NAS Recommendation for Small Film Studio (project)

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NAS Recommendation for Small Film Studio (project)

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  2. iOS
I am looking to setup a storage solution for a small film production studio.
They have about 80TB of data to store with ~10 users accessing it.

I have considered these devices:

Which NAS would be required for decent performance?
Going through Synology's performance docs the DS3617xs is definitely the best but also the most expensive of the lot by quite a margin.

Are SSDs a requirement for decent performance?
For the large storage requirement I don't think SSDs are feasible, with 16TB HDDs would the performance be sufficient to do video editing?
Would you recommend some disks to be SSD for current projects and the rest HDDs for older less accessed projects?

Is 10GbE a requirement for video editing?

Would it be best to consider having a sync folder for projects users are currently working on on their local PC and then it sync back to the NAS when they are done?

Any guidance and recommendations would be appreciated.
welcome here @lindari
for more professional recommendation you need share more than - small film production studio, e.g.:
- main editing SW platform (Adobe, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro, Cyberlink, iOS video App, etc..)
- current architecture of data workflow (data import, editing/post-processing/effects, audio, rendering, archive)
- and your target architecture (wish)
- main data sources for the editing (8k 120fps ...1080p/30fps/8bit ... HD for YT), be specific what is the main source/render file format specification --- also target for next 2y
- concurrent users for specific project(s) or for same data sources (disk groups)
- desktop computers performance (disks, on-board or independent disk controller), on-board or independent Eth NIC)
- LAN architecture (wire CAT.x, switch(es), router).

The 80TB data store is active store or just archived data?

From this stage we can speak about valid recommendation base. Otherwise you will receive just shoots in the dark from many "kings of universe". ;)
Thank you @jeyare.

Main editing software is from the Adobe Creative suite, primarily using Premier and After Effects.

Current Workflow Architecture
Currently they use external USB drives to import the data and then transfer it from workstation to workstation to go through editing/post-processing/effects, audio, rendering. The same drive is then used for archiving when they are finished.
So only one editor at a time currently works on the project.

Target Architecture
From a cost perspective I am leaning towards a DS1819+ or DS3018xs with 16TB HDDs. Performance is hard to compare as from Synology's performance stats they use SSDs so I'm not sure how the HDDs will compare.
From a performance perspective it seems DS3617xs with an SSD array for current projects and a HDD array for cold projects would be the best solution, however it is quite cost prohibitive.
The performance would need to be comparable or ideally better than their current USB solution. Would a 10GbE and DS1819+ with HDDs allow this? Maybe a pair of SSDs for cache? Can the processor keep up?

Main Data Sources
Data sources are currently 4k/5k @ 35 / 60 FPS, 10bit and 8bit.
The team only working on one project at a time.
Project size between 300GB and 2TB.
They are only recently starting doing 4k work and expect this to continue for the next couple of years.

Concurrent Users
The team only working on one project at a time and only one person exclusively on the project at a time.
However I would anticipate that this may change if they have the infrastructure to support it, they were forced to do this with the USB solution.

Desktop Computers
Their desktops are a mixture of custom build PCs and Macs.
I have not verified but I anticipate their storage and network controllers are all on board.

LAN Architecture
Currently they are moving to a new workspace.
Cat 6A has been run to allow for 10GbE.
Network switches and routers will be purchased to accommodate for the solution, I am anticipating a 10GbE setup.

The 80TB is the data they mentioned they want to keep. As they only work on a single project at a time only a small amount would be active estimate < 5TB. Based on their contract retention periods with clients they would need ~30TB of warm data. The remainder essentially being archive data.

Thanks in advance!
Re desktop computers:
- is there single 1Gbps Eth NIC as standard?
some MBs have 2x1Gbps
- is there possible upgrade for an additional Eth card (PCIe with LACP support)

Re your current data share model - based on USB:
- what exact vendor/disk?
- type of USB Bus (3.0, 3.1)?
- what exact disk is inside?
- what is avg data transfer speed (write to computer, write to disk). Pls, be specific: data amount (in total)+number of files. Target FS and source FS. For a better consideration of your current operation. Define your expected speeds.
Re desktop computers:
- is there single 1Gbps Eth NIC as standard?
some MBs have 2x1Gbps
- is there possible upgrade for an additional Eth card (PCIe with LACP support)

Re your current data share model - based on USB:
- what exact vendor/disk?
- type of USB Bus (3.0, 3.1)?
- what exact disk is inside?
- what is avg data transfer speed (write to computer, write to disk). Pls, be specific: data amount (in total)+number of files. Target FS and source FS. For a better consideration of your current operation. Define your expected speeds.

