One downside to being truly a photographer or cinematographer may be the amount of data you rack up through the years. I’ve been shooting for more than 10 years and also have accumulated roughly 12 terabytes of photography and video data. The majority of you will relate with my storage method; several lightweight external drives. They’re cheap, they’re lightweight and there are versions of these which are made to withstand abuse. This fairytale didn’t have a happy ending for me personally when among the drives simply stopped working, and exactly like that, 24 months worth of photographs and videos were gone. Forever. External drives were no more going to be considered a viable solution for safe-keeping and the allure of cheap storage options was washed away with the increased loss of one 2TB hard disk drive. I made a decision to move all my image data to my Network Attached Storage drive that was becoming used to store and stream media over the inner network, however the current setup wouldn’t normally do.

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The Problem
At home, we’ve a Synology DS918+ network attached storage box. It could house up to 4 hard disks and give a total of 48TB of RAW storage. Great choice for storing photos, keeping future expansion at heart. The other problem was that currently, the NAS box had 2 regular old 3.5-inch hard-drives, both which had some bad sectors. The drives were old and may technically fail anytime, however they didn’t have any data on them that wasn’t replaceable. So that you can store and catalog the contents of my photography career, I needed a robust solution that was with the capacity of not merely delivering good working speeds but also long-term reliability. The brand new solution also had to supply safety against drive failures, hence a RAID 5 or RAID 6 setup was a smallest amount requirement.

Enter the Solution
Eventually, your choice was designed to acquire Western Digital’s Red hard disks. These drives have already been designed especially for use in network attached storage systems, meaning they are able to run for far longer when compared to a regular drive before failing, in an excellent scenario. The target wasn’t to perform the drives 24×7, however the idea was to get something that would be the most resilient solution, and never have to sell my car (hence, no SSD solution here). Here are a few other NAS certified drives out there available in the market, but I settled for WD due to the fact I’ve made an identical setup for a production company back 2014, and four years later, the RED drives remain holding strong.

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Adjusting Expectations
Remember the 1st time you plugged in a storage device into your personal computer and learned that the available storage was lesser than that which was advertised? With a NAS, the knowledge is a whole lot worse. After infusing the Synology box with 16TB worth of space, I am left with only 10TB of usable space. There are two known reasons for this. First, you already get lower-than-advertised space for storage on every hard disk drive. A 4TB hard disk drive offers roughly 3.6TB of usable space. However, most the area is lost as a result of NAS being setup in RAID 5, where in fact the system offers protection against the failure of 1 drive. This effectively helps it be just like you only have 3 drives. In the event that you were to be a lot more paranoid and require 2-drive redundancy, then your available space would drop even more. A very important factor about data redundancy systems is that you will definitely get noticeably less space than your drives advertise, so you need to be okay with it.

Getting Started
Following the four Western Digital Red drives were inserted in to the Synology DS918+, the machine has to build the quantity. The Volume is actually a partition where you will store data. You can tend to create multiple volumes, but making an individual volume is normally the most speed-efficient for day-to-day usage. After establishing the new drives, the machine takes about 14 hours to build the quantity and execute a disk parity check, to make certain that the drives are in good health insurance and all of the sectors are prearranged properly. Wouldn’t want to get started on a fresh storage solution with bad sectors, now would we?

Migrating workflow to NAS
One of the primary problems of moving to a NAS-based storage setup is that you lose the speed of USB3.0 (or newer). Since NAS drives connect to your computer with a network, the utmost transfer speeds are capped at just a little over 100MB/s. That’s because gigabit has been the typical transfer rate for networking devices for the longest time. My biggest nervous about this whole process was that it could considerably decelerate my editing process in Lightroom, as the program would operate on my machine, however the images would be placed on the NAS. Regardless, I figured it will be smart to see the amount of slower the NAS was.

Firing up CrystalDisk Mark and running the benchmark on the NAS (connected via gigabit ethernet) and among the 2TB USB 3.0 drive (connected via USB3.0 port). Works out my hard-drive was reporting slower read-write numbers compared to the NAS. I thought maybe CrystalDisk Mark had not been working right, therefore i made a decision to use Adobe Lightroom as a benchmark. I created two new catalogues and imported a folder with all my photographs and videos from the entire year 2012. The folder weighed 140GB and Lightroom was tasked with just importing the contents in to the catalogue. It took Lightroom 11 minutes and 33 seconds to import this data from the neighborhood USB 3.0 drive. The NAS was surprisingly faster, completing the procedure in 11 minutes and 21 seconds. Whilst browsing the catalogue and editing photos, there have been no slow-downs. Works out that if it’s an individual, working off the NAS is very possible for imaginative individuals. I am also likely to execute a follow-up post after three months how the drives have faired given the heavy use they’ll be getting subjected to over another year and more.

Time try Import140GB of Image data from local USB 3.0 drive

Time taken up to import the same 140GB of Image data from a NAS running WD RED Nas HARD DISKS over gigabit

The Takeaway
Nobody likes losing data that they consider irreplaceable. For me personally, it was my photographs and videos, for you personally, it may be another thing. A NAS might seem to be like a very costly proposition, nonetheless it is just worth the amount of money. However, a NAS box my itself isn’t the response to your data-loss nightmare. You need to really have the right drives. A normal 3.5-inch drive wont cut it, so that it must be a drive that was designed especially for demanding use. The WD Red was suitable for that. It runs cooler and quieter when compared to a regular drive. These drives are created to withstand the cumulative vibration due to multiple drives spinning in the same box. Desktop drives aren’t. IF you’re a photographer or a film-maker, you much absolutely choose NAS setup with WD Redd drives to make sure you’re not really a victim of drive failure in the center of a deliverable project. Unfortunately, this sort of reassurance comes at a substantial cost. Whatever a NAS box might cost, the drives themselves are more costly compared to their standard desktop counterparts. Each 4TB WD Red NAS hard disk drive costs ranging from Rs 12,000-14,000, according to where you get it. The WD Red Pro, which is equivalent to the WD RED but a faster 7200rpm spin-rate costs a lot more. For single users, editing off the NAS is completely possible, but if you’ve got a multi-user environment, I’ll follow this post with various work-flow methods that will help avoid the network from choking up.

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