The ultimate guide to setting up a Synology Directory Server in 2023 (2023)

The ultimate guide to setting up a Synology Directory Server in 2023 (1)

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Did you know that the Synology NAS offers Active Directory functionality? Install Synology Directory Server package properly from Package Center and setup Windows domain.

It's a good choice for small businesses that want to control user access and simplify administration—combined with a file server role. Synology NAS offers both worlds. A Windows Server license typically costs around $1,000 with a CAL (Client Access License).

In this article, I will show you how to set up Synology Directory Server.

Hardware requirements for Synology Active Directory Server

A Synology NAS with DSM version at least DSM v6.2 or higher is required. As of this writing, the current version is 7.1. I recommend using the latest version.

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Check the hardware requirementsHere;Your Synology NAS should be listed,

Synology with low CPU cannot install Synology Directory Server.

I recommend the Synology NAS model DS723+ without disks or as a 12TB disk pack.

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Synology 2-Bay DiskStation DS723+ (Without Disk)

  • Up to 471/225 MB/s sequential read/write stream makes file operations fast and efficient
  • Leverage integrated file and photo management, data protection, virtualization, and surveillance solutions
  • Two 1GbE ports for easy integration into existing environments with optional 10GbE connectivity for more specialized high-bandwidth applications
  • Add 5 additional hard drive bays with a DX517 expansion unit for up to 7 storage units
  • Please check Synology Knowledge Center or YouTube channel for product setup help and more information

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Synology DS723+ 2-Bay Diskstation NAS (AMD Ryzen™ 4 Threads R1600 Dual-Core 2 GB RAM 2xRJ-45 1 GB LAN Port) Size 24 TB με 2X 12 TB Seagate IronWolf

  • AMD Ryzen R1600
  • Systemspeicher 2 GB DDR4 ECC
  • 2 x RJ-45 1GbE LAN-Port
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 port
  • Synology DS723+, 2 GB RAM, 2x GB LAN, 2x 12 TB Seagate IronWolf (24 TB)

Synology Directory Server Package Features and Limitations

  • Supports roaming profiles and home folders
  • It also supports group-based access controls.
  • Supports group policies
  • Supports Windows RSAT tools (install it on a Windows 10 or Windows 11 computer)
  • It only supports one domain
  • Supports only one domain controller
  • Supports primary or secondary controller
  • DFS is not supported
  • The Active Directory module for Windows PowerShell is not supported

See also the officialSynology Directory Serverbook page

Best choice

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Microsoft Surface Pro 9 (2022), tablet and laptop 2 in 1 13"

A few tips before installation

  • Give your Synology NAS a meaningful hostname
  • Set a static IP address
  • The Synology NAS should not be a domain member, otherwise the package installation will fail.

A call

If you are planning to buy a Synology NAS, please use my affiliate link to buy it. There is absolutely no additional cost to you (I would get a commission from the seller) but it's definitely a huge help to me as your gesture helps cover the cost of maintaining this site and adding more great items cover. Thanks in advance for your support!

How to install Synology Active Directory Server

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The ultimate guide to setting up a Synology Directory Server in 2023 (19)

You can find the Synology Directory Server package in the Package Center of your Synology NAS. If you see the package, it means your NAS is compatible.

You also need to install the DNS server package, which you can find in Synology Package Center. I recommend you to install DNS server first as it is a requirement. DNS Manager configuration is not required as the Synology Directory Server package takes care of everything.

There is one thing you need to configure on your DNS server. It is a redirect to a DNS server connected to the Internet. It could be your internet router's IP address or an external DNS server like Google, 8.8..4.4. In the image below I have a forwarder configured on the inbound internet router.

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A reader kindly mentioned that adding an external DNS server to the Domains/LDAP setting in Control Panel also works. Add an additional DNS server, separated by a comma.

