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Guide me through RAID

PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2003 4:50 am
by CignaXI
Can some one guide me a little bit through raid. Just a little HOW TO.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 3:13 am
by blakerwry
RAID level - one type or way to implement RAID. There are ~7 levels, some being proprietary and most not being used because other technologies have replaced them.

RAID Array - The virtual drive created by combining one or more disks through the use of RAID. The OS sees this as one drive.

You should be interested in 3 different variants of RAID.

RAID 0 = Striping
RAID 1 = Mirroring
RAID 5 = Striping w/ distributed parity

RAID 0: Increase in sequential read/write speed (STR).
RAID 1: Instantaneous synchronization(backup) of a whole drive
RAID 5: Increased redundancy and increased read sequential transfer rate speed (STR)

RAID 0: Increased chance of failure/data loss
RAID 1: Slightly slower write speed, extra cost of having 50% capacity overhead
RAID 5: Severely slower write speed, 1 drive's capacity of overhead

RAID in general is used to increase availability(shorten downtime in a hardware failure situation) or speed of a disk subsystem. It does not replace backups. It will not help you if you mess up.

RAID 0 is good for temporary storage or for storage of non-critical data. For desktop use you may see a 10% speed boost. For sequential operations like large file copies and live data captures you can see upto 100% speed increase. If you lose 1 drive you lose all information stored in both drives. You do not have any capacity overhead with RAID 0. For most desktop situations it is better to use 2 disks individually or spend the money on RAM, CPU, or another system component.

RAID 1 is good for improving redundancy and availability. You will, however, lose 50% of your total hard drives capacity by using this RAID level. This is because you will have 2 hard drives that are exact copies of eachother. This is good for small to large servers

RAID 5 is good for file servers or DB servers that are read from and written to rarely or very little. Normally a 3 drive RAID 5 array will read as fast as a 2 drive RAID 0 array and will write as fast as a single drive. By using RAID 5 you will lose 1 drives worth of capacity(ex: you have 3 120GB drives, the total capacity of the array will be (120*3)-120 = 240GB)

(Both RAID 1 and RAID 5 can sustain the loss of 1 drive without losing information)

Hardware vs Software RAID:

There are two types of ways to get RAID. The traditional route is to use a hardware controller that performs all the neccessary operations and basically does all the work of controlling and operating the RAID array. Hardware controllers will often have onboard cache memory to help improve read/write speed.

These controllers are usually standard PCI cards and are typically much more expensive than their software brothers.

Software (or Host based) RAID cards are basically traditional hard drive controllers that have RAID features "tacked on" They use the computers CPU to perform all calculations and therefore may cause a slight performance drop in some situations.

Software RAID controllers are suitable to do RAID 0 and 1, but should not be used for RAID 5 (although some allow it). Software RAID controllers will have no onboard cache and will instead use system RAM controlled by drivers for any needed caching.

Software RAID controllers are not neccesarily any slower than hardware controllers, but they are typically not thought of as reliable or as having as many features as a hardware controller. For most home users, the cost of a hardware controller does not warrant their use.

Additionally, software RAID can be done by the Operating System. WinNT and Linux allow RAID 0, 1, and 5. The performance of OS based software RAID is usually as fast as that of software RAID controllers, but with more system lag.

Side notes:
RAID is best used with identical disks (same model, firmware, date of manufacure, etc) Using different disks could result in errors or unexpected slow downs. Also, disks should almost always be RAIDed as whole disks and not as partitions (which is allowed in OS based software RAID)

RAID levels can be combined, ex: RAID 10 or 01, or RAID 05. This would be a stripe set of mirrors, a mirror set of stripes, and a stripe set of striped parity respectively. Typically you would combine RAID levels when you wish to increase speed while keeping a high level of redundancy and thus would use RAID 0 with a redundant level like 1 or 5.

Some hardware RAID controllers:
Any 3ware brand card
Promise SuperTrak (you'll want to double check this)
Mylex AcceleRAID
Most SCSI RAID controllers

Some software controllers:
Promise FastTrak 66, 100, 133
All Adaptec IDE controllers
I think all Highpoint controllers (you'll want to double check this)
Anything marked HostRAID or SoftRAID

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 3:17 am
by blakerwry
For shits and grins and learning RAID you mihgt want to pick up a fastTrak 66/100 or Highpoint RicketRAID off ebay...

But if you're like most people, RAID i not going to improve your desktop speed dramatically(or sometimes even at all). And since most home users' problems are software, RAID 1 won't help them either. Don't forget that RAID 5 costs alot AND is slow at writing and thus not suitable for desktop use.

These things make RAID simply impractical and more of a "pissing contest" for most people doing desktop work.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 5:10 am
by Inertia
Very well done, blakerwry. :)

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2003 8:33 pm
by CignaXI
Wow! More than I expected. Thank you very much blakerwry, I was very confused about RAID and you clarified all my doubts. Hope this helps others too. Another little question. RAID only works with E-IDE drives?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2003 9:32 am
by UALOneKPlus
CignaXI wrote:Wow! More than I expected. Thank you very much blakerwry, I was very confused about RAID and you clarified all my doubts. Hope this helps others too. Another little question. RAID only works with E-IDE drives?

I think there are RAID SCSI drives as well. But for home users I don't see how that would help them any, unless they've got piles of cash to burn...

Simply great..

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2003 1:57 am
by pranav81
That was simply great!I can now say that I know a lot about RAID now.


Re: Simply great..

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2003 4:29 am
by blakerwry
pranav81 wrote:That was simply great!I can now say that I know a lot about RAID now.


sorry, but there's still more to learn. But most of it is experience kinda stuff with different hardware and with different applications(by applications I mean usage.. ex: webserver vs database server vs file server vs vid/audio editing)

also, SCSI RAID is where RAID started. Almost all SCSI RAID controllers are hardware RAID controllers as well.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 11:49 pm
by CignaXI
Thanks again blakerwry for taking out of your time and clearing my doubts, I'll be looking for an ebook if I can find one or I'll go to the library.