Backup to external device · NAS server · Synology setup

Backup your files to an external drive or a shared file

***Update: if you have DSM 6.0 installed, follow our new guide:

Backup your files to an external drive or a shared file on DSM6.0

Synology has in-built the possibility to back up all your synology data to:

  • An external USB or a shared folder
  • A network drive
  • A cloud service

In this guide, I will go through the necessary steps to back up all your NAS files to an external USB or a shared map within your NAS. The steps are the almost the same on both cases, the only difference is where to store your files in step 6.

Step-by-step guide on how to back up your files

1. There are three USB ports, two USB3.0 in the back and one USB2.0 in the front. You can connect your USB external hard drive any of the ports, the only difference will be the speed transfer. If recognized, the USB unit will appear as a folder in your File Station.


2. Click on the menu button synology NAS menu button
3. Click on “Backup and restore” button:


4. Click on “Create” and “Data backup task”:



5. The backup wizard will start, click Next.


6. Give a name to your back up, for example “My Backup Test” and click Next:



7. Select destination type: “Local Backup”:



8. Select your USB folder and then the folder where you want to store the backup files:



9. If you want your deleted files on the NAS to be kept on your back folder click in here:



10. If you want the files properties and the thumbnails for the photos stored in Photo Station, click here:



11. Select the files and folders you want to backup:



12. To set up the frequency of the backup, click on “Enable backup schedule”, then on “Advance schedule” and finally click on “Backup inmmediatly” if you want to create your backup after the setup:



13. Set up the frequency of the backup, day and time. Read my Backup plan if you are unsure on what is the best way to do this.



14. And you will get finally a confirmation of the details:



15. Your backup will be stored and you can follow if it has been successful or not in the “Back up and Restore” Menu:



16. If you had set up email notifications in your NAS, you will receive an email every time the backup has been completed with information of the status.

And you are done!

31 thoughts on “Backup your files to an external drive or a shared file

  1. Dear Ruth,
    There are three USB connections on the NAS (DS713+) – Two in the back and one at the front. Can all three be used to connect the external USB ?

    1. Hi Magnus,
      The USB connections on the back are USB3.0 and the one on the front is a USB2.0. The main difference is the speed transfer; so yes, you can use all three, but the ones in the back will transfer your data faster.
      I will update the guide with this information, thanks!
      Was the guide helpful? Did you set up your backup successfully?
      Best Regards, Ruth

      1. Hi Ruth, I got a little Issue here… I really want to use this built-in backup function, as it provides a flat-file backup as I understand. But the Backup&Restore App is not existant on my Synology DS??

        I’m using a DS412+ with DSM 6.0.2-8451 Update 6

        I also couldn’t find it in the package Center to install seperately and the DS is also up to date!
        Can you help with a little advise?

        Kind regards, Martin

  2. Hello Ruth – Thanks. Right now testing just to transfer files to the NAS and setting up shared folders. Next step will be back up looking closely at your tips.

  3. GE Ruth,
    I downloaded ppt files to the NAS. However, when I try to open them by clicking on them in the NAS folder it was not possible to open them. With word doc and excel it works by open them in a new window (without first downloading them) – with pdf it is straight forward and they opens imediately without any Q asked. What is the reason for this ?

    1. Hi Magnus,
      With file station, you can only preview your documents with Google Docs. If you want to preview powerpoint files, right-click on the file and choose preview with Google docs and a new window will show you the document.
      The best way to work with your files is by mapping them in your computer. Follow the instructions in these guides: and let me know if it helps.
      Choose the guide that applies to you. If you haven’t yet setup your NAS on the internet, use the guide to configure your NAS for your internal network.

  4. Hello again Ruth – On the MAC the NAS is visible as a unit in “Finder” internally after logging on to it. On the PC (Windows 7) I can map up individual folders by using the Synololgy Assistant (not possible using Windows) – But not the NAS as a unit – Is this something you have to “live with” as a PC user ?

    1. Hi Magnus,
      When I mapped my folders, I chose the first folder on the list for the mapping and with that the entire folder structure was mapped. I was also using windows 7 so it should work for you too. Try it out!

  5. Hello again,
    Thanks for good answers :-)! Now I have another Q – How to back up catalogues/files from the external computer connected to the NAS – When i went into Back Up Menu I could not see My Computer. But in the File Station menu My Computer is visible.


    1. Hi Magnus,
      Ok, here is the tricky one: You can schedule back up from your computer to your NAS, but that means that you will have two masters, that is both your computer and your NAS can update your files. This set up will eventually give you problems.

