Originally Posted by marlon1925
3. Definitely not an expert, would prefer close to a plug and play type.
IMHO, this will become your determining factor.
I am a BIG fan of the Synology units and would give them a strong recommendation for ease of setup and use. At the lowest
end, you could use a DS413j (4 bay) that would result in ~12TB of usable space in a Synology Raid (4x4TB drives) and you would come in just under $1k for the bare NAS unit and drives. You can go up in price from there and the sky is the limit. Units like this have low power consumption CPUs that are more than capable of streaming multiple HD streams to HTPCs (via DLNA or a standard network format like NFS or CIFS/SMB) but they lack the CPU horsepower to transcode video. This would not be an issue using a HTPC since the HTPC is doing all the work of decoding the media. FWIW, here's the Synology calculator
and you can see the results of various combinations of drives.
FWIW---Qnap, Thecus and Asustor are other major manufacturers of NAS units with appropriate hardware options for HT use.
At the opposite end, there are a multiple major freeware projects (FreeNAS, Nas4Free, Ubuntu Server, and several others) that provide customized open source server software that would allow one to build their own server in addition to Windows Home Server 2011. Obviously this option requires much more research and study into selecting hardware, software installation/managment, and network management. I am currently in the middle of setting up a FreeNAS box as I outgrew my earlier Synology unit and, IMHO, there is definitely a learning curve. (I would consider myself an advanced user but I have zero formal training or experience in IT.)
Whatever you decide: BUY DRIVES DESIGNED FOR A NAS
!!! (Western Digital "Red" or Seagate "NAS" drives are ubiquitous.)