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Why RAID is (usually) a Terrible Idea

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  • NAS / RAID
  • Storage
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August 29, 2007 11:42:03 AM

Hi everyone

Though I'm sure I've posted this post before, but I'm not sure if the submit button worked as it should. So here goes nothing I''m posting it again.

As I said earlier, when I was searching for a solution to the AHCI technology on my Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 Mobo, I came across a lot of people using or wanting to use RAID as an uber-solution to all of our storage problems.

I received these two articles from www.techrepublic.com newsletter and they were posted there with permission from the Puget Custom Company which is a company that specializes in making custom built high-end performance PCs.

Here's what they think about RAID:

1. http://www.pugetsystems.com/articles.php?id=29

2. http://www.pugetsystems.com/articles.php?id=24

regards
redheat

More about : raid terrible idea

a b G Storage
August 29, 2007 12:43:24 PM

Yeah, for the most part, the advantages/disadvantages of RAID have been discussed ad-naseam in these forums.







I am here to say that those RAID configurations account for a very large portion of our support tickets, and are one of the biggest sources of frustration for our customers. said:




I am here to say that those RAID configurations account for a very large portion of our support tickets, and are one of the biggest sources of frustration for our customers.

I give the author credit for usign his experience and the benchmarks justifying his position against using RAID in Joe Average's custom build, but from the quoted statement it seems his opinion is slanted due to having to honor customer support agreements after building and selling a machine. Also, for the most part Joe Average doesn't even know what RAID stands for let alone know how to deal with rebuilding an array.
August 29, 2007 1:02:45 PM

I just put down a deposit on another WD raptor so i could raid mine with it. I am not listening to you guys ;) .

If you format your pc every 2 months then raid is no problem whatsoever. Plus i like th idea of about 150mb/s transfer rates. In oblivion i still get a small hiccup when it loads, not long enough to see a loading bar, but just long enough to bug me. So i am going to raid no matter what. The storage review article is very old so i dont think that promise sucks as much as they used to i am going for it. I think it might help a little cause i do copy large files quite often and all source engine data files are at least 700mb so it should help load times in most games, and as far as i can see the biggest bottleneck on a pc is the hdd, and i HATE load screens. If baldur's gate gets a bosst from raid then i think that getting 2 hdds is worth it. and i planned on raid since i got my pc. Now i just have to wait for am3 and the new quad cores with quadfire.
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August 29, 2007 1:03:56 PM

That may be the case for the average Joe, but for corporations that need redundancy, RAID is a great way to get it. I agree that RAID 0 is mostly a waste of time, but for backing up a disk, a simple, well designed RAID array will make life much easier.
August 29, 2007 1:04:19 PM

chunkymonster said:
Also, for the most part Joe Average doesn't even know what RAID stands for let alone know how to deal with rebuilding an array.


That's the funniest thing to me - they don't, yet they want it because they heard the term and associate it with high end, or maybe they read that cheap RAID can ravage Raptor. Or maybe they read the countless accounts that "I did it and it's awesome" on these forums from equally uninformed users.

And I do agree with chunky that the article seemed a bit of an "I don't wat to deal with customer complaints so no" kind of thing.

And we have beaten this issue to death countless times, and I can't wait for all the "testimonials" show up in this thread...
August 29, 2007 1:09:11 PM

TSIMonster said:
That may be the case for the average Joe, but for corporations that need redundancy, RAID is a great way to get it. I agree that RAID 0 is mostly a waste of time, but for backing up a disk, a simple, well designed RAID array will make life much easier.


No one is arguing with RAID for servers and / or high-end workstations where it's beneficial. But no, RAID provides redundancy, not back up. It will protect you from / reduce downtime as a result of drive failure, not reliably protect against data loss.
August 29, 2007 1:43:06 PM

russki said:
No one is arguing with RAID for servers and / or high-end workstations where it's beneficial. But no, RAID provides redundancy, not back up. It will protect you from / reduce downtime as a result of drive failure, not reliably protect against data loss.


I agree RAID shouldn't be used as backup, but since it provides redundancy, doesn't that imply it helps protect against data loss? I run RAID5 because I know a hard drive will die once in a while. Backup solutions for home use is not cost effective (I'm talking about 1TB of data backup). So, a properly configured RAID 5/6 or mirroring, I believe, is a valid solution to reasonably protect against data loss. Is it fool proof? Obviously not. However, it is significantly better than 1 drive and no backup.

