RAID Levels

RAID 0 (also known as striping)

RAID 0 will use any number of disks and merge them, creating one large logical volume. They are usually used to achieve high speeds. Such is possible because reading and writing happen from multiple disks simultaneously.

However, this has a cost. RAID 0 does not offer redundancy at all. Losing an individual hard drive will result in complete data loss.

FOR EXAMPLE, this RAID level is less reliable when compared to having a single hard drive.

RAID 0 can be helpful for cache purposes, where speed is vital while losing data would not matter. In short, We should only use RAID 0 for SPEED scenarios.

RAID 1 ( Or mirroring)

In short, almost every use case of RAID 1 is where you have two identical hard drives, and they will have the data mirrored/copied.

The use of RAID 1 is primarily for redundancy. Imagine that you lose a hard drive. With RAID 1, you will keep the system up, relying on the remaining hard drive.

An engineer can, at this stage, swap the broken hard drive, most likely with no downtime (but exceptions may occur).

There is also some benefit on what matters increased read performance with this level of RAID; once the existing data can be read off any of the existing hard drives in the array.

In parallel, there will be a slightly higher write latency because the data will be written to both hard drives.

RAID 5 and 6

RAID 5 requires at least 3 hard drives. RAID 6 requires at least 4.

RAID 5 and 6 use RAID 0 when it comes to striping the data across multiple drives to increase performance. However, it introduces redundancy. For that, the parity of information is distributed across the hard drives.

I will not bore you with detailed technical aspects in this article. Instead, let’s focus on what you should know about RAID 5 and RAID 6 regarding losing hard drives.

With RAID 5 you can lose only one hard drive. If you have more than one hard drive failing, your array is no longer healthy, and there is a loss of data.

RAID 6 allows you to have up to two failed hard drives before your array is compromised.

Both RAID 5 and RAID 6 will improve your read performance dramatically. Regarding writing to the hard drives, performance depends grandly on the RAID controller you chose for using and its computing capacities.

The RAID controller should be an independent component in your system is justified by the need to calculate the data parity and write it across all hard drives.

RAID 5 and RAID 6 are often good choices for file servers, standard web servers, archive solutions ( near and deep) and other systems where most of the I/O transactions are meant to be read.

If you plan to run heavy writing to the hard drive systems, these RAID levels of RAID are not the right choice. As an example, a database server would not perform well on a system with storage based on RAID 5 or 6

A Note on performance and hard drive loss and size of drives

A RAID 5 or 6 system will considerably impact performance should one hard drive be lost. The performance will have to be sacrificed to ensure that the environment stays operational. When replacing the failed drive, the rebuilding process will have to start. Such a process will use a significant amount of the total performance of the array. The rebuild times are getting longer and longer, in line with the hard drives getting bigger and bigger.

RAID 10

RAID 10 can run with a minimum of 4 drives.

It combines RAID 1 and RAID 0. Usually, this is the type of RAID you would look for if you’re looking for speed and still having redundancy.

Let’s take the example of a four hard drive configuration. Two hard drives will be mirrored, holding half of the striped data and on the other two, also mirrored, the other half of the data.

Practically such RAID level assures you that you can lose any single drive, and then perhaps a second drive, without losing data.

Bear in mind that, like RAID 1, there will be only the capacity of half the drives, but read and write performance are improved.

Nested RAID levels

They are also known as hybrid RAID. They combine two or more of the standard RAID levels. I promise I will write an article alone on these RAID Levels in the short future.

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Joao Silva

Joao Silva

Passion for Solving problems and help designing solutions, IT Management, Systems Administration and drive Teams to Success.