Looking for experienced RAID 0 users


Years ago, I ran a RAID 0 array on twin 45gig drives. It was great for transferring big files, like videos. I later switched to a laptop for a couple of years and went down to a slow 4200rpm single drive. It's been a long time since I've had good performance, one could say.

So I'm seeking to make things snappy on a new machine once again. Lots has changed in the world of drives. I see the 10,000 and higher rpm drivers out there, but don't really want to drop the $ on them just yet. Maybe in the future I will, as for now, I'm just getting my feet wet again after being out of the tech side of things for a number of years going through huge moves and school, etc.

What I'd really like to go "faster" is basically application switching times and load times of files. I'm curious about this though as I'm sure this is not just a HD speed thing, but much more. However, I'm curious because when I often switch applications quickly, the HD is going absolute mad and cannot keep up. I'm guessing that's the swap/page file, or whatever cache system is being used as applications are switched and files loaded into memory. I also really want disk access time to go up (which I know RAID 0 does not speed up, but actually slow down). I hate browsing the contents of a drive in explorer and it sluggishly poke along trying to load previews of the files, thumbnails and all that jazz, and even just grabbing the index of what all is there. I'd like to get back to it being snappy. Where I can open a folder and `snap' all the files appear fast, not just in a slow `loading' fashion and have previews up and going before I have time to throw up my hands and leave to get a drink as I wait. In fact, I really, really hate it when I click on Programs from my Start Menu and even with only a few things, the drive grinds to read what is there to display. I want it to snap. Yea, I'm being a little dramatic, lol.

So here I'm asking for experienced RAID users if I'm being realistic or even on the right side of the page considering RAID again. My old experiences with it were great. I had only one drive failure in many years so I was never really concerned with that aspect of RAID 0, and I now have externals for backups anyways of important stuff.

I guess the main things I'm seeking are:

* Fast access time
* Fast loading times on smaller, but numerous files
* Fast application switching without the drives grinding to catch up

Any pointers or directions?

Very best, :na:
3 answers Last reply
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  1. what os are you going to be using? there are some ways to speed up using RAM for page file cache as well depending on what OS and how much RAM you have or are willing/able to get?
  2. Heya,

    I'll be using XP for as long as possible and it'll be 2 gigs of ram.

    I've not heard of PCI-express RAID. That sounds very interesting.

    Very best, :)
  3. RAID 0 writes part of each byte of data to multiple disks. So if you have 2 disks in a RAID 0 stripped volume, the first 4 bits of each byte are stored on disk 1 and the second 4 bits of each byte are stored on disk 2, which almost doubles your performance, because physically reading/writing data onto the disk platters is the slowest part of saving and retrieving data and program code. So dividing the workload between two physical harddisks almost doubles the performance (less some overhead). A 2 disk stripped array (RAID 0) also doubles your storage space. If you go to 4 disks performance and storage space doubles (less more overhead), because you're now reading and writing only 2 bits of each byte to each disk. This is assuming that you have a hardware RAID controller. For IDE/PATA or SATA drives I recommend either Promise, SIIG or Intel controllers; they're pretty solid at a reasonable consumer price. Motherboards with the Intel X38/ICH9R chipset are an even better option.

    However, the risk of losing your data also increases with the number of disks in your RAID 0 volume, because if any one drive fails, you lose all your data. I've run RAID 0 for years, but now I looking to run RAID 5 or 10 which combines performance with data backup, given that hardware prices are coming down and SATA II performance is so much better than SCSI or IDE performance used to be. You can also put your Windows swap file on its own dedicated disk, which will further improve your performance. Remember, the other bottleneck (besides the how slow data found on and written onto or read off the magnetic disk patter) is that often 3 different streams of data have to be read/written at the same time: OS/application code, data, and temporary files. If you put these on 3 physically different disks or arrays, they can happen at the same time; if they're on the same physical drive (even if they're in different partitions), each has to wait it's turn, since more-or-less (depending on the number of read/write heads, disk platters in the drive, cache, queuing, etc.) only one of those three data streams can be read or written at a time.
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