The ultimate guide to setting up a Synology Directory Server in 2023 (21)

My series of articles from Synology

Synology Directory Server


Which Synology NAS


How to use Synology Hyper Backup


Synology Drive


WordPress on Synology


Configure the Active Directory server

After installing the Active Directory Server package, you can find it in the main menu. Click on the package and a wizard will guide you through the package. The first question is crucial. You will need to enter your domain name and password for the administrator account. Take some time to choose your domain name before setting up your server.

Go to DNS Manager. You will see a new DNS zone with your domain name (integrated into Active Directory). As you know, Windows Active Directory requires a DNS zone. The installation wizard created it automatically. If you click on the zone name, all standard data sets are displayed. New records are created for each customer when they join the domain. Of course, you can also create records manually.

Manage your Synology Active Directory server

On the left three tabs "Status", "Users & Computers" and "Domain Policy" you will see Active Directory again. The Active Directory structure is displayed on the Users and Computers tab. It is the same structure you would see in the Windows domain. The Add button allows you to create a new user, computer, or organizational unit.

However, I recommend that you manage Active Directory on a Windows 10 computerRSAT(Remote Server Management) tools.

As of Windows 10 October 2018 update, RSAT is included. You must activate it using the "Features on Demand" option. After successful activation, you can find the RSAT tools under Windows administrative tools.

Don't forget to join the Windows 10 computer to the domain first.

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folder sharing

I would create shared folders with my Synology NAS. To do this, go to Control Panel, Shared Folder. New to the Permissions tab, you can select Domain Users and Domain Groups from the drop-down menu. As you can see, local users and local groups still exist. These are the local accounts of the Synology NAS. If you have created accounts, they will remain untouched after installing Synology Directory Server.

Group Policy

There is no option to use group policies on the Synology NAS. However, you can use RSAT's Windows Group Policy Management tool. It works the same and I haven't encountered any problem with my Synology Active Directory server yet. It's a great tool for small businesses to set up folder redirection, roaming policy, or drive mapping. Even for a business with 20 computers or fewer, organizing your network and providing a consistent experience for your users makes perfect sense.

An advice

I have found that using the "User must change password at next logon" option does not work when using the Windows Active Directory for Users and Computers (ADUC) tool. You get a strange error message. Set this option on your Synology NAS if you want to use it.

In theory, you could use other packages from the package manager as well. But I advise you not to use them or use them as little as possible. Only use Synology NAS as "your Windows server". Better buy a second NAS.


It would be helpful to think about how you would secure your server. A general backup rule is to back up your data3 times.1x production and 2x backups.

In the Package Center you will find a great package called "Hyperbackup". You have the option to back up the data to an external USB drive, or you can also add another Synology NAS as a backup destination and use it to store your data off-site.

Hyperbackup offers the possibility of backing up your data with a cloud provider. I recommend backing up to another Synology NAS and additionally backing up to the cloud. For example, Amazon S3 is an affordable cloud provider. Of course you can also choose other providers. Hyperbackup supports them all and is easy to set up.

When choosing a cloud provider, find out who is the best and whether you would like to store your data abroad.

Back to the backup rule: storing your data in the cloud is the third backup.

Questions and Answers section.

Can Synology Active Directory replace my Windows domain?

Synology Active Directory (AD) provides a domain controller (DC) that replaces the Windows domain controller. So the answer is yes. However, if you already have a Windows-licensed server, I would not change your domain to a Synology NAS unless the license is for an old version of the Windows server.

What is the difference between an Active Directory and a domain controller?

There is no difference. Both terms mean the same thing.

How do I connect my Windows PC to the Active Directory hosted on my Synology NAS?

It's the same process you would go through if you have a Windows domain controller. You must know the domain name and domain account ID that have domain administrator privileges.

Latest comments

Synology NAS offers a Windows server that acts as a domain controller without the need to purchase an expensive Windows license. Installing and maintaining a Windows server is a complex process. Using a Synology NAS as a directory service is easy. It also helps minimize IT support costs. However, don't forget to keep your Synology NAS up to date to use the latest security updates.

Overall, the Synology NAS is easy to set up. If you're looking for a simple software-based solution, this is it.

I hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions let me know in the comments section below or via

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