Home Server Storage Needs
It's been a while since I posted to the GB - here's hoping I can get some guidance on my latest question.
Here's what I own hardware and storage wise:
1 Mac Mini HTPC attached to my HDTV running 10.7.4 (320 GB HDD / 2 GB RAM)
1 dual-band AirPort Extreme broadcasting to my apartment. The Mini is attached to the AE via ethernet.
1 unibody MBP (2010) running 10.7.4 (500 GB HDD / 8 GB RAM) -- This is my primary computer for iTunes, Aperture, etc. All of my music and photos are currently stored locally to this machine
2 LaCie 1 TB external HDDs (both with running-on-fumes power supplies, one for Time Machine backup of the Mini, the other stores digital movie files)
1 WD 1 TB external HDD (In shape, stores movie files)
1 Seagate 200 GB external HDD (In good shape, but nothing critical stored on the drive)
1 Maxtor 500GB external HDD (not connected to anything right now)
4 Hitachi Deskstar 2 TB SATA III bare HDDs - Bought these on sale for $99 each about a month ago, they all work, but they're currently just sitting in their boxes waiting to be used for good!
Ideally, what I'd like to do is set the mini up as an FTP server so our family and friends can download pictures from our travels (my mother-in-law LOVES looking at our pictures...). I'd like to consolidate the digital video files into one location (ideally those Hitachi HDDs) and have them backed up. I'd also like to retain a Time Machine backup for my Mini and then use that same disk to back up my MBP over WiFi when I'm working on it around my apartment. (I've tried just connecting it the the Time Machine disk ever couple of weeks, but sometimes I forget)
I've looked into a Drobo, mainly because I didn't want to deal with setting up a RAID array. As I understand it, I could also partition the drobo to use one partition for Time Machine and another for simple storage. Unfortunately, the regular drobo doesn't have ethernet, and I don't want to drop an extra $200 on another bay and an ethernet port.
I guess my real dilemma is, what's the difference in me using a NAS solution as opposed to me just sharing the drives from my mini across my home network? I can find 4-bay RAID enclosures for a lot cheaper than a Drobo. Is this an easier route to go? I want something that's fairly easy to set up and that I can just leave alone.
Sorry if this is confusing - the setup seems much more straightforward in my head! So really ... NAS or directly connected shares and then Drobo or a RAID box? I apologize in advance for my overly confusing description of a problem for which there is probably a very simple solution! Thanks again, AI!