I've got alot of DVDs and have been slowly ripping, encoding, and tagging them and I've nearly filled my WD MyBook 1TB. I'm estimating that I've got about 1.5 or 2Tb to go to complete my current collection. I've spent alot of time on the files, and the peril they are in recently struck home. I had a second 500Gb MyBook that I was using, essentially, as a scratch drive, ripping raw Video_TS folders to them, and then encoding from there. It failed spectacularly a few weeks ago. I've convinced my wife that we need to redundancy, and she's agreed (bless her heart!).

What are my options?

I'd like something in the 4-6Tb range to give me room to expand. Should I build a machine? Should I buy an off the shelf NAS? What are some good brands?

I'm not too worried about write performance, as I'll be ripping to a faster drive and then copying once, but read performance should be pretty decent so I can stream video without any hiccups.

For the sake of argument, let's assume a budget of $1500 US.


12 Answers 12


I'd highly recommend a Windows Home Server (WHS) machine, such as a HP MediaSmart Server or Acer EasyStore Aspire. They are an excellent value, reliable, and very flexible (far more than even a ReadyNAS -- you've basically got a Windows 2003 environment to work with). One of these with a set of TB drives would easily fit within your budget.

WHS doesn't do RAID, but does provide configurable (and transparent) data duplication. With WHS, you can also mix and match drives and add/remove them on the fly, as with a Drobo. Honestly, RAID is just a bag of hurt in the home environment.

See a bit more info on the HP MediaSmarts in my answer here.

  • 1
    Couldn't agree more. I've been using WHS since the beta program and it's been a godsend for me. I'm up to 6TB with a mix of internal and external disks. Only a couple of days ago, my wife had problems with the software for her Sony Reader that was fixed in 5 minutes with a file-level restore. Remote access is a big bonus, too. Commented Aug 18, 2009 at 8:10
  • WHS rocks, but in this case the data duplication isn't really a good replacement for RAID. A good RAID array can protect 8 bits of data with only one or two bits of redundancy. In the 4-6TB range, that's a pretty big deal. Commented Sep 14, 2009 at 16:15
  • That said, I bet you could sneak a hardware raid controller into a WHS box. Commented Sep 14, 2009 at 16:15

I agree with Rob that for that much data the consumer-level devices get pretty expensive. It may make the most sense to jam a desktop computer with as many disks as possible since your utility stack probably doesn't have to be particulary robust.

The trade-off with a lot of RAID setups is that as the size of an individual disk grows the much more difficult it becomes to rebuild the array after a drive failure (which WILL occur: plan on it).

So, you could go with a unit with the largest drives possible (2TB?) but rebuilding a 2TB stripe will take AGES -- and as most devices buy disks from the same batch (and failures come in groups) you face a big risk to lose the entire array should a second drive fail while the rebuild is happening.

My recommendation would be to get a unit that offers as many disks as possible and get something along the lines of RAID6 (dual parity drives) to support multiple disk failures.

Since RAID6 is just RAID5 + 1 add'l parity you need a unit that has at least 4 disks.

The only units that do RAID6 that would have enough storage I'm aware of are the Drobo Pro (which I've never used) http://www.drobostore.com/store/drobo/en_US/DisplayCategoryProductListPage/categoryID.14398600 or the ReadyNAS Pro http://shop.buynetgear.com/store/netgear/en_US/DisplayCategoryProductListPage/parentCategoryID.18327200/categoryID.18327600

If you are really serious, you can get the ReadyNAS 3200 which supports up to 12 disks: http://www.readynas.com/?cat=73

The reason why I like the ReadyNAS product line is that they have a really nice set of tools to manage the device (from notifications, backups, remote access, cloud-level backups, 3rd party add ons, etc.) that the rest of the systems don't seem to touch (and DIY certainly won't).

Either way you're looking at MUCH more than a $1,500 price tag. Not to mention, how do you plan on backing up this data? RAID is not a backup!!!!

  • He's ripping DVDs. Once the rips are complete the data never changes, so I get the impression the original DVDs then become the backup. Commented Sep 14, 2009 at 16:13

Many of these answers provide excellent network based storage and many devices are excellent devices, but as any professional system admin worth his salt will tell you...

RAID is not a backup.

It's not, plain and simple. If you plan your network storage like it is, you will be devastatingly disappointed. Especially with multiple terabyte sized drives, a single drive failure and associated rebuild will immediately and brutally read and write to every sector on every drive at least once. This often causes unknown faults to surface on the remaining disks, which trashes your data.

