In my journey to separate my family life from my work life, as detailed in my last post, a change in my work environment has been key. Namely, my wife was tired of seeing my hard drive sitting on the kitchen island and I was handily kicked down to the basement. I took this opportunity to switch up my workflow from using a local external hard drive to a NAS (network-attached storage). Here are some interesting things I've discovered along the way.
First and foremost, I have to acknowledge: I've been pretty dumb about storage.
I had no real backup. All of my files were hanging out on a 6 TB LaCie Thunderbolt drive in RAID 0. Dumb. If something were to happen to that drive I would have been royally screwed. This is totally not a knock on the drive itself. It was a beast. It had super fast read and write and I had no complaints. I also had no redundancy with my data.
When I moved my work area to the basement, I didn't want to bring the same bad habits with me. I decided to do some research into NAS drives. Now, I've built many computer systems in my day, but when it comes to networking I'm a rank amateur. As such, I wanted a drive that would simply work. I didn't want to have to fool around with too many settings and I wanted backup of my shoot files to be automatic. I ended up purchasing a Synology DS215j NAS.
I settled on it because of a few factors: Price, reviews, and — uh — price. Did I mention price? I'm cheap. I also picked up two Western Digital 5 TB Red Drives that I would be setting up in the drive. I've never had WD drives fail on me so I went with what was familiar. I'm sure there are options out there that are just as good.
After popping the top on the Synology, inserting the 2 drives, and closing it up (roughly about 10 minutes of work), it was time to plug this bad boy in. I was pleasantly surprised at how simple the setup was. I hooked the NAS up to a gigabit Ethernet port on my router, went to the web address printed in the manual, followed the instructions, and I was formatted, up and running in about 20 minutes.
Now for the fun part. I had roughly 3 TB of shoots to put onto the drive. Easy! I figured I'd just mount the NAS to my Mac (no problems there), move the files over in Finder (check), go to bed (I'm good at that!) and all would be done when I woke up in the morning.
Apparently my transfer had gotten about halfway through during the night, then the NAS reset to apply some updates without my permission. Oy. Alright, I changed the permissions on the NAS to ask before updating and away I went. Thirteen hours later, I'm in network nirvana! I can open my files in with read times only slightly slower than my local LaCie drive was giving me.
Next step: I'll just put my Lightroom catalog on the network and fire that bad boy up to check how Lightroom performs on the network.
Apparently, unless you hack your own computer, the Lightroom catalog has to be local to the machine. No network drives allowed. You can store the files themselves anywhere you'd like, but the catalog has to be local.
I've got a flash drive coming in the mail so that I can take my Lightroom catalog with me from machine to machine with no issues. I'll update when I receive it.
In the meantime, I wanted to check the import times I'd be getting. Long story short: Lightroom is slow. Really, really slow. At first I thought maybe I had done something wrong with my install of the NAS, so I set up a little experiment.
I downloaded Capture One and did imports with 27 files from an SD card with both Lightroom and Capture One.
Capture One imported the files in half the time. Since I was using a crappy USB 2.0 reader, I thought maybe that was the issue. My shiny Lexar USB 3.0 reader is still in transit. To make sure the slow reader wasn't the issue, I copied the 27 files directly to a desktop folder and did the import to NAS from there. Again, Capture One finished in half the time.
Zooming in to the photos in Capture One was also an order of magnitude faster than Lightroom. It was taking forever for the images to render fully at 100 percent. I have a feeling Capture One will be getting a lot more love from me in the near future.
Some perks I didn't count on with having this NAS were the ease of having access to my files from anywhere. With free apps, I can pull up any files I want to my cell phone or tablet at any time. Amazing! I'm sure this is old hat for all the tech-heads, but I might have to cancel my Dropbox subscription. I could use an extra $10 a month in my pocket. Also, I can set up folders for my family photos and files and give access to the wife for certain folders.
I still have tons more to learn about working with the NAS, but I'm really enjoying the safety and simplicity of it for now. Do any of you have tips for dealing with network storage for newbies? Are there any apps for the NAS that can make my life easier? Is Lightroom this slow for everyone else or am I missing something? Let me know!