Which sort of RAID to use on a NAS?


My family has lots of photos scattered across various laptops and devices so I plan to start using PhotoStructure to consolidate and auto-organise all the photos in one place.

It seems like it would be a good idea for that one place to be a NAS. I don’t know the first thing about NASs but it sounds like you have to choose what kind of RAID they use – is that correct? If so, what kind of RAID would you recommend?

I’m considering a Synology DS923+. Would that do the job?

Many thanks,

Andrew Stewart

Welcome to Photostructure, @awstewart !

RAID improves the chances that your data will still be around if a single hard drive fails, but it’s not a backup. I wrote the following articles which may help.

That Synology is nice because it is small, power efficient, comes with a nice UI for managing your drives, and can run docker images, like photostructure for docker. Keep in mind the AMD Ryzen R1600 is not really a fast cpu (it’s from 2017). You’ll need to be patient with the initial import, and using an SSD (that model supports two SSD sticks!) for your library metadata will really help speed up browsing.

Feel free to ask any followup questions you have, I’ll try to get them answered!

Thanks for the reply, @mrm!

I had read both those articles several times but they don’t talk about the different kinds of RAID. My understanding is that the different RAIDs have different trade-offs between disk usage and redundancy etc, and I wondered if one kind of RAID was more suitable than the others for PhotoStructure and browsing photos?

Thanks for commenting on the Synology, that’s useful to read. What do you mean by two SSD “sticks”? How does that relate to the four drive slots?

Many thanks!

If you have any experience building computers, then building your own NAS with Unraid as an OS is a great solution. Unraid is nice because (as the name implies) it doesn’t rely on traditional RAID setups, and therefore has the distinct advantage of allow you to expand your storage at any time. There are some nuances about parity protection, but it’s not too difficult to figure out, and there are plenty of people here (or other locations like the Unraid forums or the serverbuilds.net forums) that can help you.
Speaking of serverbuilds.net, they publish guides for building servers especially for this purpose utilizing older generation hardware. Check out the NAS Killer 6.0 build.

Just something to consider!

Answering your question which RAID to use…

I imagine since you’re looking for an “off the shelf” NAS like a Synology, you’re not looking to do anything too fancy. So for most home users with a home NAS, RAID5 is a good choice. I haven’t had a synology for a while but it’s likely what it defaults to / recommends. This configuration stripes your data across all you drives for some (at least theoretical) performance improvement, while allowing for 1 drive to fail without losing your data.

Of course, as @mrm noted, it’s no sustitute for backups. i.e. if 2 drives fail simultaneously (rare, but can happen with drives from the same batch) you’re SOL.