I will apologize in advance if this has been spelled out here already...but I have done a quick search or two of this forum and on google, and I can't find anything to help with specific questions or that I found detailed enough.
I just built a new system at home...Intel Quad (Core 2 Quad Q9550) and an ASUS Maximus II Formula Intel P45. I have 3 drives...SEAGATE Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB. Also, if it matters, I have 8GB of Corsair memory and I am running Windows Vista 64bit, to take advantage of the memory.
I was hoping to make the machine fairly resilient and decided to RAID 5 the drives...I built one big partition and installed the OS in it was just about to use it. However, I was discussing this with a collegue and he mentioned I should NOT put the OS on the RAID 5. He suggested making a mirror (RAID 0) for the OS and getting a few more drives and doing RAID 5 for the data.
However, my response was that although that did sound wiser, the reason I have the OS as part of the RAID 5 is that Windows installs most everything under the OS directories (I know you can change it, but it still puts stuff under \Windows) and that things like my music in iTunes and my Pictuers in MY DOCUMENTS was what I was most worried about....again, I know that you can change it, but my experience with Windows is that when you screw around with default locations you eventually come to poor results...or you install something and forget to change it....etc.)
So (if I haven't bored you to tears yet)...I have 2 main questions, with a couple of minor ones...
1. Is RAID 5 including the OS....bad? (The motherboard supports it via hardware and I am using the Intel drivers) Will it be bad performance? If a disk goes what happens?
2. I am also making my oldest machine into a backup area...probably running FreeNAS on it and just making it a network share...then imaging this new computer and one other to it via Acronis to have a machine with some images on it for me....Will I be able to image via this RAID with no problems?
Anyway, hats off to whomever is still reading and I very much appreciate any advice or thoughts you would have for me.
I would NEVER put the OS on an AID0 drive. (I probably wouldn't put it on any RAID drive.) RAID5 is ok, because if a drive fails, you won't have to reload your OS. You'll have to reload your OS if you loose the drive due to RAID driver loss, not sure how often that happens with RAID5. Performance would be slower then if you built a 3 disk AID0 array, not sure how much slower. (probably around 10-20% slower, but again, I'm not 100% sure.) A 3 disk AID0 array would be 1.5TBs, while a RAID5 array would be 1TB.
If a disk goes south, thats where RAID5 shines over AID0. With RAID5, you can continue to use the array, and rebuild it (overnight) when you get a new drive. If a disk in your 3 drive AID0 dies, you lose ALL data, and have to format with your two remaining ones. ALL data on the other two good drives is gone, as 1/3 of it is missing. If I was going to run any form of raid, I'd run either 1 or 5/6. (raid6 is similar to raid 5, but supports the loss of two disks.)
Can't answer your second question, I've never used that program. I imagine it doesn't care what the host drive is made up of, it simply copies the info.
I run raid 0 on my OS drive and regularly backup my data on a raid 5 array.
Raid 5 is great, I run it on a 4 disk array.
If you are paranoid, you can buy another disk of the same size and run raid 0+1 to get both performance and redundancy.