Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Why do You Need a RAID Setup?

September 19, 2009 by Rico Mossesgeld  
Filed under Storage

Numerous people have reported problems with their RAID setup on the Tom’s Hardware forums (in the Storage section), sharing difficulties in set up or management. It’s a pity that, for most people, a RAID is an unnecessary exercise.

100px-RAID_1.svgRAID—a Redundant Array of Independent Disks—is basically bunching a group of disks together, telling your computer to consider the group as one drive. There are numerous kinds of RAID setups, but the most popular ones either provide an instantaneous back-up for your data, storing the same information on two or more disks, or boost your computer’s ability to read and write data, by getting and saving information distributed among at least to disks at the same time. So, the primary benefits of RAID are having a back-up you can quickly switch to in case one of your disks fail (RAID 1), or the ability to quickly process information on your computer (RAID 0).

The problem is, with contemporary hard disks being as reliable as they are, the first setup is mostly unnecessary, especially since conscientious computer users should back-up their data regularly anyway. RAID 1 is typically crucial only for servers that need to continually provide the data on their disks, since it allows the replacement of failed disks without powering the computer down.

RAID 0, on the other hand, is maximized for applications where the fast reading and writing information actually contributes significantly to getting the job done. High-end video editing workstations usually feature RAID 0, since it allows the editor to quickly manage the gigabytes or even terrabytes of video and audio they usually work with. For everyday purposes however, the speed of hard disks operating independently is more than enough.

Even though it’s really cool to have RAID in your desktop (or even laptop), it’s not really a necessity—except in the situations cited above. The point is that RAID by it’s very nature adds a layer of complexity to your computer setup, a complication that may create distractions and keep you from meeting your deadlines. Enthusiasts will point out that there’s nothing wrong with trying to maximize your computer, pushing for faster performance in every aspect. I agree with that, but using RAID only to load games faster isn’t really pushing the limits of operating a computer.

What do you think? In any case, a great RAID FAQ is available on Tom’s.

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2 Responses to “Why do You Need a RAID Setup?”
  1. TechClicker says:

    It’s important to note that RAID 1 shouldn’t really be considered a “backup”. Rather, it provides two drives that are mirrored (hold the exact same data). The distinction is important because people don’t always understand that if you accidentally delete a file from a RAID 1 array, that file ISN’T backed up on the other drive for easy retrieval. It gets deleted from both drives in the array. Backup vs Mirror…important distinction.

    • Rico Mossesgeld says:

      Ah yes, thank you for clarifying that TechClicker. Yes, data redundancy is a better term instead of auto back-up.

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