Synology releases DSM 4.2-BETA. MyDS registration now required.

Today I downloaded and installed Synology’s new DSM 4.2-Beta (Build 3160). I’m normally excited about new DSM releases, even the betas, as they mean the opportunity to see and test new features. I’ve been impressed by DSM releases in the past, as they’re usually very stable and I can’t say as I’ve really had any major issue with them.

Unfortunately, Synology decided to implement something in this DSM release that has me irritated, to say the least. They require that you register with their MyDS service in order to install any additional software packages on your Synology product, or even to upgrade any packages that you had installed prior to installing the DSM 4.2 BETA. This even applies to 3rd party software packages, but not software packages installed from other software sources. And, it’s not optional.

Yes, even if you had a software package on your Synology product before installing the DSM 4.2 BETA, you can’t upgrade that software package without registering on the MyDS service.

dsm_upgrade_need_myds

Oh, yeah, you also can’t downgrade to a previous DSM release.

dsm_not_downgradable

This is a great example of another instance of “forcing” customers to use cloud services to utilize the full potential of a product, and a huge disappointment for me. And yes, they keep records of your “purchases” (downloads). And, also, there’s currently no way to delete your purchase history, or your MyDS account.

I took a close look at Synology’s “What’s new” for this Beta to see if I had missed a mention that MyDS was required. Here’s a screenshot of what their website shows:

wn_packagectr

Note that it says that MyDS is required to purchase paid apps. It says nothing about free apps. This is misleading, to say the least.

I shouldn’t be forced to register and log in to Synology’s MyDS service to download and install their own software packages. It would be like Microsoft forcing users to have a Microsoft account to download Windows updates. More so, this even affects the third-party software packages available from the package center that come from Synology repositories. However, again, it doesn’t affect software packages from other sources.

The only good I could possibly even see coming from this would be the ability to remotely manage and push software updates to the Synology product directly from the MyDS center. But why would you want to do that instead of just logging into the product itself and doing it securely? I could even see malicious software authors getting hold of the Synology software bundles and offering to host them on publicly available repositories where they could be downloaded without registration, but modifying the packages to introduce malware into them, unbeknownst to the user.

Thanks a bundle Synology. Maybe you should take a lesson from Cisco. They tried something like that at one point. It was called Cisco Cloud Connect, and they backpedaled on it. Read more about that on eWeek here and here, and on Cisco’s own blog here.

UPDATE 8-Jan-13:

I should clarify some of the above. You CAN manually install and upgrade freely-available packages from Synology. First, you have to go to Download Center, and select your product type. In the case of my DS211j, the direct link is here. (If you’re looking for the updated 4.2-BETA packages, they’re here for all models.) You can download the spk file from there, and subsequently upload the spk file via the Package Center’s manual update feature. (You can also find downloads for all packages for all models here.) The direct links to DSM 4.1 (build 2636) are here.

dsm_manual_spk

Again, why Synology forces MyDS registration to do this via the automated installer for freely-available packages is still beyond my understanding. However, it looks like their intent is DRM-based. Specifically, on packages that are to be purchased.

myds_acct_remove

UPDATE 14-Jan-13:

I’ve been in contact with Synology on Twitter, and I openly thank them for their dialog with me regarding my feelings on this issue. I’ve sent them the following email as well:

I’m submitting this to let you, Synology, know how disappointed I am in the decision to force MyDS registration for automatic package downloads in DSM 4.2-BETA. This is a decision that I feel has multiple implications.

First, it impacts the usability of the Synology product for people who do not care to register for a MyDS account, as they can no longer automatically update or install packages. Indeed, some packages can be manually installed by downloading from Synology’s website and installed or upgraded manually, but quite a few packages (such as 3rd party packages) are absent from the download list. Along with this, one that is present (Amazon Glacier) requires Python, which is not present.

Second, this impacts privacy, as all automated downloads are logged as “purchases” in the MyDS account, but this list cannot be deleted, nor can the MyDS account itself be deleted.

Third, there are additional possible security implications, but I am going to choose not to elaborate on them for the purposes of this email.

I strongly (and vocally) disagree with Synology’s decision.

I understand that the addition of paid packages to the Synology repositories has created the need for a purchase and DRM solution, but I do not understand why this has to create an issue for people that do not have those packages available to them, or simply choose not to purchase them.

