• Tim Levy / Synology
    Tim Levy / Synology

Setting up your first NAS system can be an intimidating process that often ends up in the 'too hard basket'. Now there is a basic, entry level NAS system which is insanely easy to set up in under 10 minutes, and instantly works well with an integrated phone app.

 While it is fairly easy to set up a fully fledged NAS system such as the excellent Synology 2-bay DS224+, or DS723+, or the 4-bay DS923+, you will usually need to purchase and install your own hard drives, and have a medium to low 'tech savvy-ness' to get set up and running.

Then you will also need to familiarise yourself with the Synology's market leading proprietary Disk Station Manager (DSM) software, which is a real plus for power users, but many people won't feel it's necessary for casual use.

Using the BeeFiles App on your phone makes it super easy to backup your phones images,
as well as being able to subsequently view them on your computers larger monitor. Image: Tim Levy

So to make things even easier (for non-tech-savvy people), Synology has released the BeeStation which is competitively priced at around $400–$450, is preinstalled with a 4TB HD and VERY easy to set up. It has a Realtek RTD1619B processor with 1GB of DDR4 memory as well as its own proprietary BeeStation OS.

The BeeFiles app on your phone is an easy
way to backup and share your photos

Unlike usual Synology NAS systems with DSM, you don't have to add port forwarding on your router, or start messing around with SSL certificates – it is all managed in the background by BeeStation OS. 

You can have up to eight other users with their own BeeStation accounts. This is a bonus in that instead of paying for seperate yearly accounts, which can be $30 to $150 a year per user (Google Drive), you only have a one off purchase with the BeeStation. Word of warning though, it is a single HD drive, so there is no redundancy / fail safe like a RAID system or a larger multiple drive NAS system.

How easy is it to set up?
How easy you may ask? I was able to set it up under 15 minutes (excluding software update time). If I wasn't documenting the setup, I think I could do it under 10 minutes – and this includes setting up power and clearing a spot to store it.

The easiest way to set the system up is through your phone. To preview or see how easy it is, you can click through the images at the top of this page to see the steps, though it is just as easy as doing it all on your own phone using the prompts.

Setting it up the hardware
You will be setting the BeeStation next to your router – wherever that may be. So make room for it, preferably standing next to the router and allow enough room for airflow. Plug in the power and the hook up the cable that goes into the router. The Beestation has a quiet cooling fan when under load, though it turns off when idle.

Setting up the software (idiots guide)
1) Using your phone, use the camera to read the QR code on the bottom of the BeeStation
2) Follow the prompts on your phone.

The folder layout on a computer. You can have shared folders password protected.

Setting up the software (extended version)
1) Using your phone, get the camera to read the QR code on the bottom of the BeeStation. This will open the BeeStation Portal. 
2) Sign up / sign into your Synology Account and tick the user agreement.
3) Connect the BeeStation to your router & plug in the power
4) Turn the power on the unit and wait for the light to go from white to orange.
5) The BeeStation prepares itself and self updates (this could take up to 15 minutes to update the software)
6) Name your BeeStation – it's now ready.
7) For uploading photos from your phone to BeeStation, it's best to use the BeeFiles App – so download that from the App Store.
8)  If you are on a computer, you can access the folders through signing into Synology BeeStation online. There is no real need to worry about memorising the URL. If you type in Synology BeeStation into Google, it is the first thing that appears.

Now you can upload images or files from anywhere on the planet. There are two places to upload your files – BeeFiles and Bee Photos. BeeFiles is mainly for files, though you can add photos of course. It operates as any other folder / file system on your computer. BeePhotos has Albums where you store photos, but it also has facial and subject recognition so you can speed up finding particular images.

The wrap up
As most wise (and diligent) photographers know, it's important to keep your work backed up to at least three places. While it is a good idea to have your own work archived from the one place (say your home or office), you may think to have all your favourite, or more precious work stored offsite whether it be in a cloud system or a NAS. This is where the BeeStation is a good budget solution for pros who want an offsite system at another family member's or even a friend's office.

The BeeStation isn't a fully fledged NAS system with multiple drives and a powerful processor – and this is reflected in the low price. It is a fantastic entry level way to have your own cloud which makes it easy to back up and archive your work. I don't think this is for power users who are constantly uploading hundreds of photos per day – you'll need to spend more than $1000 for something like that.

Also, I enjoyed using the BeeFiles app on my phone so I can not only back the images up on my own hard drive, but also view them easily on my computer with a large monitor.

In summary, this is a great entry level, easy to use NAS system with excellent integration through a phone app – but if you are a power user, you'll need to look at other NAS systems such as the Synology 4-bay DS923+ ($920 without HD's) or Synology 6-bay DS1621+ ($1,450 without HD's). 

You can find out more about the BeeStation on the Synology website.

Usually, you would have the BeeStation set up next to your router,
though it can be set up anywhere the cables can reach.