Random Tech Questions you want answered.

dejanzie wrote:

Have you tried private/incognito mode? That sometimes helps if logins fail.

Japp.. Updated chrome, malware scanners, refreshed IP... darn... I miss GWJ on my home computer...

Does anyone here run a personal media server, the kind that would be accessible as a network drive on my PC but also connected to through a phone server-connecting app while on other networks?

Basically, I'm looking for a place I can upload my photos to from anywhere, but I really want to manage my own hardware rather than sub to a cloud storage service. And I'm just looking for some experienced direction about initial setup and security.

Antichulius wrote:

Does anyone here run a personal media server, the kind that would be accessible as a network drive on my PC but also connected to through a phone server-connecting app while on other networks?

Basically, I'm looking for a place I can upload my photos to from anywhere, but I really want to manage my own hardware rather than sub to a cloud storage service. And I'm just looking for some experienced direction about initial setup and security. :)

ArsTechnica did a piece on this not too long ago: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021...

dejanzie wrote:
Antichulius wrote:

Does anyone here run a personal media server, the kind that would be accessible as a network drive on my PC but also connected to through a phone server-connecting app while on other networks?

Basically, I'm looking for a place I can upload my photos to from anywhere, but I really want to manage my own hardware rather than sub to a cloud storage service. And I'm just looking for some experienced direction about initial setup and security. :)

ArsTechnica did a piece on this not too long ago: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021...

Oh, excellent! I'll dig into that after work today.

I know Plex has photos but I have not used it and not sure how remote upload works. I have used their remote watching feature and that works fine.

LeapingGnome wrote:

I know Plex has photos but I have not used it and not sure how remote upload works. I have used their remote watching feature and that works fine.

I was going to suggest Plex as well then had the same concern that photos is a part of Plex I’ve never tried

I think for remote upload with Plex you would need to look for something else. Pretty sure you just point it at a folder or supported photo library and it streams it out.

Yup. With Plex you need access to the file system first. You can have any app scan the local directory for new files, but you can't just upload to them. Plex is amazing for sharing media, but that's about it.

PurEvil wrote:

Yup. With Plex you need access to the file system first. You can have any app scan the local directory for new files, but you can't just upload to them. Plex is amazing for sharing media, but that's about it.

There was a way to automatically upload your photos to your plex server from your phone, until they removed that feature in March of this year. I just went and found a few videos, then found the option missing. After I Googled it, I jogged my memory that the feature got ripped out because they didn't want to mess with it. I was getting excited I could do an auto-backup with software I already use since I've kinda just not bothered finding a Google alternative.

mrtomaytohead wrote:
PurEvil wrote:

Yup. With Plex you need access to the file system first. You can have any app scan the local directory for new files, but you can't just upload to them. Plex is amazing for sharing media, but that's about it.

There was a way to automatically upload your photos to your plex server from your phone, until they removed that feature in March of this year. I just went and found a few videos, then found the option missing. After I Googled it, I jogged my memory that the feature got ripped out because they didn't want to mess with it. I was getting excited I could do an auto-backup with software I already use since I've kinda just not bothered finding a Google alternative.

There are plenty of apps out there that can automatically transfer your photos from you phone to your computer and all you would need to do is point Plex's photo library at the location that is being used on your PC. Honestly though I use my phone's camera for a lot of work BS like taking a picture of a room number and then a device serial number or something that is broken in that room that I don't want my photos syncing with anything automatically. I manually curate any photos I am sharing out to the world just because 99% of the photos I take are junk.

Rykin wrote:

There are plenty of apps out there that can automatically transfer your photos from you phone to your computer

Can you suggest a good one for non-technical iPhone users who already own a USB hard drive because I’m sick of being their photo backup person.

Antichulius wrote:

Does anyone here run a personal media server, the kind that would be accessible as a network drive on my PC but also connected to through a phone server-connecting app while on other networks?

Basically, I'm looking for a place I can upload my photos to from anywhere, but I really want to manage my own hardware rather than sub to a cloud storage service. And I'm just looking for some experienced direction about initial setup and security. :)

Has anyone here tried using something like a Synology NAS for this use case? Supposedly it has apps for this.

pandasuit wrote:

Has anyone here tried using something like a Synology NAS for this use case? Supposedly it has apps for this.