Since I'm not a complete idiot (some of the time), I do backup my pictures and music regularly to DVD since that can be handled somewhat easily. In addition, when/if I have a drive failure, the machine will be immediately shut down and the drive replaced as I'd rather have safe data on the file server than absolute uptime.

August 29, 2007 2:13:49 PM

Personally i just wanted more space, cause games are getting bigger, and since i have 1 raptor already then why the hell not?

I am going to be copying big files very fast :D 

IMO ALL DATA IS EXPENDABLE. SOMEONE ELSE SOMEWHERE HAS IT TOO. RAID CRASH = 15 MINUTES WORK, MAXIMUM 1 HOUR.

What, you don't have an hour to format a PC that likely already needs it?

All my important stuff goes on my flash drive.
August 29, 2007 2:24:21 PM

icepop456 said:
I agree RAID shouldn't be used as backup, but since it provides redundancy, doesn't that imply it helps protect against data loss? I run RAID5 because I know a hard drive will die once in a while. Backup solutions for home use is not cost effective (I'm talking about 1TB of data backup). So, a properly configured RAID 5/6 or mirroring, I believe, is a valid solution to reasonably protect against data loss. Is it fool proof? Obviously not. However, it is significantly better than 1 drive and no backup.

Since I'm not a complete idiot (some of the time), I do backup my pictures and music regularly to DVD since that can be handled somewhat easily. In addition, when/if I have a drive failure, the machine will be immediately shut down and the drive replaced as I'd rather have safe data on the file server than absolute uptime.


It does provide some protection, but it's not the design intent. Besides, 5 provides protection against One drive failure. If you have two drives fail you're SOL. And also, the corporate users need protection for onsite emergencies. So...It is what it is. For home users it could be a decent solution, if you understand the benefits and limitations of the technology. You seem to, but that's not true for a lot of posters here.
a b G Storage
August 29, 2007 2:24:41 PM

Okay, here comes the "testimonial".
RAID is not for everyone, but if you want to decrease load times, it is absolutely a benefit. Sure, there can be issues.
A drive fails, you lose everything. Big deal....if you lose 1 drive you lose everything.
Back up your important data.
There is no more risk here than overclocking, and frying something else in your system if you don't know what you are doing. Overclocking is the very first thing anyone in this forum recommends, and don't see very many of you proclaiming all the problems that can arise from a bad overclock it you don't know what you are doing. If you want to run on the edge and tweak your system to the max, RAID 0 can be a +.
If you want an decent system and completely minimize your risk of problems, and don't want to tinker, buy a Dell.
If you are an enthusiast who likes to tweak and squeeze every ounce of performance, why not run RAID 0? We reload, reformat, and generally rework our systems every 6 months anyway.
What the hell is the big deal, and why does everyone jump on the "RAID is bad" bandwagon when there clearly can be a performance advantage, even though small?
It's no different than many of you who are getting 80 fps and come here to post questions and responses to gain another 10 fps, so everyone suggests buying a new $350 video card, or overclock another 10%. It's all relevant.
I am currently NOT running RAID 0. I am using a single drive. However, I have ran RAID 0 in the past, and l can tell a difference. I had a drive making some noise, so I mirrored everything over to a single drive. When I get a few bucks extra to blow, I'll go get another new drive, set my RAID 0 array back up, and mirror everthing back over.
No big deal, no worries, no problem.
And if one of the drives go belly up, I have a backup.
Again, no big deal, no worries, no problem.
a b G Storage
August 29, 2007 2:28:21 PM

Well, aside from the "strangers" who come here to ask questions about new builds (and I hope they feel welcome), the forum regulars are not "the average Joe." As such, we should be quite capable of dealing with typical RAID issues. Personally, I've never used a RAID on any of my PCs, preferring to backup by copying, although I would consider RAID-1 in some cases; I've installed RAID-1 and RAID-5 on file servers with good results.
August 29, 2007 3:12:30 PM

RAID ROx0rS my ub3r L3e7 80xor so i can h4x0r f45t3r ;)  and if i can stop the hiccups in oblivion then i say it was worth it.