Desktop Computers
I have not checked but I am assuming they have basic single 1Gbps Eth onboard NICs.
I am expecting to have to upgrade them with PCIe 10GbE cards.
I would prefer no need for link aggregation to keep the solution simpler and keep costs down on the switches.

Current Performance
I will follow up with them to check exact details and run performance checks.
I would assume WD 3TB with 5400 rpm either USB 3.0 or 3.1 as these models are popular in the market.

Thanks for the efforts, I will post once I have more information.
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What are the long term storage projections? (3-5 years..) - spindle drives will be more affordable, and I would also consider 10 GBE.

Long term storage projects are not 100% clear. Most likely maintaining between the 80-120TB, with projects eventually being completely removed from the NAS when there are no longer retention requirements for them.
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I posted a similar question direct to Synology and they responded with the below for everyone's reference:

Based on the storage space and concurrent user number, DS1819+, DS2419+ and DS3617xs can all meet the studio's needs. DS2419+ and DS3617xs as 12 bay models, which could offer more drive bays than DS1819+ for hot spare use, or the flexiblity of expanding storage space.

In respect of performance:

  • If it's 10G network environment: DS3617xs > DS2419+ = DS1819+
  • If it's 1G environment: There won't be too much difference among the three models, all of them come with four 1G LAN ports. Here's the performance comparison for your reference.
For the SSD caching, it won't bring much help in this case, SSD cache is to enhance random IOPS performance, and the random IOPS matters when it comes to a large amount of small files transferring. However, for film production studio as you've mentioned, is about big files transferring, which is more relevant to network bandwidth (Sequential Throughput benchmark, as you could see in performance webpage).

Good to know SSD caching isn't a hard requirement for this setup. But I am wary comparing their performance for the 10GbE as their performance comparison units for 10GbE are all fully loaded with SSDs, I wonder if this is implying there are no significant benefits of 10GbE with spindle HDDs.
After reviewing the performance data again with HDDs the test units had all four of the 1Gbps in link aggregation and achieving ~450 MB/s (~3.6 Gbps) read/write throughput so they were essentially saturating the link speed so 10GbE should see performance increase. It would be good to know what the throughput would be though.
I think you should tread carefully here. Your users might be disappointed with the performance if they’re going to edit the files while they’re residing on the NAS. In other words, if they’re going to treat the NAS as a directly attached storage they might find it lacking when it comes to performance when editing such files.

If you can test the workflow somehow without committing to a major investment, I’d highly recommend doing it.
I think you should tread carefully here. Your users might be disappointed with the performance if they’re going to edit the files while they’re residing on the NAS. In other words, if they’re going to treat the NAS as a directly attached storage they might find it lacking when it comes to performance when editing such files.

If you can test the workflow somehow without committing to a major investment, I’d highly recommend doing it.

Thanks @WST16, that is exactly my concern.
I am trying to determine what setup would provide a solution that would be comparable if not better than their current USB solution.
If it cannot be comparable or better in a cost effective manner I will have to look for another solution, such as caching the project locally on their PCs from the NAS and letting changes sync when saved.
Regardless they will still need a NAS storage solution for data storage but perhaps not as high end if they are not going to edit the files directly.
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I just think that it’s going to tax the links and the storage devices when editing. Especially that you mentioned 4K!

See if this helps in any way:

And this, it might give you some ideas. I know nothing about them though :)
sorry for the delay, I'm really busy now

regarding the 10G vs 1G vith LAG you can read one of my Resources here

for a precise calculating:
- I hope, that 4k in your description means 4096x2160 (1.9:1), then UHD is lower and will be fine (3840x2160)
- for 5k I will use 5120 × 2880 (1.77∶1)
- @ 35 / 60 FPS
- for 10bit I will use 3 x (RGB) 10bit = 30bit/pixel
- for 8bit I will use 3 x (RGB) 8bit = 24bit/pixel
Just correct me, when I miss something :cool:

Then there is necessary to know, what specific camera(s) you have in usage, because it will provide answer about the data codec, used during the recording. E.g. BlackMagic 4k @24fps is about 1.4Gb/s, when Phanom Flex in same quality is about 3.5Gb/s or GoPro Hero 4 (yes grand pa) 4k@24fps is about 60Mb/s. Better is, when you will exact specify your codec data rate.

