I can’t seem to get my iPhone X to upload my photos directly to the NAS. Synology’s latest app Moments isn’t uploading in the background cause the latest iOS shuts down the app. DS Photos does a great job at uploading over WiFi by enabling “geofencing” (basically when you’re close to a location, it’ll wake up your phone to upload). But it’s not extremely user friendly – Also it seems to sometimes require you to be on the app for it to upload. Reddit shows some options by syncing iCloud with Hazel but it requires you to have Mac that is always on. And then lastly we can use the PhotoSync App but you do have to spend some money on software. So here’s everything I learned about how to sync photos to a Synology NAS from an iPhone.

How to Automatically Sync iPhone to Synology NAS

One of the main reasons I wanted to buy the Synology NAS was to make sure that our family photos were backed up with redundancy (ie. If a drive fails/breaks we’d still have them saved). All these YouTube video reviews and stuff mention that it can replace Google photos, iCloud, etc. But I think many of them are not actual iOS users and don’t realize that the automatic syncing doesn’t really work.

iOS Won’t Let Moments Run in The Background

It seems that Apple has disabled background features that prevent apps to run in the background. And as a result, when your iPhone wants to back up your photos or videos nothing happens unless you open up the app. Synology has a lot of “ads” or “promotional videos” pumping up the features of both their media software but in reality it doesn’t work the way they say it should. And forums show enough frustration. So after going through way too many trial and errors with a bunch of different software here is what I’ve managed to hack together.

Too Long Didn’t Read: Use Photosync or Wait For DSM 7

There is no perfect solution yet and that frustrates the heck out of me. The best thing that I’ve found is to use Synology Moments in conjunction with the PhotoSync app. It’s not the best solution but works similarly to DS photos where it sets up a geofence and uploads when you’re in the area. Except it actually works whereas DS photos seem to fail quite often unless you actually open up the app on your phone.

So if you’re ready let’s get into it.


Here’s what we’re using:

SYNOLOGY 4 Bay NAS DiskStation DS918+ (4 x 6TB)

The newer DS920+ is actually cheaper so I linked those instead. Also at the time 6TB was the cheapest TB per dollar. Read the post here to see the price breakdown.

Synology NAS DS920+
WD RED NAS HDD 6TB

Software Used

Moments
PhotoSync App

Install Synology Moments From The Package Center

Assuming you’ve updated your Disk Station Manager OS, and followed the setup guide when you start your NAS you’ll have the option to setup quick connect and that’s where we’ll be installing the software (packages).

Log into your Disk Station Manager

Once you’ve logged into quickconnect (http://quickconnect.to/YourID) you’ll be brought to the desktop.

Open Package Center

Open the Synology Package Center and look for Moments. Click Install and open it.

Locate the Moments Folder

Moments pictures are accessed and saved through “Synology Drive” so we’re going to use PhotoSync to save our photos into that folder:

homes/drive/moments

But because I’m not sure how I want to sort my photos and what not in the future so I’m adding an extra folder to give me a level of separation if I want to reorganize my folders in the future. So I just added a folder called /photosync.


Setting up FTP Access

So the way that PhotoSync works is via FTP (File Transfer Protocol). To do that open Control Panel and click on File Services. Then click the FTP tab at the top. And checkmark “Enable FTP service”.

Open the Control Panel, go to User, edit your user that should have access to FTP, open the Applications tab and allow the access to FTP, otherwise you will not be able to build a connection with that user.

Install and Open PhotoSync on your iPhone

Go to the app store and download PhotoSync. Download the app and I’m pretty sure you need to purchase their plan for this work properly unfortunately. I wanted to buy the lifetime license but it seems they don’t offer that anymore. I pay $8.49CAD for the year.

Click settings (gear icon bottom right). Configure. Then FTP

You’ll want to create a FTP connection with the following configuration values.

ServerIP address of your Synology NAS, in this example 192.168.100.10
PortPort number of your FTP service, in this example 21
LoginUsername
PasswordPassword for your User
DirectoryLeave Empty
FTP ModeAutomatic

Once you’ve entered the FTP information you can click “done”. It’ll take you a screen with more details on where you want to save your photos and how to name them this is the configuration I went with.

That’s all I did and it works pretty flawlessly. I think I’ve ran this setup for about 6 months now and it hasn’t failed yet. I’m pretty positive I’ve covered all the steps but if somethings not working for you let me know and I’ll try to troubleshoot with you.

Conclusion

I’m not happy with this setup and really hope that the new file system in DSM 7 is a lot better than this. In the mean time the PhotoSync app is sufficient enough in syncing iPhone photos and videos to my Synology NAS. I do want to purchase my dad a NAS as well since he has majority of our family photos, so I’m still tweaking this setup so it’s as seamless as possible for when I show him how this works. Hope this helps!

Also if you guys have any advice or ideas, I’ll need a way to sort our photos and see how to sync via multiple devices. Something else I’ll want to check out is how to share albums and photos for people outside of the network securely.

  • Dylan

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Purchase PhotoSync Premium Lifetime instead of Subscription

This on is more of my own question lol, I just couldn’t seem to find an option to purchase the lifetime subscription but because I just wanted to get this thing to work I pulled the trigger and purchased the Yearly Subscription cause that’s all that was displayed for me. Thanks to Chris in the comments he mentioned he was able to actually purchase the lifetime license so I reached out to the dev of PhotoSync and they did confirm it is possible. Just make sure you’re not already subscribed if not you’ll have to wait till after you’re done and then you’ll be able to purchase the lifetime license.

So don’t do like I do don’t purchase the yearly subscription, keep going through different options until you can see the lifetime option. Chris said he was able to get to the option by clicking transfer–>autotransfer look for the “premium” tag and then see if the option is there. I can’t pull screenshots of what it would look like as I’m still on the premium yearly subscription so after Nov 2021 I’ll report back here and update the photos!

