When Synology got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to have a look at the DS3617xs as a NAS that could be used by video professional, I was curious.
I was curious about a lot of things. I wondered how much it would cost them to ship it to me as this bad boy is not small. It’s a 12 bay NAS and has a maximum capacity of 12 X 10TB hard drives which give you, well, it gives you about enough storage to backup a small country. *
Also, it’s fast. “How fast?” I hear you ask. Well it has a 2.2 Quadcore Intel Xeon chip with 16 gigs of RAM. That’s faster than some computers. That RAM by the way is also upgradable to 48 gigs.
Now there would be plenty of IT admins out there who would love one of these babies in their server room, but I was curious as to what in heaven’s name is a video editor going to use it for?
Well that’s a really good question.
To begin with, let’s look at what I use my current Synologies for (Synologys? Synologs? Another thing I’m curious about but that’s for another day). I’ve got four 1515+ units. These are 5 bay units that I have 5X3TB drives in.
Truth is, I don’t use them for very much, considering all the things that they can do. One of them is a backup of my files and photos with one drive redundancy built in. So if one of the drives in it dies, I don’t lose anything, I just replace the drive.
The other three are redundancy back ups of my editing drive.
I’ve got a Thunderbolt drive that is my main “live” drive that I edit off of and that gets backed up every night onto the three 1515+’s. One is in my office and two are in the garage. I use Carbon Copy Cloner to create the backups.
Now the thing that is missing is off-site backup. For now, I manage that by backing up everything onto external hard drives once a quarter and leave those at my in-laws. What would be better is if I could get that to happen automatically.
Synology has a cool sync feature where you can tell one Synology to stay in sync with another. So I could have my stuff being backed up to my home units and then via the internet or over a network it syncs all that is on it onto another unit.
Why don’t I just do that, you ask?
Because Australian internet is a joke and it would take me about 20 years to do it. Fortunately I am getting fibre soon and that may make automated offsite backup a reality for me.
Another cool feature that I found was that you can save you MS OneDrive on your Synology. Now I am guessing Windows people say “So What?” Well, for us Mac users that’s super handy because the Mac OneDrive App doesn’t let you install your OneDrive on an external drive. So I’ve got 1TB of online storage, but I have to save it on my 512GIG iMac. Not going to happen.
So with my Synology, I don’t have to keep any of my OneDrive files on my computer and they’re all on the Synology. One of the things you can use this for is sharing big video files with clients and editors you’re working with.
I was pleasantly surprised with how easy the Synology were to setup and there are tons of support pages on their website. for example, setting up the OneDrive thing does have a few steps, but there are instructions and images to take you setup by step through it.
There are tons of other features like hosting your iTunes library on the RAID, backing up to it from Mac laptops using TimeMachine, now that the Time Capsules are going away.
But what about the DS3617xs? Could you edit off of it or is it just a huge NAS for storing or backing up your data?
I decided to test this by coping my footage onto the drive and my library file and using the “leave files in place” feature of FCPX. So all the original files as well as optimised or proxy media was being read and written to the Synology. It’s connected to my iMac via a gigabit ethernet hub.
The timing of this test was great as I had just gotten the RAW update for my Sony Fs5 and it was a great way to really test the unit to see what it could handle. You could say I was curious.
And? Well, I was nicely surprised.
I didn’t expect it to be that as good as it was. It actually was usable, which I didn’t expect. I’d tried this with other NAS system, which I won’t name, and they couldn’t even manage HD footage.
I was able to edit ProRess 422 off of the DS3617xs via ethernet. That’s pretty cool. Of course, once I started adding effects, multiple tracks of video or tried to push it too heavily, it did start to struggle. But if I was just doing simple edits, it was totally usable.
A quick note about hard drives. The lovely folks over at Synology very kindly sent me 4x8TB Seagate drives to use in the unit and they worked flawlessly. Don't forget that the speed of your drives will also effect the overall speed of your unit. The model number was uninspiring, but the name of the drives is IronWolf, which is a lot better than just letters and numbers don't you think?
Final verdict? I think if you’re working on mainly HD projects you could use this RAID array as not just back up, but actually for editing(gotta be gigabit etherneted in of course). If you’re working with a lot of 4K footage and up, I’d say it might work in a pinch, but you’re better off with a direct attached drive.
I admit that, for most single video editors, this unit would be overkill and you’d be better off with Synology’s smaller units - perhaps the very popular 1515+, of which I have four. But if you work in an office that has multiple editors working together, while you can’t edit the footage at the same time, it still provides a massive advantage in that you can easily access it from any machine.
Now I’m curious to know if it could actually back up a small country. Anyone got one I could “borrow”?
* Not actual back up capacity of most small countries.