How to Use a Synology DS216 NAS to Get your Photos Online Quickly and Easily


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.

Hard drives

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

How to Use a Synology DS214 NAS to Get your Photos Online Easily

And below you can see the capacity is 3.57TB

How to Use a Synology DS214 NAS to Get your Photos Online Easily

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)

How to Use a Synology DS214 NAS to Get your Photos Online Easily

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.

Real-World NAS use for your workflow

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…

  1. You want to share your holiday photos with friends and family.
  2. You want to send an album of images for your client to select from.
  3. You want to put either set of photos into your NAS as a means of backup.

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.

But what about my privacy?

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)

How to Use a Synology DS214 NAS to Get your Photos Online Easily


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.

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, and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

  • Marcus Amorim

    If one ask me what is the best piece of tech I’d ever bought, the answer is easy: my DS214play!

  • I’m really glad that you covered this very important piece of “photo” gear. I use a Synology 5-bay NAS for Lightroom and CaptureOne libraries, and it keeps my Mac drive from running out of space.

    Two additional tips for those that might consider the Synology. First, consider setting up an iSCSI target so the transfers are lightening fast. If you are not a tech-oriented person, get help with this. It’s a great feature, but it does require some IT skills.

    Second, the Synology has other apps that allow you to back up your files to another Synology or straight to Amazon Glacier. This makes for inexpensive cloud backups, and I have found it to be very reliable.

    Thanks for the write-up!

  • David

    Just need to keep in mind your internet plan. Some ISPs don’t open port 80 (I think this is right) unless you have a business plan. Download speeds are generally significantly higher than upload speeds (30mb/s vs 0.5mb/s for me) so the speed of the server to others would be quite slow.

  • analitico

    Great article! I love my DS215j. I’ve had it for 2 years with 2x4TB Red Disks. Works like a charm. Transfer speeds inside my home network are very fast (1gb transfer in about 5min). My Dropbox account is synced to my Synology, so any picture on I take on my phone gets uploaded automatically to Dropbox and is on my NAS within seconds.
    Their apps are also great to watch movies and show family/friends/clients pictures (you can download whole albums locally directly from the app).

  • David Aldrich

    I have a ds216j and I want to store on it photos taken with a pani GF2. This camera stores a raw and a jpeg for each shot. How can I avoid the ds216j generating two thumbnails for each shot?

  • gtvone

    Hi David, I thought you could just put them in another folder that you create, rather than the ‘photos’ folder, then it wouldn’t automatically generate thumbs, but now I’m not sure that’s the case… I’ll ask the guys at Synology and get back to you.

  • gtvone

    David, the official reply from a tech at Synology…

    “If the user do not wish to see thumbnails of raw files in Photo Station, they can go to their Photo Station setting –> Photo –> Indexing and conversions (see below screenshot), where they can filter out specific format from showing on Photo Station. This way, that format (say raw files) won’t be converted into thumbnails on Photo Station. All files will still be accessible and manageable on File Station.”

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