Synology Drive and Daminion

Introduction

On 1 Nov 2017, Synology introduced a new package – Synology Drive – which is their take on the cloud/local sync concept offered by Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive (amongst others), using a Synology DiskStation for the “cloud” part of the solution.  At the same time, the Moments package was released – Synology’s latest generation photo management app.  The implications of that app are covered in a separate article.

This article explores the impact Synology Drive has on the Daminion / Synology integration.

Synology Drive Features & Impacts

Sync

Drive enables a user to set up multiple synced folders between the Synology DiskStation (DS) and their computer.  This can include a sync to the user’s private Drive folder (which is located in the Homes folder on the DS) but additional sync tasks can be set up, for example, to the \photo folder which Photo Station uses.  The folder to be synced has to be enabled in the Drive Admin Console.  Sync tasks may be one or two way.  Two way makes most sense with Daminion and Photo Station.  Changes made to the local version of a Drive file will be synchronized in the background.

You need sufficient disc space on your computer to accommodate the synced folders and files, which could be a problem for someone with a laptop that has limited SSD storage.  For those users, linking to a mapped network drive remains the only viable option.

Versioning

Drive has server-side file versioning.  You can set the number of versions of a file that you want to keep.  It’s an excellent function, but it’s completely independent of and conceptually different to the Daminion Version Control function, so you need to be clear about which version of versioning you are referring to!

Speed & Convenience

Any DAM requires fast access to the source files.  In theory, with all actions running from a local source, file access times should not be throttled by LAN performance.

“Does Synology Drive respond as fast as an unsynced local HDD and better than a mapped drive?”

To test this I took a batch of 1,000 files (JPEG and TIFF – some up to 200MB) and imported them into a new local Daminion Catalog.  I did this for an unsynced HDD, repeated it using Synology Drive synced to to the same HDD, and then repeated it again, for a mapped network drive.  The latter two tests were performed to a Synology DS916+ using a hardwired connection on a Gigabit LAN.  Then I tested the speed of a “Write Tags to file” action in the same environment.  The results were:

Image SourceTime to Load 1,000 filesRelative Speed
Load files into catalog
Unsynced local HDD00:08:22Reference point
Synology Drive00:09:04+8.4%
Mapped Network Drive00:09:15+10.5%
Write metadata to file
Unsynced local HDD00:09:36Reference point
Synology Drive00:09:51+0.7%
Mapped Network Drive00:12:02+23%

As expected, the unsynced local HDD was fastest.  Surprisingly, Synology Drive was significantly slower than the unsynced HDD when creating the catalog, although there was no appreciable difference when writing the tags to file.  The mapped network drive performed worst of course, being 10.5% slower to create the catalog, and 23% slower to write the tags.

Freedom from tethering

Using a WiFi connection to connect a Daminion Catalog to a mapped drive would not usually be recommended, because of fluctuating WiFi performance issues and potential harmful effects on files if the network drops while a file is being written – the simple act of closing a laptop lid could cause that.  The background sync of Synology Drive together with its auto resume solves that problem and makes WiFi connection viable, although a hardwired connection is preferable if large scale edits are performed.

Syncing to multiple computers

Another benefit of Drive is that it is possible to set up sync tasks on multiple computers to the same target location on the DiskStation.  This is useful for a one-person operation when switching between machines but whether this is scalable to a true multi-user environment is unknown (but then I expect multi-user sites will be using a Windows Server, so it’s a moot point.)

Impact On Daminion Home Server

There is little impact on Daminion Home Server.  You continue to have two options:

  1. Do the majority of your library maintenance work in standalone Daminion, in the knowledge that this will automatically update Photo Station.  If you make an edit in Photo Station,  you will need to perform a refresh folders (F6)  operation in Daminion to resync the Daminion Catalog.  For many home users this is an adequate solution.
  2. Install Daminion Home Server so that Daminion can monitor the server folders for changes and update the Daminion Catalog.  If you are making frequent changes to the \photo folders and files at server level, this is the option to choose.  The Daminion Home Server is, of course, monitoring the server-side copies of the local files which, at the moment the Daminion folder watch service runs, may not have been synced by Drive.  However, this should resolve itself given time for the processes to complete.

Impact on Synology Photo Station and Daminion Integration

Drive is an alternative way of moving content onto the server.  Therefore any of the integration steps that deal with that topic are affected by this new product.  The access point becomes a local synced drive instead of a mapped network share, which simplifies things for the user.  But in all other respects the integration is unaffected.

It’s a matter of personal choice whether to adopt Drive.  If you adopt it for non photographic purposes you will likely do so for photos too because you will find it so much more useful than mapped drives.

 

Paul Barrett