Video: How Nick Rains manages his 6TB photo collection with a QNAP NAS system

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When professional landscape and travel photographer Nick Rains was looking for a hardware solution to store, backup and manage his collection of nearly 30,000 images, only one NAS system ticked all the boxes.

I have been a professional photographer for over thirty years. With over 30,0000 images taking up about 6TB of data storage (and that’s not even including the video) you can see why I am very keen on using only the best storage hardware.

I wanted a single unit that could replace an ever expanding collection of different hard drives and so make my data-wrangling a lot easier by getting better organised.

I was looking for certain things:
• Must have a large capacity, and be scalable for future expansion. I don’t want to re-organise for many years!
• It must be reliable.
• It must offer some high speed data transfer options beyond a normal ethernet network because I need to edit 4K video.

Photo © Nick Rains.
Nick Rains' QNAP TVS-1282T3 setup includes four 10TB Seagate IronWolf Pro hard drives in a RAID5 configuration.  Photo © Nick Rains.

I settled on a QNAP TVS-1282T3 NAS which has eight normal hard drive slots, four SSD slots and, most important of all, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity alongside the usual ethernet connections.

My office environment consists of a total of four Macs and three PCs. This sounds a lot I know, but one PC runs my accounts on legacy Windows software that I don’t want to change, I have a 15-year-old PC running Windows 2000 (!) that I need to run an old but awesome high-end film scanner, and the last one is actually a virtual PC running on my iMac in Parallels so I can use a Windows-only cataloging application called Daminion.

There’s another iMac for a second person to do my cataloging and a semi-retired Mac Mini which I am phasing out. That leaves a 13” MacBook Pro which is my travel machine.

Photo © Nick Rains.
Photo © Nick Rains.

I use two locally connected Thunderbolt 2 hard drives for my master collection of images, running off one iMac. The other more powerful iMac is for editing only, particularly for video.

The key to my setup is solid back-up and that’s where the TVS-1282T3 comes in. With up to 12 hard drives it is scalable for all my future needs and as a massive bonus I can connect through either ethernet or Thunderbolt 3.

I have four 10TB Seagate IronWolf Pro hard drives in a RAID5 configuration. That’s a total of 27TB in one place. This is my main backup location because the RAID5 configuration offers good redundancy against mechanical failure. The drives themselves come with a data recovery warranty too, so I feel quite safe!

Photo © Nick Rains.
Photo © Nick Rains.

I have allocated another four drives, 2TB ones this time, to a RAID0 configuration for working video files, not long term storage. This is connected by Thunderbolt 3 and I can work on 4K files in Final Cut Pro in realtime because it pumps out over 1000MB per seconds! If you really want to go crazy, put some SSDs into the four SSD slots and you’ll be getting over 2GB per second read speeds. That’s crazy-fast and so this unit genuinely boosts my productivity now I no longer need to wait for massive video files.

Syncing my working files with my backup files is very straightforward. QNAP offer a QSync client which installs on almost any device (Mac, PC, tablet, phone etc) and maintains sync with corresponding folders on the NAS. This works continuously so once it’s done all your files are being backed up without any user intervention.

All you have to do it set up a Shared Folder on the NAS and pair that with a folder on a computer which has the QSync client installed on it. Then new or updated files are copied across to the NAS as and when they change. It’s a set-and-forget system which suits me just fine.

Photo © Nick Rains.
Specialising in landscape and travel photography, Nick Rains has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years. See more of his work at

The really cool thing for me is that I can share albums with my clients using a password protected email link.

Since my images are all properly cataloged with keyword and captions etc, the albums can be searched which makes things easy for my clients.

All clients like things to be ‘easy’ – and happy clients are good for business! 

More info:

Photo © Nick Rains.
Photo © Nick Rains.

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