Doing Business: ASUSTOR NAS - Acme Ventures

April 3, 2020

Doing Business: ASUSTOR NAS

Doing Business is a series that lets you take a look behind the scenes of Acme Ventures to see how we run the business. In this post, we take a look at our ASUSTOR NAS unit, how we set it up, how we use it day to day, and how we keep our data safe.


Back in February 2020, Acme Ventures was provided a 2 bay Network Attached Storage (NAS) unit by ASUSTOR. After trying out the product and loving it we agreed to provide feedback and be features as a Success Story on their website. We love being able to store all of our business records and our entire photo vault in one location that is accessible from all computers on our network, that is backed up to the cloud daily, as well as having remote access to the unit from anywhere in the world. 

What is a NAS?
NAS is an abbreviation for Network Attached Storage. It is a small server with attached storage that allows clients to store, use, and manage data on the server. Most NAS units have several hard drives installed and can be configured for speed or redundancy.

How is your NAS setup?
We have an ASUSTOR AS1002T 2-Bay unit with 1 x Seagate BarraCuda 4TB hard drive installed. We plan in the future to upgrade this current drive to 2x Seagate IronWolf 16TB NAS hard drives set up in a RAID 1 array.  (RAID 1 is also known as mirroring. While we would have 32 TB installed, we would only have 16TB of use-able storage, as the other 16TB would be a copy of everything on the first drive. This means that either hard drive could fail without any loss in data). 
Why RAID 1? Even though we also back up to the cloud, if a drive were to fail, though we wouldn't loose any data, it would be both time consuming and expensive to recover  several TB from the cloud. With RAID 1 a local drive failure, means we can still restore all our files locally for just the cost of another drive. 



We'd be happy to share how to setup a RAID 1 array setup and workflow for photographers if Sygate would be willing to sponsor us by providing the drives??!? In all seriousness we choose Sygate Drives because they are less expensive than other manufactures but are still incredibly reliable. We looked at Backblaze's 2019 drive reliability date and the Sygate 4TB drives averaged only a 2.2% annual failure rate, but that rate is by drives being used in a data center in a much more demanding workload.



Accessing Files
We have 2 shared folders on our NAS, one houses our photo vault, the other has our company records. In order to access these files the NAS has been setup to use CIFS/SBM (as easy as just checking a box in the settings). This service allows us to map these folders as a network drive on any Windows computer that is on our local network. These mapped drives work like any other folder or hard drive in Windows. You can drag, drop, copy, paste, save to, or delete just like any other folder. It just works seamlessly  and since its operating over the local network, even if your internet goes down you still have access to your files.


Workflow
Whats really nice is that with mapped network drives acting just like normal folders in windows, you are able to open a folder as a contact sheet in Photo Mechanic, or injest to a folder on the NAS. For most jobs at our office we just create a new job folder on the NAS, injest our photos, and cull and edit just like anyone else working from a folder on their desktop. Becuase the files are on the NAS if we need to, mid job we can swap to another computer and keep working from the same folder without having to copy anything over to another computer.

It was a great feeling after we got the NAS the first time we needed to send an email with an attachment of a file in our company records. Instead of trying to find the portable hard drive it was on and plug it in the computer or looking on another computer, you can just go in a folder on the NAS and attach the file. Having all your files in one location, that you can access from anywhere is such a time saver.


 One trick that we like to use is to use when injesting photos from a card after an important client job is to use Photo Mechanics secondary destination feature to make a 2nd copy of all the files from the card to a backup folder. This means even after you clear your card, if something happens with the computer you are working on, you will always have a backup of the photos locally.

Cloud Backup
No matter how much redundancy you have locally, if your house burns down, or a power surge fries your electronics your local backups are useless. Whats great about ASUSTOR NAS is that you can use their Cloud Backup Center app to keep anything on the NAS backed up to a cloud service like AWS S3, AWS Glacier, Backblaze B2, or Microsoft Azure. The way we have it setup, every 24 hours our company records are backed up and every 72 hours our entire photo vault is backed up. With a service like Backblaze B2 or AWS Glacier you can backup a terabyte of data for only a few dollars a month.

Well, thats everything I can think of. If you have any questions about the NAS, the services it has built in, or how we use it feel free to reach out by e-mail at info@acmeventuresnc.com


Follow Up

So we've gotten questions since this post went up from people who have a NAS, saying that they are not able to ingest and work from their NAS or that or that when they do it's incredibly slow. These problems are almost always slow LAN's (your local network). Our NAS is hooked up to a gigabit router via a cat6 cable and (most) all devices on our network are gigabit ready. That means that we see speeds between 300mb/s to 700 mb/s from device to device locally. If you are connecting to the NAS over wifi through your LAN 2.4 ghz (older wifi with better range) is usally capped around 54mb/s which may be a bit to slow to work off the NAS.