Best solution to my storage requirements

Currently I have a very bad setup of 3 external USB drives (1x2tb 2x1tb) connected to a file server. I have to split my data between the two 1tb drives and back them both up onto the 2tb drive. This has worked reasonably well up until now but I have realized that this system will soon become unsustainable. Because of this I am looking at some kind of RAID or similar solution.

I am interested in creating two data pools, one to store stuff on and one for backup. Because I will be backing up the data I am not too concerned with parity. I would like to be able to easily extend the capacity of both pools both by adding disks and replacing smaller disks with larger ones. Ideally I would like a NAS that can store up to 16TB in total (8TB data). The Drobo sounds almost exactly like what I want in terms of it's expandability but it is quite pricey and given it's proprietary nature, a bit of a pain to deal with if the device breaks later down the line.

I was really hoping you guys would have some suggestions. Anything that will mount on a 19" rack is ideal. If there is a software based solution I am happy to get something like this to run it on.
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More about best solution storage requirements
  1. Using FreeNAS with RAIDz (built-in)
    here is the quote from freeNAS

    "One of FreeNAS® 8's most important features is full support for the ZFS filesystem. ZFS includes data integrity protection, practically unlimited size caps, cloneable snapshots, automatic repair, RAID-Z, and more. ZFS is fully open-source, and is a great way to store and manage your important files."
  2. Thank you for the help. Sounds like what I am looking for. Is it easy to add drives with ZFS or does it still require copying data off, setting up a new cluster and copying it back on?
  3. Each time you add a drive... the volume will expand with data intact...

    But still, you're better off with a back up... this backup copy does not need to be fancy... maybe a USB2.0 with 8x drives like this one will do the job
  4. I planned on making two pools on the same NAS with the main one backing up on to the other once every 24 hours. Would an external backup drive be better do you think?
  5. The best is have TWO units in diff location let them sync... otherwise use a span USB to back it up.

    For the back up copy it should be different interface, format and location <--- Ideal

    If you use ext. USB, that is not too bad, it meets two out of three criteria :-)
  6. Ok, thanks. I will do my best to keep the backup and NAS separated but it is just in my house so it might just mean keeping them in different rooms with gigabit Ethernet between them. Thanks again for the help. It has been very useful.
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