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If you’ve read my articles here on dPS about storage and backup, you’ll know that they’ve mostly been about slightly larger systems with lots of space for people who have lots of data in the form of photographs. It’s been a while, so I thought it might be time to write about the smaller system I’ve been using for a couple of months, not only from a backup and storage point of view but from a delivery and sharing your work angle, too. Enter, the Synology DS216.
The crew at Seagate have some specific NAS (network attached storage) drives, like the Seagate IronWolf (such a sexy name for a hard disk!) which I have put in this Synology DS216 for this test. The drives are running well, have not over-heated despite lots of large file transfers, and appear to be handling things quite nicely. I’ve gone with two 4tb disks and after using the Synology Hybrid Raid, I have about 3.6TB of usable space.
The two Seagate Ironwolf NAS specific disks I’m using in my setup, 4tb each giving you about 3.6tb of useable space.
I also have a “1 disk fault tolerance” which means that one disk can die, and I still have one copy of my data remaining! I can then swap out the dead one and copy it back across both (called rebuilding) and I’m good to go.
Here you can see the individual disks are 3.6TB each
And below you can see the capacity is 3.57TB
SHR is kinda like a normal raid, but a little different… And for those of you that have no idea what RAID stands for, it’s “Redundant Array of Independent Disks” or “Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks” depending on your age. Basically, it means that you have more than one disk that the info (in our case photos) is being copied onto. (NOTE: Raid on its own isn’t really a backup, while it will give your NAS / Storage unit some redundancy, it’s not considered a backup)
Rather than get all geeky and talk figures and facts about backing up and how to set everything up, I wanted to give you a scenario you might encounter as a photographer, professional or not. I’ll show you how you can really benefit from a little setup like this one, so keep reading.
Imagine you’re on a shoot. You’ve set up your kit and are doing some portraits, headshots, or food photographs and you can shoot tethered. Alternatively, you’ve gone on a holiday and you take a load of great photographs that you copy onto your external drive via your laptop while you’re sitting on your balcony sipping a tasty orange juice (the little Lacie in my example). Then after your shoot or your holiday, you get home and you want to do one of a few things…
Now, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from sticking your drive into your computer and importing your images as you would normally. Then you would import them (we’ll presume RAW) into Lightroom, export some jpgs and then uploading those to your website.
But what I’ve found with the Synology DS216 setup, is that all you need to do is plug your external disk in the front of the Synology and wait a little while (the little NAS has to generate thumbnails etc., and it’s not the fastest processor in the world but it does just fine). Your images, even raw ones, will then show up on your default web site. Naturally, there is some setup required. But for the import process I’ve mentioned above, you only need to setup your rules once. Then when you plug in a certain USB device the NAS will see you’ve plugged it in, and run the rule that you’ve setup for that particular drive.
One example is that I’ve come back from a weekend away with my little Lacie external drive. I had copied all of my jpgs from my GoPro timelapse and the RAW files from my Sony a7ii into a folder on the Lacie while I was sitting around one night over the weekend (having a tasty espresso, since you asked). I arrived home and plugged my drive into the NAS, headed off and get the kids into bed, unpacked my case and then came back to my computer later. All the images were copied across, thumbnails generated and the photos are now available online for anyone that I’ve given the album link to.
You can control exactly who gets to see your photographs through passwords. So you can have an album online for a set amount of time, take albums offline at any point, and allow comments. All of these things are in a really easy to understand menu, and you don’t need a degree in computer science to get it set up exactly as you’d like.
You can pop across and look at the demo album I’ve uploaded for you, or you get an idea via the screenshot below. It shows a shared album (yes, that’s an out of focus photo of my friend Glynn, great example Simon!) and to Glynn’s left you can see an album called Petey (who is an admin in our Facebook group, thanks for your help Petey!) that shows how the password protection works (type in password13 to see it)
In conclusion, if you’re after a simple to use network storage system that allows you to quickly and easily share your photographs online (be it for a client or for your family and friends) the Synology DS216 is a great solution that is among the easiest and most flexible I’ve tried. As a side note, you can also share your images to your TV in a slideshow. Great for family holiday photo nights!(depends on your tv, it works on my few year old Sony).
If this was a pure gear review, I’d give the combined gear five out of five stars. I considered giving the NAS four stars because while it’s simple to use, I do have a background in IT and I thought “maybe it’s only simple for me”. But it really is simple, robust and mostly forgiving if you screw things up. I hope this helps some of you and please feel free to ask me any of your storage questions about this gear in the comments below.