RAID Storage, Explained

Posted by Wayne Clark on

RAID Storage, Explained

From boosting system performance to improving data redundancy and fault tolerance, RAID is a powerfully useful storage solution.  

This is RAID storage, explained.   

What is RAID storage?  

RAID, which stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, is a storage system that uses multiple drives in one system to store data. There are various levels of RAID, each offering different advantages such as improved performance, greater fault tolerance, or both, depending on how data is written and distributed. 

What are the most popular RAID configurations?   

There are a variety of RAID configurations, each offering its own set of advantages. Here are some of the most popular configurations. 

  • RAID 0, or striping, offers the fastest levels of performance but, unlike other RAID levels, does not provide data redundancy. This is achieved by dividing data into smaller groups and spreading them across multiple disks. Adding more drives in an array means more IOPS (input/output per second). For example, a two-drive array doubles your speed and a four-drive array quadruples your IOPS. However, because of how bits are stored across all the drives in the array, if one drive fails, all data could potentially be lost. 
  • RAID 1, also known as mirroring, is a great choice for data protection and redundancy. In this configuration, your data is stored on one disk, and a separate copy is kept on each of the other available disks. While this gives you maximum protection, you sacrifice half of your total drive capacity. 
  • RAID 5 provides both speed and data protection, requiring a minimum of three drives. Your data is split into groups across all drives, creating distributed parity. Parity is a technique using a calculated algorithmic value to restore data if one drive fails. This configuration offers great speed along with single-disk fault tolerance, balancing both performance and redundancy.  
  • RAID 10 is a combination of RAID 1 and RAID 0, requiring a minimum of four drives. This configuration offers both enhanced performance (striping) and potential fault tolerance (mirroring), making it a popular choice for professionals and businesses.  

How do you calculate RAID storage?  

The method for calculating RAID capacity depends on the RAID level you are using. You can take advantage of Western Digital’s RAID capacity calculator to select your RAID type and see the available storage space you’ll have based on your specifications.   

Is RAID a backup solution?  

Although RAID improves the strength and reliability of your data storage, it is not the same thing as a data backup. While data backup solutions play a crucial role in recovering lost files after total data loss, RAID is specifically designed to decrease the likelihood of such events. 

What is the best type of RAID storage for me?  

Determining the best type of RAID storage for you depends on your specific needs. You should consider factors such as your budget, the importance of data protection, desired performance, and the number of drives you have available. Whether you’re looking to improve performance, maximize data redundancy—or both—find the best RAID product for you here

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