I can confirm that Synology has a photo-management app (their page about it is here) with a companion app for smartphones, but I have never personally tried them.

Personally, I set Dropbox up to auto-upload pictures from my phone a long time ago and don't really take enough pictures these days to bother looking for a better solution.

pandasuit wrote:
Rykin wrote:

There are plenty of apps out there that can automatically transfer your photos from you phone to your computer

Can you suggest a good one for non-technical iPhone users who already own a USB hard drive because I’m sick of being their photo backup person.

I have never used any of them so I can't really say which one works better than others. 99% of the photos on my iPhone are work stuff so I just manually transfer the ones I want to keep.

I've wanted to get one of those synology systems for a while now. But they are so bloody expensive! And they never seem to go on sale.

Gaald wrote:

I've wanted to get one of those synology systems for a while now. But they are so bloody expensive! And they never seem to go on sale.

I had a synology DS218play with two drives. It ran reliably for about a year at a time but inevitably one of the drives would die and I would have to replicate the content when I plugged in a new drive. These were mechanical drives, btw. After about 4 years and as many (or more, I can't remember) HD's the entire system died. If you want to get a NAS absolutely get one with SSD's in it and one with more than 2 drives so you can hot swap them. I kinda gave up on the whole idea of NAS and went back to using time machine and a couple of SSD's for backup together with dropbox for current projects. Honestly it was cheaper and feels like removing an extra step of complexity that can break down.

I considered getting a Synology before I built my DIY NAS and I think if you can afford one it is a pretty good solution. I was looking for a solution with 12 bays minimum and even though I ended up spending as much or more on my DIY solution I was able to space the purchases out over a few months so it didn't hit as hard as getting a Synology that big would have. If you are just looking for like a 4 bay solution they seem great.

Synology using business and Enterprise grade SSDs/disks is a very solid solution. They also sell consumer-grade; I’d get an extra disk or two since those have relatively short lifetimes. But the SSDs should last a lot longer than the disks did, five years ago.

They have good support, too.

I mean I do have all the parts for a system which I just upgraded from last year. The problem is it's a standard motherboard, so I would need at least a mid size tower to put it all in. This would take up more room than I would like, and would probably eat up more power than a purpose built NAS like Synology. It would have plenty of room for several Hard drives though.

I already have a home built file server but no software on it for easily backing up photos from phones (without first going through a PC manually).

Was actually thinking a 1 or 2 bay NAS that supports directly backing up from phones and automatically snapshots it’s own drive(s) to a second location would be a slick solution for less technical users. I’d still end up admin of the NAS but at least I wouldn’t be backing up phones anymore.

I’ve built/run my own NAS servers (both roll-your-own Linux as well as FreeNAS/TrueNAS) but I went back to an appliance (Synology, although I’ve had QNAP in the past).

Synology and QNAP are good devices.

A lower cost but decent option seems to be Terramaster or Asustore. I can’t comment on their apps but they seem generally to clone what Synology and QNAP offer — I briefly had a Terramaster and it was good but I decided to go with the Synology.

I realize I'm doing that thing that everyone hates, by suggesting something that's an alternative to what you're asking for, so I'll keep it brief and totally non-judgmental about pros/cons, etc.

If you're already an Amazon Prime member, you can set up the Amazon Photos app on your phone to automatically sync all phone photos up to your Amazon cloud drive. Unlimited cloud storage for photos, and up to 5GB worth of videos. I set this up for myself and for my mom, and it's been an overall very positive experience.

merphle wrote:

I realize I'm doing that thing that everyone hates, by suggesting something that's an alternative to what you're asking for, so I'll keep it brief and totally non-judgmental about pros/cons, etc.

If you're already an Amazon Prime member, you can set up the Amazon Photos app on your phone to automatically sync all phone photos up to your Amazon cloud drive. Unlimited cloud storage for photos, and up to 5GB worth of videos. I set this up for myself and for my mom, and it's been an overall very positive experience.

