This seemed like the best place for getting advice before I purchase anything, so I'll shoot.
I am looking to build a server, build a nas, or purchase a nas that will allow me do to the following:
1. Automatically save files from several laptops to a central location as a back up (this central back up would be set up for regular backups with an external disk)
2. Print to a printer from those laptops
3. Back up Photos (raw, jpg, lightroom)
4. Serve media (Dvd rips, music, photos) I have it set up for direct play through MB3 right now, and Plex if I have to. It seems Plex has a lot better compatibility across different equipment. There will be 3 simultaneous streams to tvs, and I will be sure to set it up to not require transcoding.
5. I am going to aim for about 5-8 TB to start. Backup/Parity and ability for expansion would be nice. I don't plan on doing blu-ray, but it is a possibility in the future. I don't have wired access to all the TV areas, and running them would sure go against WAF.
I don't see buying a nas being a cost effective way to serve media, especially when the kids eventually get tablets/whatever. MB3 isn't supported on very many, and they charge a lot if you want to use plex for transcoding.
I looked into Freenas/unraid, but I don't think I want to learn Linux, which seems like it would be required for the inevitable problem or to set up a print server. I do like that you can run these off of a flash drive.
It looks like a lot of folks go for Flexraid, which seems like it would work fine for me. Hardware raid seems to not allow easy incremental expansion. I plan to start with 2-3 drives for data storage and to go from there. I think I would want a separate drive for backing up computer files / photos because they would have a tendency to change a lot. Or would setting them to back up once a week or something be sufficient? I don't add photos that often.
Thanks for all of your help, let me know if anything I am thinking is wrong/dumb or whatever.