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To Raid or not to Raid

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September 24, 2009 3:06:04 AM

I am building my new PC and i was wondering what would be better, two 500gb caviar black drives in a raid0 array or a 1tb caviar black drive? would there be a significant performance boost when using raid0 or would it be about the same as a single 1tb drive?
Also one day ( in the far future ) i would like to add some more hard drives to my PC so what would be better four 500gb caviar black drives in a raid0 scheme or two 1tb caviar black drives in a raid0 array?

Thanks in advance :) 

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a c 415 G Storage
September 24, 2009 4:33:01 AM

Two 500GB drives in a RAID 0 configuration will perform better than a single 1TB drive, but you will also double the likelihood of a drive failure wiping out all your data.

To give you an idea of the performance difference, I briefly tested a two-disk RAID array of WD green drives vs. a single WD green drive as the OS disk. The single drive took about 21 seconds from the start of the boot process (after POST finished) to presentation of the logon prompt, while the two-disk RAID array took about 17 seconds.
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September 24, 2009 7:59:46 AM

is it really likely to crash and lose all of my data or is it just a possibility?
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a b G Storage
September 24, 2009 1:12:38 PM

smithinator101 said:
is it really likely to crash and lose all of my data or is it just a possibility?

It is a possibility, and it is likely. If you want to run RAID, you better also run a good backup.
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a c 415 G Storage
September 24, 2009 3:56:26 PM

smithinator101 said:
is it really likely to crash and lose all of my data or is it just a possibility?
If a single disk drive has, say, a 10% chance of crashing in a year, then with two disks in a RAID 0 array you have almost a 20% chance that one of them will crash and if it does you'll loose all your data.

If the data is important to you, then you DO need to make backups to offline disks. Good backup strategy is: have two copies of your data on offline disks, and put one of those disks offsite.

But don't get the idea that the only reason you need backups is because it's RAID 0. Really, even with RAID 1, you should be doing those backups ANYWAY.
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September 24, 2009 10:18:22 PM

i know you'll lose all data from both hdd's but will one of the drives crashing destroy the other drive? thanks for all of the great advice, in your opinion is raid worth it?
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September 25, 2009 3:01:20 AM

well it shouldn't cause any damage on the other drive
so long as it isn't extremely catastrophic, ie the platter burst out of the casing and impales the other drive
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a b G Storage
September 25, 2009 4:07:09 AM

HA! Hilarious! That's more than extremely catastrophic; More like breaking the laws of physics
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a c 415 G Storage
September 25, 2009 6:17:27 AM

smithinator101 said:
i know you'll lose all data from both hdd's but will one of the drives crashing destroy the other drive? thanks for all of the great advice, in your opinion is raid worth it?
He-he. Yeah, it's not like a turbojet throwing a fan blade that slices through everything in it's path... :ouch: 

If one drive fails the other will still work, but the problem is that every other sector (or more accurately: group of sectors) is on the dead drive so every file on your disk has basically got missing data, not to mention the metadata used by the file system to keep track of everything. That basically means all your data is toast, even though "half" of it is still there to sift through if you really, REALLY want to spend the time tracking it down.

Whether it's worth it to you depends entirely on what value you place on performance. I personally wouldn't use RAID 0, but I'm more paranoid than most about my data and I'd rather use an SSD to get the kind of performance I'm looking for. Your proclivities may be different.
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September 25, 2009 7:17:47 AM

yeah but most of the data on my computer is either backed up or not very important and using quality drives like the caviar blacks should hopefully decrease the chance of failure, right?
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a b G Storage
September 25, 2009 12:38:16 PM

I agree, RAID-0 with a good backup. The WD Black drives are good (and I would recommend one for your backup), but if you want to RAID, I recommend the RE3/4 drives for their RAID-specific features, 1.2 million hours MTBF, and a similar 5-year warranty.
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a c 415 G Storage
September 25, 2009 10:21:05 PM

smithinator101 said:
yeah but most of the data on my computer is either backed up or not very important and using quality drives like the caviar blacks should hopefully decrease the chance of failure, right?
Hey, it's your data and your decision. ANY drive, even the ones with 1.2 million hours MTBF, can fail at any time. As long as you do your backups on a regular basis, you don't really have to worry all that much about drive failure other than the downtime it causes while you replace the drive and restore your data from the backups.
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a b G Storage
September 26, 2009 1:16:33 AM

Heres something to think about. Everyone starts off on the statistics of drives failing and blah, blah, blah. Forget about that part of it, it means almost nothing.
Complete drive failures are not that common. It happens, but when people lose data on a RAID 0 array, 90% of the time it is caused directly by something the user does...installs new hardware, overclocking and resets the BIOS, they are adding other drives and unplug one of the drives in the array and don't put it back, on and on, any number of things can happen that results in the array being broken. Then they start fiddeling around, not quite understanding what they have done or what just happened, and then they get too far down the road before they ask for help, and end up destroing any hope they ever had of re-establishing the array, and saving all the data on it.
THAT is what happens MOST of the time.
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a c 415 G Storage
September 26, 2009 6:00:12 AM

jitpublisher said:
they start fiddeling around, not quite understanding what they have done or what just happened, and then they get too far down the road before they ask for help, and end up destroing any hope they ever had of re-establishing the array, and saving all the data on it. THAT is what happens MOST of the time.
Yeah, I pretty much agree with that. And that underscores the importance of backups, even for supposedly "safe" RAID organizations like RAID 1.
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September 26, 2009 7:41:44 AM

so you think i should go with raid0 but make sure to back up all of my data regularly?
Thanks for all the help everyone it is appreciated :) 
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a b G Storage
September 29, 2009 3:26:19 AM

leo2kp said:
I agree, RAID-0 with a good backup. The WD Black drives are good (and I would recommend one for your backup), but if you want to RAID, I recommend the RE3/4 drives for their RAID-specific features, 1.2 million hours MTBF, and a similar 5-year warranty.



Yeah, enterprise drives will definitely give you piece of mind, and a dent in your wallet :D 
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a c 127 G Storage
September 29, 2009 11:56:30 AM

If you had an Intel ICHxR chipset, i would actually opt for RAID0 on the system disk, as this could allow you to enable the "Write Caching" option, which enables a writeback buffer in the system RAM memory space, speeding up all writes to the array which help "smooth out" spikes whenever you're writing.

However, enabling this option does come at significantly increased risk of corruption should things go horridly wrong. So only enable this if the system disk doesn't contain any critical data or you have proper backups.
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