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Choosing a NAS for Video Editing in 2024

If you’re a videographer or content creator looking to invest in a NAS for centralized storage and easy collaboration, this guide is for you.

Key Takeaways

Video editing is all about speed. You need to look for ways to optimize your NAS Speed. So most of the key takeaways are about speed.

  • A Hybrid works best – Take a Flash + HDD hybrid. Almost all the NAS brands support multiple volumes so go with a Fast Flash Volume for Video editing and HDD Volume for archival.

  • Choose a Thunderbolt DAS + NAS if you can afford it. If not, take a NAS with the Highest network speed that your infrastructure can take

  • Consider the CPU and RAM specifications of the NAS device to guarantee optimal performance and responsiveness while editing videos stored on the network.

  • Caching is seldom good for Video Editing. With large video files and multiple users working on your NAS, your cache will quickly fill up and you will start having cache misses.

Understanding NAS and DAS Devices

You probably know this already, but NAS, or Network Attached Storage, is a device that connects to your Network and allows multiple users and devices to store and retrieve data from a centralized location. Unlike a DAS ( like your LaCie or G-tech thunderbolt device, or an Extenral USB Hard drive) the NAS connects to the network and not directly to your Device.

NAS devices are equipped with their own CPU, RAM and operating systems making them independent storage solutions that do not require a computer to function. They are designed to be easy to set up and manage, offering a convenient way to store, access, and share data across a network.

DAS Devices are just external hard drives with Either USB or Thunderbolt ports. They are the easiest to use, BUT they don’t offer RAID functionality ( which means limited capacity and no fault tolerance), connect to only one device at a time ( which means no collaboration) and don’t operate indepnedently ( which means they have to be connected to a PC to work)

Benefits of Using NAS for Video Editing

  • HUGE centralized storage. Instead of having videos scattered across different devices, NAS provides a single location where all video files can be stored. This centralized approach simplifies file management and ensures that all team members have access to the same content. you can scale your NAS up to Petabytes so this central repository can be huge.

  • Collaboration and Access Control With NAS, video editors can access their project files from any location with an internet connection. This flexibility allows for seamless collaboration among team members working on the same project, regardless of their physical location. Each member can have their own access rights ( editors can have full access over edit directory, but only view access to raw footage directory for example, an uploader can have only write access to upload directory)

  • Fault Tolerance/ Snapshots: All the NAS today support the raid. So even if one hard drive fails out of the many hard drives on your NAS, your data can still be intact (up to how many drives can fail depending on the RAID level you chose). Further, you can enable snapshots so you can revert your file to a previous version.

Key Features to look for in Video Editing NAS

When selecting a NAS device for video editing purposes there are just 2 things that you are mainly concerned with – Capacity and Speed.

  • Storage Capacity and Scalability: Ensure the NAS device has ample storage capacity to accommodate large video files and projects. Basically you need to look at the number of bays the NAS has , multiple the number of bays by the biggest HDD you have today ( 24 TB at the time of writing this article) and you have the max capacity your NAS can support with HDD volumes. Most of the NAS can be expanded by adding an expansion unit, but its better to buy a NAS a little bigger than what you need today rather than going with an expansion later.

  • Access Interface (Networking/Thunderbolt) : 1G or 2.5G Network speeds won’t work. You need to go with at least 10G network or 25G if your switch supports it. If you can afford the QNAP’s Thunerbolt NAS work very well as they also have thundberbolt interface so your editors can get direct high speed access over thunderbolt.

  • Computing ( CPU/RAM) : Adequate CPU power and RAM capacity are crucial for ensuring fast and efficient video processing on a NAS device. Modern video editing workstations require powerful CPUs with multiple cores and threads to handle intensive editing software smoothly. high-speed PCIe slots enable faster data transfer speeds, improving overall performance.

Go with Flash + HDD Volumes for speed and capacity

When configuring a NAS for video editing, combining flash (SSD) and HDD volumes offers an optimal balance of speed and capacity. Utilize SSDs to create a fast, responsive volume tailored for active editing tasks, enabling quick access and smooth workflow for editors. Simultaneously, set up a slower HDD volume dedicated to archival storage, providing ample space for storing completed projects and raw footage. This dual-volume approach leverages the high performance of SSDs for active tasks while benefiting from the cost-effective, high-capacity storage of HDDs for long-term data management.

