Resurrecting a Synology DiskStation

I walked into a minefield of problems when attempting to connect back to my Synology DS210j after a regular firmware update. The approved desktop application DSAssistant was used to upload and apply the firmware but something just went wrong. DSAssistant claimed the IP address was set, but the device wouldn’t accept web connections. I eventually found a solution that helped me get the device back up & running.

Background

I retried to apply the firmware but during installing DSAssistant claimed to be unable to update the status and simply gave up. It advised me to check error logs via telnet but the default password is ** (despite setting this in the setup). A password won’t be accepted by telnet so that just wouldn’t work.

I tried different firmware versions, re-downloaded old ones to remove the possibility of it being a corrupt firmware download.

Nothing worked.

In hindsight, I can only assume the system software on the drives had become corrupt or badly configured and as the system was setup in RAID1 (mirror) it meant both drives had identical corruption.

My Setup

To give some context I have the following setup:

In my case, there’s no data on the system as I’d previously moved it off so everything could be reformatted.

Solution

After reading around the ’net, there wasn’t one solution but this one worked for me. I’ll list the process as-is but be aware that the firmware software changes so things may move around a little.

BEWARE this process destroys all your data

  • Physically remove the existing SATA drives and put them to one side
  • Install a single different old sacrificial SATA drive to force reinstall. I assume that this mustn’t have been already used without being reformatted to remove existing data. This must be installed in the upper slot as this has priority over the lower slot and the system will boot from it’s contents.
  • DSAssistant now installs the firmware properly
  • Connect over the web interface for the device
  • Leave the system to create a volume on the old SATA drive as we’re going to need a working boot drive. It will contain the seed we’ll use to resurrect the drives.
  • It’s worth ensuring that your admin password isn’t blank or you won’t be able to get in via SSH/Telnet incase of emergencies. Enable SSH & Telnet services to ensure we can connect incase of emergencies. Enable the required services under Control Panel -> Terminal
  • When the default volume is setup, power off the system.
  • Leaving the old drive in the upper slow, install the 1st of your desired drives in the lower slot. This will enable the system to boot and connect to the new drive
  • Remove any existing Disk Groups & Volumes. This will include removing the one that was setup a few clicks ago.
  • Create a new Disk Group and set to RAID1 to mirror the data from the older drive to the newer drive
  • Create a new volume with the previously generated Disk Group
  • Wait for the volume to build
  • Shutdown
  • Remove the old drive and move the newer drive up from the lower slot to the upper Slot 0 so it becomes the boot drive. Pop the 2nd drive in the lower slot. Power On.
  • The system will beep when beeping indicating a RAID failure, which is expected as we’ve just intentionally removed 50% of it. When you arrive in the web interface you will see the volume has been degraded. You’ll see the Storage Manager and you can press the ‘Beep Off’ button to shut it up while you work. :)
  • To establish a RAID with the newly added drive go to Disk Group > Manage > Repair and let it do it’s thing. Be aware that this can take a very long time.
  • It’s likely that the volume size isn’t what you’d like and you can now setup your system as you desire.

Summary

Hopefully this guide will help you resurrect a Synology disk station and get your system back up & running

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