What is a RAID Array? An Overview to boost work efficiency

What is a RAID Array? RAID array options are followed by a number that offers varied methods for storing data across drives. Let's start the discussion!

RAID is an acronym for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks” and is a bulk storage technology that stores data by bringing together multiple storage disks. RAID drives provide benefits like increased performance gains, data protection, and redundancy.

RAID drives use the methods of parity, mirroring, and striping and work by employing two or more disks to distribute information across multiple drives.

What is a RAID Array? RAID array options are followed by a number that offers varied methods for storing data across drives. The goal is to help differentiate the kinds of services they offer.

What is a RAID and How does it work?


What is a RAID and How does it work What is a RAID Array | TTR Data Recovery

What is RAID setup?

Initially, RAID drives were finite and were limited to only a few special applications. They were highly-priced to suit the needs of businesses and the configuration was too complicated to set up without technical expertise. The onset of advanced technology has led to substantial changes leading to its expansion with increased applications and implementations.

Current computers come with a built-in controller and motherboard that supports almost all RAID types, eliminating the need for additional hardware.

A lot of motherboards do support RAID setups, but make sure that your computer system has the correct controller and motherboard. Refer to the manual for a proper understanding of your machine.

In software, the performance is measured by the operating system and a RAID controller is absent. A software RAID is not just a cheaper option but is also better for the local storage. On the other hand, its usage is limited to the type of RAID the operating system supports.

In a hardware RAID, the operations are handled by the RAID card which makes the performance easier and less burdensome on the server. A hardware RAID requires a RAID controller installed on the system.

A hardware RAID is more pliable in terms of expansion with options and has fewer bottlenecks as compared to a software RAID. The hardware RAID includes extra memory for cache usage. This leads to reduced pressure on the hardware’s better general performance.

For the system and the operator, the multiple disks of an array appear as a single drive. It is suggested that the drives are the same type and same size to better allow the flow of data across the drives.

Setting up a RAID on your computer What is a RAID Array | TTR Data Recovery

Keep in mind the following when setting up a RAID on your computer

  • It is essential to first create a backup of all the relevant files on external hard drives because the files could be deleted in the process of setting up your RAID array.
  • A back up is a copy stored externally and is detached from the original system. It acts as a safety net in terms of data protection and ensures that the files can be restored once the new setup is functioning. Make sure that any corrupted data is not backed up, otherwise, the backup too would contain corrupted data.
  • If you do experience data loss on any of your drives, you should consider professional RAID array data recovery. Another option available, although not as safe, is data recovery software. It requires the person to have the right knowledge regarding how to use it and the associated risks.

Consumers often find it difficult to set up a RAID by themselves. Expert help is advised in such cases. Slower performance and speeds could result from an improper setup and could lead to drive failure during work operations.

There are chances of drives failing during the rebuilding of the data. This might result in an entire array failure and a permanent loss of data.

At TTR Data Recovery, we know a sudden shutdown can lead to a lot of chaos. To make things smoother we offer an expert and streamlined processes for you.

How does it work?

How Does It Work What Is A Raid Array | Ttr Data Recovery

The purpose of using a RAID array is to create a cost-efficient alternative and enhance the performance efficiency of a single drive.

An array can be redundant with 1 or 2 disks, meaning that the array will continue to function despite 1 or 2 drive failures. This ensures that the information and files are still accessible when a particular drive has failed. Multiple disks can be accessed at the same time because of the uniform spread of information.

Some RAID levels come with spare disk options installed initially on the system which comes in as a backup disk when a drive fails. Due to this feature, it is possible to reconstruct data on the spare disk automatically when the drive failure is detected without interruption by the user.

The rebuilding of RAID hard drives takes as much time as the capacity of preserved data on the drives. The rebuilding process and the number of the disks that can fail are based on the RAID level.

Restoring the data could take a long time. This could lead to modified data since the last back up, in clearer terms, it will not be the latest copy of the files.

It is best to configure the disks of the same nature to enhance the speed of your array. Combination Standard disk RAID levels help you with more than one feature when you combine both the numbers. For example RAID 10 (RAID 1+ 0), RAID 1 for mirroring and RAID 0 for striping.

The arrays like RAID 10 use both the mirroring and striping function for data protection. A RAID 10 works by using the XOR code (binary code) to operate and can be used for large scale business operations

What is a RAID used for?

What is a RAID used for What is a RAID Array | TTR Data Recovery

Performance tends to be one of the key aspects of a smooth-running business. A RAID set up is used for raised levels of performance and data redundancy. Needless to say, a correct drive configuration is a must to achieve these goals. Storage options are turning getting more affordable with time, so businesses and individuals are finding that they have more RAID options to choose from.

The speed of a RAID is viable for occupations of media projects including music, editing, streaming purposes, and high definition videos. RAIDs can be the best option for businesses where large amounts of information are stored daily and hold fault tolerance is a prime aspect.

A RAID array is perfect for data reliant programs and applications. It is an affordable option for additional storage, better reliability, and superior throughput.

Some RAIDs help with high-speed applications to stream information.

Despite its safety measures, businesses are advised to have a complete backup. A RAID doesn’t protect against external factors like operator negligence, theft, software issues, malware, etc. Data recovery services can help you with this.

RAID levels like RAID 0 and RAID 1, are used more often by consumers and small enterprises. RAID 6 and RAID 3 are among the alternatives RAID levels that are hardly put into implementation these days.

What are the different RAID arrays?

RAID 0

Raid 0 What Is A Raid Array | Ttr Data Recovery

A RAID 0 uses a minimum of 2 physical drives and comes without the functions of parity data, redundancy, and fault tolerance. RAID 0 works by striping data uniformly across two or more disks.

