How to create a virtual machine on a Synology NAS

A common request I’ve seen among Synology NAS owners, is the ability to run virtual machines directly from their NAS. Recently Synology released a beta version of their new Virtual Machine Manager package that allows users to do exactly that.

Below I’ll detail how to install, configure, and create a Windows 10 virtual machine on my Synology DS1815+.

Before getting started, your Synology NAS not only needs to be compatible but also needs to meet a couple requirements:

You’ll also want to have a couple ISO images downloaded and ready; Windows 10, Synology Guest Tools, and Windows Virtio Drivers.

With that, lets get started!

Install and configure the Virtual Machine Manager package

  1. The Synology Virtual Maching Manager package is still in BETA so we’ll first need to set the Package Center to display BETA packages. Do so by opening the Package Center and clicking on Settings > then going to the Beta tab and checking “Yes, I want to see beta versions!“.
    synology package center beta packages
  2. Now go to Utilities, find Virtual Machine Manager and click on “Install“.
    synology install vm manager package
  3. Open the Virtual Maching Manager package and you’ll be prompted to begin the Virtual Machine Manager setup wizard. Click on “Next“.
    synology virtual machine manager wizard
  4. Select which volume(s) you would like for your virtual machines to be stored and click “Next“.
    synology vmm select volumes
  5. Select which network interface you want to use then click on “Next” and click on “Yes” to the confirmation prompt.
    synology vmm restart network
  6. After the services have been restarted from the step above you should get a “You are all set” message like below, click on “Finish
    synology virtual machine manager wizard complete
  7. We now need to upload the ISO’s, from the getting started section above, to the Synology Virtual Machine Manager. So click on System Image and then click on “Create“.
    synology vmm create system image
  8. Enter a name for the image, change the type to ISO File and select the ISO from where it’s located (either your local PC or the Synology NAS) and clikc on “Next“:
    synology vmm create system image windows10
  9. Next select where the system image should be stored and click on “Apply”.
    synology vmm create system image location
  10. You’ll need to repeat steps 7-9 for each of the three ISO’s – operating System, Synology Tools, and Virt-Win drivers. Your system images tab should look something similar to below:
    synology virtual machine manager system image finished

At this point the Synology Virtual Machine Manager package should be installed and ready to start creating virtual machines.

Creating a virtual machine on a Synology NAS

  1. In Virtual Machine Manager click on “Virtual Machine” then click on “Create“.
    synology create virtual machine
  2. Next, select “Create the virtual machine with ISO file” and click on “Next“.
    synology create vm with iso
  3. Now configure the name and specs of your new virtual machine. Make sure you select the Windows 10 image for the ISO file for bootup and the Synology Guest Tools for the additional ISO file as shown below:
    synology create vm configure specs
  4. Assign what users you want to have access to the virtual machine and click on “Next“.
    synology create vm assign permissions
  5. On the summary screen go ahead and select “Power on the virtual machine after creation” and click on “Apply“.
    synology create vm summary
  6. After a few seconds your newly created virtual machine should have the status of “Running”, if so then click on “Connect“.
    synology connect vm
  7. After clicking on connect your browser should open a new tab with a console to your new virtual machine with the Windows 10 installer running. Go ahead and click on “Next”.
    synology vm windows10 install
  8. When selecting which type of installation you want, select “Custom: Install Windows only“. The installer will then ask you where to install Windows. Notice the blank window? We need to load the Synology drivers so that Windows can see the drive. So click on “Load Drivers”.
    synology vm windows10 load driver
  9. From the browse dialog box select the “SYNO_INSTALLER” drive (in my case the E: drive) and select amd64 folder under Windows_Virtio_SCSI_Driver > Windows_10 folder.
    synology vm windows 10 load driver syno
  10. At this point the Windows 10 installer will see the provisioned drive and is ready for install.
    synology vm windows 10 load boot drive
  11. Now complete the Windows 10 install as normal.
  12. After the install is complete you’ll notice the network interface card driver along with a couple other drivers are missing. To install those drivers we’ll need to attach the Windows Virtio Drivers ISO, so back on the Synology Virtual Machine Manager click on “Edit“.
    synology edit vm
  13. Now change the ISO file for bootup to “unmounted” and change the Additional ISO file to the “Virt-Win” ISO that we uploaded in steps 7-9 above and click on “OK“.
    synology edit vm iso
  14. Go back to the Windows 10 virtual machine browser tab and then right click on the Start menu and click on “Device Manager“.
    synology vm windows10 device manager
  15. Now right click on Ethernet Controller and click on “Update Driver Software…”.
    synology vm windows10 device manager update driver
  16. Select “Browse my computer for driver software”.
    synology vm windows10 device manager update driver browse computer
  17. Browse to the virito-win drive, in my case the E drive.
    synology vm windows10 device manager update driver virtio-win
  18. After a few seconds Windows will locate the driver and prompt you to install the driver. Click on “Install”.
    synology vm windows10 device manager install driver
  19. Repeat this process for the remaining two devices listed under “Other devices”. Your Windows 10 virtual machine is now ready for use!

That’s it, now you can access the virtual machine using RDP, Teamviewer or any other remote access tool you’d like. Or you can simply use the VM through the browser tab if you’d like instead.

  • Chip Zoller

    This is really cool, Mike. I had no idea about this until I saw your article.

    • Thanks @chipzoller:disqus. I’ve been pretty impressed how well the VM’s run on the Synology. Still want to get some SSD’s in the NAS and test again.

  • SyncWind

    Great to see your post. Really cool. One question: is that then possible to install MSOffice on that Windows 10 virtual machine

    • Absolutely. The only thing that probably won’t run very well is going to be applications that require 3D graphics such as games and so on. Otherwise the machine operates like any other virtual machine.

      • SyncWind

        Great. Will try it this week. No Games for me then no stress. Thanks

  • james

    does this vm have access to my Nas files? if yes can i install crashplan on it and start backing up my Nas directly from Synology?
    Great tutorial, thanks for the effort!

  • Marco Palamenghi

    Hi Mike,
    nice article, thanks. Have you any idea why I can’t have any control on USB ports? Thanks in advance for your answer

  • J.C Wu

    There’s actually a msi installer inside Synology Guest Tool that helps you install all drivers you need.
    In other words, you don’t need to download virtio-win iso.