If you are managing your own home server it’s important to keep up to speed on the latest software for your server. It’s one of the drawbacks of using a home server or NAS, you can’t just set it and forget it. The latest update from Synology for my favorite digital home handyman product is a really good one. I know this is firmly in the nerd realm, but I'm excited about this update. Synology's DiskStation Manager (DSM) is usually pretty good, and they have been making it better at a very good pace. The latest version of DiskStation manager addresses a number of things I have been concerned about.

First, it adds a feature for exploring your Glacier backup set from the DSM interface so it's easier to get a single file from backup. Awesome, this reinforces my choice of using Glacier for backups, because that was the one remaining issue with Glacier is the difficulty of restoring a small set of files from the archive.

The next exciting addition that's relevant to this blog is Security Advisor. Synology DiskStation products had a big security problem a few months ago. Some malicious hackers figured out how to remotely access many (out of date) Disk Stations that were open to the internet and they held people's files hostage. This was really bad, but the security hole was closed quickly. Synology is trying to remedy this situation by having better automated updates, better email notifications of those updates to Synology owners, and now this new Advisor security scanning application.

When you install this newest version after setup, it will ask you if you want to install updates automatically, install only important updates, or just download and wait for you to install them manually. It's personal preference of course, but my recommendation is to set it to install important updates automatically, so you get the best security patches as quickly as possible.

Another new feature that's relevant to the digital home handyman is the update to Cloud Sync. Which is an application that will sync your cloud files from DropBox and Google Drive onto your NAS also, so if a cloud service ever goes down, you still have the files on your personal cloud. The new version allows you to connect to additional services, like Microsoft OneDrive and 'box'. This is a good thing to turn on, it's especially nice because it allows you to have multiple accounts with each service.

When Apple releases a new version of iOS (OS stands for Operating System) many people rush to install it right away. This may not always be a good idea. If your device is not from the two most recent generations of iPhone then you may encounter some problems and slow-downs even though technically your device will be supported by the latest OS version. You get 3 years of being current with an Apple iPhone and only 2 years where you are likely to have excellent performance on the current OS.

If you choose not to upgrade you will be running a few risks. One is that the apps you run will no longer be updated for your platform, most developers stop doing fixes for apps on older versions of the OS. And many developers will start releasing the same app but it will require the newest OS to even install.

Conversely, these things won't happen right away. Many developers will wait a few months before making the jump completely to newest OS versions. Here's the sad truth with Technology. A device that's parts and technology are 3 years old (like an iPhone 4S today) is really slow compared to todays devices. Progress is always driving capabilities forward, and companies are always trying to drive people to buy the latest device. Today with the 4S, the iPad 2 and the iPad Mini we are looking at a device that is 3 years old, even if you buy it brand new today. Apple was kind enough to provide an iOS update for our devices. There are two philosophical approaches to this situation.

Go with the Flow

Everything Changes. Learn to adapt to the new stuff and just upgrade as soon as its convenient. Apple usually gives us a few performance optimizations in the *.1 release anyway. Just suck it up and look forward to when you can afford a new device. The pro column of this philosophy looks pretty good, you get lots of shiny new features! Some things become a lot easier (like extensions in iOS8) and you get to be part of the cool crowd that is using the latest and greatest software. You get to install and run all the latest cool apps that only work on the most recent OS. The con column contains mostly performance decreases, and the chance that you will get burned by some temporary bug that ships in the first version of the operating system. 

or Stick to your Guns

Your device works fine like it is. Why risk a big change. If I don't absolutely need one of the new features, then I'll stick with the old version. This is the philosophy of getting a device to accomplish a few specific tasks and not worrying about the other possibilities that you may or may not ever use. If the old iOS gets the job done, why try to change. If your iPod Classic plays music for you just fine, why upgrade? If your digital camera takes adequate pictures for you, why lust after the latest and greatest? Do those feelings sound familiar to you? This could be your path forward.

My wife has the same iPhone 4S as me, that never upgraded to iOS7. She stayed on 6. She does email in the Gmail app, she sends and receives a lot of text and iMessages, and she makes and receives a few phone calls. She reads books in Kindle. Occasionally she tries to get directions from Maps. She doesn't play games hardly ever. In this case she stuck with the old versions of the apps, turned off automatic updates and is perfectly happy. Whenever I pick up her phone to use it I am amazed at how fast and responsive it is. It just feels so much faster than my phone on iOS7.