First-Time NAS setup for Photo/Video/Publishing Business

Author : Carol

Title: First-Time NAS setup for Photo/Video/Publishing Business
Kofi :

I thought I’d share my experience with setting up a NAS system for the first time, in the hopes that it would help someone else with similar needs and storage demands. I’ve figured out the system I want, everything is ordered, and the components are arriving. As I use it, I’ll post updates as to what works, and what is a struggle.

First of all, why go with NAS in the first place? I needed reliable storage for a large photo/video library, combined with a consistent and easy back-up system; it became very important for our business. My husband and I have worked in publishing for almost thirty years, and with changes to both the magazine and book market, we’ve recently added self-publishing. I consulted a local, family-run computer shop (a shop that is highly ranked in our community), and they recommended an NAS system for our photo/video collection. Specifically, either Synology or QNAP.

I only dive into tech when I have to, so I wasn’t sure how NAS worked. As I researched it, it became obvious that this was the kind of system I wanted for a long time. Everything in one place, automatic/multiple/reliable backups, the ability to expand both storage and RAM as needed, and off-site storage.

I came across the info on NASCompares early in the research phase, thank goodness; the information Robbie and Eddie have put together saved me a ton of time by having so much good info in one place. Specifically, this link helped with narrowing down the choice for the best NAS units for photo storage:

Best NAS for Photography to Buy in 2022

I decided to go with the QNAP TS-h973AX; one big reason I decided to go with this unit over Synology is because I liked the flexibility in choosing different brands for components that go with it (the exception is the RAM memory modules; QNAP recommends using only their modules. More on that in a moment). Synology requires you to use their products, and I can understand why they did that; it’s much easier to maintain quality control. As I mentioned, I haven’t used either system, so I had to go on faith that the reviews are accurate. The Synology unit was tempting because of the review stating ease of use, intuitive set-up, and customer support. QNAP got points for innovation, flexibility of adding components outside of its label, and the ability to expand with both RAM memory and storage that is typically only available on much larger, more expensive units.

Here’s the NASCompares run-down on the QNAP TS-h973AX:

TS-h973AX 10GbE QuTS hero 5-bay (+4 SSD) NAS:AMD Ryzen V1500B 4C/8T 2.2GHz CPU, U.2 NVMe and SATA SSD caching

QNAP has had a lot of publicity about problems with security when used over the internet; our use will only be in-house, so I felt this wasn’t an issue.

In choosing which hard drives to use, I read this article, the compatibility list on the QNAP website, and the recommendations on NASCompares (I watched a video that discussed the Toshiba N300, but can’t find it atm):

I bought the Toshiba N300 10TB HDDs from Amazon. Initially, I’m thinking of using 7 of these drives; three will stay in place, the other two I’ll switch out every month with two I’ll keep off-site in a lock-box. The 2.5 SSDs I chose are Crucial MX500 from Amazon (also from the compatibility list from QNAP).

The QNAP TS-h973AX unit I got from Amazon has a RAM memory module of 8GB, non-ECC. The 32GB, non-ECC model was sold out. It’s the same unit, just different RAM modules installed. Memory modules are where it got really confusing. As I mentioned above, QNAP recommends using only their RAM memory. But finding the exact model numbers was a challenge. There wasn’t anything about RAM memory on the compatibility list, and a search on the internet just came up with a lot of different models, but no information. Added to that was another confusing aspect: the spec sheet on QNAP said this machine had a maximum RAM memory upgrade of 64GB, but when the machine came, the specs on the machine said a maximum of 32GB. I found this same conflicting information for this unit on different sites.

Then I found a couple of articles that cleared up this confusion on RAM after doing a search with “QNAP TS-h973AX RAM upgrade”. This model does have a maximum RAM of 64GB. Here’s the article from NASCompares for all the compatible RAM modules for this unit, and an article from the CompuRAM blog, is an explanation of why different maximum RAM capacities show up on the same model:

64GB RAM upgrade on ts-873a and ts-h973ax

The other thing about the RAM memory is that 8GB won’t run the programs that come with this unit adequately. From NASCompares info on one of their videos, 16GB is the minimum to run all the software adequately. I decided to go with 32GB.

I ordered a QNAP RAM 32GB ECC memory module from B&H Photo (this one: Model:RAM-32GDR4ECP0-SO-2666). I ordered just one, so I have the option to upgrade to two in the future. ECC (Error Correct Code) is made to automatically detect and correct memory errors, so it fights data corruption. It’s also supposed to lead to less crashes. It’s currently back-ordered at B&H, with a delivery time of 2 to 4 weeks. It maybe back-ordered because: 1) there aren’t many ECC memory modules available, 2) they’re in big demand, and 3) supply shortages from the pandemic. These are guesses on my part; it’s just my impression after doing a long, hard search for this particular module on-line.

The only other item I got for this unit is a Plugable 2.5gbps Ethernet Adapter, since I have a MacBook Pro, and no internet port. I may upgrade that to the 5gbps model by QNAP at some point.

I’m also considering expanding the warranty to 5 years, but I haven’t looked into that yet.

I’m waiting for the 32GB RAM module to arrive, then I’ll see how easily it all goes together, how the photo organizing system works (it’s supposed to be really good), and how easy it is to back everything up.

Fingers crossed. . .




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