Thecus N2560 NAS storage for photographers – review

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This will be an overview of the N2560 and also a little bit of practical advice for people that have a computer with almost zero disk space remaining, and no clue what to do about it!

Let’s start with the Thecus N2560 network attached storage (NAS) that we were sent to try out.

Thecus N2560 NAS on Amazon

The N2560 is a relatively small (when compared with the Synology 1512+) NAS device that holds two 3.5″ SATA disk drives, and sits quietly (20db) in the corner of your home office serving your images, document, media – whatever. When idle, the little guy only uses 9W of power and 14W under load, so it’s also reasonably electricity efficient.

simon pollock photography melbourne

Let’s look at what a NAS is if you have never used one, or considered using one. Lets say you have a wireless (or non-wireless) router in your home that you use to connect to the internet and that router has a spare network port (the rectangular looking one) Well, in very basic terms, you connect the N2560 to that spare port and with a little configuration, you’re able to access the drive space from your home network without being physically attached to the NAS itself. With the Thecus, and many other brands, you can also use their configuration service to set up your NAS to allow you to connect from outside the house, on the go.

The Thecus is a multi-award winning device and has shown me great performance with 2GB of memory and the 1.6Ghz Intel Atom processor, and while I tried to run a small Lightroom catalogue, raw image library on the N2560. While it was a bit slow across my network (wired, 1Gb cat6 network via an Apple Airport Extreme )  it was useable for smaller Lightroom libraries, and adds a load of flexibility, too. With the T On The Go, iOS app (there are Android versions of Thecus apps, too, rejoice!) you can upload (you can auto upload photos you take with your iPhone, you can also turn it off and ask it to only upload via Wifi etc – well thought out!) download, manage, stream media etc. (audio types will like the Thecus’ ability to playback FLAC audio files).

Thecus N2560

There’s really not a lot to say about the device aside from it can be a bit tricky to configure if it’s your first time – I had a handful of IP Address issues (What’s an IP Address? They’re the things inside your network that tell other things where everything is, basically – kinda like digital street numbers) Once configured though, it’s not skipped a beat and I’ve been running it alongside my beautiful direct connected Promise R8 and my primary Synology NAS for just over a month.

The Thecus N2560 performs really well, with good speeds for a network connected device at this price point, and I have no complaints with it. If you’re interested, you can read all of the tech specs on the website and learn all you need to know about the N2560 but I thought I’d take this in a slightly different direction and talk about some of the things you can do with a NAS in a photographic environment.

Your computer is FULL and you need to do something!

So you’re at that point where your computer is almost full up with your data, there are multiple paths you can go down to sort this out, but let’s focus on two – direct connected external disk drives and NAS.  But first, a couple of things about your computer being FULL!

Some people might say “my computer is out of memory!” There are two things they could be talking about:  (1) HD space (hard drive or hard disk, both are acceptable) is where the stuff you load onto your computer, like programs, music, photos etc go to live, or (2) Memory or RAM on the other hand is the stuff that your programs all load into and run.

An analogy if you will.Disk space are the seats in your car – when they’re full, you need a trailer or a bus (external disk or NAS). Memory is like the engine in your car, it makes the car run and you can upgrade it to make your car go faster if you need to. (Mmmm – turbo!) – If you’re still confused, ask questions in the comments, I don’t bite!

So, why would you want to buy an NAS?

With a traditional external disk drive, you can plug it into your computer, load things onto it and download things from it. In most cases this is the quickest way to backup, aside from having a disk physically in your computer, directly connected to your computer’s brain – so to speak. There are multiple ways you can connect drives these days, too, just to add a splash of confusion to your choices – USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt being a few of the ways. They have different benefits and speeds.

So, why would you buy an NAS? (and sure, with some external drives you can do these things, too)

  • Use Windows or Mac where most direct drives are one or the other
  • You have the ability to connect from outside your house (personal cloud – on the go)
  • You can use iOS / Android apps to view the contents of your NAS (photographs!)
  • Cloud backup / USB3 backup to the Thecus (USB one touch button) Backup people, I’ll say it again – backup!
  • Media playback on your TV / Audio playback on your Hifi.

Here’s a scenario where my NAS came into its own recently – I was showing a client some portraits for the set of images I’d taken. They were the images I’d chosen that worked for what she wanted. We came to the end of the viewing which was via my iPad in her house, and she asked if there was another specific photograph that she had in mind from the shoot – turns out there was. As I’d put the entire unedited folder into the “working directory” on my NAS, I connected to the internet via my iPhone hotspot and browsed the NAS to show her the set of images that I’d not chosen. We found her photograph and everyone was happy!

