Storage and backup are so importnat to us as digital artists today. We spend so much time and put a ton of passion into our work as photographers that having a solid backup system is key. A little while back ioSafe released a product that really peaked my interest, the 214 NAS storage system (formerly called the N2). If you read my article “My backup strategy for wedding photographers” you will know that one of the first steps in my backup process is to put a external drive into a fire proof safe just in case. The 214 NAS storage gives you a RAID storage enclosure that is fully waterproof and fireproof! Today I want to give a brief overview of this after using it for awhile and will follow up with a separate post in the coming up days with a few more details about the drive.

Let me start out and say the first thing that caught my attention when I unboxed this was the build quality and weight of the device. This thing is solid and really does look like it can withstand a fire. I am not going to try to test that part out but the build quality really did impress me. Here are some of the specs on how sturdy this NAS device really is:

  • Protects data from loss up to 1550°F for 1/2 hour per ASTM E119
  • Protects data from loss up to 10ft for 72 hours.
  • Theft protection – a Kensington lock slot is standard
  • ioSafe 214 NAS drive

    Inside all of the fire and water proof goodness you can have 2 drives. It would be nice to have something that would handle 4 or 6 drives but for a primary backup and the size of drives today it can store a good amount of RAW photos. Aside from being a NAS drive there are lots of other features that this enclosure packs in. One really good thing for photographers is piece of mind having a Data Recovery Service included. This is a great safety net and with the ioSafe Data Recovery Service (DRS) provides a multi-use, no questions asked data and hardware recovery service.

    The device also comes with a lot of different apps like; File Station, Media Server, Photo Station, Download Station, Mail Station and many others. These can be pretty handy and i’ll cover them in detail later on this week. Because it’s more than just an external drive the setup does make you go through a few steps and is something that I think could be improved upon. You have to start with installing their software via a CD and go through a quick setup process. At the end it will take you to a web browser where you will login to administer the drive. Here is where I think the device can be improved upon, there is so much the device can do but the web interface is a little clunky and at the start it can be very overwhelming. I am a totally techie and nerd at heart but still felt a little lost when I logged in with what I should do first. The flow of the software side could be easier to use and visually refined. Here is a quick view of part of the web interface and you can see there is lots going on here.

    ioSafe 214 NAS enclosure

    Performance of the ioSafe 214 NAS

    Performance was very good on this. I did a few tests opening large files from the drive in Photoshop and copying files over and everything ran very seamless. To copy over a folder of RAW files that totaled 2.6GB it took only 1 minute 17 seconds. To compare that to what many of you might use right now a external USB 3.0 device I copied the same 2.6 GB folder over to a USB drive and it took 2 minutes and 4 seconds. I also wanted to compare it to the main NAS drive that I have used in the past the ReadyNas NV+ which clocked in at 2 minutes and 21 seconds. Very impressive and when dealing with huge folders that we have as photographers this really makes a difference.

    The personal cloud

    I’ll get more into this in a followup post but one really cool thing that this drive does is allows you to access your files from anywhere.
    You can also share your files with anyone within your home network which is standard for any NAS drive, or even publish a folder of files from the ioSafe NAS to the cloud and give your clients access to a folder of shared files. This is pretty cool and the device can be configured to give users their own access rights to any specific folder you would like.

    Overall my thoughts on the device are very positive. Although many might scoff at the $600 price tag the security you get by having a fireproof enclosure and extra piece of mind of data recovery are more than worth that price in my mind. As photographers our images are the essence of what we do and we should go through any lengths to make sure we have a secure backup solution. Also with some of the extra features the device gives you it’s something that I would definitely recommend to any photographer.

    You can pick this NAS up on Amazon here:

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