RAID. Rapid Array of Inexpensive Disks. That’s what it means. The question is what level of RAID do you need?
God knows there are plenty of different types of RAID. This post explains the different RAID levels and *hopefully, it will help you pick the right configuration for you***
Note: When in doubt, RAID 1+0 or RAID 10 is the failsafe.
So here are the different configurations:
- RAID 0 (block-level striping without parity or mirroring) has no (or zero) redundancy. It provides improved performance and additional storage but no fault tolerance. Hence simple stripe sets are normally referred to as RAID 0. Any drive failure destroys the array, and the likelihood of failure increases with more drives in the array (at a minimum, catastrophic data loss is almost twice as likely compared to single drives without RAID). A single drive failure destroys the entire array because when data is written to a RAID 0 volume, the data is broken into fragments called blocks. The number of blocks is dictated by the stripe size, which is a configuration parameter of the array. The blocks are written to their respective drives simultaneously on the same sector. This allows smaller sections of the entire chunk of data to be read off each drive in parallel, increasing bandwidth. RAID 0 does not implement error checking, so any error is uncorrectable. More drives in the array means higher bandwidth, but greater risk of data loss.
- In RAID 1 (mirroring without parity or striping), data is written identically to multiple drives, thereby producing a “mirrored set”; at least 2 drives are required to constitute such an array. While more constituent drives may be employed, many implementations deal with a maximum of only 2; of course, it might be possible to use such a limited level 1 RAID itself as a constituent of a level 1 RAID, effectively masking the limitation. The array continues to operate as long as at least one drive is functioning. With appropriate operating system support, there can be increased read performance, and only a minimal write performance reduction; implementing RAID 1 with a separate controller for each drive in order to perform simultaneous reads (and writes) is sometimes called multiplexing (or duplexing when there are only 2 drives).
- In RAID 2 (bit-level striping with dedicated Hamming-code parity), all disk spindle rotation is synchronized, and data is striped such that each sequential bit is on a different drive. Hamming-code parity is calculated across corresponding bits and stored on at least one parity drive.
- In RAID 3 (byte-level striping with dedicated parity), all disk spindle rotation is synchronized, and data is striped so each sequential byte is on a different drive. Parity is calculated across corresponding bytes and stored on a dedicated parity drive.
- RAID 4 (block-level striping with dedicated parity) is identical to RAID 5 (see below), but confines all parity data to a single drive. In this setup, files may be distributed between multiple drives. Each drive operates independently, allowing I/O requests to be performed in parallel. However, the use of a dedicated parity drive could create a performance bottleneck; because the parity data must be written to a single, dedicated parity drive for each block of non-parity data, the overall write performance may depend a great deal on the performance of this parity drive.
- RAID 5 (block-level striping with distributed parity) distributes parity along with the data and requires all drives but one to be present to operate; the array is not destroyed by a single drive failure. Upon drive failure, any subsequent reads can be calculated from the distributed parity such that the drive failure is masked from the end user. However, a single drive failure results in reduced performance of the entire array until the failed drive has been replaced and the associated data rebuilt. Additionally, there is the potentially disastrous RAID 5 write hole.
- RAID 6 (block-level striping with double distributed parity) provides fault tolerance of two drive failures; the array continues to operate with up to two failed drives. This makes larger RAID groups more practical, especially for high-availability systems. This becomes increasingly important as large-capacity drives lengthen the time needed to recover from the failure of a single drive. Single-parity RAID levels are as vulnerable to data loss as a RAID 0 array until the failed drive is replaced and its data rebuilt; the larger the drive, the longer the rebuild takes. Double parity gives additional time to rebuild the array without the data being at risk if a single additional drive fails before the rebuild is complete.
- RAID 10 or 1+0: Mirrored + Striped. Allows full drive failure without data loss or performance. Each Disk is mirrored and then striped. The ideal solution for high performance + redundancy, but it will cost a pretty penny. I only do RAID 1+0 for everything, because it provides the highest level of performance and redundancy.
- Hopfully this helps in your raid primer. There are more versions of RAID, but this covers the basics.
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2 thoughts on “RAID and what it Means”
This entry is great.I decided to go with eight 200GB plralael ATA drives. They’re Seagates and they run nice and quiet and cool. With a 3Ware Escalade 7506-8 controller I have plenty of performance for my 1.4 terrabyte RAID-5. 160GB drives might have been cheaper but I couldn’t fit 1+TB in a mid tower with only 160GB per drive.