The one thing that the NAS is not is a 100% foolproof backup – you must remember this. Sure, the Thecus is a two-drive unit and depending on how you set up those two drives (raid 0, 1 or JBod, I’ve talked about this before – not this time), you do get some redundancy, but always have multiple copies of important stuff – you don’t know the pain of losing a backup until you’ve lost client work that you can’t get back, or worse, family photos that mean a lot and are irreplaceable. If i’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – backup people! 

It’s all too technical for me!

It’s really not! You can see below the open door on the front of the little N2560, it takes two disks which are very easy to put in – you put the little slider bits on the sides of your disks and they simply pop straight in. The drives I’m using at the moment in all of my NAS devices are the WD Red NASware drives – I’m aware that all disks are either dead or dying from their first spin up (as my old boss used to say) and that any drive can and will completely fail when you need it the most, but so far I’ve had no problems with these disks. (I also use the WD My Passport Pro Thunderbolt external, all good there, too) With the drives in, you power her up after connecting your network cable (supplied) and follow the prompts basically. I mentioned I had a little trouble, and coming back from that trouble was slightly trickier than other devices (Synology, I’m looking at you) I’ve configured previously with slightly better graphical interfaces and directions. Once your config is complete, you’re set to use your Thecus as a local disk folder, media server, personal cloud, photo server etc.

N2560 Raid

You can see above the little blue USB port I mentioned in the points above. You can plug a USB 3 disk (also USB2 and 1 backward compatible) into the device and use the one-touch backup to take the content from that USB drive into the Thecus NAS, so if you are out shooting and backing up to an external USB drive, you can plug it into your NAS when you get home and with a button press, the data copies across – handy.

N2560_ANGLE_LARGE5

In conclusion, I’d say NAS isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a well priced, entry level NAS to introduce into your digital workflow, this little Thecus N2560 would be a decent option. I’ve opted to give the NAS 4.5 stars because in my experience, the operating system could be a little easier to use – but then, maybe it’s just me!

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Thecus N2560 NAS storage
Author Rating
4.5

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Sime (aka #gtvone) is the customer support manager for dPS, and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He's a Melbourne based photographer, www.gtvone.com and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

  • ziplock9000

    Admittingly I did skim through this, but how is this NAS for photographers? (more than anyone else that needs to store data)

  • gtvone

    Howdy, yeah, it’s not specifically – my title is a bit rubbish really, sorry. NAS has totally changed my delivery workflow but NAS is for anyone who has a workflow that can accommodate it. –Sime

  • David

    Hi. After some research, I have buyer’s regret after buying a 8TB NAS for home. I wanted to use it as a file server to use Lightroom, iPhoto, iMovie etc across multiple machines with backup etc using RAID setup. As far as I can tell, the risk of corruption of libraries using NAS/server is high as Apple/Adobe hasn’t setup the apps to work across a network – they work reliably on local drives only. There appear to be some workarounds but it is not recommended but the developers – even with wired gigabit network. Not happy 🙁

  • gtvone

    Hi David, My primary Lightroom cat (200K+ raw files dating back to 2001) is on a Promise R8 raid – Thunderbolt 2 / direct connected. While the small portable Lightroom cat I use worked fine across the network via the Thecus, I always use direct connected for the bigger catalog. Using the NAS for all your stuff, make sure it doesn’t go to sleep – that can cause you corruptions, also make sure you shut down programs when you leave your computer for any amount of time – this can help lessen your risk, but nothing is foolproof. –Sime

  • cedrictaipei

    Is this a hidden advertising post? Three years ago my company replaced its Synology NAS with the latest Thecus . The device process and user interface were so poorly designed that we several times lost important data, not even mentioning the countless hours of work retrieving backups, which had never happened with our two previous devices. We complained to the Thecus customer service, which just decided to stop answering our claims after the second email. As a result, we moved back to the old Synology server, which we now have been using for 6 or 7 years totally without any significant trouble. I would advise any professional to seriously consider before using the brand Thecus, which we experienced as totally unreliable.

  • Hi Cedric,

    I like the interface of my Synology more than that of the Thecus (thus the half star deduction – it’s a solid little performer, I just felt it wasn’t as intuitive as the 1512+) …a lot has changed in Three years 🙂

    –Simon

  • gtvone

    Hi Cedric,

    I like the interface of my Synology more than that of the Thecus (thus the half star deduction – it’s a solid little performer, I just felt it wasn’t as intuitive as the 1512+) …a lot has changed in Three years 🙂

    –Sime

  • cedrictaipei

    Thank you. What I mean is that the post is written and edited exactly like an infomercial and therefore raises suspiction regarding the trustability of the informations and opinions stated.
    Cédric ALVIANI

  • gtvone

    Interesting! If it was an infomercial, I’d have less cables and mess in my office 😉 That said, you seem to know what you’re talking about and already use a NAS? So maybe this post isn’t helpful for you anyway?