For RAW, uncompressed data stream is valid such table:
ResResbitsSingle frame (MB)FPSSingle Second (GB)Single Minute (GB)Single Hour (TB)
4 096​
2 160​
4 096​
2 160​
4 096​
2 160​
4 096​
2 160​
5 120​
2 880​
5 120​
2 880​
5 120​
2 880​
5 120​
2 880​

then I will wait for your homework. Then we will finish with setup of your environment.
maybe I wasn't clear enough, then an example is here:

1. Take into consideration - Project size between 300GB and 2TB. Let's take avg 1.15TB per project of compressed data and 13 projects = approx 15TB of data. You have all the portable data written in your external disk (WD 3TB with 5400 rpm either USB 3.0 or 3.1)

2. you need to transport the data from your external disk somewhere:
a) to your desktop (3.0/3.1 USB)
b) to NAS (3.0 USB)

3. then your first bottleneck is the external disk read speed. But I don't know what kind of exact external HDD you have in usage, because for such specification (WD 3TB with 5400 rpm) you can use:
- WD Green ... WD30EZRX / 64MB cache ... 145 MB/s sustained speed (vendor white paper)
- WD Blue ... WD30EZRZ / 64MB cache ... 147 MB/s sustained speed (vendor white paper)
- WD Red ... WD30EFAX or WD30EFRX / 256/64MB cache ... 180/147 MB/s max speed (vendor white paper)
each with specific speed, cache. Each others version of WD HDD (Gold, Black, Ultrastar,...) are out of the 5400rpm range, resp. 3TB value. Same for WD Purple.
Follow maxed data transfer speed from such disks there we can take into consideration:
a) max 145 MB/s (Green, Blue, Red slow) = 1 160Mb/s
b) max 180 MB/s (Red faster) = 1 440Mb/s

For such transfer is:
- USB 3.0 absolute sufficient for the scenario external disk to internal disk, even when you have just same or similar HDD in opposite side (in the computer)
- USB 3.0 to NAS then data share by 2x1Gbps LACP LAG to your computers more than sufficient, because you don't need more than 1160Mb/s = 13% over 1Gbps single Etherent, even 1 440Mbps = 70% of 2x1Gbps

When you need render (low res) data for editing purposes directly from Desktop to the NAS, you have many bottlenecks there:
- CPU - you can purchase more power from Intel or AMD, but you need really fast controller for NVMe internal disk, and MB with Z3xx chipset support
- Also fast RAM
- when you will invest for such monster (I have few :cool: for another purpose) you need fast 10Gbps card
- but when you need utilize such monster to your NAS you need really fast disk(s) operated in NAS:
a) when HDD, e.g. WD Ultrastar or Gold or similar from Seagate ...approx for 280MB/s for single basic disk
b) or SSD, min in MLC class, better in SLC class with ...approx for 500MB/s for single basic disk
to be sure this is not maxed speed from vendor white paper
- then you need prepare RAID0 with such disks:
a) min. 5x such 3TB HDDs for 100% utilization of 10Gbps network
b) min. 3x such 3TB SSDs for 100% utilization of 10Gbps network ... don't forget you need 15TB, but 3x3TB is just 9TB

For HDD, there isn't problem, because price of such fast RAID0 is about (3TB) 210USD x 5 = 1050USD just for the disks. Also you need calculate cost of another immediate backup, because RAID0 will help you with speed, but it's dangerous without immediate backup (still in same NAS). But I have such operation and it's safe.
For SSD, there is bigger problem to purchase 3TB MLC or SLC disks, because the price of the single (3TB) disk is about 900 USD and more (don't be surprised from TLC disk prices). Then you need add two rest disks to 15TB.

Then just for the 15TB project share in NAS, which can utilize the 10Gbps LAN you need:
- 5 bay just for RAID0 with HDDs
- 2 bay for two 15TB HDDs in RAID1
and this is just for main Project storage space.

But you need min twice space more for the edit and render stages. Then we need take into consideration, that we will use more than 14bay NAS in base (or with an expansion box). What about a spare disk bay (one for RAID0 and one for RAID1)? There is still main question. Do we need the 10Gbps or not?

I have practice - it's better to utilize two really fast NVMe internal disk for internal operation and NAS just for a storage and backup. it's faster and cheaper. You can leave project data in NAS and operation data in NVMe. When you lost rendered data sources, you can restore them and render again.

But I still need your homework.
Just to be sure, that you understand SSD disk basics (use "search" tool in this forum for more explanations written):

P/E - ( Program/Erase Cycle) - has a heavy impact to disk lifespan. When some activities in such disks are performed - blocks write, erase, and rewrite data, an electrical flow (physics) injures the layer of the base memory cell’s floating gate transistor. Over lifespan period of P/E cycles, affected blocks are rendered useless, as they can no longer hold a charge. One of the reason due bad block has been written in this thread. Then smaller value = smaller lifespan.