A RAID 0 offers zero redundancy as it doesn’t follow the parity and drive mirroring function.

In a RAID 0, failure of one drive can cause the entire array to fail and result in permanent data loss from the storage drives.

Therefore, RAID 0 is usually used solely for speed intensive operations like high-speed streaming. Due to the striping function across the blocks, RAID 0 offers raised levels of performance. Despite that, a RAID 0 is a poor choice for any substantial tasks and proves to be a bottleneck in terms of data safety and reliability.

The systems are required to shut down when the RAID 0 drives fail. Large scale businesses cannot afford to lose important business data and spend their time recovering failed drives. The process could lead to losing a lot of business time.

RAID 1 – A RAID 1 (also known as disk mirroring).

RAID 1 What is a RAID Array | TTR Data Recovery

A RAID 1 only uses the mirroring method to copy the identical data across multiple disks. A minimum of 2 disks is required in a RAID 1.

A RAID 1 is usually preferred if read functions are emphasized more over the write functions. Enterprises that value redundancy, fault tolerance, and drive performance gains prefer using RAID 1 for their data storage needs.

A RAID 1 can function as long as one RAID drive is in working condition. If the hard drive in a RAID 1 fails, the data is mirrored to the backup or spare disks. Whereas, if a disk is corrupted, the corrupted data could get copied throughout the multiple drives in the array. As a result, there could be another drive failure in the array at the same time.

The downside of a RAID 1 is that since everything is saved twice, the storage capacity of the RAID drive is halved. For example, if there are 4 disks of 2 TB each, you will still only have a storage capacity of 4 TB.

Since write operations are done twice and data can be read from the operational disks, read speeds are faster than the write speeds.

raid 3

RAID 3 What is a RAID Array | TTR Data Recovery

A RAID 3 uses 3 hard drives, one for storing the parity data and 2 drives for striping. The performance of the RAID 3 diminishes because the data is stored on a different drive.

RAID 3 is not used as often used as other RAID levels. It is hardly implemented in business operations or tasks because they cannot cater to the various requests at the same time. Read speeds are greater than the write speeds in a RAID 3.

The drives in a RAID 3 must spin in equal harmony with the help of a controller. This helps with the read and write operations to function well.

RAID 5

RAID 5 What is a RAID Array | TTR Data Recovery

A RAID 5 consists of striping chunks of parity data at the block level. It has the parity function to distribute them across multiple drives in the RAID 5 array.

In case a drive fails, the RAID 5 further helps in the process of rebuilding the information from the functioning drives.

Information can be retrieved in case of a single disk failure in a RAID 5. Whereas in case more than one disk fails, data may be lost forever. RAID 5 offers an additional benefit of an extra spare disk as a safety back up when a drive fails.

The RAID 5 hard drives are still accessible when the data is reconstructed. If a drive fails, the information is rebuilt on the functioning disks with the help of parity.

RAID 6

RAID 6 What is a RAID Array | TTR Data Recovery

A RAID 6 is an extension of a RAID 5 with the addition of an additional parity block. A RAID 5 requires a minimum of 3 drives to function. Whereas the latter uses a minimum of 4 drives with a fault tolerance of two drives.

A RAID 6 makes use of block-level striping that uses two parity blocks spread across multiple disks in the array.

RAID 5 and RAID 6 are the best alternatives for businesses looking to cut costs.

Conclusion

Conclusion What Is A Raid Array | Ttr Data Recovery

People usually don’t realize the damage a failed drive can do until it’s too late. Recovering data from a failed hard drive can be a struggle in a conventional RAID set up. Hence, relying completely on a RAID is like a catastrophe waiting to happen.

The SSDs are an advanced alternative for RAID hard drives that are small in size and have high speed. Cloud systems are another alternative for RAID drives where the files are maintained on the internet and ensures a higher level of safety, but are still subject to server failures and viruses.

It is sometimes said that RAID technology has become out-of-date and is now replaced by better and more reliable options like cloud computing and SSDs. These advanced technology options are cheaper than RAID hard drives and offer a well-grounded source of storing your crucial data. Further, the options like “ensure coding” cover up all the flaws of a RAID array.

Different alternatives from the RAID school come with varied options. One needs to determine which one should be used according to their needs. The options you choose, from RAID arrays to the modern-day solutions, differ according to how you want to use it.

RAID levels are often confused as an equivalent to a backup. It only creates a safety net for files to be copied across multiple disks for business continuity, but is not a proper backup. Though it is not a permanent solution, it is recommended to create a consistent back up from time to time.

Hard drives are always vulnerable to failing. A significant factor to consider is the timing of failure.

The refined alternatives, like cloud computing, have their own serious problems a well, most notably data breaches and viruses, which are becoming more and more widespread. Oftentimes, using these services comes with additional monthly fees for the subscription.

Every business is distinctive and storing your data in the most reliable sources is vital. A RAID array is a one-time investment and should be used with utmost care. RAID levels have coinciding features and a proper comparison can help you choose among the different capacities.

Tommy Khamoushi - Data Recovery Expert for TTR Data Recovery

About the Author
Tommy Khamoushi, Data Recovery Expert

Tommy Khamoushi is an IACRB-certified Data Recovery Engineer and a Certified Forensic Computer Investigator. He has more than 20 years of experience in data recovery including providing technical support for the House of Representatives.

Tommy leads a team of data recovery engineers and experts at TTR Data Recovery to recover highly sensitive data for government agencies like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and enterprise businesses using advanced and proprietary techniques and processes.

Connect with Tommy on LinkedIn.