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    • Storing and backing up photos is my least favorite part of photography. Everything downstream of offloading the SD card is a pain because I'm perpetually worried about losing data. I hope we can learn from each other about our storage strategies.

      I'll start by describing my current storage process:
      I have 15 TBs and counting of photo/video media. After a shoot, I offload my SD cards to a working (editing, etc.) external hard drive. Then I use Carbon Copy Cloner to back that up to my 32 TB Synology Disk Station configured in Raid 10. It auto-backs up to Google Drive in case the Synology is destroyed or robbed.

      - Synology DSM operating system is wonderful. Easy to set up and configure drives. It has built-in apps to upload to things like Google Drive and Amazon Glacier.
      - Fairly affordable, fast NAS
      - Gigabit ethernet LAN. Somewhat fast enough to access via WiFi.

      - I can't easily do versioned backups on my Synology. I'd like to use Arq for versioning. I fear that someday my Synology's file system will corrupt and propagate the corruption to Google Drive. Theoretically, Google Drive keeps deleted directories for some time, but rebuilding the directories would be extremely painful if not nearly impossible. Using Arq is possbile if I have a dedicated windows or mac machine on the network running Arq pointed at the NAS.
      - Does not scale well. Currently maxed out with 8x 4TB drives. 1) I could get all new drives, say 8x 10 TB. That takes me from 16TB to 40TB in RAID 10. But that's expensive. 2) If I buy another Synology, well that's expensive too. And I no longer have a central authority managing my backups, rather I'd have two DSM OS's running.
      - It's a painful process required to ensure no data loss. I need to ensure each step succeeds. SD Card -> Working Drive -> Synology via CCC -> Cloud.
      - I wish access to the Synology was faster, like 10 gigabit ethernet so I could use it as a working drive. But that also means I need a 10 gigabit network...

      Would love to hear what others are doing. I hear a lot of people are really loving Drobo lately.

    • Robert Baker

      I think 15 years ago I bought maybe the first gen ReadyNAS system....supposedly hotswappable but one of the four drives failed and I was unable to recover any of the data. A painful lesson that taps into your reasonable suspicions.

      I just have not committed the resources and just keep adding portable hard drives....but, I want a Synology box. I thought with Synology you could swap out two drives at a time when upgrading your HD capacities. I guess not. :(

      I am hoping the SSD gets more affordable and those drives would be my backups and maybe a Synology just for cloud-requisite files for clients, etc.

      So, I have nothing to offer in this discussion except acknowledging your dilemna.

    • I started with a first-generation Drobo many years ago, but I hated it. It was slow and unreliable and I stopped trusting it. Then I moved to a ReadyNAS, which was okay, but had a horrible UI and was quirky and didn't inspire much confidence.

      For the last five years or so I've been using a Synology DS412+ and I absolutely love it. The UI is fantastic, it's been rock solid reliable, and I've upgraded the drives several times with no pain as my storage needs have increased. I don't store anything like the number of photos you do, @kevin, but for me Synology is definitely where it's at.

      I back up the contents of the Synology to Google Cloud Storage using Arq by having it run a shell script before each backup that mounts the NAS as a network volume if it isn't already mounted. Here's the script I use:

      osascript <<EOD
        tell application "Finder"
          mount volume "smb://rgrove@frost/home"
        end tell

      rgrove is my Synology username, frost is the network name of the Synology, and home is my home directory, which contains all the stuff I want to back up.

      So far this is working well for me, but one problem is that Arq takes forever to analyze the files during each backup, even over my hard-wired gigabit LAN. So the backups can take all night to complete. I wish it were faster.

    • Yes, I have to agree Synology is pretty solid. And this script is hugely helpful, thank you.

      The shortfalls are more the lack of me further automating my setup and less actual Synology shortcomings. I really need to put a dedicated Mac Mini running Arq on my network so that I won't have to rely on my laptop being fully connected through the course of a backup.

    • You know, for some reason it hadn't even occurred to me to run Arq on an always-on machine instead of on my laptop. I've got an old iMac on my desk that I use for various things and it'd be great for that! Thanks for mentioning it. 😄

    • I am all in with Dropbox and Amazon Cold Storage.

