It took me 3 months to finally decide which NAS to buy and everything pointed to the Synology 220j.
Most photographers don’t need the most expensive NAS, because photos don’t need fast transfer speeds. That’s why I was dead set on the Synology 220j, and honestly it’s not that bad.
If you want the short answer, the Synology 720+ is of course the best NAS for photographers, but the 220j is fine if you just need simple backups.
In this post I’ll discuss why I prefer the 720+ and when the 220j might be a better option for photographers.
Why I decided to buy a NAS
Recently I bought the m1 MacBook and decided I’m no longer paying Apple the extra cash for more storage.
I decided to go with the 256gb SSD and it’s perfect for my needs.
That’s when I decided to buy a NAS.
The majority of my files don’t need high transfer speeds and just sit in my 6TB hard drive.
That includes pictures, video files that I’m not editing, and movies I use for plex streaming.
I also use it as my backup solution to the images I capture on my phone. With a NAS I don’t have to buy extra phone or cloud storage, and the iPhone app works fine for backing up images.
Reasons to buy the 220j
I bought the Synology 220j because I didn’t need 10gb/sec transfer speeds. I just wanted a reliable server that I could use for Lightroom, time machine, and a storage solution for the thousands of files that I can’t bring myself to delete.
This includes hundreds of photo and video files that take up space but aren’t actively used.
My solution? The Synology 220j.
The 220j is great for simple storage. You can copy all your files to it or use it in a configuration to copy a hard drive.
In a video posted by art of photography, he uses his massive Synology NAS with 10gbe to copy all his image files on his dedicated raid hard drive.
I don’t understand why you would spend thousands of dollars for a NAS just to have it used as a backup.
This leads me to why the 220j isn’t a bad NAS for photographers.
If you’re just using it for backing up Lightroom files, time machine, or another hard drive it works great.
It also works fine if you’re trying to share files with someone else, but there are a few caveats here.
Reasons not to buy the 220j
The first and most important reason not to buy the Synology 220j is reliability and stability.
I can’t tell you how many times this NAS crashed on me.
Before I used this NAS I used Lightroom to generate 1:1 previews on my local drive.
To read my post about using Lightroom on your NAS, you can check it out here.
I thought the previews would be good enough for editing while I was away from the server
For some reason, Lightroom had issues accessing the NAS on WiFi, and the 220j would often crash.
The same thing happened running synology apps. Whenever I would use the moments app, the app would freeze after uploading a couple hundred photos and then the server would crash.
If you’re just doing backups, you’re probably fine, but if you’re planning on using this NAS over WiFi, you’ll experience crashing.
Your best bet is to have a dedicated computer that’s always connected with Ethernet.
I actually found the 220j to be noiser than the 720+. It seems that the hard drives in the 220j were always working while the same drives in the 720+ would go to sleep.
Reasons to buy the 720+
Better for Lightroom
After experiencing crashing on the 220j, I finally decided to buy the Synology 720+. The speed was immediately noticeable.
Everything loaded quicker and I had a lot fewer hiccups when connecting to Lightroom.
I have noticed that if I disconnect my MacBook from WiFi and reconnect it, there may be a delay when starting Lightroom.
It’s only a minute delay, but it’s annoying enough that I’m still deciding if it’s just better to have an external SSD for my Lightroom files.
If I had a dedicated computer like an iMac that was always connected to the NAS and external hard drive, I wouldn’t have this problem.
Better for apps
The 720+ is also much more responsive when using the synology apps. On occasion, some apps have crashed, but I think it’s more of an issue with the app, rather than the NAS.
When I connected the moments app to my device, everything uploaded much quicker and didn’t freeze on me.
If you plan on using the apps, the 720+ does a much better job.
Improved media streaming
You’ll also notice improvements using video streaming services like plex with the 720+ over the 220j.
Most of my videos are 720p and I had decent results with the 220j, but the 720+ loaded 10-15 seconds faster.
If you’re using 4K video, don’t even try to use the 220j.
You’ll notice minimal improvements with noise, but if you can get an aftermarket fan, it’s much quieter.
For some reason the hard disks sleep more with the 720+, so you won’t hear the disks spinning all the time.
Speed and reliability
Speed and stability is the reason you buy the 720+. It doesn’t have 10gb Ethernet, but it can keep up.
Since owning it, I still haven’t experienced a crash, and everything works as it should. This thing is rock solid!
Room to Grow
The last reason to buy the 720+ is for expandability. The 720+ allows you to add a 5 bay expansion unit if you decide you need more storage in the future.
That kind of storage will speed up your RAID configuration and deliver better read and write performance.
Which NAS should you buy?
I dont want to say that there isn’t a market for the 220+, because if your just doing backups it’s a solid NAS.
For me, I wanted my phone to be able to backup to the moments app, and I wanted a system that wouldn’t crash.
The 220j is really the best NAS for the money, so if you can live with the issues, it might be worth it for you.
The synology 220+ and 720+ will do everything you need in a NAS for photography.
The only reason I bought the 720+ over the 220+ is because I found a screaming deal.
Buy the 220j if your mostly doing backups and can get buy with occasional crashes and slow performance with apps.
Buy the 220+ for any photography needs, building websites, apps, media server, etc.
Buy the 720+ for photography, media server, video editing, virtual machines, expandability, and faster performance.
Deciding on the best NAS for your needs can be challenging, but the decision is much easier based on what you need.
If you just need a backup get the 220j. If you want solid performance and all the features that come with Synology, buy the 220+ or 720+.
I hope this guide helped you have a better understanding of what to look out for when purchasing your first NAS.
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