I have used Synology for many years and the last couple of years it has more or less only been used for storage and simple tasks. I have also been storing a lot of photos and videos over the years and as I now have a new camera producing 4k films I eventually ran out of space. So I replaced my old DS414 with a brand new DS220+. The speed increase is amazing. I also switched from DS Photo Station to Photos as it was upgraded to DSM 7. I just wanted to share my experience and setup how to create your private media cloud. Synology also created an app called moments so there is some confusion. I also considered using a full cloud solution for my videos and photos. The good thing of doing so is that you will save yourself a lot of time configuring stuff. Also security is managed by a company instead of you. However it will be expensive with large amounts of data. And the access speed will be poor for large 4/6k videos.
My main goals with my setup was the following
- Access to my photos from anywhere
- Automatic backup from all family phones
- Long time backup
- Able to play videos and photos from my LG TV
- Easy webbinterface and good search for my images
- A good alternative to Google photos
- Request photos from others
- Share photos and albums
Access to my photos from anywhere
First of all you may ask yourself if you really need access from anywhere. You might just as well just use it from home. However there are more benefits of making your nas public. You can backup your images from anywhere. You can access your images and videos and you will get DSM access as well if you want to. The downside is security. The best way would be not to expose it. It also takes some knowledge how to secure it in a proper way. There are several ways of making the NAS public. Synology usually recommends Quickconnect. It usually do port forwards in your router and you may get certificate errors. You can also set up Letsencrypt on your synology but it will not be working out of the box.
I am using Swag. Swag is run in a docker container on a small computer. I only open port 443 (and 80) to this server. Setting up Swag is beyond the scope in this post. When setup it will give you:
- Letsencryp certificate with renewal
- Nginx reverse proxy
- Geo blocking. I have only allowed access from Sweden
In my case I have used duckdns with swag. So mydomain.duckdns is responding with swag. In swag I have created a subdomain that forwards to my NAS ip and port 5000. I have not opened any other ports except 443 in my router. One other good thing with this setup is when sharing images or requesting files from others. You do not want the recipient to get a certificate error.
So my DSM and Photos works with ssl. The certificate is renewed and no ports are opened to the NAS. I have also enabled the MFA with the authenticator app for an extra layer of security.
Automatic backup from all family phones
This is a must have feature. If I loose my phone my photos are lost otherwise. I know you might use Icloud or Google photos but eventually you will run out of space and will have to pay for your storage. The reason you got a Synology in the first place was because you wanted to host your own images.
Synology Photos do support this and all images are uploaded to my nas. It just works.
The other part is backup. If possible attach another old NAS and set up hyper backup. Also use an usb attached drive locally if possible. If you get a crypto virus you will still have one extra backup.
Easy webbinterface and good search for my images
In general Photos works perfect. There are some small tips that can be done to get it even better.
Use tags! See more about Bridge later below. Use conditional albums. In the example below I see images from tags and a special camera model.
Learnings and other notable things
Video and Photo folder
One thing I noticed is that videos taken by my phone are backup up and put in dcim-camera folder is shown. All photos taken by my camera ends up here. So I asked myself why is it called Synology Photos when I am able to see all my videos here as well? The answer is kind of complex. As you might know there are several standard folders on a Synology NAS. Photos, Videos and Music. If you install Photos the photos are stored in this folder. If you install video station they are stored in the video folder.
The indexing server is set to scan file formats according to this like shown below. I can choose to include videos in the photos folder or the opposite. However one strange thin happens. I have a lot of old videos in my video folder. Old DV avi files, Indeo encoded files and new files from my Sony RX 10 IV.
If I am putting a file manually via webb or smb share in the photos folder do it get changed or converted? Yes and No. First I added some old avi files. The NAS started to work with 100% cpu and I could not understand why. It seems like it is converting the video file to H264 that photos can play. The original file seems to be intact but it is somehow creating a copy for display. As it can not play the original format. In my case I added about 100 Gb of video files. The amount of free storage started to decrease. But the amount of files were the same. I tried to get support via Synology but they could not understand the question.
So the bottom line would be to leave old video files in the video folder and do not use Synology Photos to view them
The photo app can not play videos in the native app. You will need VNC or some 3rd party app to do this. In the desktop on your computer this works. Also if https and certificates are not correct it will not work in a good way.
App on tv
Synology just released the Photos app for TVs. It works more or less just like the phone app.
In Photo Station you were able to geotagg photos. In some cases I have been taking photos with my Sony cam and forgot to activate gps. This is not possible in Photos. I have not found a good way to solve this yet. Also the app works perfect with displaying photos an a map as it is using the google maps api on the phone. On your computer it just looks bad. Why do they not use Open Street maps or something similar?
This is how it looks like on your computer
And the app on your phone
It would be great to be able to add geolocation in photos but it does not work. It used to work in photostation but I suppose they will fix this later.
To bulk add tags I use Bridge. This is when importing images from my Sony RX 10 IV camera.
I wanted to write something about DLNA as it is is good way of playing videos on your TV. However the LG TV now has a new Synology Photos app so I think this is the best way of wathing photos.