Articles >>RAID Explained

What is RAID and how it help my business?

In layman's terms, RAID is a method of using multiple Hard Drives to increase performance and reliability.
Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) is a system developed to enable multiple inexpensive hard drives to be used to create a large price efficient storage unit that would have a larger capacity of a single large drive at a much cheaper price.
Using RAID provides major benefits in a form of:

• Data Redundancy (Back up)
• Increased Performance
• Cost efficiency

In a business environment when it comes to servers, data redundancy is a single crucial step to take to make sure the data is protected from any mechanical failures such as a faulty drive. This redundancy or a form of backup is usually performed with either a RAID 1 or a RAID 5 configuration if backup and not performance is the main goal.

An inexpensive alternative, the RAID controller can be software based because performance is of little importance in a RAID 1 configuration, also this array only requires 2 drives, which helps cut down on the price. RAID 1 configuration is accomplished by using two separate drives of similar specs and size and when the data is recorded on the primary drive, an identical copy is also placed on the secondary drive.  In case of a failure of either of the drives, the other hard drive has all of the same data stored. RAID 1 however has some disadvantages as the disk space is dictated by the smallest drive in the array, also if a failure occurs some down time is required to change out the faulty drive, as these drives are not 'hot swappable'.

Unlike a controller that is used for RAID 1, RAID 5 requires the use of a hardware controller to manage the RAID array.  This setup is much more expensive than a RAID 1 controller because it requires a minimum of 3 drives and an expensive hardware controller; however this setup proves to have some major advantages.  The way RAID 5 works is it records data and parity on all three of the drives at the same time.  Parity basically allows the controller to rebuild the missing data in a case that one of the 3 drives fails. Because parity along with data is recorded on all three of the drives, the performance is greater than a single drive. Major advantage to a RAID 5 array is that it's much easier to rebuild this array in a case of a failure, the drives are hot swappable which means a drive can be replaced without ever rebooting the system and the data will be rebuilt on to the drive using the parity from the two other hard drives.  One of the major disadvantages to this setup is the cost, the price of three drives can be expensive and the hardware controller is also pricy; however with RAID 5 full data redundancy is achieved, performance is increased, and the server never needs to reboot in a case of a failure.

RAID is an important part of any business server, setting up a RAID array can be very inexpensive when compared to how expensive it can be in a case a drive fails in a server and all of user settings/data is lost or becomes corrupt. Depending on the need and the budget a RAID array is the most price efficient way to create a reliable data backup.


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