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When is RAID 0 a good idea?

8/13/2006

Everyone told me RAID 0 was a bad idea. But I am always the odd man out. But in my case, RAID 0 really is a good idea. Here is why.

RAID 0

RAID 0 is a configuration in which two drives are paired together. One drive gets half of the data, the other drive gets the other half. The general idea is that if you split small chunks of data into two pieces, data can be read and written twice as fast. And mostly that is how it works. The only reason for RAID 0 is speed.

Half speed

The maximum speed of a SATA interface is 3 Gbps. When configuring RAID 0 using the controller I chose it treats them as one SATA device and the maximum speed remains 3 Gbps. I read of some users who argued against RAID 0 as it made no sense to them to effectively cut the speed. Their thought was that with two independent SATA drives of 3 Gbps each, you would have 6 Gbps. But there is faulty logic there. First the chances of actually getting 3 Gbps under normal usage are not high. It is likely that only a large defragmented file for video or other large file would yield this. I am using many programs and many files, they will not be sequential and the disk will be moving about. This is normal usage. So what does RAID 0 offer then? It doubles your minimum speed. In fact one would say while it does not double the theoretical speed, it does double the actual speed.

No redundancy

In RAID 0, if either drive fails you lose all of your data. However in single drive systems, if your drive fails you lose all of your data as well. I have had more than a few hard drives fail over the years and generally when they go data loss is complete. I do not need 24/7, and can rely on backups. Even with redundant RAID you still need backups in case of virus or other software malfunction.

Higher failure rate

Some argue that since there are two drives, there is a higher chance of failure. Possibly, but each drive is also being used half as much. The only thing that remains constant is the motor and power on time. In each hard drive failure I have had over the years, it has never been the motor.

RAID 0 + ?

RAID 0 is often combined with other RAID schemes to provide redundancy for failure. And with drives being cheap this is a good option. However I have a requirement for size, and two drives is already pushing it. In the end RAID 0 is about as reliable as a single hard disk, and that is what most of us are using in workstations anyways.

Result

I do not know how the system would perform without the RAID 0 configuration. But I do a lot of cloning of operating system partitions which range from 10 to 50 GB. I also do a lot of file intensive operations using databases and development tools. And it is definitely FAST.

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Comments:

Radzeen on 11.06.2009 wrote: thanks for sharing, you just convince me into this matter
moving company on 11.06.2009 wrote: great post I realy like it
steve on 18.08.2009 wrote: hey thanks for the post man, great insight.

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