      I used to have a NAS and juggled multiple backup drives. But it became too much of a headache. A few years ago I moved everything into the cloud.I used to have a NAS and juggled multiple backup drives. But it became too much of a headache. A few years ago I moved everything into the cloud.

      1. I run Lightroom on two machines: one desktop and one laptop.

      2. I have two Lightrom catalogs: my main catalog, and one exclusively for timelapse sequences.

      3. Both catalogs are located in my Dropbox and get synced continuously

      4. All the assets for my main catalog are in Dropbox

      5. All the assets for my timelapse catalog are on a local drive that gets synced continuously to Amazon Cold Storage. I use Arq Backup ( to sync with Amazon Cold Storage.

      6. My “Application Support” folder for Lightroom also is in Dropbox and gets synced, including all presets and plugins. I am using Symbolic Links to make sure the system links remain valid.

      I used to rely on Google Drive for the syncing, but Google Drive is terrible. I ended up with 2TB of hidden files over time that just made working with GD impossible.

      If you have multiple Terrbytes, you will need a fast connection. I usually disable Dropbox sync on the road to avoid taking up all the bandwidth at a coffee shop or hotel. Once in a while, I run into a sync conflict if I do edits on both machines at the same time. It rarely happens though and is quickly resolved.

    • So, I am very interested in this thread....I have always thought a Synology box would be my solution and then I looked into Drobo. The reviews on Amazon (taken with a grain of salt) for the Synology were mostly bad (failure on setup and 3-5 months into ownership) and most of all the reviews for a Drobo box were guys sound more legit but what I can appreciate about Synology is the UI interface which I am a big fan. If it has a shitty interface, I get bummed quickly. Hoping to hear some other input.

    • My Synology has always preformed like it was advertised to preform. It's a great piece of equipment. It seems Drobo's offering has gotten better these days, but back 5 years ago I felt that Drobo was more just marketing hype directed at photographers than great tech. Maybe it still is.

      Synology's DSM is enterprise grade, because they have a large number of enterprise grade products unlike Drobo. It's robust. There are never any issues connecting to my Disk Station. Constant updates with great new features and fast bug fix turnaround.

    • I like how you embrace the cloud.

      I have symmetrical gigabit fiber in my home, so removing the NAS and going cloud-based is a viable possibility. Heck, my Synology is gigabit ethernet. Why not just skip it and go directly to the cloud?

      The problem I see for me is:
      How do I use archive backups of my 15TB of working media in Google Drive without a NAS? I want to do Arq backs to Google Drive or another cloud service in case I corrupt the working media.

    • At this point I have about 10TB in the cloud. I am not sure how my solution will scale to 20TB or 30TB, but storage will become cheaper and access will only get faster. Later this year we get fiber to our home.

    • I own 4 Drobos and 1 Synology and I recommend you stay away from Drobos and go with Synology.

      There are several reasons for this, the biggest issue is that Drobos are poorly ventilated and drives tend to overheat and fail. I have had 9 drive failures in my Drobos and never had a failure in the Synology.

      The other problem with Drobos is that are not all compatible with each other. I had a Drobo fail and thought I could just plug the drives into a new Drobo. Nope. They were not compatible so I had to purchase a new empty Drobo and copy all of my data over to it. If I did not have multiple backups I would have lost all of my data.

      Third Drobo customer service sucks or at least did suck for the 3 years I used them. I haven't called in a couple of years now so perhaps they have gotten better.

    • I have a local fireproof NAS by IO Safe ( - called the 218 now) and connect it to my router via Ethernet cable so it's fast enough to act as a hard drive.

      I actually wrote about this topic on Scott Kelby's blog a while back -

      Like Scott, I had a Drobo disaster that made me move away from that platform and go with Synology. While I did have one Synology scare and wasn't impressed with their response either, my two Synology based NAS have been very reliable and serving me well. My only problem is that I've filled two up despite 5 x 6TB configurations in both.

    • I've upgraded the drives a few times over the years, but for the last year or so I've been running four WD Red 6TB drives. I've always used WD NAS drives and they've been great.

    • thanks for the info above, I've added a synology 4 bay to my shopping list.

      Also, found this thread by using search, I hadn't realised search was so well implemented.