While the debate over whether RAID has it's benefit or not, will continually rage on, and yes, RAID is NOT a backup, BUT, (and this is my opinion only), if you have anything approaching 8-10TB or more, I just think I'd be very very scared running it as JBOD/disks only, with no protection i.e. parity.
Now, UnRAID certainly has it's advanatges, and it is very much an attractive storage platform for "media server" duties, the only downside is that you can't run any other apps on top of it. Well, that, and it's abysmal performance. Yes, you can argue that it can read/stream just fine, but write performance is just as important, especially if you have the ability to run third party applications on top of the O/S. Since you can't do that with Unraid anyway, it kinda becomes a moot point.
"My" strategy is to have a single, powerful enough server for a lot of varied tasks in the house. I don't want to build a server, and a few months down the line, when I need to add some backend functionality, realize that I can't. For that very reason, Unraid is out for "me". Now, I could run a pure Linux platform as such, and it'd be just fine, but the third party app support for Linux is just aint there yet. In time, I'm sure it will be, but not at present.
That leaves us with Windows
and it's different flavors. The only reason (for the most part) anybody would consider running a Windows "Server" O/S for their server, would be the software RAID part. But that sucks, plain and simple. It's not expandable, growable, doesn't support hot spares, and in general is very hobbled RAID implementation. Why? BEcause Microsoft WANTS it that way. They need their business partners to be able to sell you all those hardware RAID cards and/or enterprise volume managers for thousands of $$
They could very easily make the software RAID in Windows Server be at least as good, if not better than Linux, but they choose not to. It's not a technology/manpower decision, it's a business decision. They just choose not to.
So, that kinda leaves us nowehere. Unless you're willing to buy a hardware or even fakeraid RAID card, you're gonna HAVE to make compromises SOMEWHERE. You just can't have it all, there is no magic solution.
Me personally, I built my new server so that I could:
- Run all of the backend functionality "I" need, like AD/DC, DNS, DHCP, SQL Server, TFS etc, all on the same machine.
- Run any batch processing that I need, like, video encoding, audio transcoding, metadata processing etc all on the backend, on the same machine.
- Run my storage of course
- Act as my VPN server. (I hate things like webguide
, I just VPN in into my server, and I have access to all content remotely, and so does the family. My wife's laptop (and mine of course) is configured for VPN as well, and it's a single click operation to have the network mapped drives show up. She listens to music from the server in her office all day long).
- Lots of other home automation things that I won't get into.
Point being, I just can't do all these things on Linux, Solaris, Unraid, FreeNAS etc etc. But that's ME. I have different needs.
YOU need to sit down and make a list of YOUR requirements first. Consider it a cost/benefit exercise. Once you have listed all your requirements, create a matrix of the available options and their repective costs. Then do your cost/benefit assessment and make a decision on the platform.
As I said, there is no magic solution (or even solutions) that will auto-magically solve all your storage needs.