.

How to: Configure a DNS-323 (ALT-F firmware) as an Rsync Target

The last firmware released for the DNS323 was back in 2013. That was quite a while ago, and it wasn’t great. It lacked SMB2, ssh out of the box, and no development of popular applications. I tried Alt-F on a spare DNS323 as a test to see if I could get rsync up and running.

This isn’t meant to be an expansive entry of the pro’s and con’s of this firmware. This is supposed to be a straight forward approach of configuring the DNS323 as a rsync target for backups compatible with synology dsm 6.3.

Let’s not kid ourselves, this device is pretty old. The last time it was sold any where was around 2007. As of this writing that was 14 years ago. The processor is 500MHz, it’s got 64MB of RAM, the max data transfer possible is 10MBps. I do NOT recommend putting any sort of production or super-important data onto this. I’m using this because I love to tinker, and I have an over-abundance of spare harddrives. So please, as interesting as this entry is, if you want something with performance look at a modern NAS and drives with warranty and up to date specifications!

Moving along…

The coles notes version of alt-f installation:

  1. Download the latest alt-f firmware
  2. Log into your DNS323 and apply the alt-f firmware

*I take no responsibility past this point. These instructions are recommendations, and should not be taken verbatim. This is not an official support channel. Take all the necessary precautions to backup your data beforehand.

3. Create a login password, this will also act as your ‘root’ password too.

4. Format your disks. EXT2/EXT3/EXT4 and few others are available.

It’s your choice to stick with a RAID 1/0 or JBOD. I’m using older disks and this is strictly backup for my purposes.

Create the Rsync User

Let’s create an rsync user first.

Setup -> Users

Note the full name is the “windows name”, where the nic name is the “linux login” name. Take particular note of the linux name, this is what the synology needs to initiate a backup.

Machine generated alternative text:
Full name 
Nic-k name 
user id 
G roup id 

Create a folder and Share

Now we’ll need to create a share to mount the backup.

Setup -> Folders

Selected: \mnt/sdb2'backu sha 
View: Tree S Flat O 
Folder Owner Group Permissions 
500Ga dtaödtaö root 
sda2 root 
O db2 root 

Note the mounted drives. I configured mine independently.

  • Sda2 – 500GB drive
  • Sdb2 – 1000GB drive

I gave mine a share name of “backup_share”. Then hit ‘create’.

Once created, change permissions accordingly.

Can Read 
Users in group root 
Other users 
Can Write Can Browse 
Make new files/folders inherit the group ownership O O 
Apply recursively to sub-folders 
Applv also to files 
Submit Back

With the drive folder and permissions set, now configure the share.

Services -> Network -> smb -> Configure


Create a share based on the folder you created ealier

Folders Browse 
Selected: ImnVsdb2/backup_share 
View: T e C) Flat @ 
Folder: /mnVsdb2/backup_snare hit path component to visit it) 
Owner Group Permissions

As a test, make sure you can browse the share from windows explorer

Ie. (\\DNS323\backup_share)

Use the username and password you created above. Make sure you can create files and folders. Notice you can enable SMB1, and SMB2 from this panel. I tried to disable SMB1, but that just made the share disappear from my Windows 10 explorer. Could be a bug they’re working out.

Side Quest – SAMBA module

There’s also an ‘Advanced’ button in Samba Setup. Use the same root password to see the contents.


This panel is a bit more graphical in presentation. And gives a good representation with the ‘view’ icon of the current shares published. Spend a little time looking around, there could be some tweaks you could find useful in this section.


Rsync Service Setup

Let’s setup this DNS as the rsync target.

Services -> Network -> inetdS


Hit ‘configure’ on the rsync service


Configure a new folder based on the path and user you created above.

Machine generated alternative text:
- Folder Modules 
Module Name 
rsync backup directory 
Allow Browseable Read Only 
  1. It’s easier to use the built-in browser to get to your folder. Otherwise if you know it already you can enter it here. Remember, this is linux, all the directory slashes are ‘/’
  2. The module name is the viewable share name in Windows
  3. Add your comments as necessary
  4. Set permissions for the rsync account created above

Now, let’s validate the folder created above (ie. /mnt/sdb2/backup_share) exists in the rsync configuration folder. We’ll use an SSH client for this. Just regular connection with root@DNS323 works. Goto \etc and more on rsyncd.conf.

The top line should give the location of rsyncd.secrets – a password encrypted file that only rsync users should have access to.

And the bottom portion should provide the recently created directory with permissions for your rsync user.

PS C:\> ssh root@dns323-2
root@dns323-2's password:
[root@DNS323-2]# cd etc
[root@DNS323-2]# more rsyncd.conf
#Sample contents
secrets file = /etc/rsyncd.secrets
use chroot = yes
read only = yes
dont compress = *
list = yes

        comment = rsync backup directory
        path = /mnt/sdb2/backup_share
        auth users = rsynrsyn
        uid = rsynrsyn
        gid = users
        read only = no

You can tweak this to do things like host allow within a certain subnet. For this, I’m just focusing on getting rsync running.

While you’re in here, have a look at your rsyncd.secrets file. Ideally, this should only give one rsync user with password. Something like


DSM – Setup HyperBackup

Now we can create a backup job and target the DNS323 (with alt-f firmware). Create a new backup job, choose rsync as the file server type.

Backup Destination 
Please select your backup destination type. 
folder & LJS-B 
NAS ice 
File Server

Settings should be similar to below.

For the backup settings, configure the Server type as ‘rsync-compatible server’, enter in the pertinent details of your DNS323. It should look similar to the screenshot below. For port, just keep the default 873. The Backup module, make sure to use the exact same “Path” from the rsyncd.conf file.

ie. path = /mnt/sdb2/Backup_share

Backup module = /mnt/sdb2/Backup_share

Directory = Backup_directory

And this creates a new directory of whatever name you want.

Backup Wizar 
Backup Destination Settings 
Specify the backup destination for this task. 
backup tuk 
or IP 
Di recto 
Relink to task 
Ex;crt shared folder (including an deve

After this you should be able to select items to backup. Set your items, schedule them and make use of the rotational backups (very handy).

Be aware of the speeds, even if you have SMBv2 enabled, the backup jobs are still pretty slow over rsync. Still hovers around 1.2MB/s. So time your backups accordingly, and be aware that DSM Hyperbackup cannot do simultaneous backups.