How To Get PhotoSync’s Geofence to Work with your iPhone

So my biggest problem with GeoSync for PhotoSync was that even when I got home it didn’t seem that it would auto upload the photos. It would only trigger sparingly and I could never really figure out how. Chris in the comments also mentioned he had a similar situation so from what I’ve seen offsetting your house helps a little bit. Setup both trigger options; when it’s plugged in and geofence option.

As you can see here it usually only gives you “current location” and that’s fine, but if you want to adjust the location all you need to do is hold the pin and drag it to a new location. For my example home of the “CN Tower” I put it at the edge of the circle and sometimes even when I haven’t left the house the iPhone location moves alittle and triggers the upload. I dunno if this is a tried and true method but it seems to have worked best for us!

Things That Didn’t Work and I May Write About Later On

Not a Solution 1: Upload with DS Photos and Access via Moments

This may not be the cleanest way to upload and access photos on the Synology NAS

iPhone Upload Resources

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Chris C.

    My wife just switched to iphone and I hit the same problem. The app for our NAS that works on Android to automatically back up photos doesn’t automatically back up on iOS, even though it has a setting to do so. I emailed support but they weren’t able to help and said the feature was removed completely due to iOS not allowing background syncing, but was supposed to be reinstated with iOS 13. But it doesn’t do anything.

    I also emailed Photosync which I’ve used on Android and a developer told me that auto syncing is limited on iOS in that you can’t really control the time of the backup, but Geofencing works. That’s a poor workaround for me. Also Photosync is expensive (although they do offer a permanent license with the premium feautures and the new license may be cross-platform). If it gets the job done I guess it’s worth it.

    I cannot understand how a $500 phone (let alone the $1000 version) can’t back up it’s photos to a NAS once a day when it is constantly syncing with multiple cloud services regardless of location. If iOS blocks all background processes besides Apple’s, then how do other cloud sync apps work just fine? I’ll be sticking with Android for my next phone, but half our family photos are kind of in limbo.

    I hope this is resolved soon.

    1. Dylan

      Agreed with everything you said! It’s really annoying having to spend so much money on the NAS and iPhone and it just doesn’t work out of the box. Apparently, they’re going to fix it all in DSM 7 (Diskstation Manager) but I’m not holding my breath and just want to see what’s possible when all that’s available.

      I do like PhotoSync cause the geofencing does work. But I do agree it is kinda crazy to have to spend even more money on another software when you just shell out so much money on the NAS. I tried looking for the lifetime plan but I can’t seem to find the option on iOS so I’m currently on a yearly subscription (my main goal for moving from iCloud to NAS was so I didn’t have to spend more money on monthly subscriptions – lol i guess that’s not happening anytime soon)

      So in the interim PhotoSync is the only solution that I’ve found that doesn’t want to make us pull our hair out. It works for me because I leave the house to walk my dog and then syncs everything up once I walk back into the house lol.

      But if you really want to tinker around and maybe pull some hairs out. People have been syncing iCloud photos to their NAS (but you have to have an always-on Mac at home – not feasible for me). And also seems very complicated. But if that’s something you’re interested in I found this in my research: https://www.reddit.com/r/synology/comments/4r2t2q/backup_icloud_photo_library_to_synology_with/

  2. Chris C.

    > I tried looking for the lifetime plan but I can’t seem to find the option on iOS
    In the app, open the settings menu and then Autotransfer. In that menu, there was a Premium (I think) label on the trigger options, and when I tapped that it gave me the option to buy the lifetime premium license. It’s only an in-app purchase AKAIK. Maybe you need to deactivate your subscription for it to appear? Anyway, Photosync has been working pretty well on iOS for the last couple of months although oddly the charging trigger seems more reliable than the geo trigger for us.
    As for having to have a computer on all the time (let alone a Mac that I don’t have), that really defeats the purpose of a NAS. At that point, I think I’d be better off just setting up a full-on Linux or even Windows server to run 24/7.

    1. Dylan

      Hey Chris!

      Thanks for the lifetime plan tip. I messaged the devs for PhotoSync and I just need to wait for my yearly subscription to end and then I should have an option to purchase the lifetime (I swear I didn’t see it there when I did it though lol). Oh well I’ll wait til then to try again.

      That’s great to hear it’s been working for you. I had the same issue with Photosync geo trigger my solution was to off center the radius so my house was just near the edge of the circle. I find that geolocation isn’t always the most accurate and sometimes it “wanders” which is good cause sometimes it just helps auto upload my photos even when I haven’t left the house. Not a fool-proof method, but it’s what has been working for us at least.

      I’m just hoping whenever they figure out how to make DSM 7 stable that maybe this might help our issues? Not holding my breath but hoping for the best lol.

      Good luck with everything!

  3. F.C.

    Did you try the backup function of DS File?

    1. Dylan

      Hey FC!

      Yup, I did, unfortunately, something about iPhones still blocks the background apps. So the photo sync app has still been the best option for Synology DS 6.whatever.

      I just installed DSM7 and the new photos app was exciting in the beginning but I think is encountering the same issue (only uploading when you open the app). So once again I think PhotoSync is still the only viable solution for now. I’ll have to mess around a little more with DSM 7 to see if I can find any other alternatives

      1. Dylan

        Actually a little update on that it seems half the phones are uploading by themselves and half are uploading only when the app is open. I’ll have to figure out what’s causing the discrepancy but I think it’ll either have to do with battery or having uploading by wi-fi only checked off

        1. F.C.

          I am just moving to the new DSM now, will let you know how the other phones work but first one seems to be transferring in the background with DS File.

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