Updated: Apr 28
I just purchased a Synology Disk Station because I was helping a client set one up and I wanted to become better informed about how they work. I have dreamt about getting one for quite some time, but I had held off on making the the investment. This past month I took the plunge and now I can't believe it took me this long to buy one! They are so darn cool.
The basic idea of a NAS (network attached storage) device is to safely store and host large amounts of data in a centralized place that you own and control. The NAS allows you to access that data either on your own network OR from anywhere in the world over an internet connection.
Not only is your privacy increased because your data is removed from the hands of a big corporation, but you're also no longer paying any corporation a monthly fee!
I've set up my Synology NAS to do three primary things:
Back up all the Macs in my house over wi-fi using Time Machine
Store and organize my photos and videos library
Securely store important data I rarely was using that had been taking up space on my computer and various hard drives
Fully setting up a NAS definitely takes some configuration time, but once it's up and running, it's phenomenally useful and powerful. My Time Machine back ups happen without me even having to think about them. I've cleared out over 200GB of space from my laptop just by moving off old files, photos and videos!
I've uploaded all of my photos and videos into the Synology Moments app and there is a corresponding app for the iPhone or Android which allows me to view and share every single digital photo I've ever taken. The photos all appear as thumbnails, which take up a fraction of the amount of space on my phone and when I want to share them, the app downloads the full resolution version from the NAS (my cloud) and I can use the photo like normal.
I have the iPhone app set up so that all the new photos I take automatically upload to the NAS from my phone when I'm connected to wi-fi. (Kinda like iCloud... see what I'm saying!?!...) I had already moved all of my old video files off my computer last year because I was running out of space. Now I have joined all my photos and videos back together in one secure and totally accessible place. I can browse through them in chronological order and create folders and albums! Moments even has that cool facial recognition software where it will find all the pictures of particular individuals, if you choose to turn that feature on.
The other thing that is so great about a NAS is that it stores your data in a RAID configuration, which is just a fancy way of saying that there is a redundant copy of all the data that you put onto it. So if one of the hard drives inside the NAS fails, you just replace that drive, and the NAS self heals by copying the missing data back over to the new drive. Once the drive is replaced and the data copied over, you're back up and running with full data redundancy again.
Last thing, because I could go on and on, you can set up the Synology Drive app on any of your devices which is essentially a replacement for Dropbox and Google Drive. Like in Dropbox you can store data in folders and sync them across all your devices, and like in Google Docs you can create, share, edit and collaborate on documents in Synology's own cloud hosted office software! Click here to try out the Synology Drive tools, editing a document that I created on my Synology.
Let me know if you want to talk about setting one of these up!