Help buying NAS system for Photography


Im looking to set up a NAS system for a photographer I work for and have found it more difficult then I expected do to his requirements and budget.

What I'm looking for is to create a centralized networked storage server of about 8-10tbs that is upgradeable in a few years. ideally 2 15tb terastations or similar systems would do the job but are out of his budget.

The budget constraint comes in because we will need 2 systems set up so one can be a back up of the first. Plan to back up weekly and then take it off site.

Ready made systems are out of our budget so I was looking into DIY systems. I have plenty of experience building computers and using NAS servers but this is my first attempt building one.

A few questions.
Is there a way to add or connect a NAS server to another so theoretically I could have an 8tb 4 bay box and down the line add a second 8tb 4 bay box to the system? Or are there any systems that allow chaining NAS servers in say a raid 5 array? Someone suggested an external sas enclosure that could be daisy chained but Im not to familiar with them.

If I had a 4-5 bay NAS with only 3 2tb drives in a raid 5 array what is required to add drives over time? Rebuild array or can they be incorporated while server is live? Ive heard of online expansion but dont quite understand it. Time is not much of a problem the system would be added to within a year and wouldnt need to be accessed while upgraded. but not having to rebuild the whole raid would be better.

Also i was looking at Sans digital cases since Ive used there products in the past and found a few in the price range but was unsure on what features are needed to achieve whats stated above.

The system would be a archive of all photos shot in the last few years as well as storage of all new work shot. I do all the uploading and backing up and im only in the studio twice a week so it wont be accessed constantly. Only a few images from each shoot ever need to be pulled off the system so no one will be working off it all the time.
Also I was hoping to back up the 3 non production computers to it mostly word docs and business files.

i know this is vague but I can answer any further questions needed to help.
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More about help buying system photography
  1. For the amount of space that you want, the ready-made systems can be relatively expensive. IOW you could buy a box with 4 or 5 bays and plug in your own drives. This is the easiest solution.

    Or you can build a Linux server and plug in a bunch of drives. A Linux server doesn't need much hardware to run, and you might have an old PC in the office that would have enough power, just plug in a bunch of drives and add Linux. This is the cheapest solution but not the easiest. If you are familiar with working on PC's it isn't all that difficult and there are how-to's on the internet.

    Whatever "server" you build, it would be easier to max out its drive capacity when it was built, and when you need more you can just add another server. You don't have to chain them, you can access them on the network as separate "drives".

    A year or two ago Toms did various NAS articles, such as this:,2610.html
  2. Ive started looking into building a cheap PC and putting freenas on it for the studio archive and was thinking a small 4bay box I could copy the server to as backup then just get a new box when that one fills up. With the server I should be able to expand the raid with newer larger capacity drives over time. I have never done this but im thinking it might be the best cheapest solution.
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