In a day and age where everything is informatised, we must be very careful with how we handle data. Especially when you are a photographer and your work relies around delivering pixels. You'd eventually need a place to store all your work. So, here comes a Network-Attached Storage with a RAID configuration. I finally decided to pull the trigger and buy one.
What is a NAS?
A NAS, simply put, is an online storage solution for your electronics files. It's a storage network. You can store your movies and vacation photos and access or download them from anywhere where you have an Internet connection. A personal NAS is usually a small-ish box with a tiny computer inside connected to one or more drives. The computer handles the Internet connection and makes the storage online. Within that NAS, there usually is a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) where all your files go. With two HDDs (Hard Disk Drive, what is commonly in your computer as a storage device), you can have either a RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration. RAID 0 is ideal for applications where speed is the main concern and safety doesn't really matters. It basically halves the file between the two drives; making the transfer theoretically twice as fast (the speed of the two devices are combined) but, at the same time, half as secure as using only one drive (because if one drive fails (every drive fails at some point), the data on the other one is unusable). On the other hand, RAID 1 takes one drive and make an exact copy of it of the other one. So, you don't get any speed improvements over using only one HDD, but you do get twice the safety (because if one disk fails, you still have the other one and can just replace the faulty one). I chose RAID 1.
Why does it matters?
As a photographer, I work with a lot of important files and I need a way to organize them. With the NAS, all of my computers can access the same files aggregated at the one place. Knowing that Lightroom (my favorite image editing application) looks at a folder and can see images and videos into it with all the edits, star ratings and filters, I can set the same import location, settings and import procedure on each computer and get a cloud computing experience. That means that I can start importing and working on photographs on my laptop and pick where I left off on my desktop, or the other way around! Also, I can save a Photoshop project on one computer and work on it from anywhere with Internet (just download the file and open it). Furthermore, by placing the files on two proper, made for a NAS application, HDDs, I have more redundancy and more safety than by using the storage device in my computer. The NAS will improve my workflow a lot by making me able to create from any machine from anywhere in the world (useful for travels).
So, what did I choose? For the NAS enclosure (the box in which the drives go), I took the D-Link ShareCenter DNS-320L. It's simple, easy, has a Gigabit Ethernet port and a USB port (if I want to add a drive down the road). Also, it's not the overkill for me and the price is very appealing. As for the actual drives, I went with two 3TB Seagate NAS HDDs. I really recommend choosing proper NAS drives because they are made for real 24/7 usage and will last a lot longer than other disks would. In this space, there are the WD RED as well as the Seagate NAS. I ordered the latter because they are tiny bit cheaper and a tiny bit faster. It's a win-win situation. With two 3TB drives, I have 3TB of fully usable space, which, for now, is enough.
So, that was a small introduction to my new NAS workflow. I will keep you updated with an unboxing of the equipment, a guide to set it up and some benchmarks.
P.S. Stay tuned for my unboxings and reviews of my new monolights, stands, softboxes and paper background!