Best long term storage solution for family media consolidation

I was hoping to pick the community’s mind here and get feedback based on my goals and proposed solution to begin a permanent/long-term digital storage solution.

PROBLEM: My wife and I are tired of having all of our photos, videos, and digital lives spread out across multiple devices with no rhyme or reason. We do not have a solid backup plan in place (I back my stuff up occasionally to my desktop and she backs stuff up infrequently to an external drive). With a little one on the way, our libraries are only going to fill up all the more. We currently have 1TB of data between the two of us we need saved.


  1. Have all data consolidated and accessible, we want to actively manage photo libraries and projects from multiple devices; along with not being dependent on the cloud+subscription for data.
  2. Backup devices, and the ability to grow and maintain our data over the next decade. (4TB out the gate should be more than sufficient)
  3. Budget $300.

-QNAP TS228A ($190)
-WD RED 4TB ($124)

To add in the immediate future once funds are available:
-x2 WD RED 4TB (1 to create a RAID 1 in NAS, and the other to use in my desktop as backup of NAS)

QUESTIONS: More or less to give you a better sense of my current state of mind, I don’t want to detract from the main topic at hand but this may give you some better insight as to how I came to my solution…

  1. Personal preference on QNAP vs Synology? 1bay vs 2bay?
  2. Do I need to go to 4TB out of the gate? 2TB will be sufficient for a few years. (A bulk of our data is my childhood Hi8 uncompressed files)
  3. Would a product like a WD MyCloud “NAS” fulfill my use case? (reading reviews I think I will be disappointed)
  4. Should I be looking at physical media for archives (old family video etc…)? This kind of contradicts my goal of being accessible as the only DVD drive is on my desktop in the basement, but hey at least it is saved? But then again, in-laws have a bunch of old film reels with no means of accessing it, DVDs obsolete?

Anyhow, I appreciate any feedback.

DS218j + 2x HGST 4tb in mirror. You can use any drive you want, HGST is just my preference. You could also just get any old computer and run linux + nextcloud or freenas.

If you want offsite, gsuite for business with 1 user is $10/month and unlimited data storage.

I personally use OpenMediaVault(Debian with a nice web GUI and some config scripts) on a self-built computer for my NAS needs. I use both SMB(via samba) and Syncthing to access files.

The reason I have a custom computer instead of a Qnap or other similar device is for a couple reasons-

  1. Ability to run other server stuff, such as a DHCP/DNS server, and game servers.
  2. Able to whatever protocol I want- SMB, NFS, FTP, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV, HTTP, Syncthing, iSCSI, Rsync, SSHFS and others
  3. Flexible recovery/upgrades, since I am using software arrays I could move the drives to another Linux computer and mount them no problem.
  4. Possibly much lower cost, especially if buying used. I will let my PC Part picker list speak for itself.

A NAS box such as your suggested Qnap does have some advantages-

  1. Ease of use and setup- It probably will have a good initial setup, and you would not have to do anything on CLI.
  2. Warranty from two places not a bunch or no warranty
  3. Official support
  4. Small form factor and low power. Not that a custom built can’t have those, just it is not as easy to do.
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@Adubs, I was considering the DS218j. It was actually my finalist. I ended up selecting the QNAP simply because it had stronger hardware. Honestly though I don’t know if I will realize the extra oomph in my use case. Any reason I should reconsider?

Which brings me to @TheCakeIsNaOH and custom options. Points 1&2 the built in “apps” of a prebuilt will be acceptable for my usecase, however if I do outgrow them or my needs change I am out of luck. Point 3 is the most appealing; my prebuilt goes AWOL, again recovery options are limited. I could go used, or with stuff that I have but am a bit put off by longevity. I wouldn’t mind saving a bit more to go custom, but the biggest advantage I see with prebuilts is the power consumption. All DIY NAS builds I’ve seen end up pulling more power than a prebuilt.

The appeals with going custom don’t appeal that much to me when I can find a more economic solution off the shelf and meet my desired use case.

