Drawbacks of Common RAID Configurations

@timothy-higgins Timothy Higgins

Considered by many to be a highly efficient means of protecting your computer's data, RAID, also known as Redundant Array of Inexpensive (or Independent) Disks, is much more than that. In fact, there are some experts who recommend avoiding RAID if your sole intent is data backup. 

There are many reasons to avoidRAID architecture. For starters, it can greatly complicate the processes of data restoration in the event of an emergency. In some cases, and depending on which RAID configuration you use, it might render data recovery near-impossible. Your only course of action might be third-party data recovery software or services. 

Moreover, there are specific drawbacks to each level of RAID that every RAID user should know and understand. Not only will this prevent you from making a costly error in the first place, but it could help tremendously when it comes to diagnosing and troubleshooting afailed RAID system. 

RAID 0: Although RAID 0 is great for a quick boost to your system's overall performance, it provides no fault tolerance whatsoever. Because of data striping, any lost or corrupted data will be extremely difficult to recover. If you do manage to restore any lost data, you'll likely be limited to smaller files.  

RAID 1: While RAID 1 offers some amount of fault tolerance and data protection, mostly because it mirrors data between multiple drives, this configuration ultimately halves your total drive capacity. This is because every file is written twice – once on each drive. To counteract this, you'll have to invest even more money to ensure you have enough storage space in your system. 

RAID 5: One of the most common setups seen in enterprise environments, RAID 5 involves incredibly sophisticated technology. If a single disk fails and needs to be replaced, the rebuilding process could take several days. If another one of your disks happens to fail in that time span, you risk losing valuable data forever. 

RAID 6: Combining data striping with a double parity error-checking system,RAID 6 is another choice that is popular amongst today's enterprise environments. Unfortunately, as a result of the extra parity, write speeds are even slower than RAID 5. If your goal is system performance and efficiency, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. 

RAID 10: Also known as RAID 1+0, this combines RAID 0 and RAID 1 to provide both data striping and data mirroring. While it offers a combination of performance and protection, half of your system's overall storage capacity is allotted to mirroring. This is very cost prohibitive in many cases and, as a result, it makes more sense to go with RAID 5 or RAID 6. 

As you can see, RAID doesn't provide your system with complete data protection. Depending on the exact level you use, it might not even offer any data redundancy whatsoever. While it does have its uses, especially in large-scale, enterprise-level systems, it's critical that you understand the advantages and disadvantages before deploying RAID technology – whether that's at the workplace or within your own home.