A couple of days ago, Synology announced its new DS1517+ and DS1817+ storage arrays that caught my attention. I have been using an 8-bay Synology Network Attached Storage (NAS) device for the past few years and as you have seen from my detailed Synology DS1815+ review, it is a very powerful and robust storage solution that allows me to use it not just as a backup device, but also as my primary storage. And when the DS1815+ is paired up with a fireproof and waterproof ioSafe, one can fully automate the backup process and alleviate the associated pains with potentially losing data due to hard drive or storage failure. However, one of the biggest bottlenecks I have been experiencing with any NAS device is network bottlenecks. Even when using link aggregation with several ports, it is impossible to achieve more than 1 Gbit throughput from the same machine, which means that I am always stuck at roughly 125 MB/sec storage speed, even if my storage unit is capable of handling more load (link aggregation can be very beneficial in a multi-user environment). So I have been anxiously waiting for storage companies to start releasing storage arrays that are capable of handling more network throughput, which is why it is exciting to see the new DS1517+ and DS1817+ units.
A lot has changed in the world of computer storage in the past decade. Traditional spinning hard disk drives (HDD) have been outperformed by insanely fast and now affordable Solid State Drives (SSD). And now we have insanely faster flash memory technology already available for the consumer market in the shape of Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe), which is manufactured in a number of different interfaces / form factors, including M.2. Many photographers, including myself, experienced a huge boost in performance for post-processing large resolution files when switching from a hard drive to an SSD, but now that the faster flash memory is becoming more common, one might be wondering about the benefits of this new storage compared to both HDD and SSD drives. We have already published a detailed article on building a computer for photography based on the latest generation Intel Skylake architecture, where we recommended to get the new generation motherboards with built-in M.2 slots for flash storage. Having built a similar computer myself for my post-processing and video editing needs, I thought it would be useful to share just how much faster the new storage is compared to both HDD and SSD drives, since I use all three in my large full tower setup.
If you have never heard of Copy, it is essentially the same type of service as Dropbox. We have previously written about Copy and Dropbox as potential solutions for cloud storage for photographers, since they offer free start-up plans and both have pretty robust clients for both PC and Mac platforms. I personally really liked Copy, because they gave me much more storage than Dropbox to start with and with a few referrals here and there, I got quite a bit of free storage. Unfortunately, as of May 1 of 2016, all Copy and CudaDrive services will be discontinued.
With the proliferation of SSD storage on the market, today we see a huge increase in all kinds of small, yet insanely fast gadgets that help us increase our productivity. One of such gadgets has been brought to us by Samsung in the form of the portable SSD T1 – the smallest and the fastest external drive available today. Based on Samsung’s 850 EVO SSD (mSATA version), this little SSD drive only measures 2.8″ x 0.36″ x 2.09″ (64 x 9 x 53mm) and weighs a total of 0.9 oz (25 grams), making it look like a large thumb drive. But there is a major difference – unlike the slow thumb drives we see today, the Samsung SSD T1 has the same amazing speed of SSD drives, capable of up to 450 MB/sec transfer speeds. I have been testing out the SSD T1 pretty much since it came out and I have been amazed by its performance and rock solid reliability. My last external hard drive died on me a year ago and although I had been backing up my data regularly at the time, it certainly did not leave a pleasant feeling when I wanted to buy another external device for travel and remote jobs, as it was not the first one that failed. Sadly, hard drives have a tendency to fail faster when they are constantly carried around and frequently plugged and unplugged. Drop them and the chance of losing the drive and its data are extremely high. In contrast, SSD drives are much more reliable and they have no issues with extreme shock and vibration.
Choosing the right storage option can be a rather challenging process due to the sheer number of options available on the market today. The good news is, there is a solution for practically every need out there – from a simple low-cost backup solution to high-end and versatile storage arrays for multi-user environments, all depending on one’s needs. The bad news is, even when you know exactly what you need in terms of storage space, you might find yourself lost fairly quickly, particularly if you are not well-versed in storage solutions. The process of selecting the best solution is often frustrating for many photographers for this particular reason. Last year, a good friend of mine, who has been doing both photography and videography professionally for a number of years now, asked me for a suggestion on a solid and robust storage solution that could be used in a workgroup environment, with more than 2 people accessing the same data simultaneously. He told me about the challenges his team was experiencing when needing to share photos and videos in a network environment, often resorting to very slow and ineffective methods that only created frustration. Having been working with storage solutions for many years, my proposal was to use the Synology DS1815+ network attached storage (NAS) in a Gigabit network environment. I have personally used a number of Synology NAS devices in the past both on personal and professional levels and I have always loved the architecture, the simple to use software, the reliability and the performance of Synology storage solutions. Since implementation, my friend and his co-workers have been very happy, praising Synology and recommending the company to others. In this review, I will be taking a closer look at the Synology DS1815+ and talk about my experience using the unit for my work during the past 6 months.
