Tech Tip: What is a RAID Configuration?

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. It is a storage solution that solves the bottleneck of performance while mitigates drive failure. No one wants a slow computer. And definitely not loss of data.

Types of RAID configurations.

Although more RAID configurations exist than the three mentioned below, they are the three most common ones and they illustrate how RAID configurations work.

RAID 0 – Striping:

RAID 0 works by taking two disks and combining them into a single logical volume. For example,. two 1 TB disks will combine into a 2 TB volume. The work will spread between the drives and reading/writing can be done in parallel. It will allow a huge performance boost, but since there is no mirroring or parity data, the entire volume will fail if one drive fails.

RAID 1 – Mirroring:

RAID 1 also uses pairs two drives. However, unlike RAID 0, all the data in one drive will also be on the other drive. This allows redundancy, that if one drive fails, a copy of all of the contents still exist on the other. One can add a new drive and rebuild the RAID 1 without suffering any data loss. In RAID 1, the write performance is slightly lower due to the mirroring of the drives. The read performance can potentially be better since there are two drives to read from, the one closest to the information can return the data faster. Also, since the drives are mirrored in RAID 1, two 1 TB drives paired together result in a 1 TB volume.

RAID 5 – Striping with Parity:

RAID 5 uses the features of both RAID 0 an RAID 1. RAID 5 uses striping of data into a larger volume while also allowing redundancy in case there is disk failure. RAID 5 uses a minimum of three drives in which case if one drive fails, two of them will continue to work. The capacity of RAID 5 configurations is the sum of all disk capacities minus one. For example, three 1 TB drives result in 3 TB minus 1 TB yielding a total of 2 TB volume.

Considerations

  1. Keep in mind that in the event of drive failure, rebuilding RAID configurations can take time. It’s recommended to use smaller volumes when building a RAID to mitigate the time needed to rebuild the RAID.
  2. Make sure that your motherboard supports RAID configurations before trying to install it. If your motherboard does not support the RAID directly there are software and hardware solutions to add it to your system.

Conclusion

RAID configurations help solve the two biggest issues facing data storage today: bottleneck in performance and mitigating data loss. RAID 0 is great for the performance aspect while RAID 1 is great for redundancy. RAID 5 take the best of both worlds and allow redundancy while boosting performance. Although there are many more configurations out there, these are the most common ones you will find out in the wild.

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