Toying with Direct Attached Storage

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For the past week, I have been trying to educate myself to the world of NAS, or Network Attached Storage. I was reading articles on the web, watching Youtube tutorials, unboxing, reviews, you name it just to get up to speed to what NAS is all about. It took me a while to grasp the concept of NAS, as the choices, features and functions are bountiful. And I only realized recently, that my WD My Cloud, somehow resembles a NAS, in a very rudimentary way. And after reading more about it, the WD My Cloud, actually functions just like a NAS, but a very stripped down version, useful for someone who is not as technically inclined in delving further into the world of NAS. It is a simple plug and play device and contains a single 4TB hard drive, where you simply dump all your media files for all in the household to share.

The reason why I started looking up at NAS, was because I was trying to find a practical solution in not only storing my previous photos taken during my numerous photography sessions, but also solutions to provide adequate backup should some hardware fail unexpectedly in a distant future. Those photos that I have are very precious to me, and while I have a Smugmug account that allows you to upload unlimited number of photos, I did not subscribe to their more, premium option of uploading RAW files as well. So while I can upload all my JPEGs to Smugmug with an incredible amount of organizational latitude, I am still limited by the fact that RAW is off limits when it comes to cloud backup (Smugmug functions somewhat this way, with an added bonus of giving you the tools to created compelling websites to showcase your best photography works, all under a single subscription model.) And so, I started toying with the idea of doing a simple backup or redundancy at a local level, like setting up a Raid 1 storage for example.

Photography as a hobby, takes up a lot of digital space, and so it became natural that NAS was under my radar. However, the more I understood what NAS is all about, the more I feel that it is an unnecessary step and possibly an ill fitting direction in choosing how to safely store my photos. What I really needed at the end of the day, was not to share my photos of anyone within the NAS network, or access those photos offsite, but rather just to provide a simple storage and redundancy solution to safely protect -at a local level- all my precious photos.

DAS, or less commonly known as Direct Attached Storage, are simple hard drives connected directly to your PC. It may or may not be connected to a bigger part of the network, but it provided the simplest solution based on my needs. Products like WD My Cloud Duo, features 2 hard drives in which you can install and upgrade in the future and provide Raid 1 settings, meaning one of the drive is served as a redundant drive, mirroring the other one. That is what I need, providing redundancy should one fail. Are they other options available? The Drobos 4-Bay USB3.0 or Drobos 5D, 5-Bay with Thunderbolt connection are some other options that I have found online that suit my needs. The Drobos 5D is prohibitively expensive in my opinion, due to its thunderbolt connectivity which gives you blazing fast speeds in reading and writing data to the hard drive. Drobos 4-Bay is the next best fit. But such DAS regardless of brand, do come at a cost, with some significant investments in good, high capacity hard drives, in order to take advantage of the Raid capabilities and provide adequate redundancy to protect my photos.

My next big IT purchase might just be getting a good DAS to store and protect my photos from hardware failure. I may not need it now, since currently I don’t need that much space that 4-bay DAS can offer. I still have ample of space for my photos in my 2.5 inch 2TB portable hard drive. In other words, I still have time to look around and maybe consider DIYing such things, and make it a weekend project to create my own DAS. Who knows, it could be interesting and all I need is a reliable DAS, without the need of fancy branding or extra features that I may ultimately not use.

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