And second principle - speed of the such disks (also demand for the lifespan):
SLC class has only two states - erased (empty) or programmed (full)
MLC class has 4 states - erased (empty), 1/3, 2/3, programmed (full)
TLC class has 8 states - erased (empty), 1/7, 2/7, 3/7, 4/7, 5/7, 6/7, programmed (full)

... when it's easy for disk controller to read state of SLC (empty/full), then it's "complicated" to read all the states from rest of the disks (MLC, TLC) - it makes impact to speed of I/O and as was mentioned above also for lifespan, because the electrical flow.

eMLC is an enterprise level class of MLC.
best practice - optimization of Adobe Premiere Pro workflow, from data/storage point of view

First stage - Desktop disk configuration vs NAS support

1. For OS & Installed SW

Two approaches are possible, both of them are right, when you will keep all recommendations:
A. Fast OS and Installed SW response based on really fast disk technologies. When you don't need watch your budget.
B. Budget driven, then short lifespan. But with right backup scenario still great, e.g. AB4B. You can replace damaged disk to new within 20 minutes (+ time of new disk delivery to you). More here.

Recommended setup for really fast response and fast load (expected priority for video editing) - recommended solution (first is proffered):
A. NVMe Disk - more details explained in this thread
B. M.2 SSD (MLC ) - don't be mistaken from M.2 SSD vs NVMe there is really big difference

as you can see there isn't mentioned SLC. For such scenario it's uselessly costly w/o impact to the useful speed.
You need calculate disk space for the OS and SW, include all the OS species required. Don't purchase twice and more space. All the used disks need to support TRIM (you can find it in the disk specs). TRIM allows the operating system to actively inform an SSD which blocks of data are no longer in use and can be wiped internally = lifetime impact. For Win based OSs the Trim is supported. For MAC OS it's little bit complicated as I know for custom SSD upgrade (but gents can help you here with right info).
Some folks use RAID1 configuration, it's really useless. reasons:
- your speed of I/O will drop down vs single basic disk
- you need also new disk for the RAID rebuild, the you will save time in minutes vs mentioned AB4B solution.

2. Project & Media source
The speed is depending on the codec (mentioned above) and number of clips (data) you are importing to your projects:
a) from external 3.0 HDD (mentioned above)
b) from NAS or DAS whatever
it can take few seconds up to minutes (or more).
There is more important point - never use Media cache in OS Disk! Better is use another independent disk (wil be mentioned in next). it can help you move media x-time faster than with single disk environment configuration. More time it's double digits improvement (%).
Also you need to count how many video playbacks you will use in editing. So and there is part for the mentioned RAID0 configuration of such storage space.
RAID0 Pros:
- your import and media cache will speed up as rocket to the sky :cool:
- must for the Multi stream Playback, even when you use NVMe disk for this storage space as default
RAID0 Cons:
- when you lose single disk from the disk group you will lose all the data (yes, there is a way how to restore RAID0 data, but this isn't right thread for it).
How to handle such huge risk? Data sync to another storage space. Then you will lose just un-synced data (or nothing).
Then there is a main question where to place such storage space?
Internal (desktop) RAID0 - (r)synced to NAS is really fast and useful and safe solution. Your single project is up to 2TB, then two NVMe disks in RAID0 is really great solution (you can save cost at NAS side). Synced from desktop to a NAS. Then you need at NAS side also RAID0, but with MLC SSD to be ready support fast r-sync.
Just for better example:
Desktop RAID0 based on Samsung EVO 970plus 2x1TB ... with max. (read in my case) 3700MB/s
NAS RAID0 based on Samsung 860Pro (MLC) 4x512TB ... with max. 4x500MB/s (write)= 2000MB/s
Then you need LAN for such heavy data stream:
min. 2000MB/s = 15,625Gb/s, then you need LAN with 2x10Gbps in LAG
take it as really heavy and safe solution. And of course costly. But we need it for a benchmark. If you are familiar with it, its ok.
There is also solution based on Thunderbolt 3(USB-C) connection (Syno NASes are then out of scope). But you have to be aware - Thunderbolt 3 isn't guarantee that usage of a DAS will utilize the TB adapter to max.
When there isn't way for such environment, you need to lower your comfort zone. Then there is a solution - still with r-sync your project/media data to NAS but we need try to way how to keep safety of such data.

3. Media cache and Scratch
As was written above when you need fast editing you need care about Media cache and scratch disk space. Then you need additional disk space provider - additional single NVMe or two/three MLC SSD in RAID0. Also you need to think about r-syncing of the data to safe place.

4. Rendering
When you will use same RAID0 for Media Source and Rendering its possible, but you need calculate the data space for such operation.
There is possibility to use such data environment as independent, up to your business model.

end of this stage

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