RAID: Redundant Array of Independent Disks – Elevating Data Security and Performance

Published December 22, 2023

RAID: Redundant Array of Independent Disks – Elevating Data Security and Performance


Redundant Array of Independent Disks

What is Redundant Array of Independent Disks and How it Works?

In 1987, the University of California witnessed the birth of a groundbreaking technology called RAID, thanks to the brilliant minds of David Patterson, Garth A. Gibson, and Randy Katz. RAID, which stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, revolutionized data storage virtualization.

Its purpose is to seamlessly merge multiple physical disk drive components into one or more logical units, thereby enhancing data performance and redundancy. By employing RAID, you can ensure the reliability of your data through data redundancy.

This redundancy creates additional space, which proves invaluable in the event of disk failure. In such unfortunate circumstances, you can rest assured knowing that your precious data is safely backed up on another disk, ready to be retrieved.

To further safeguard your data and prevent the loss of your entire dataset due to a single disk failure, it is highly recommended to distribute your data across multiple disks using the RAID technique.

This technique is not limited to servers alone; it can also be implemented on your computer applications, especially if you require high storage capacities and swift data transfer speeds, such as for video and audio edits. RAID presents itself as the ideal solution for such demanding tasks. It is important to note that RAID can be implemented through both hardware-based and software RAID configurations, providing flexibility and adaptability to suit your specific needs.

Whether you opt for a hardware-based implementation or a software-based one, RAID ensures that your data remains secure and accessible, offering you peace of mind in the face of potential data loss.

RAID; Software vs Hardware

Both hardware and software RAID offer implementation options for installation.

Let’s delve into the details of these choices.

Hardware RAID

A separate controller needs to be placed in the server for hardware-based RAID. Based on the RAID configuration you want to have, Steadfast staff would be delighted to give you advice on which hardware RAID support is optimal for you. Without any intervention from the system itself, a hardware-based RAID card manages the RAID array(s) and provides logical discs to the system. Furthermore, hardware RAID can offer the system a variety of RAID configurations simultaneously. For the large storage array, a RAID-5 array is also provided in addition to a RAID-1 array for the boot and application drive.

Software RAID

All of Steadfast’s dedicated servers come with the software RAID option as a standard feature. This implies that software RAID 1 is FREE and is strongly suggested if you’re using local storage on a PC. It is strongly advised that all the drives in a RAID array be the same kind and size. RAID that is managed through software will make use of some of the system’s processing power. When using ordinary HDDs and trying to enhance system performance, such as with a RAID 5 or 6 configurations, it is advisable to use a hardware-based RAID card.

RAID Advantages

RAID utilizes multiple disks to enhance system storage capacity and provide fault tolerance.

Discover its key features below:

  • Increase the parity check and conduct routine system crash checks.
  • Makes sure data is reliable.
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Increases data security.
  • Tolerance for Error.
  • Increased Performance and Availability.
  • Data are read and written simultaneously.

RAID Disadvantages

While using RAID storage, you might face losing data since it is not a perfect technology.

  • Your data cannot be fully protected.
  • RAID levels like 1 and 5 can only withstand the failure of one drive.
  •  Pricey.
  • It does not equate to 100% uptime.
  • Because drives have a lot more capacity since RAID was created, it takes a lot longer to rebuild broken discs.
  • It does not facilitate data recovery.
  • If improperly used, it might reduce the system’s performance.

Identifying the Appropriate Users for RAID

If your programs encounter disc IO problems, opting for RAID can be beneficial as it allows tasks to be completed more efficiently by reading and writing data from multiple drives. Hardware RAID, in particular, comes with extra memory on the RAID card, serving as a cache to enhance overall performance and alleviate the load on physical hardware.

While backups safeguard against data loss, the recovery process, especially for large data volumes due to disk failure, may take hours. RAID offers the advantage of withstanding disc failures without downtime or data loss.

Explore various RAID types to determine the most suitable level based on your specific needs. Stick around to discover which RAID configuration aligns with your requirements.

Popular Redundant Array of Independent Disks Storage Levels

Each RAID level possesses distinctive characteristics in fault tolerance, capacity, and performance. Fault tolerance entails the ability to endure one or more disc failures, while performance reflects the contrast in read and write speeds between the entire array and a single disc. The array’s capacity is determined by the amount of user data that can be written to it.

To unravel the main question of this guide and identify the types of RAID suitable for you, start by understanding the array’s primary data storage techniques. Here, we outline the key methods for storing data in the array.

  1. Striping: In this storage method, the data flow is divided into blocks of a specific size, or block size, and then these blocks are sequentially written across the RAID till the final drive, that is. In order to repeat, it then jumps back to the first drive and begins a second stripe. This type of data storage affects performance.
  2. Mirroring: The identical copies of the data are simultaneously stored on all RAID members in this storage method. The fault tolerance and performance of this method of data storage are both impacted.
  3. Parity: Parity: Striping and checksum techniques are used in this storage approach. The data blocks are calculated using a specific parity function. The checksum can recalculate the missing blocks, offering RAID fault tolerance. In other words, distributed data that even in the event of disc failure enables the regeneration of data saved in a RAID array.

Types of RAID

Applications often involve a trade-off between fault tolerance and performance, as various RAID levels offer different forms of redundancy.

Let’s explore how RAID arrays implement these techniques to create a single logical drive in the operating system.

  1. RAID 0, often referred to as striping, creates a disk array with stripes but lacks fault tolerance. RAID 0 delivers excellent performance for both read and write operations. It simplifies utilization as parity controls don’t introduce any overhead.
  2. RAID 1, known as Mirroring and duplexing, provides exceptional write speed and read speed equivalent to a single disc. In RAID 1, data is copied to the backup drive when a disc fails, thanks to the straightforward nature of this technology.
  3. RAID 2, employing error-correcting coding, is less common and comparable to RAID 5. Unlike RAID 5, disk striping occurs at the bit level instead of using parity. In RAID 2, data is striped at the bit level, utilizing an error-correcting Hamming algorithm. It currently stands as the only original RAID level not in use.
  4. RAID 3 consists of byte-level striping and a separate parity disc. This system is currently not in use due to its poor performance when handling numerous small data requests in a database.
  5. RAID 4, characterized by block-level striping and a separate parity disc, provides commendable sequential data access performance and strong random read performance. However, its random write performance is hindered as all parity data must be written to a single disk.
  6. RAID 5, known for striping with parity, provides full fault tolerance and excellent performance. It can be rebuilt using parity data from all drives in file servers, web servers, and significant backups. Write data transactions take slightly longer than read data operations due to the calculation of parity.
  7. RAID 6, incorporating striping with double parity, achieves complete fault tolerance. It employs a block pattern similar to RAID 5, offering significant reliability albeit at a somewhat higher cost. Unlike RAID 5, RAID 6 utilizes two separate parity blocks per row, enhancing its fault-tolerant capabilities.
  8. RAID 10, also known as Mirroring + Striping, combines the features of RAID 1 and RAID 0, often denoted as RAID 1+0. This configuration offers good read and write performance, making it suitable for high-availability and performance-oriented database storage.


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