With Synology NAS devices you can both connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnel (via the VPN client) or set up your own VPN server through Synology. Setting up a VPN for Synology will ensure that your data is kept secure. In this article we tell you how to set up a VPN on Synology and list the five best VPN services (All with OpenVPN).
Synology is a Taiwanese firm that specializes in Network Area Storage (NAS). While it’s not the cheapest way to create your own VPN server, 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.
But, why should you bother with a VPN connection on your NAS device? Well, there are several benefits. By using NAS storage with a VPN server It will:
- VPN encryption protects against eavesdropping and wiretapping, to prevent third parties from intercepting and reading your files.
- A VPN prevents packet sniffers from reading transmitted data.
- It allows you to use geolocation-related plugins as some may be blocked in your location.
Unfortunately, VPN tunnels have overhead, which will ultimately slow down your connection. Nevertheless, it is worth trading a bit of speed for increased security when you're accessing sensitive data. However, if you get a fast VPN service, the amount your connection is slowed becomes negligible, as the VPN provides fast servers. 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 Set up a VPN on Synology
If you want to set up a VPN client on 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.
The Best VPNs for Synology 2020
The best VPNs for Synology are listed below. Simply pick one of these services and connect to your Synology NAS server, limited setup required! Click through to the provider websites for more information about their service. If you need more information about any of the services below, click the links to view the provider's website or check out our detailed VPN reviews.
- ExpressVPN - a Fast VPN that has been around for years! Servers in over 90 countries
- NordVPN - is a secure VPN service, it offers in-depth guides on how to set up NordVPN with Synology, and it has consistently fast servers
- CyberGhost VPN - is an easy to use VPN service, offers strong encryption, and it is cheap
- PrivateVPN - as it's name suggests it's a private VPN service and it is the cheapest on the list
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 PIA 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.