RAID: What is it and Do You Need It?

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The recent release of Seagate IronWolf 10TB NAS Hard Drive showed just how far the technology behind storage has come. Just a few years ago, a 1TB hard drive was considered a leap forward. In fact, a 1TB hard drive is still big enough for the average computer user, but 10TB on a single hard drive is truly remarkable.

Aside from hardware technological advancements, there is a lot of new technologies surrounding how hard drives are used. RAID or Redundant Array of Independent Disks can now be configured to suit specific needs. What is RAID? Do you need to use RAID? We are going to answer those questions in this article.

What is RAID?

RAID or Redundant Array of Independent Disks is a storage technology that enables the use of multiple physical hard drives to achieve different goals. These multiple hard drives are configured to work as a single unit in order to bring better data protection, faster read and write performance, or even both.

As mentioned earlier, there are different ways you can configure RAID. The most basic types of RAID are RAID 0 and RAID 1. RAID 0 combines two or more hard drives into one large storage. If you configure two 1TB hard drives in RAID 0, you will have a total storage of 2TB. RAID 0 also brings a substantial performance improvement, since data is written to multiple drives simultaneously. However, a single hard drive failure will break the entire RAID 0 configuration right away, leaving zero tolerance for faults.

RAID 1 is the exact opposite of RAID 0. It utilizes multiple physical drives to increase fault tolerance and add a layer of data protection to the system. Instead of combining two 1TB of drives into a single 2TB unit, RAID 1 offers only 1TB of total space for the same configuration. In return, the data you store is written into the two disks simultaneously. When one drive fails, you can easily restore your data from the mirror drive.

RAID 5, 6, and 10

While RAID 0 and RAID 1 are rather basic, RAID 5, RAID 6, and RAID 10 offers a more balanced approach to the performance-protection equation. RAID 5 combines a minimum of three drives, with two drives working together to boost performance, and the other acting as a mirror for added data protection.

RAID 10 utilizes a minimum of 4 drives. It practically combines RAID 0 and RAID 1 into a single unit, offering an equal level of performance boost and data protection. In the case of RAID 6, you can still access your files even when two drives fail.

RAID 6 is considered the midpoint. You still need a minimum of 4 drives to set up a RAID 6 unit, but the way the drives are used is more similar to RAID 5. The only difference is that you get more parity block for mirroring, adding additional data protection.

RAID and Security

Even when you use RAID 0 to squeeze the most performance out of your drives, you don’t have to worry about losing your files too much. For starters, modern hard drives are more reliable than their older counterparts. The Seagate IronWolf 10TB NAS Hard Drive we talked about at the beginning of the article is even designed for network-attached storage units, with enhanced reliability and a longer lifecycle.

You can also rely on RAID recovery services when you do run into a catastrophic RAID failure. To make it even better, there are now remote RAID recovery services ready to save your data through a remote connection.

Do you need RAID? If you are a basic user, RAID is definitely not for you. If you’re a more advanced or business user and you want to benefit from the improved performance, better data protection, or both, then the right RAID configuration will do wonders to your system.