I’ve considered it. I use OneDrive for all my own photos/videos. I have Prime these days but don’t really want to be obligated to keep paying if my extended family uses it for storage. Their collection wouldn’t fit in my OneDrive and I wouldn’t want to be obligated there either. Regardless they seem dead set on using local hard drives and not paying for cloud storage. Cloud storage still scares a lot of users for various reasons.

Robear wrote:

Synology using business and Enterprise grade SSDs/disks is a very solid solution. They also sell consumer-grade; I’d get an extra disk or two since those have relatively short lifetimes. But the SSDs should last a lot longer than the disks did, five years ago.

They have good support, too.

HDDs are really weird when it comes to failures. I have five 2TB models that are around 8 years old still going strong but all of my newer 4TB models have died (I had a couple of 2TB ones die as well). I haven't had any issues with 6 or 8TB drives yet. These are all shucked external drives from various manufactures. Basically whatever was going for around $150 at the time I needed a new drive

Here's a poser. On my new system, I realized I wanted to move my Thunderbird files over, but instead of UserA, I had set up with a different Win 10 Profile name, not knowing it mattered. Call it UserB. When moved the old files into the new Thunderbird Profile, it didn't pick them up. Thinking that it might be the profile name, I used Control to change the name of my user. That worked... Superficially. It did not fix Thunderbird's problem, so I went into Control to change the Windows Profile name back and, surprise, it showed no profiles at all.

The Profile tree still shows as UserB, which is what I set this system up with, but not UserA, which is what I had hoped would happen. Now I can't access UserB using the system tools, which is probably not good, but of course the system still works.

Any gurus out there who can help me do the seemingly simple task of reversing the name change? Maybe search for it in the Registry and change it there?

Wow, fastest resolution ever. I tried Regedit, searched for the new name, changed it to the old in the Data field, et le voila, everything fixed. Sorry to bother you all.

I have a bunch of old 1TB drives that refuse to die but have been eyeing some newer bigger ones. Has anyone here tried any of the drives branded as being targeted at NAS use such as the Seagate IronWolf or WD Red? Is it just branding?

pandasuit wrote:

I have a bunch of old 1TB drives that refuse to die but have been eyeing some newer bigger ones. Has anyone here tried any of the drives branded as being targeted at NAS use such as the Seagate IronWolf or WD Red? Is it just branding?

Tried them in what context? What's your use case?

I have two QNAP NAS servers, and a 4-bay MediaSonic RAID enclosure attached to one of them. I've filled them mostly with "shucked" drives from Western Digital external USB drives, with a few genuine WD Reds sprinkled in.

https://theinventory.com/drive-shuck...

Sometimes the drives you get are straight up WD Reds, but mostly I have the "white label" ones described in the above link.

When using them for a NAS, the differences kind of don't matter at my level/my use case, and I haven't noticed any differences in quality/reliability/etc. (although my sample size is pretty microscopic in that regard).

Trying to plug them into a PC, you might need to finagle things a bit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W3-...

Something else to consider is that NAS drives like WD Reds are often 5400 rpm. Depending on what you need, maybe you'll want a 7200 rpm drive or a "hybrid" drive if you're trying to compromise between speed and capacity for something like gaming.

The tl;dr being... if you don't mind rolling the dice, shucking a drive, and potentially taping a few pins, you can often find the WD externals on sale for a lot cheaper than equivalent WD Reds. So you can either get higher capacities at the same price or just get the capacity you need for a lower price.

Addendum: lol, one note. Sometimes sketchy people will shuck a drive, replace some b.s. random drive in the enclosure, and then return it. So even if you're not shucking yourself, it's always worth running Crystal Disk or something to make sure you're actually getting what you paid for. I've definitely gotten drives from Amazon that were comically half-assed, like they didn't even bother plugging the drive back into the board and snapped off half the enclosure cips. But other times it's more subtle, like they've replaced a failing drive with lots of errors.

I was thinking mostly about long term reliability in a NAS.

pandasuit wrote:

I was thinking mostly about long term reliability in a NAS.

I used WD Red's in my NAS and they kept breaking down after about a year or so. We stored photos and files on them and occasionally used them to stream a movie from our collection.