Synology NAS devices can both connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnel (via the VPN client) or host VPN connections (via the VPN server). Even though setting up the VPN server is undoubtedly useful, we're going to be focusing on the VPN client. The client is what's needed to connect to one of the VPN services mentioned in this article.
Synology is a Taiwanese firm that specializes in Network Area Storage (NAS). While it’s not the cheapest (and it’s possible to create your own NAS at home using DD-WRT or Tomato), Synology is definitely at the top of its game. It offers much that you would be hard pushed to achieve otherwise. This includes everything from simple NAS to nearly everything web-related. The company's success lies in the depth of advanced features and simple plug-and-play management system if provides. This gets you going with even the most complex of tasks.
The ProPrivacy for Synology 2019
The best VPN for synology in 2019 is NordVPN. Take a look at our video review below.
Nord VPN Review | ProPrivacy
If you want more choice, take a look at the best VPNs for Synology comparison table below.
But, why should you bother with a VPN connection on your NAS device? Well, there are several benefits. It:
- Uses encryption to protect against eavesdropping and wiretapping, to prevent third parties from intercepting and reading your files
- Prevents packet sniffers from reading transmitted data
- Allows you to use geolocation-related plugins
Unfortunately, VPN tunnels have overhead, which will ultimately slow down your connection. Nevertheless, it is worth trading bit of speed for increased security when you're accessing sensitive data. Also, as Synology devices can connect to OpenVPN servers, you should be able to connect your NAS VPN with the majority of leading providers.
How to Setup a VPN for Synology
If you want to set up a VPN for Synology you will need to follow the basic steps outlined below. Synology devices support all 3 major VPN protocols: PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN. For security and privacy purposes we strongly recommend opting for OpenVPN. To setup OpenVPN for Synology you will need to:
Download the necessary config files from your VPN provider. If you aren't sure what config files you need ask your provider directly. You will need the .ovpn files for either UDP or TCP connections depending on which you intend to use (we recommend UDP as it is faster and more stable). You will also require .crt and .key files. (If your VPN cannot provide you with access to these files, you will likely need to subscribe to a different VPN service.)
Open your Synology Control Panel
Now click on "Network"
Select the "Network Interface" tab in the top menu
Click "Create" and select "Create VPN profile"
Select "OpenVPN (via importing a .ovpn file)"
In general settings enter - Profile name: (make this whatever you like). Username: Your VPN username from when you subscribed. Password: your VPN password from when you subscribed.
Import .ovpn file: Select the .ovpn file you downloaded from your provider
CA certificate: Select the ca.crt you got from your provider
Client certificate: Select the .crt file you got from your provider
Client key: Select the .key you got from your provider
In the next window, click the checkboxes next to: “Use default gateway or remote network.” “Allow other network devices to connect through this Synology server’s internet connection.” And: “Reconnect when the VPN connection is lost.”
You should now see the newly created connection in the list. Select it, and click "Connect".
Once a connection is established you should see a box appear that shows an active connection with data being sent.
Remember this is a basic outline, your VPN provider should be able to help you by providing specific information for your setup.
Troubleshooting Your NAS
If you already have a VPN service and just can't seem to get it working right, you have a few options. Firstly, if your VPN offers technical support, open a ticket. Additionally, you could try to connect with a different protocol. You could also check your VPN provider's website for troubleshooting guides.
I'd also recommend taking a look at the Synology site itself. It could be that routing issues or other related problems are to blame instead of your VPN provider. Checking out the Synology VPN guide might save you a ton of frustration!
Synology VPN Considerations
A Note Regarding PIA VPN and Synology
At the time of writing, numerous users in the Private Internet Access (PIA) forums are complaining of issues, bugs and configuration problems with PIA. As such, I currently recommend that you stay away from PIA if you want to use a VPN with a Synology device. Users are also complaining of long and drawn out calls with the support department, which is doing PIA's reputation little good.
Multiple users commented in the forums that the support agents were unable to resolve their issues because they weren't trained to support and troubleshoot Synology. Likewise, I would imagine that Synology staff are not trained to support PIA VPN, so it's a bit of a paradox.
Please don't misunderstand me, however. I actually love Private Internet Access VPN and think that it has a lot to offer. That said, I wouldn't use it in a scenario that includes Synology due to the complaints and common problems reported by multiple users. If you want to read up more on these issues, you can find the threads on PIA VPN's website and forums.
In this day and age, you can never be too careful. I advocate the use of VPN tunnels every time you power on your computer or mobile device, just as a precaution. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's always better to stay safe with a VPN tunnel than it is to risk a third party stealing your data.
On a NAS device, if you're copying or downloading large amounts of data or archives, it's best to use a VPN. Such data would likely include some information (text files, personal images, videos, and so forth) that you wouldn't want a hacker or government organization seeing. Lastly, remember to use OpenVPN whenever possible. It's much stronger than Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) connections, which are the only other two protocols compatible with Synology.