So, consider the options carefully and don't forget that despite RAID's excellent advantages, they should not be considered substitute for a permanent backup. Consider adding an external drive or two, and regularly copy the most critical files off the raid, and into a safe location.

  • 1
    He's ripping DVDs. Once the rips are complete the data never changes, so I get the impression the original DVDs then become the backup Commented Sep 14, 2009 at 16:17
  • But yes, even though he doesn't lose the data, potentially needing to re-rip everything after a drive failure would suck. Commented Sep 14, 2009 at 16:18
  • If you use open NAS software like OpenMediaVault or FreeNAS you can use Rsync to automate backups. I agree that he shouldn't be using RAID (and without RAID I'd recommend OpenMediaVault over FreeNAS, while ZFS is faster in a raid setup, EXT4 is faster in a non-raid setup and I don't know the other details but it's clear which is optimized for raid and which is optimized for non-raid/standard use) You won't benefit much from RAID's speed improvements unless you have a 10gbps network, therefore you don't want raid unless you are accessing the data from more computers than one at a time. (RAID1)
    – Cestarian
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 19:01

You might want to check out the QNAP range of products - I think these will do exactly what you want in the price range you specify.



  • 4
    it looks like the Drobo products don't have an ethernet port unless you buy a DroboShare. Is that right?
    – Bob King
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 20:00
  • 4
    That is correct. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 20:01
  • 2
    Drobo's rock. Almost disappointingly easy to use.
    – squillman
    Commented Jul 21, 2009 at 23:47
  • Drobo for the Win! Commented Aug 20, 2009 at 0:01

What I did to build a 6 TB storage array is build a cheap linux box, < 200$, threw in 2 4 port pci sata controllers, and just filled it up with hard drives. Using ubuntu and mdadm I have a multi use, somewhat powerful NAS.

  • An Atom-based system would be ideal for this. Commented Sep 14, 2009 at 16:16

I'm a fan of the Western Digital ShareSpace NAS. They have capacities up to 8TB, RAID0, 1, and 5 options, and a significant amount of software on the NAS for streaming and downloading. I was partial to the Active Directory integration when I was looking at them, but I assume you won't be using that at home. They're very reasonably priced and will definitely fit within your budget.


For most big storage needs, snagging one of these diskless systems and loading it with commodity drives seems like the best solution.

If you need more performance, then grab a used Dell PowerVault off of eBay which uses SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) drives which may last longer and have faster reads.

  • This one in particular caught my eye: newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822107012
    – Bob King
    Commented Jul 23, 2009 at 17:34
  • @Bob King - A friend of mine has the 2-bay model of the QNAP and seems pleased with it. He did have to go through some headaches formatting the drives over the network though, if I remember correctly.
    – Rob Allen
    Commented Jul 23, 2009 at 18:05

-1 for ReadyNAS. Too cantenkerous to properly update w/ new software load. I've run a DNS-323 for the last 12 months and it is very low maintenance.


For this kind of usage I would simply use a second HD which would be a clone of the main one. Tools based on or similar to rsync, launched periodically help maintaining data in sync.


As per this answer on another similar question I can recommend a Thecus N4100 PRO or similar model. This one has 4 bays, but they have also NASs with 5 and even more bays.
If you put 1.5TB drives in this one, you have 6TB (4.5TB usable if using RAID 5).
And you're still below your 1500$ price-mark (even below 1000$ I guess).

  • 2
    Hum, better stay away the 1.5TB for a while... they are by far the most problematic drives I had to use since the dreaded 9GB Micropolis!
    – wazoox
    Commented Jul 20, 2009 at 13:26
  • Oh, still? I thought that problem would already be fixed by now... I wouldn't know... mine is filled with 1TB drives.
    – fretje
    Commented Jul 20, 2009 at 13:40

+1 for ReadyNAS. I have a NV that is several years old and ReadyNAS still releases firmware updates that support it and has new functionality with every new release. So count me as a big fan of them. I'll be getting another ReadyNAS once I fill this one up.

  • I disagree, its been nothing but a PITA for me since I bought it, and has a number of outstanding issues with vista & wireless networks...
    – mwjackson
    Commented Nov 23, 2009 at 22:12
  • Sorry to hear that you have problems with them. I know several people that have been very happy with them as am I.
    – Jauder Ho
    Commented Dec 13, 2009 at 6:13

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