What is RAID?

July 31, 2009

When you hear the word RAID, you probably think of those bug killer commercials where the bug screams RAID in fear. In the world of computers, however, RAID stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks.

The initial idea behind raid was instead of spending a large amount of money on one large disk, why not come up with a way to put a lot of smaller less expensive disks together in one array. A RAID array of disks looks like one drive to the computer even though it is a collection of several drives. This is called striping. For example, you can take 4 100 GB drives and make them look like one 400 GB drive.

Another type of raid is mirroring. You can take two hard drives and have one of the hard drives always be an exact copy, a mirror, of the other hard drive. Then if the primary hard drive fails, you can just use the mirror hard drive.

In these times of large and cheap hard drives, RAID isn’t as useful as it used to be. The biggest problem with raid is that it adds a level of complexity. Trying to recover information from a failed hard drive in a RAID Striping array is extremely difficult. Newer forms of RAID try to improve this. RAID mirroring is a good local backup strategy, but there is a performance price for having an always up to date mirror copy of your hard drive.

We don’t recommend RAID striping for anyone. We don’t recommend RAID mirroring for home users. For businesses, it’s a good idea to have RAID mirroring on your server to protect your data. But you will still need to have some sort of offsite backup to protect your critical data in case of fire or theft.

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