If you’ve ever tried to store a Final Cut Pro X library on an external hard drive connected to your local network, or via an actual NAS from a company like Synology, then you’ve likely been greeted with an unsupported volume type error. This error is there to let you know that you must store a library on a local, SAN, or supported SMB location.
However, it is possible to save a library on a NAS by properly wielding a disk image created via the macOS Disk Utility. Depending on your local setup and network speed, it could make a viable network storage option for your Final Cut Pro X libraries. Have a look at our hands-on video walkthrough to see how it works, and learn about this method’s pluses and minuses.
Note: This method of storing libraries on a network location isn’t officially supported, recommended, or endorsed by Apple. To use this storage method with large media, particularly 4K media, you will generally need a fast hard-wired network connection. Using proxy media is also a good way to increase speed and responsiveness when accessing a Final Cut Pro X event over a network connection.
It should also be noted that in Final Cut Pro 10.3, Apple has added better support for shared storage, including NAS support. Your Linux-based NAS will need to be running Samba 4.3.4 in order to work properly with Final Cut Pro X. Synology’s DiskStation Manager 6.1, which is still in beta, will bring this support to Synology NAS systems. Once DSM 6.1 is released and my DS916+ is updated, I’ll be sure to come back with a full tutorial that shows how to implement Apple’s official method for storing libraries on a NAS.
What normally happens when trying to save libraries on an unsupported shared location
If your NAS doesn’t meet the requirements, or if you’re just using an external hard drive attached to your router, then this alternative method may be helpful if you wish to manage libraries from a network location.
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How to add a Final Cut Pro X library to a shared network location
Step 1: Open Disk Utility and click File → New Image → Blank Image.
Step 2: Use the following parameters, but change the Size of the disk to whatever size you need. Be sure to add enough storage space, as libraries can get really large. Because we’re using a sparse disk image, the initial size of the image won’t be the size you initially designate, but it will grow to that size as your storage needs increase. Initial file size will be somewhere around 1GB, so you can save it to your desktop without running the risk of filling up your Mac’s internal storage.
Size and names may vary, but these parameters work well
Step 3: Once all of the parameters are in place, click the Save button to save the disk image to your desktop and close out of Disk Utility.
Step 4: Move the created disk image to the network storage location.
Step 5: After the disk image is on the network storage location, open it to mount the disk. You will then see the disk as a location in Finder.
Step 6: Open Final Cut Pro X and click File → New → Library.
Step 7: Point to the disk mounted in step 6, give the library a name and click save.
Step 8: Highlight the library and click File → Library Properties, and ensure that Media is set to In Library. If not, you can click the Modify Settings button to change this parameter.
Step 9: In Final Cut Pro X’s preferences, under the Import section, make sure that Copy to library storage location is selected.
Step 10: Now you may begin creating new events, projects, and ingesting media into your new library located on the shared drive. Keep in mind that you will need a fast local network connection for this to work smoothly, and a hardwired gigabit Ethernet connection preferred.
Also, be sure to have enough storage space available to accommodate a library. Final Cut Pro X libraries, depending on the type of media you’re working with, can quickly venture into multiple-terabyte territory. If you’re using a NAS, it might be a good idea to have a modestly sized library, and once finished with edited projects, move the projects or high quality exported files to a backup location. This will not only provide you with needed backups, but it will keep your library size manageable.
Editing a video stored on my Synology DS916+
If you have the needed bandwidth and shared storage space, then the benefits of having libraries there are obvious. If you have limited storage on your MacBook, then you can keep all of that data off of your main drive. It also allows you to access large libraries from various areas around the house or office, without needing to tether an external drive. Granted, there are downsides as well, as we’ve discussed throughout this article. The biggest downside is that this is not an officially supported method by Apple, so your mileage may vary. It will, as mentioned, also require lots of disk space on your network shared storage, and a fast LAN connection.
If you’re working with 4K media, or high bitrate Full HD media, you may be forced to employ the use of proxy media in your editing workflow. Not only is proxy media much easier on your machine from a processor perspective, it’s also less bandwidth intensive because the file size is a fraction of the media’s original size. I used proxy media when connected wirelessly via my Airport Extreme, and while directly connected to the router via Ethernet and both experiences were smooth.
Overall performance will depend on your local network connection, the speed of the storage media, and of course your machine itself. If you’re working on a fast connection with storage media that can keep up, then you should expect performance that’s roughly in the ballpark of media stored in a local library when utilizing proxy media.
Keep in mind that this setup probably won’t (and shouldn’t) be a long-term solution for most, but if you want the ability to work on editing projects from anywhere while connected to your local network, and you want your media to reside on a NAS, then this is a good stop-gap solution until more official methods are available to utilize. Once the Synology DSM 6.1 release goes public, we’ll be back with another tutorial that takes advantage of the new shared storage features in Final Cut Pro 10.3.