Like jitpublisher said, if you can get a bit extra then why not. I will likely be back crying about how i lost an X3 savegame later so don't take my vote for raid as concrete yet.
August 29, 2007 4:47:05 PM

Quote:
There is no more risk here than overclocking, and frying something else in your system if you don't know what you are doing. Overclocking is the very first thing anyone in this forum recommends, and don't see very many of you proclaiming all the problems that can arise from a bad overclock


jitpublisher, why are you berating us? This article was clearly targeted at average joes. For some reason you took it personally.
August 29, 2007 6:04:12 PM

russki said:
No one is arguing with RAID for servers and / or high-end workstations where it's beneficial. But no, RAID provides redundancy, not back up. It will protect you from / reduce downtime as a result of drive failure, not reliably protect against data loss.


I was more or less referring to drive failure as opposed to corruption. I should have been more specific, or not used the word back-up. In the sense of drive failure, RAID does provide data protection WHILE reducing downtimes. Imagine a 1TB hard drive (which we have a ton of here at work) failed for any reason and you didn't have a mirrored drive ready to go? Could you imagine recreating the hard drive from a tape? In that sense, I consider that data loss protection. In no way should RAID replace proper back up procedures, but used in conjuction with can greatly reduce headaches. Thank you for the correction, it was needed.
August 29, 2007 6:08:13 PM

Rabidpeanut said:
Personally i just wanted more space, cause games are getting bigger, and since i have 1 raptor already then why the hell not?

I am going to be copying big files very fast :D 

IMO ALL DATA IS EXPENDABLE. SOMEONE ELSE SOMEWHERE HAS IT TOO. RAID CRASH = 15 MINUTES WORK, MAXIMUM 1 HOUR.

What, you don't have an hour to format a PC that likely already needs it?

All my important stuff goes on my flash drive.



And you trust your flash drive that much? I have counted many flash drive failures from many different brands. I trust them more then a hard drive, but I prefer using multiple medias for my important data. Whether the data be pictures, or other IRREPLACEABLE documents.

All data is most definitely not expendable and you are either naive or ignorant for such a statement. Everyone is titled to an opinion, but the fact is, not everything can be replaced/recreated.
August 29, 2007 6:24:00 PM

TSIMonster said:
I was more or less referring to drive failure as opposed to corruption. I should have been more specific, or not used the word back-up. In the sense of drive failure, RAID does provide data protection WHILE reducing downtimes. Imagine a 1TB hard drive (which we have a ton of here at work) failed for any reason and you didn't have a mirrored drive ready to go? Could you imagine recreating the hard drive from a tape? In that sense, I consider that data loss protection. In no way should RAID replace proper back up procedures, but used in conjuction with can greatly reduce headaches. Thank you for the correction, it was needed.

Well, agreed. I wasn't by the way making the argument with an attacking attitude, more or less just making an observation. There has been a bit of discussion of this specific issue (redundancy vs. backup) recently on places like ZDnet, so it was fresh on my mind...
a b G Storage
August 30, 2007 9:53:57 AM

qwertycopter said:
Quote:
There is no more risk here than overclocking, and frying something else in your system if you don't know what you are doing. Overclocking is the very first thing anyone in this forum recommends, and don't see very many of you proclaiming all the problems that can arise from a bad overclock


jitpublisher, why are you berating us? This article was clearly targeted at average joes. For some reason you took it personally.



Sorry, I get tired of people bashing RAID. I guess I did get a little worked up.
August 30, 2007 10:27:40 AM

Raid is not for newbies. Enough said. End of argument.
August 30, 2007 11:02:34 AM

well said croc, raid is for people who know what they are getting themselves into, noone else and since you knwo what you are getting yourself into you probably backup regularly or dont keep important data on the array.
August 30, 2007 1:05:58 PM

I've used high end disk subsystems for years, and while I see the benefit, most people won't. Latency is more important than STR in my opinion, I can easily see the difference between a 7200RPM drive and a 10K SCSI drive, but one drive vs. 2 in RAID-0, not so much. If you have a completely top of the line system already, go for a faster drive as opposed to RAID.
August 30, 2007 1:37:51 PM

jt001 said:
I've used high end disk subsystems for years, and while I see the benefit, most people won't. Latency is more important than STR in my opinion, I can easily see the difference between a 7200RPM drive and a 10K SCSI drive, but one drive vs. 2 in RAID-0, not so much. If you have a completely top of the line system already, go for a faster drive as opposed to RAID.

