What is RAID Storage and What is the Best RAID Configuration?

Redundant Array of Independent Disks or RAID is a popular way to store data by combining multiple small disks into a single device. This system is highly resilient. The disks are arranged in various configurations, and accordingly, RAID levels are given. Each configuration has its own benefits and losses. The simplest RAID can be formed by using just two drives, while the complex ones can contain unlimited disks theoretically.

RAID isn’t always hardware; it can also be implemented using software (virtual RAID). Hardware tends to be found more often in Windows systems, while software implementations are more common in modern enterprise systems or open source servers.

RAID can be configured for one of the following operations namely, stripping, mirroring and parity. Depending on your intended use, you can adopt one of the above processes. In stripping, wherein that data is split amongst various drives. In the event of failure of one drive, you might lose half of your data. By mirroring, you store identical data onto multiple blocks. In this way, you never lose your data. You can also make use of parity, where in case of failure, the system would be able to track the missing block and prevent the system from going down. The different combinations of these functions lead to the development of various RAID configurations.


Commonly used RAID configurations


In RAID 0 your data is split across multiple drives, without parity, redundancy or fault tolerance. If one drive fails, the whole system will go down. On the one hand, it offers no such capabilities, but on the other, it provides very high read and write speeds.


Also known as mirroring. In this format, identical copies of your data are made and stored on two different disks. RAID 1 offers high redundancy in times of faults. Although, it does not provide high read-write speed but is extremely resilient. Only two drives are required, but you can also use more than two drives depending on your system.


This is the most widely used configurations. You would need at least three drives for it. In the event of failure of one of the disks, the rest are able to recalculate the data. It makes use of parity and hence can reproduce the lost data. This means that a RAID 5 array can withstand a single drive failure without losing data or access to data.


RAID 6 is touted to be the most resilient of the RAID systems. It is identical to RAID 5 but has one more parity block. This makes RAID 6 tolerant to failure of two drives.


Benefits of RAID configurations

Different RAID formats have different benefits. The obvious advantages that it offers are as below.

  1. Increased fault tolerance or ability to function after one or multiple drive failures.
  2. High read-write speed.
  3. Larger capacity to store all your data


Numerous are the benefits of using a RAID configuration. To know more, you might want to consult an expert.