Cheap Network Storage, Partial Redundancy?

Hello, everyone. This is my first post on the forum (if you don't count comments on the News section), so be nice to me. :)

I need to put together some network storage with redundancy built into it, but I don't need redundancy for all of it. I need 2+ TB with redundancy for my music recording projects that I can't afford to lose, but I'll also need 2+ TB that I don't need redundancy for my movies and music. I don't want to re-rip them all, but they wouldn't be gone forever if a drive failed. I'd very much like to have network access for these files, so any computer on the network could stream the movies and music. I don't need super fast transfer speeds, but 5 MB/s sucks when transferring a 25 GB recording session from the recording computer to the network storage, and I want it to be able to keep up when streaming a moving in 1080p. And to make all of this a challenge, I'm on a budget. :)

It looks like the NAS boxes are expensive, extremely expensive if they have more than 2 bays. I don't think I could have the redundancy and also the amount of storage I need on one of those, could I?

Fortunately, I have access to old machines from my work place. We're talking Pentium 4 processors, .5 - 1 GB of RAM, etc. I could potentially build a file server out of one of these, but I wouldn't know where to begin in terms of OS, RAID cards on such an old machine, etc.

There's a small chance I could have our company's oldest server in 6 months time, a dual-proc Xeon Nocona machine, 2 GB of RAM total. But I would imagine for files, this would be sufficient. And maybe a RAID setup could be easier with that motherboard. However, the OS is 32-bit, and I have files larger than 4 GB. I'd need an OS of some type, and I have no experience outside of Windows and a few Mac frustrations.

I also just heard about DAS, which would be a RAID box without RAM or a processor or an Ethernet port. If I understand it correctly, they connect to a PCI card (provided) and can function on a bare-bones machine. But I don't know if I should try to find a model that can have RAID 1 simultaneous to a drive without RAID, or if I should assemble RAID 5 for all the data and buy more drives, or any other possibilities.

Or is there a fifth option I'm overlooking?

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More about cheap network storage partial redundancy
  1. Look at previous version' Windows Home Server. It has something called "Shared folder duplication", where you can just add hard drives, and tell which shared folders need to be duplicated across the drives. Unfortunately, this feature was stripped off 2011 version of WHS.
  2. Does anyone have a recommendation for NAS vs DAS? Or a particular box of each?
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