That's the thing (and the fact that it isn't for newbies, or rather, those that don't fully understand what it has to offer). And a lot of people here RAID faster drives than their old one, and sing RAID praises. But even they are overshadowed by those that buy another drive to complement their existing one in RAID 0, run Sandra and beat off to the results (sorry for the crude imagery. That's how my mind works sometimes).

jitpublisher: people are not bashing RAID. They are saying that it does an average user (i.e., for RAID0, somebody who owns a desktop and doesn't do extensive multimedia work) no appreciable good. That is a fact and as such does not constitute bashing. I would be the first one to advise RAID0 for a multimedia workstation as a work volume. But I would also be the first one to discourage RAID0 for a gamer. <5% improvement is just not worth the cost / risk. At least for rational people. And most of the time that extra performance should really come from something else.
August 30, 2007 1:47:52 PM

I would like to see someone who just got their first pc set up raid...

Newbies my eye.

I will take the ~5% cause every drop of performance is worth it.

I cut out 75% of my windows just to get it going faster, my windows directory is 559mb big, i stopped every unneeded process i could so buying an extra drive for raid might seem stupid to you but i want the ~5% extra. LOAD TIMES PISS ME OFF.
August 30, 2007 1:50:12 PM

russki said:
Well, agreed. I wasn't by the way making the argument with an attacking attitude, more or less just making an observation. There has been a bit of discussion of this specific issue (redundancy vs. backup) recently on places like ZDnet, so it was fresh on my mind...


I know, definitely no offense taken. It's the truth, RAID is not for noobs and should not be offered to them.
August 30, 2007 2:13:21 PM

Rabidpeanut said:
I would like to see someone who just got their first pc set up raid...

Newbies my eye.

I will take the ~5% cause every drop of performance is worth it.

I cut out 75% of my windows just to get it going faster, my windows directory is 559mb big, i stopped every unneeded process i could so buying an extra drive for raid might seem stupid to you but i want the ~5% extra. LOAD TIMES PISS ME OFF.


RAID-0 doesn't do much for Windows loading times, low latency is what does it.
a b G Storage
August 30, 2007 2:34:58 PM

jt001 said:
RAID-0 doesn't do much for Windows loading times, low latency is what does it.


Low latency is a big help, 2 fast drives in RAID 0 is an even bigger help.
August 30, 2007 3:00:24 PM

Rabidpeanut said:
I would like to see someone who just got their first pc set up raid...

Yeah, like people posting "how do I enable RAID...do I plug them into SATA1&2 for RAID 0 and 3&4 for RAID 1..." I'm paraphrasing, but it actually happened.

By the way, you know you are an exception and not the rule as far as your exuberance goes in the quest for every little bit of performance. I can't blame you - it's worth it for you - but it is hardly common and potentially hardly rational.
August 30, 2007 3:28:57 PM

most people don't understand that, depending on what you want to do, raid 0 can do that too, for lower access times, give yourself a 16k stripe size, access times drop likes files, but so do read speeds and cpu usage skyrockets (for those using an onboard solution), the most drives you add and the lower the stripe size the faster the access time, and if you keep adding drives, sustained reads will pick up too, unfortunately again, so will cpu usage...

i solved the problem, i origonally had an e4300 and 2 drives in raid 0 with a 64k stripe size, it was an average performance boost over 1 drive, but not enough to make it worth while, s i switched to 4 drives with a 16k stripe size, i don't get much better sustained speeds than the 2x drives but my acess times are a quater, and eventually i cracked my die on my e4300 so i switched it out for a q6600, and i have buckets of cpu to spare, so i am more the merrier. unfortunately, if you don;t know what you are doign you won't acheive good results, or even worse, risk data loss and many other horrid things.
August 30, 2007 3:51:54 PM

I think the moral of the story is that if you don't know what RAID is and can't build the array yourself then you shouldn't use it. Once you've gained the requisite knowledge then you can build your array and live happily ever after.
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