Replace failed Hard Drive Synology - Tech Guide Central
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How to Replace a Failed Hard Drive in Synology: A Complete Repair

Replacing a failed hard drive in a Synology NAS starts with first ascertaining your preservation status, essentially the system used for backing up your system data. If your system was utilizing a RAID approach, the data should be protected. If not, then confirm where the data was backed up. 

If nothing at all, just accept that if the drive is entirely failed, the data may very well be lost. Data recovery off a dead drive could run in the thousands of dollars. 

How to replace a failed hard drive in Synology NAS

If the drive still works but is at risk of dying, copy as much of the data off it as possible before it fails. Then proceed with the repair.

Step 1: Identify the failed drive

The failing drive in a Synology system is easy to find. 

Look for the drive that is beeping audibly. Even if the sound is turned off, your system should be giving you Synology notices about the volume becoming degraded on the damaged drive and steps needing to be taken immediately. 

From the software, the failing drive can be identified under the DiskStation Manager and initiating the main menu button in the left upper corner of the screen. 

Once in the menu, click on the Storage Manager icon. It looks like a silver barrel with a multi-color life-preserver ring in front of it. Open the app. In the Storage Manager, click on the HDD/SSD link on the left side. 

A list of the drives will display, and you can see their status as Normal in green, or Crashed or Failed in red letters. However, even when this says normal if the internal warning systems are triggered, the drive itself will still make audible noises such as buzzing or loud humming.

Step 2: Shut down your NAS and remove the drive

With the bad drive identified, it’s time for shutdown and removal. Have a fresh drive ready and waiting to swap in when the bad one is pulled. 

This allows your system to be up and running instead of waiting for your diagnosis. Don’t go yanking out a drive until it is entirely shut down and turned off. Doing otherwise could cause severe data shear and loss. 

While some Synology NAS systems allow for operating removal or hot-swapping, don’t take the chance, even when doable. An extra step of prevention can save a lot of headaches.

Step 3: Repair the drive

With the bad drive removed, it’s time to decide if it can be repaired. You could bench test it or, if you have the tools, inspect it internally. 

However, any kind of drive that has been already giving off warnings and is old, as in at least two years or older, is likely getting ready to give up the ghost if it still runs. With new, replacement storage costs so affordable, the better approach is to simply razz the drive once the data is copied and physically destroy it to prevent any unauthorized recovery.

Step 4: If the drive cannot be repaired, replace it

As noted above, the best path with a bad drive is to simply swap it out for a fresh new one. Drives up to terabytes in size are easy to obtain for low cost, and work exceptionally well, especially SSD types with solid-state flash memory and no moving parts.
Replacing with a new drive is a simple matter of unpacking the new drive, physically connecting in the brackets and harness, and wiring up the drive to a power source and data connection. 

However, don’t close the box up yet. Instead, run a Smart Test with the System and Storage Manager to check that the new drive is healthy and operating correctly. You can see this in the HDD/SDD screen and the health info tab. 

Within the Health Info menu will be the S.M.A.R.T Test feature, and you can choose either a quick or extended test. For the first run, the extended test is preferred. When ready execute the test with the Start button. The system software will identify the test time length and confirm start. Hit Yes.

Step 5: Test the new hard drive

Testing the hard drive once installed is essentially a second test to run it through its paces. This is part of the restoration process to put the RAID back into operational status. 

Start with the Storage Manager menu and click on the Volume link on the left of the menu screen. Within that sub-menu, go to the volume in question and click on Manage which should be at the top middle of the screen. Within that dialog, you want to click on Repair. 

This will take care of unallocated disk space and integrate the drive with the rest of the existing system again. Find the drive in question that is new, choose it, and hit the Next button. You will see a notice about the drive being erased and all data lost. Hit the OK button. 

You will then click the Apply button after the notice goes away. After those steps are completed, the repair and allocation process will initiate. It could take a while, even days, depending on the size of the RAID involved. 

The rest of the system will be available and accessible, but some performance slowdown may be noticeable from time to time. The RAID system will also be in a static mode until the repair process is complete, so it won’t be possible to switch the RAID format until things are complete.

How do we know if our hard drive has failed?

Notice about a hard drive failure occurs both audibly with a warning notice from the drive itself, or through the Storage Manager software by checking the health status of the drives in the RAID.

Get notified by email from the Synology device

Depending on how a Synology drive is installed, the managing software can easily provide proactive noticing through email or text if connected to an Internet channel or intranet network. This particular feature is regularly used by network administrators to know about the drive issues as soon as they occur versus finding out through maintenance or periodic performance checks.

The drive gets booted from the storage volume

If the drive is getting booted every time it is connected to the system and Storage Manager, the new drive itself may very well be bad. Make sure to run the S.M.A.R.T test on it before trying to repair and use the new unit.

How do I identify the drives on my Synology NAS that failed?

The failing drive in a Synology system is easy to find. Look for the drive that is beeping audibly. Even if the sound is turned off, your system should be giving you Synology notices about the volume becoming degraded on the damaged drive and steps needing to be taken immediately. 

From the software, the failing drive can be identified under the DiskStation Manager and initiating the main menu button in the left upper corner of the screen. 

Once in the menu, click on the Storage Manager icon. It looks like a silver barrel with a multi-color life-preserver ring in front of it. Open the app. 

In the Storage Manager, click on the HDD/SSD link on the left side. A list of the drives will display, and you can see their status as Normal in green, or Crashed or Failed in red letters. However, even when this says normal if the internal warning systems are triggered, the drive itself will still make audible noises such as buzzing or loud humming.

How should I format my external hard drive for Synology NAS?

You shouldn’t. Just install the hardware physically, and then let the Storage Manager identify the drive and repair it. The repair process will wipe the drive entirely, allocate space and storage and sync it with the rest of the existing RAID system.

Are Synology drives hot-swappable?

Synology drives are hot-swappable in certain systems and setups. The user will know this right away beforehand as it will be identified during the procurement of the system. 

However, even this being the case, it is still advisable to completely shut a system down where possible before disconnecting a drive. Hot-swappable drives are supposed to be safe to disconnect, even with a RAID system running, but nothing is perfect.

Can you clone a failing hard drive?

You can copy, maybe even clone, a failing drive if it physically holds up during the process. There may be intermittent glitches and some data loss in the process.

How do I reset my NAS?

Within the Storage Manager software in the Synology system, the HDD/SSD drive repair function will reset a new NAS drive so it syncs with the existing RAID. Use this tool instead of trying to reset the drive manually.

Tips to prepare and prevent hard drive failures

Ideally, one of the best ways to avoid hard drive failures is to get away from old HDD-style drives. These still incorporate moving parts. SSD-style, flash drive storage is far more stable, protective of data, and less likely to fail, at least not at the rate that HDD drives die off after three years of steady use.

Always make backups of backups

In the world of sensitive data, there is never too much of a good thing with backing up. Having at least three copies of data is an industry-standard, ideally with two in geographically different locations than the primary copy. 

If physical copy storage is not possible or impractical, consider cloud storage separate from the home network.

Keep an eye on disappearing files, freezing, and corrupted data messages

The most common signs of data loss or data corruption come in the form of files failing, stalling, or outright disappearing. When the rate of data failure begins to reach above industry thresholds, usually less than 3 percent, then it’s time to look at that particular hard drive as being ready to fail or about to lose its function entirely.

Listen for beeping sounds from your Synology

Again, Synology drives give off an audible warning when there is something wrong or the drive is failing. Listening to these notices helps to spot a bad drive, in addition to software system monitoring.

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