Go with 10G + Network Speeds for Video Editing NAS

When it comes to network drives for video editing on NAS, speed is crucial. Your objective is to get higher bandwidth and lower latency.

1G and 2.5G network speeds are never good on Vided Editing NAS. 10G can be good and 25G/40G are better if your switch supports them. Remmebr that 10G onwards the network interface can either be Copper RJ45 ( called baseT) , or it could be SFP+. If its SFP+ you would need either DAC cables or transceivers to connect.

So the rule of thumb is to go with the highest network speed that your infra supports.

Go with Multiple RAID 6 in your Video Editing NAS

First what is RAID – or Redundant Array of Independent Disks. You can think of RAID as a combination of multiple drives that appear to you a a single large drive. Not only RAID combines multiple hard drives, but it does so internally in such a way that despite a few of the drives failure overall data can be secure ( it does so with a parity bit – a logical checksum ). So you have a RAID 6 for example where out of the total number of the drives, ANY 2 drive can fail without affecting your data.

There are 2 features of RAID – one it provides you failure tolerance, and second it enahances performance. We recommend RAID6 per 8 or 10 drives, lets look at a few RAID levels first

RAID 0 ( Good speed, no redundancy)

In RAID 0, data is striped across drives, boosting speed but providing no redundancy. This level is ideal for non-critical data requiring high performance.

RAID 1 and RAID 10 ( 50% Redundancy, medium speed)

RAID 1 mirrors data across drives, ensuring redundancy at the cost of storage capacity. It’s suitable for critical data where backup is essential.

RAID 5 ( one hdd failure tolerance, medium speed)

RAID 5 stripes data like RAID 0 but includes parity information for fault tolerance. It balances performance and redundancy, making it suitable for video editing projects.

RAID 6 ( two hdd failure tolerance, medium speed)

RAID 6 stripes data like RAID 0 but includes double parity information for fault tolerance. It balances performance and redundancy, making it suitable for video editing projects.

Go with multiple RAID 6

Every 8-10 drives, make a RAID6, so you have 2 drive failure tolernace per 8 drives. You can combine multiple RAIDs in a volume

Go with Higher CPU and RAM

For your video editing NAS, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) plays a crucial role in handling complex editing tasks efficiently. Different CPU types such as Core CPUs and i9 CPUs offer varying levels of performance. For instance, AMD R1600 processors are known for their multitasking capabilities, making them ideal for video editing workstations. The higher the processor you can go with, the better performance you would get

RAM, also known as Random Access Memory, is essential for storing temporary data during video editing processes. Having sufficient memory capacity is vital for smooth video playback and editing. ECC memory ensures data integrity by detecting and correcting memory errors, enhancing the reliability of a NAS system for video editing tasks. Upgrade the RAM to maximum you can for best performance.

A Thunderbolt NAS works very well for video editing

Thunderbolt NAS offers high-speed connectivity, ideal for video editing workflows. With Thunderbolt, data transfer speeds can reach up to 40 Gbps, significantly faster than traditional network connections.

Thunderbolt NAS enables seamless and efficient editing processes, reducing downtime and enhancing overall productivity. The speed of Thunderbolt NAS is particularly beneficial when handling large video files that require quick access and transfer. Thunderbolt NAS ensures low latency and high throughput, crucial for real-time editing tasks.

The direct connection offered by Thunderbolt NAS eliminates potential bottlenecks often associated with network-based solutions. This results in a smoother editing experience, especially when working on high-resolution videos or engaging in collaborative projects.

Currently only QNAP offers thunderbolt NAS.

Questions to Ask before selecting your Video Editing NAS

Here is a handy checklist to help you choose a Video editing NAS. These details will essentially tell you if your NAS has enough storage space today, scales up well and has the optimum peformance for video editing.

  • Bays: How many bays does it have?

  • Max Storage Capacity (TB): With HDD of Size 20TB?

  • Upgradability: How many bays can I upgrade it to?

  • Native Network Interface (1G/2.5G/10G):

  • Optional Network Interface (1G/2.5G/10G):

  • CPU:

  • Installed RAM:

  • Maximum RAM:

  • Thunderbolt Port: Does it have one?

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