  • cedrictaipei

    I believe there’s always something to learn by reading this forum, even on matters I am familiar with. Anyway, thank you for taking the time to answer my comment. I haven’t tried this particular NAS model, so I fully trust you as long as you say your review is independent. If you allow me a suggestion, I would more easily trust an article choosing clearly between a thematic presentation (ex: “NAS, SLR, Mirrorless” etc…) or a single product review, rather than an article mixing both, which I suppose triggered my negative reaction. Thank you for writing articles in this forum anyway.

  • gtvone

    For sure, I hear what you’re saying — I guess I was coming from this angle; people that are going to use a NAS typically have some idea what a NAS is and when reading reviews, they want to know the person has some experience with NAS and is not just getting one for the first time and saying “yeah it’s good, get it” …I have a long and varied background with these things and so I thought to mention the ones I use, as a photographer, might be helpful for people to understand that I have a vague idea what I’m talking about. I do see your point and can appreciate it, but this isn’t a sponsored post – actually, I don’t even get paid for my reviews here in dps 🙂 (I’m family, who just happens to be into this stuff) –hope that helps you understand my position. –Sime

  • Thank you for making the time to write this. I’ve been meaning to get one but procrastinating because of the perceived setup challenges 🙂

  • manicdee

    The “Small Net Builder” web site has reviews of some more NAS products.

    http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/rankers/nas/view

    IMHO, the main utility of a NAS for a photographer (hobbyist or professional) is the ability to send pictures “home” during or after a shoot. You can use the provided software or third party software to run your own “cloud” service (one product is even called OwnCloud), and upload photos directly to your NAS using your laptop or mobile device.

    A NAS option really becomes useful if your workflow is shared across multiple computers, and then you really want a NAS that can support “bonding” where multiple Ethernet ports are joined together to give you 2, 3 or 4Gbps transfer speeds. The Thecus can’t do bonding (it only has one Ethernet port), while other 2-disk NASes like the Synology DS713+ provide 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports which can be bonded to provide 2Gbps throughput. Bonding like this means that two workstations can each achieve 1Gbps throughput to the DS713+, or a workstation with multiple Ethernet ports should be able to achieve 2Gbps throughput (which is faster than SSDs).

    For photographers trying to improve their solo production workflow back at the desk/office, the best option for sheer speed is a thunderbolt RAID array (unless you have a workstation with FiberChannel, in which case no consumer product will be good enough for you). A Thunderbolt RAID array with SSDs (such as the LaCie Little Big Disk) should be able to achieve 600MBps throughput, which means you can suck the RAW images off your SD cards faster than the card can spit them out.

    For hobbyists looking to store lots of photos on the cheap, the best option is a USB “Bunch of Disks” which can be done in software, or through a dedicated hardware box such as a Pegasus 2 R4. JBOD appears in various forms, the Pegasus 2 R4 can operate in “pass through” mode which basically means you have one box holding four separate disk drives, rather than four boxes holding one disk drive each.

    Then of course there are offsite backups which you can do through services such as BackBlaze, or dedicated devices such as the File Transporter and File Transporter Sync (I’m sure they were bought out by Drobo, but I don’t see the products mentioned on the Drobo web site): http://www.filetransporter.com — the Transporter products also support “private cloud” operation through their own software for Mac, Windows and mobile devices. The big advantage of these devices is that you can link Transporters between offices (or home and office) and you’ll end up with automatic off-site backups. You will need a good internet connection with several terabytes of monthly quota though.

    With all these options, you really do need to know what you’re aiming for: do you want lots of cheap storage to hold every single photo you’ve ever taken, or fast storage to help with post-production workflow, or easy access for field work, or reliability for your mixed home & office workplace?

    Note with the brands I’ve mentioned: these are just devices that I have been looking at myself, and you shouldn’t take my recommendation as anything more than the rantings of a crazed pursuer of shiny things.

  • Wilton Businessman

    NAS is for photographers because photographers store a heck of a lot of data (if you’re doing it right, anyway). If you’re making multiple copies of your images, a NAS makes it convenient to store them in another place without having to directly connect your computer to another device. Also, it lets you share your images to multiple devices without having to duplicate those images.

    I’m considering the Synology and this was a welcome review.

  • ziplock9000

    I don’t think you understand my question. I’m a photographer myself that uses several data backup solutions. My question was really asking why is this NAS specifically aimed toward photographers. It’s already been answered by gtvone.

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  • Logan

    Cedric works for Synology at there HQ in Taipei. Sly guy.

  • gtvone

    If this is the case, Cedric should know better.

  • Monica6296
  • Interesting article. Great points. Helpful resources especially for photographers. Thanks for sharing this brilliant information.

  • I use Synology its very good to use nas drives for storage

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