Last year I had a chance to test and review the ioSafe 1513+ storage unit, which I found to be an amazing device that not only provides data protection against fire, flood and other potential disasters, but also does it with superb performance, thanks to the Synology DSM architecture. With its relatively steep price, hefty size and heavy weight, the ioSafe 1513+ might not be an ideal choice for everyday backup needs though. For smaller environments with lower storage and performance needs, ioSafe also offers a much more budget-friendly option, the ioSafe 214. I have been using the ioSafe 214 for the past 4 months for my personal and business needs and I decided to review the unit and share it with our readers, based on my overall experience so far.
Being a professional photographer, I constantly deal with a large flow of photographs that need to be imported, processed and backed up as part of the workflow process. Although I do everything I can to keep several copies of my photo library on different computers and storage devices, it is still a lot of data to keep track of continuously. Every time I revisit my backup strategy and make changes to it, whether by altering the process or introducing new software or hardware, the thought of potentially losing all of my images scares me to death. Years of hard work, client files and resulting terabytes of data make me nervous whenever I think about potential failures and disasters. Taking backups off-site is not something one can easily do continuously and transferring gigabytes of freshly photographed RAW material to the cloud is not only impractical, but can also get quite costly. And despite our attempts in keeping multiple copies of data at home or in our business offices, what if a real disaster takes place? Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and fire could strike any time and can be very costly to recover from. What if you had a storage solution that offered fire and water protection, with the capability to withstand temperatures up to 1550°F and protect data from floods up to 10 feet deep, submerged fully in water for 3 days straight? What if this storage solution offered scalability, incredibly fast performance and RAID-level protection utilizing the best of the breed platform? That’s where ioSafe products come in, which are specifically built for protection against such disasters. These unique solutions are powered by the award winning Synology DSM, the platform that I have been a fan of for the past few years.
Although cloud storage prices have been continued to drop at impressive rates, they have remained out of reach for many serious amateurs and professional photographers who have accumulated years’ worth of image files. This has been particularly true for the purists among us who religiously shoot RAW and tend to create huge multi-layer Photoshop files. Improvements in DSLR sensor technology have also pushed file sizes upwards as well, with the majority of DSLRs now capable of producing 16MP to 36MP images.
Throughout history, man has sought immortality, whether by the elusive Fountain of Youth, religion, the cloning process, cryogenics, and many other means too numerous to mention. Forever.com is a new business seeking to ensure that you can indeed live forever – at least the digital aspect of your persona. A friend of mine told me about Forever at a recent party. I was intrigued since the company was located in Pittsburgh and founded by a local entrepreneur, Glen Meakem. Meakem founded Free Markets, Inc., after leaving GE Information Services. Free Markets was eventually bought by Ariba.
One of the first things that comes to mind when faced with some sort of a disaster (fire or flood, for example) is the safety of the people we love. If one’s family and friends are well and within arm’s reach in the case of such a tragic event, people often tend to think of… photographs. Wouldn’t you? After all, photographs ensure the memory of our children, parents, siblings, friends and the greatest days of our lives remain no matter what. Consequently, it is a good idea to always have a safe copy of all or at least the most important photographs you may have. If you have been storing images on a single computer, DVD or other simple storage, there is no way to make sure that your photographs are 100% safe – all types of storage unfortunately fail, it is just a matter of time! There is a way, however, of eliminating the possibility of loss almost entirely. In this article for beginners photographers, I will provide you with several inexpensive basic backup ideas. Even if you choose not to follow this particular backup strategy, it should give you a decent starting point and help you figure out a way that suits you better. It is worth noting that we do not recommend these tips for professional photographers, as they should take more serious, reliable and faster means of backing up their work.