• United States

Selecting the best RAID system for a small office

Jan 30, 20062 mins

We would like a RAID system to provide data protection in a small office. Can you say whether a hardware or a software RAID system is a better option? Also, is RAID 1 or RAID 5 the more reliable system for protecting our data?

The specialized equipment means hardware RAID controllers are usually faster and more expensive than software RAID systems. I prefer to use a hardware RAID controller when possible because of the performance improvement.

Software RAID is an affordable alternative, though, and delivers acceptable performance. Software RAID can be used with one or more hardware RAID controllers to implement multiple levels of protection.

The various RAID levels use different arrangements to protect data. RAID 0 spreads your data across disks in “stripes” and provides no fault protection, but it can provide high-speed disk I/O.

RAID 1 mirrors your data across disks to provide a complete duplicate of everything. RAID 5 combines striping and mirroring to allow an array to keep delivering data if one drive fails.

Whether RAID 1 or RAID 5 is more reliable depends on whether you are more interested in having a complete back-up copy available on one or more disks or in I/O performance and being able to keep running through a drive failure. RAID 5 lets you replace the failed disk and keep running while the RAID array rebuilds itself in the background.