Synology Drive vs. Mapped Network Drives

  • Post author:WunderTech
  • Post published:May 30, 2024
  • Post last modified:May 30, 2024
  • Post category:Synology
  • Reading time:6 mins read

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Let me start out by saying that I am an absolutely huge Synology Drive fan. I can honestly say that it’s an application that I use every single day, even though I’m not necessarily interacting with it. I have all of my important data syncing to and from the NAS so that each device I sign into is always up-to-date with the latest files.

With that said, it functions entirely differently than a mapped network drive (accessed via SMB), so in this article, we’re going to go over the differences between Synology Drive vs. Mapped Network Drives to help you determine which option is best for you.

Synology Drive vs. Mapped Network Drive

Each of these options is extremely different from a functionality perspective, but the truth is, you’re going to use both.

Synology Drive

First, Synology Drive functions as a tool similar to Google Drive or Dropbox. It’s designed to be a private cloud, meaning that you are storing data on your Synology NAS and accessing it through a client device. The client device can be a web browser, mobile phone, or the Synology Drive Client which can be installed on a Windows or macOS device.

When you use the Drive Client, you’re syncing data to and from the NAS and can use on-demand sync to “clear up” some of that space.

synology drive client

To give you an example of how it works, there are three types of files that exist on the device when using the Synology Drive Client.

  • Cloud: a NAS-only version of the file. When you double-click it, it will download on the local device from the NAS.
  • Green Checkmark: a version of the file on the local device that was synced from the NAS.
  • Pinned Copy: A file from the NAS that will always live on the local device.

The benefit of Synology Drive is that you can clear up space, meaning that you can choose to remove the file on your local device (to save storage space), and if you need it at a later time, you can double-click it to automatically retrieve it from the NAS. You also have versions available, meaning that every time a file is saved, a new version can be retrieved if you have to roll back.

synology drive versions

When using the Synology Drive Client on a Windows or Mac device, you are always editing the file on the local device, and never editing the file on the NAS.

Mapped Network Drive

With a mapped network drive, you are always editing the file on the NAS. This means that the file itself is getting edited through the network, so if you’re working on small files, this won’t be a problem. With larger files and in certain scenarios (video editing is a great example), using a mapped network drive will destroy your overall performance if you’re not using upgraded networking (like 10GbE).

showing the connected network drive.

In cases like that, Synology Drive is a far better solution, but again, the data will exist on the local device so you’re editing it locally.

In terms of moving files, a mapped network drive will almost always be a better option, as you’re moving the file from a local device to the NAS. This assumes that you actually want the file to live on the NAS and not on the local device, as Synology Drive is a great option as well if you want it to live in both places.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

The truth is that you’re probably going to use both options depending on what you’re trying to do, but I have used Synology Drive far more than my mapped network drives. If I am editing a file, I’m either using the “My Drive” section of Synology Drive or a Team Folder. If I am moving a file, however, I am either moving it through a mapped network drive or SMB as it’s simply a better option for that.

So to summarize, yes, they’re both great options depending on exactly what you’re trying to do, and I wouldn’t say one is a replacement for the other, but if you’re not using Synology Drive, what are you waiting for?