I submit that it would have been a much better decision to at least allow the automatic installation and upgrade of free packages without the forced MyDS registration. Or, at least, to allow the download of all free packages via a web page or FTP download, and prominently display a link to that are in the DSM Package Center.

I have written about this at http://mikebeach.org/2013/01/08/synology-releases-dsm-4-2-beta-myds-registration-now-required/

Sincerely,

Mike Beach

Are you the owner of a Synology product and tried the DSM 4.2-BETA? What are your feelings about the forced use of MyDS for software downloads? Please feel free to share in the comments below. Thank you!

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  1. #1 by Martyn on January 9, 2013 - 6:00 am

    Congratulations, you’re the first link that comes up when searching for the annoying mess that is the 4.2 beta MyDS forced registration. Like you, I updated my NAS to the latest beta because I’ve been waiting for DS Video on Android for ages (after it had been out for IOS for months). Audio station was reporting an error so had to be updated. But I wasn’t expecting to be unable to update it to fix the error unless I sign up for some account that I don’t want.

    I just want to update the package I’ve already installed Synology. Shall be reporting this as a bug, I suggest everyone else who feels the same way does this as well.

    • #2 by Mike on January 9, 2013 - 9:42 am

      Martyn,

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one that’s irritated by this. Please do communicate to Synology.

      Please feel free to direct others to this post and ask them to comment as well. I’ve already drawn Synology’s attention to this post, and I believe the more voices make themselves known, the more they’ll consider re-evaluating the decision to force registration.

      If you didn’t find it already, there’s a link to download center where you can manually update your packages.

  2. #3 by James on January 10, 2013 - 1:22 pm

    From a managment point of view could this cause any issues?

    What if I have two units and I want to manage both, BUT also share my password to UNIT 1 some someone else can help look after that unit. If you can only install packages by the admin account that means the user I’ve shared my admin password with may also need my DS account details. Which I might not want to supply. Or onces you’ve logged in and supplied the account details once does it remember?

    I haven’t installed the beta yet so I cannot try this out. But the scenario is a setup I’ve been considering.

    • #4 by Mike on January 10, 2013 - 1:36 pm

      Once you’ve logged in and supplied the MyDS credentials, they’re stored.

  3. #5 by Fred on January 15, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    I just discovered that registration today when i tried updating Photo Station. I agree with you, why do i need online services to use private harware. Lot of people use Synology system because they don’t like to share or don’t have confidence in online services.

    Thanks for your manual update tutorial

    PS: sorry for my poor english

  4. #6 by Simon le Bon on January 20, 2013 - 5:51 pm

    Mike, Thank you for pointing this out, I couldn’t agree with you more. I bought the Syno for it’s performance and a few other features. Now, it is becoming a PC instead of a NAS, but without the possibility to upgrade installed software from third parties.

    Come to think of it, the Syno is slowly transforming to an Apple. I wonder if Apple has plans to take over Synology……

    There is a way to downgrade; reset the DS by pressing the reset button (4 sec), then releasing it and pressing it again (4 sec). This will erase the system partition and you will be able to install a previous version. Modifying /etc.defaults/VERSIONS didn’t work for me.

    PS: English is not my native language, so please forgive my errors….

    • #7 by Mike on January 22, 2013 - 6:43 pm

      You’re right, and I didn’t think of that method to downgrade the DSM OS. It does work.

      You will have to use the Synology Assistant software to load the appropriate PAT file on to the Synology product after cleaning the OS partition using that method.

      Thanks for mentioning it.

      • #8 by Simon le Bon on January 28, 2013 - 7:03 pm

        OOOOOPS! My mistake, the reset didn’t work when DSM 4.2 is installed as initial OS/firmware and packages are running.
        But I did manage to put rollback to 4.1:

        I removed the disk out of the Synology DS,
        Connected it to a PC (external bay), removed all partitions, create a new partition and formatted it.

        Then I put the disk back into the Disk Station and did a fresh install of DSM 4.2. I filled in an admin password.
        Enabled SSH (in Control Panel, Terminal).

