Synology for computer, iOS, and photo backup

We have been debating a synology for family backup for a few years. Having a hard time finding a backup solution that meets our needs with mediocre rural internet and isn’t super time consuming once set up. I’m moderately tech competent (though can’t have any system too complicated once set up or my family won’t engage) and think I can set it up and manage it well, if I do have a few questions…

First, is it possible to have directories for each family member? I believe everyone (2 adult/near adult kids, 3 adults) would prefer a separate directory that is reasonably private from other users.

Second, specifically for photos, can that same thing be managed/created? And is it possible to have a central family photo bank/directory? The why - we have some pictures not appropriate to share (not only fans, more like post surgery, etc) and we each have different photo purposes (I take lots of screen shots for genealogy research, kids do all kinds of things, etc). It would like a central family picture set up.

Third, how difficult is creating an external copy of individual or specific directories? For example, if I want to port a backup of each set of photos and of my directory once a week to take to a different location, how hard is that?

Thanks in advance!

Yes, you can create as many users as you want and you can set permissions for individual folders on a user per user basis. So many options… :slight_smile: -

Yes you can grant several users the permission to do or not to do whatever with a folder. You can work with users, user groups … Again, many options.

If you are using Synology Photos which is an app managing photos (I don’t, I am using Lightroom, but I am storing my photos on the NAS), you can also do similar stuff: How do I set access permissions for Synology Photos Shared Space? - Synology Knowledge Center

It is easy. Just use Hyper Backup, a Synology app that can be installed on the NAS (easily like installing an app on an iPhone). Hyper Backup can backup to external hard drives, cloud services and what not. When you want and how you want it to do its job. - Hyper Backup Quick Start Guide - Synology Knowledge Center


Christian’s pretty much covered everything I’d have said as well!

Note that who is the admin user (I.e. you) will be able to see all the files on the device.

My wife and I use Synology Photos as a backup to iCloud and she has her own folder to view those. Her folder is private to her - in that it’s located in her Home folder, and I can’t view the files from the Photos app. However, I can go in to the dashboard and view them directly individually - however, I don’t do this, but could. She’s aware of it and happy with the trade off for a central backup.


Yes to all of the above.

And specifically for #2 you can allow access only to certain users for a shared album. This works out great since my wife and I have our personal albums and then put the good photos together onto the shared album, but my parents and my sister can keep there albums separate but don’t have access to my shared family album with my wife.

I also like that this allows me to have a central backup of all photos, but I do nightly zipped backups off site (remote NAS, as well as to 2 separate OneDrive accounts - since I bought the family plan and only 3 people use it I made 2 backup accounts and use for photos). Have lost photos before and now feel safer with local, off site, and 2 cloud backups.

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There are certainly ways around this with encrypting synology drive on Mac so it’s encrypted when it arrives to the synology.

Now that being said I agree with you, it’s one of those things that I share my NAS with family only and they are aware I could look but I don’t. Also, the idea of encryption has been a no go since I’ve several times had to go and “find” or “restore” photos after my wife deleted etc. I would think in a few of those scenarios I might have been unable to restore them if she had encrypted them first.

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Though not specifically related to your question, if you use Apple Photos and want a way to get the photos from onto the Synology, my free open source tool osxphotos may help. It has an export command that is very flexible and allows you to export your photos and metadata to the Synology in any directory structure you want. You can also limit which photos get exported (e.g. to prevent your “sensitive” photos from being exported…assuming they’re in an album, have a keyword, or some other way to search for them. Take a look at the docs and the tutorial. I used this recently to help someone export 2TB of photos from Photos libraries to a Synology.


Just to note that in the case of the deleted items, each share can have a recycling bin, so if it was enabled, you could fine the original encrypted file and then restore from that.

We don’t encrypt, because we both use Photosync to upload the photos directly but you’re right, something could encrypt it locally first.

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True. Also would recommend not using recycling bin but using snapshot instead. Lets you roll back and if you are BTRFS doesn’t require the ongoing storage.

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Ok. I made the plunge… yesterday I ordered the DS 1522+ with 5 Seagate IronWolf 8TB NAS Internal Hard Drive HDD – 3.5 Inch SATA 6Gb/s 7200 RPM 256MB Cache for RAID Network Attached Storage.

Looks like I’ve got a lot to learn before they arrive next Tuesday.


@Christian Do you store photos in a separate shared folder from other media like music and video? I was just looking at my setup and I think Synology created separate shared folders (music, photo, video).

Can you explain why snapshot would be better? Also how would I set this up? I’ve played with a Synology for years but haven’t really looked into optimizing things.

Would you mind sharing how you do nightly backups off site? Did you write a script?

@Rhet_Turnbull Is this after photos have already synced via icloud/manual to a mac?

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Yes, I have multiple shared folders that I mount separately as SMB volumes like photos, videos, multimedia, documents and tech.

This question was not directed at me, but you do not need to write scripts. Depending on what you want to achieve Hyper Backup or Cloud Sync (just configure it to sync only into one direction (= backup)) are able to backup to a lot of cloud services.

That is a nice and big device. :slight_smile: Do not be intimidated by those tips and options shown to you also in this community. A Synology is easy to be set up. The app eco system enables you to do almost everything. Synology is great in letting you take it easy within their OS and their apps. You can dive deeper with scripts, Docker containers and what not, but you do not need to.

Regarding the recycling bin: I find it to be a great solution that also can be configured to whatever you like. It fits my needs perfectly.


I’d like to add Glacier Backup to that list.

In the meantime you could have a look at the SpaceRex Youtube channel. Lots of info on Synology.

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Snapshot is a whole time incremented backup. The way that snapshots work they essentially take no space and you backup everything.

The recycle bin is as it says, and also takes up much more space and doesn’t actually back everything up or give versioning. If you look at most synology sources (and for a community recommend synoforum) this is recommended. This was the big benefit of BTRFS. This is also much faster.

For separate folders I would start using and figure out a backup plan then go back and adjust. The backup using hyperbackup is excellent. You point to something as a backup (could be Dropbox, OneDrive, S3, synology C2, another NAS, a USB HD, etc) and then say time to backup (on demand or scheduled), which folders and which apps. Also how many versions you would like. This has changed how I do my folders as I have my media separated from home movies and photos as I want all home movies and photos always backed up and media is convenient but if I had to re rip my Blu-ray’s I would be annoyed but not the same as if I lost home movies.

Finally, I agree the synology apps are very good. I use synology drive for myself and family as a Dropbox replacement for local sync, works well. Synology photos is amazing and iCloud replacement for me (and Apple TV app has come a long way and I enjoy using it now).

While the media server is ok, I would recommend running jellyfin (Plex issues with off site authentication and recently deactivating accounts) as it’s more customizable, free to use hardware acceleration without payment like Plex, and then using infuse for an IOS/Tvos front end.

Also recommend looking at audiobookshelf for ebooks and audiobooks running on synology.

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Yes, osxphotos exports photos from the Photos library so they should be synced to the Mac. If you are using iCloud with “optimize Mac storage”, osxphotos has a --download-missing option to force download from iCloud but this is not efficient. It’s better to export from a library that is fully synced and has “Store originals on Mac” option.

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He’s one that I’ve been watching a lot of the last few days while exploring.

I’ve been thinking Synology (and considered DRobo for a while but…) was the way to go for our family needs, it was finally talking to one of my way more lower user buddies (at my wife’s recommendation) that we finally decided this was the best option. I can’t wait to get it set up.

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