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2 HDDs or 1? To RAID or not to RAID if 2 HDDs?

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January 9, 2007 7:25:03 PM

I am putting together a mid-range system primarily for office, internet/email use with some movie/picture editing. This will start as a Win XP Home system, possibly going to Vista.

I was thinking of getting 1 Barracuda 7200.10 250GB SATA 3.0GB/s HD. I will probably be using the Gigabyte GA065P-DS3 mobo. Per Gigabyte website, it "Supports RAID 0, 1, JBOD (2 ports with RAID function supported by GIGABYTE SATA2)".

I've read bunch of the discussion about separating OS, pagefile and data as well as RAID.

I've been wondering if for my use RAID 0 would be useful. Would you recommend 2 drives anyway (assuming RAID 0 is not useful) to separate the system files from data and should I get 2 smaller HDs rather than the 250GB or 2 of the 250GB.

Any thoughts, comments and suggestions welcome. If you suggest 2 smaller HDs, can you give a recommendation on which ones? The Barracuda is around $80 and I would prefer not to spend more than $160 (2 Barracudas).

Thank you. David

More about : hdds raid raid hdds

a b G Storage
January 10, 2007 11:02:44 AM

I don't believe that the performance advantage from Raid 0 is worth it.
I beleive more in Raid 1, which safeguards up to a certain extent your data, but halves the storage.
I recommend two hard drives, one for the operating system and the other for data files, etc, so if the operating system goes bad, all the data is safe.
The total space available is the sum of the 2 drives.
I use an old hard disk, 10 GB is enough, for the paging file. This is optional.
January 10, 2007 12:03:04 PM

Thank you for your reply. Let me make sure I understand what you are saying.

You're suggesting just 2 disks, no RAID at all, right? Should the pagefile be on the same disk as the OS or should I just create say a 4 GB partition for the pagefile on the larger disk?

Where in Virginia are you? I am near Dulles airport in Herndon.
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a b G Storage
January 10, 2007 12:03:18 PM

On a lark, I set up a RAID0 using 2 - 80GB 7200rpm 8MB cache WD's when I made the switch from WinXP 32bit to WinXP 64bit. And, moving forward I will continue to use a RAID0 setup for my OS. I've found it to be more responsive with loading apps and playing games. I literally have 3-5sec load times for CoD2 and GTA: San Andreas. Generally speaking I believe my system to be a bit more zippy overall as a result of the RAID0.

IMO, if you have enough RAM (2+GB), moving the page file to another drive for a perf increase is negligible especially if you defrag often, set the size of the pagefile (don't let windows manage it!), and manage/maintain the MFT.

I would always suggest having two hard drives. At the very least with two drives, I recommend installing the OS on one and then using the 2nd to store all your data and files. If all you're gonna get is two hd's, then I recommend a smaller drive for the OS and a large drive for storage and such.

If you plan on editing video and pictures, depending on the app you use, it may require a second "scratch" drive for holding temporary work, I know that Adobe Premier does. Either way, for video/photo editing I would definitely have two drives.
January 10, 2007 12:12:04 PM

Appreciate the info. Should the programs be on the same drive as the OS or where the data is? Or does it matter?

Quote:
IMO, if you have enough RAM (2+GB), moving the page file to another drive for a perf increase is negligible especially if you defrag often, set the size of the pagefile (don't let windows manage it!), and manage/maintain the MFT.


Forgive a newbie, but what is MFT? I have never really looked at the guts of the OS or the file system, just used the computer. I am now trying to get more educated and I thank you for helping me with that :wink:
January 10, 2007 12:16:04 PM

Hi David,

I Have 2 X 37 Gig 10,000 rpm WD raptors in raid 0 for speed and 2 X 250 Gig WD 2500 in raid 1 for data redundancy.
Let me state that raid 0 is not that much faster than an ordinary 7200 rpm HDD with my AMD 3800 X2 dual core setup, compared to my wife's Athlon XP 2100.
If I were doing it again, I would go with 1 raptor for the OS (XP Pro), 2 Gigs of Higher quality ram with no pagefile at all, since 2 Gig ram in dual channel is more than enough to do away with the pagefile alltogether. you could also scrape by with 1Gig of ram to not use any pagefile but, I prefer to be safe at 2 Gig of ram.

I have found that with my XP Pro OS and all my installed programs, I only consume aroud 10 to 11 Gigs of space so, a smaller HDD such as the raptor(optional) is more than ample for the job.

Definitely set up 2 separate HDD's in raid 1 for your data!! Until you have lost all your data :evil:  , you will not begin to appreciate the peace of mind obtained with 2 separate HDD's for your irreplacable data and, also back these up on separate media if you want total peace of mind!

Bilpier
a b G Storage
January 10, 2007 1:03:45 PM

Quote:
Appreciate the info. Should the programs be on the same drive as the OS or where the data is? Or does it matter?

IMO, if you have enough RAM (2+GB), moving the page file to another drive for a perf increase is negligible especially if you defrag often, set the size of the pagefile (don't let windows manage it!), and manage/maintain the MFT.


Forgive a newbie, but what is MFT? I have never really looked at the guts of the OS or the file system, just used the computer. I am now trying to get more educated and I thank you for helping me with that :wink:

I've always just loaded apps on the same drive as the OS. Having a RAID0 helps with the load times. If you had an old 5400rpm IDE ATA66 drive for the OS and a SATAII for the 2nd drive, it would be better to load any apps on the SATAII drive just because they will load faster, but having newer drives, I don't think it matters, I think it's a questions of personal preference.

Having 4 drives total, 2 in RAID0 for the OS and speed, and 2 in RAID1 for data storage is a good way to set up your system. I agree that RAID1 is "safer" than RAID0 and a good idea to set up drives in RAID1 for data storage, but nothing that can't be offset by regular back-ups and ghost images. It is worth noting tho that RAID arrays are no repalcement for regular back-ups and ghost images, think of a RAID1 array as more of an insurance policy against complete and total data loss.

In short, the Master File Table is the place where information about every file and directory on an NTFS volume is stored. Windows by default sets aside about 12% of the drive to store the MFT. As you add more files or load more programs to your system, Windows automatically re-allocates the size of the MFT and claims more space on the drive. However, as you add more files, the additional space that windows claims for the MFT may be elsewhere on the disk and cause the MFT to become defragmented which increases seek/read times and decreased disk performance. Some defragging applications (like Diskeeper) allow you to manage the MFT to avoid a fragmented MFT and keep all the MFT data in the same space on the drive.

This article pretty much sums it up, give it a read.

Also, as mentioned in an above post, with enough RAM, you can actually disable the pagefile altogether...at least 2GB of RAM to do this tho, definitely if you have 4+GB of RAM. Even so, with video/photo editing, regardless of the amount of RAM you have, it may be worth it to have some of a pagefile, especially if you plan on multi-tasking like listening to music, dl'ing torrents, dl'ing from the newsgroups, folding, etc, while editing.
January 10, 2007 2:58:57 PM

Thank you very much for the excellent explanation. I will certainly look at the article that you are suggesting. I am beginning to see that all you need is money to build a system that will do everything :) 
!