All said, this is a new realm for me and I don’t know what I don’t know. I have a good grasp on what I want to do, just double checking my proposed solution. Thanks for your feedback!

Am I the only one thinking SSD’s?


It ‘just works’

Neither one is going to transcode for you so might as well go with the one that has better software and support. the 228 is also older. It came on the scene not long after the 216j IIRC. I have a 216j, its been entirely uneventful. I had one disk go bad. DSM warned me way in advance via its configurable disk health checks. It has android/ios apps that just work. DSM is updated often.

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I would recommend against this solution. You are looking for a relatively inexpensive just works system. Media servers do not need to be stupid fast. this money is better put into bigger hard drives

QNAPs good stick with it. 4Tb gives you a decent headroom for the future. Trust me hard drive migration is never fun no matter how good you get at it. QNAP has strong solid hardware. I think you will like it for your needs. You could bump your budget and get a machine that does transcoding. I am not you so thats not my decision

I just wanted to chime in about pre-built type systems for a moment. Yes they do “just work” and sure the application base is usually pretty good and developed, however, in the likely even of a future hardware failure, they often lock you into that eco-system for recovery of your data. You wind up buying the same brand/solution hardware that’s capable of reading your existing data pools and they don’t often play well with more open or self-built solutions. So go pre-built at your own risk. My $0.02

I just saw that @TheCakeIsNaOH made the same/similar argument so I’ll chalk it up to I agree with them on this completely.

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Don’t pay anything. Backup all your media to Google Photos. It’s completely free with unlimited storage for pictures up to 16 megapixels and video up to 1080p.

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I really don’t like this solution because Google can change their TOS at any time. It was never going to happen at Photobucket either…til it did.


There’s realistically zero chance they change their TOS with no notice and don’t allow you to download your media. So it’s fine for backups.

Google Photos is unquestionably Google’s best application. It’s incredible. And I include GMail in that. (Not search, though.)

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You’re probably right. But Google is in the business of data and your backups are a great source. I haven’t read the TOS lately…
Photobucket tried blackmail and their servers were over-run with people trying to download their pics. Their servers and site were never good to begin with.
I’d prefer to pay some nominal fee as I think that would preclude datamining. I’m unsure of a cloud service but am leaning to AWS.

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Thanks for everyone’s input so far. It’s put some things in perspective. I’m not transcoding, FTPing, media servering, and all the things a NAS excels at…should I simply setup a shared/network drive on my desktop and be done with it?

Did I just go that far down the rabbit hole?

Well, to be fair to us. You did just ask for technology advice from a bunch of geeks. LOL!

As for you’re situation, do whatever you feel comfortable with. There are a lot of good suggestions here including your own. Just make sure that if the data your storing is that important to you, you make sure and back it up (essentially retain at least 2 separate copies) in some way so you don’t lose it in the event of a drive failure. Simple as that. Best of luck with your project.


TBH its as good as any and if you get yourself something to back that up to then you’re golden.

Do you keep your machine up 24/7? If so you might as well stuff a drive into it and call it a day. The QNAP and 218J are nice because they are low power. depending on what you pay for your electricity and what your desktop has in it, it could be worthwhile.

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I am really leaning towards the shared drive. I plan on setting up a trial run this week with a spare 500gb laptop drive. My pc isn’t on 24/7, but as long as I can get Time Machine or what not to backup automatically when I do use my desktop, that’s great. I will simply be inconvenienced by turning it on.

Amazon Prime photo is free if you have a Prime membership. It does .raw but no video files. you have to work around the gaps but in the end its free.

The problem with this is that your PC needs to be powered on 24/7. (hello power bill)
A nas has some smart standby software most of the time, and they are low power anyway.

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I am shying away from the NAS solution at this point. I don’t really need an always on device. If I can boot up my desktop once a week for backup or as needed when doing scrapbook-like work with archived photos on a Macbook, I think I will have hit all my primary requirements I originally laid out.

My main concern is that Windows will reliably share the specified drive on the network after reboot. Anyone have experience with this scenario?

Keeping this link for my personal future use.