        -SSH’d with Putty

        login: root
        password: (the admin password)

        a prompt will appear

        DiskStation> vi /etc.defaults/VERSION

        ESC i (= modify line)
        modified the lines to these values

        majorversion=”4″
        minorversion=”1″
        buildphase=”Beta”
        buildnumber=”2647″
        builddate=”2012/01/09″
        ~
        ~
        ~

        ESC : wq (write&quit vi, don’t forget the ‘ : ‘)

        DiskStation> exit

        Then, using a webbrowser: http://diskstation:5000/

        -Control Panel, DSM Update

        That’s it. I had to do a fresh install, tried everything, but this was the only thing that worked for me…..

        It’s plain ridiculous that you cannot rollback from a BETA release. Next time, I’ll wait till I see others experience before installing a new DSM release.

        Mike, I’ve read this article again, and again have to conclude that you are so right!!

        • #9 by Mike on January 29, 2013 - 9:37 am

          What a convoluted solution. :/

          But — thanks for the legwork on figuring this out, and the very specific instructions!

          • #10 by Øyvind on February 1, 2013 - 11:05 am

            I have given up on 4.2, and had the same problems downgrading.
            However, it is possible to skip the step of formatting the drive. Otherwise I followed Simons recipe.

  5. #11 by Øyvind on January 30, 2013 - 11:10 am

    I’m a first time user of a Synology product (DS213+), and I decided to just install the 4.2 beta nstead of the 4.1 release.

    I had done my research (or so I thought) before purchasing this product, but boy was I surprised when I discovered that I would have to register to MyDS just to install packages. I did not register, instead I went straight to Google to look for info, and I found your blog on this issue.

    Boy am I disappointed at this. For now I’ll just download and install manually, but I feel cheated that Synology requires me to register to a service to be able to use the automated functions in the package center.

    I’m already starting to regret my purchase (before I have even started using it), because I loathe any company that even starts resembling (Cr)Apple.

    In short, I fully agree with everything you wrote, and I think Synology should back off this strategy for the final 4.2 release.

    • #12 by Mike on January 30, 2013 - 5:12 pm

      I understand your disappointment. Prior to the MyDS forced registration in this DSM beta, I was a huge fan of Synology products. In part, I still am. I think Synology’s products are of excellent quality in both hardware and software.

      Unfortunately, the forced registration and related issues that come with it are a HUGE issue for me. I’m awaiting the final release to see if the forced registration for automated installations and updates is kept or dropped. If it’s dropped, I (and I imagine many other beta users) will be relieved. If it’s kept, I’m seriously considering decommissioning my Synology NAS and going with something from another vendor (such as QNAP), or building my own.

      I would encourage you, as well as anyone else, to share this article and voice your disappointment to Synology. Perhaps with enough customer pressure they’ll reconsider their position on forced registration.

      • #13 by Øyvind on January 31, 2013 - 3:51 am

        If the registration had been optional it wouldn’t have been an issue for me. having it mandatory is just plain stupid, especially as long as it is still possible to manually download and install packages.

        The product itself seems to be very good, so this is just a shame. I have filed this as a bug report with Synology (along with a couple of other issues). There is also a community forum thread (with a poll) on this issue, don’t know if you’ve seen that:

        http://forum.synology.com/enu/viewtopic.php?f=225&t=62309

        • #14 by Mike on February 1, 2013 - 5:55 pm

          Thank you for the link.

          I glanced at the poll, and it seems that a vast majority of people are against the MyDS registration requirement. Hopefully this carries some weight with Synology and encourages them to lift the requirement in the final release.

  6. #15 by Peter on February 23, 2013 - 5:59 pm

    +1 big disappointment.. Just wasted 5 hours!! Changed drives and can’t remove 4.2 beta!!!

    THANK YOU SYNOLOGY!!

    • #16 by Mike on February 23, 2013 - 7:38 pm

      I almost missed your comment as somehow it ended up in my spam.

      Thanks for the comment!

  7. #17 by Mike on February 28, 2013 - 5:31 pm

    I posted the direct links to the clean install version of DSM 4.1 above.

    You should be able to simply clear the firmware (see Simon’s post) and then use Synology Assistant to reload 4.1.

  8. #18 by Fred on March 4, 2013 - 2:15 pm

    I’ve just intalled the 4.2 Release and so it seems to me that myDS is not required anymore

  9. #19 by Necrosis on March 9, 2013 - 10:55 am

    The final version of 4.2 only requires myDS for paid/trial packages now.

    • #20 by Mike on March 11, 2013 - 10:09 am

      That’s good to hear!

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