Welcome back to the continuing discussion about photo clubs and image servers. Let’s dive in and look at some of the issues involved. If you haven’t read Part 1 in this series, I suggest you go back and do so before you continue with this post.
First, let me address a question that I often hear concerning this issue of ownership versus using parking space online. Why set up a personal server instead of simply employing a public (or commercial) cloud storage system? Good question.
Public cloud storage is a wildly popular way to upload (varying limits of) personal images to an Internet-based parking lot somewhere in the sky (or more likely, an enormous data farm located in some rural hillside in South Dakota). Hard drive storage is quite inexpensive now and thus these data farm storage systems often offer parking parking space for next to nothing… often “free.” Yeah, right!
How can they offer such a volume of storage for no money, or very little? The simple answer is that immense money is being made in the background, at your expense! Every time you sign up for something labeled “free,” a red flag shoud go up in your mind. Read the user agreement carefully and see how your profile information and other personal data is being harvested and fed to business partners for marketing and political purposes. In short, business is made on your information. The secondary source of income comes from advertising revenues. You’ll probably nothice that the recent inquiries you’ve made on Google and the purchases you’ve made on Amazon reflect the kinds of ads you see in the sidebar. This is no coincidence. Now, back to the issue at hand.
Personal Server Installation and Configuration
If you choose to go the personal server route, most NAS servers you can be purchased for next day delivery from Amazon and other online stores. These are simple plug-and-play units made possible by the fact that they are so simple to configure. Personal servers consist of a CPU and one or more bays for hard drives. You can either purchase drives separately or the buy the server and drives as a pre-assembled unit. Be aware that uploading your images to any server will take time, so it’s best to begin the process just before you go to bed and let the process continue to work while you sleep.
Single user cloud servers start as small as 2TB. Multi-bay units with faster CPUs offer four or more bays, each bay housing up to a 12TB drive. Best practice is to sum up your collective image file sizes and multiply that amount by 1.5 to determine the drive size you’re likely to need. The sky is the limit on storage since many NAS servers are hot-swappable and expandable. Keep in mind that single drive units cannot be configured as RAID arrays; you’ll need two drives for that. In addition, for most servers, you can purchase and quickly install additional RAM, which speeds up search and transfer functions. Connectivity for most all of these units includes multiple USB ports and disk-copy functionality as well as dual Ethernet connections for ultra fast data transfer to the modem or router.
Each server manufacturer offers a variety of very useful mini-applications that provide additional functionality, including image viewers, multimedia players, notepads, WordPress, email and more. These apps are offered separately and should be installed as needed, keeping in mind that each app can tax the CPU’s energy. Configuring the base units and additional applications can take some time and call for careful thought about their usage, especially if the server services and contents will be shared with others.
Maybe setting one of these personal servers ain’t rocket science, but it is a detailed process that could take many hours of time (and the patience of Job) to handle right since servers are normally set up by IT geeks, not photographers. And incidentally, the server instructions are written by geeks and for other geeks in a language you probably won’t understand without a geek dictionary. Take your time and learn as much as you can from the abundant YouTube tutorials online.
If, on the other hand, you are not technically-oriented but you see the benefits in participating in a Photo Club Server program… stay tuned. Part 3 of this post will reveal a totally fresh, new slant on digital image storage; the Cloud9 Photo Club Server.