      My recommendation is to use your NAS as a master, map your files to your computer, and edit them from your mapped folder, which means you are working directly on your NAS. Guide on how to do this:

      What happens if you don’t have internet access? For files that you need to access both online and offline, I would recommend using CloudStation. With Cloud Station you can work with your files offline and the moment you get online again, your files will be transferred to your NAS and then backed up using your sheduled backup: To enable Cloud Station, you need to be able to access your NAS from the internet. I can post a guide if you need it.

      Finally, if you still want to work with both your NAS and Synology as masters, check this step by step tutorial from Synology:

  6. I know this is an old thread but I have a question.

    How do I set an auto backup to synology for a USB external hard disk connected to my Macbook?

    1. Hi Femi,

      So you have your USB harddisk connected to your Macbook and you want to create an automatic backup of your files? Is that correct? Why not connect the hard drive to your synology instead?
      To create automatic backups, you need to have your MAc on all the time, like you have your synology. Is that the case?


      1. I was thinking there is a way my external hard drive can be backed up without me connecting it to the synology usb.

        I’m a photographer and I edit pictures wherever I find myself. When I get home I want updates on my external HD to be backed up automatically.

        If you think this isn’t possible, is there a way to do this by plugging the external HD directly to the synology usb?


      2. Hi Femi,
        I have not tried this, but I am guessing that if you have a wifi hard drive, the synology should be able to pick it up and back up automatically, otherwise, you need to connect your external drive on the synology usb and create a back up schedule for it. How to do that is explained on this guide ( a bit old, but it should still work).
        Let me know if you need more help,

      1. Hi.
        It have been working for years. But now the nas can find the USB. But i cannot select it in the dropdown for destination. It is not in the list.

      2. Hi Mads,

        Somebody online had a similar problem and solved it by doing the following:

        “Please enable the SSH service in DSM > Control Panel > Terminal, and use Putty ( … /putty.exe ) to connect to your DiskStation with the account “root” and admin’s password, then run the following command and reboot:

        rm /usr/syno/etc/

        Then, please reboot and connect your USB devices in the desired order. The first connected USB storage device will be usbshare1.”

        If you don’t know how to do it, you can contact sinology support and they should be able to do that for you remotely:

        Hope this helps,

  7. Hi Ruth, many thanks for the article… still proving useful over two years later!

    One question… Is there a way to configure the backup job so the existing file/folder structure is retained on the USB HDD (i.e. not using the proprietary BUCKET/INDEX structure)?

    1. Hi Adam,

      Right now I don’t have access to my external USB so I don’t know what folder structure I have there, but I took a quick look at the settings for the back up and, if you name the directory the same on your NAS and USB HDD, it should work?? (unsure, as I cannot check on my side)
      Directory Backup nas

      I have to update my guides, the UI has changed a lot!!

  8. Hi Ruth
    just struggeling with a local backup on a Synology NAS DS215+ with DSM 6.0-7321 Update 6 to a local connected USB drive… found this thread, but apparently the backup and restore option is no longer in the interface… can you advise? I’ve installed the Hyper Backup app… and a first backup is running but indeed the filestructure is not visible on the USB drive….
    thanks for your reply!
    kind regards

  9. hi Ruth
    thanks for your quick reply… that’s indeed what I did (not through the guide but after installing the app, those seemed the normal steps to me)… the only thing that I didn’t do (according one of your earlier post above) is used the same foldername … but I will check tomorrow when the backup is finished to see if I can browse it… in the meanwhile I also discovered the Sync to OneDrive option: great tool, just what I was loooking for… not the same as a backup of course but great tool anyway!

    1. Hi Bravo,

      You can create a new backup with less files so it backs up in minutes to check that it works before you do the “big” backup.

      Also, make a quick check that your usb Hd is compatible here:

      I backup my files to azure, there is a guide in this blog on how to do it, if you want to check it out:

      Cross my fingers that your backup will work!!

  10. Hi,

    I have a 5 disk raid 1 external drive enclosure that has usb 3 connection and esata. Is it possible to connect via esata to synology and then disconnect from synology and still access my files using usb 3 on a laptop? Anotherwards, when it’s connected to synology, it’s backing up my nas, but when I have it plugged into my laptop, I would use it to access those backup files or are those files in some kind of synology format?


  11. When is Synology going to provide a means to backup an entire NAS to USB drives, i.e., when USB drive 1 get full, stop the backup, mount the next empty USB drive 2, continue with backup until NAS has been completely backed up to as many USB drives as necessary?

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