As part of my ongoing project to retrofit our old stone house with a fast, multi-purpose network, I purchased a Synology NAS for the primary purpose of providing a destination for my IP cameras to record to via the excellent free Surveillance Station add-on.
Once I started tinkering without however, I realised how powerful the Synology Video Station add-on was as a media server. So I figured I’d outline my setup along with tips and lessons learned for anyone considering purchasing a Synology NAS for this purpose:
Don’t cut corners on your network infrastructure using things like Powerline adapters or cheap wifi, etc. When it comes to video you want everything as fast as possible and not just for the video streaming – when you’re browsing through movies deciding what to watch, a few seconds delay while movie cover photos load is really frustrating. Get an entry level Gigabit switch – I recommend something like a TP-Link gigabit switch and hardwire everything you can possibly can.
Remember, right now you’re probably watching movies in HD or Full HD but 4K movies are hitting the mainstream and volume of data is much bigger!
For business-class wifi at reasonable prices, I highly recommend a Ubiquiti UniFi setup (this is what I have at home), I wrote a more detailed review of this here:
File Naming Conventions
One of the best things about Video Station is that it connects to the internet and retrieves information about movies and tv shows, grabbing cover photos, background photos, episode information and more.
Obviously the only way that the software can identify any given file to gather this information is from the file name and the naming of the folders in which it resides. As a rule I use the following for movies:
Movie Name (1930).avi
Oddly now and then a movie’s information will be correct but Synology will map a completely random video cover to it, in this case you can locate your own image (I recommend using the IMDB) and tell Synology to use that instead.
Fix a Video Cover
Simple click on the movie or TV episode, click the ellipsis icon in the top right hand corner, then click ‘Edit video info’ from the drop down menu, click the Poster tab and then provide a URL or location to the video cover you wish to use instead.
TV Show Naming
TV shows are a little more complicated because there are the seasons, the show name and the individual episode titles to consider. Luckily Synology published a list of possible combinations on their forum here:
Synology Video Station TV Show Naming Convention
Update: I wrote a more comprehensive guide to this here.
Title/Season 1/Title s01e01.mpg
Title/Season 1/Title 1×01.mpg
Title/Season 1/Episode 1.mpg
Title/Season 1/Season 1 Episode 1.mpg
Title Season 1/01.mpg
Title Season 1/s01e01.mpg
Title Season 1/1×01.mpg
Title Season 1/Title s01e01.mpg
Title Season 1/Title 1×01.mpg
Title Season 1/Episode 1.mpg
Title Season 1/Season 1 Episode 1.mpg
Double bill episodes (often used in Season finales where an episode will be double length) can be titled liked this:
Title/Season 1/Title S01E01-02.mpg
When I purchased my Synology NAS I initially put only 2TB WD Red drives in it which – running in RAID – only provide 2TB of usable storage, not a lot! To augment this I added an external Buffalo External USB drive to the Synology NAS and stored my TV shows on this and it work great: until I rebooted the Synology NAS.
A long term known bug with the Synology NAS (and still current at the time of writing) is that content on external USB drives will be completely re-indexed when the Synology reboots. This doesn’t mean it scans for updated content – it deletes the index and re-creates it from scratch. Depending on the number of files you have, this can make many of your TV shows unavailable for hours. My advice? Buy the bigger possible hard drives you can afford and don’t buy cheap – the obvious choice are the WD Red NAS Hard drives.