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RAID Help!

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March 17, 2011 8:08:31 AM

Hi everyone. I'm looking at chaning my current hard drive configuration to RAID. I currently have:

2 x 500GB 7200rpm Western Digital
1 x 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3
1 x 2TB Samsung Spinpoint F4
and I'm willing to buy a couple more drives if necessary.

Basically I want data redundancy at a reasonable cost without sacraficing performance too much, so from what I've looked at RAID 5 is the way to go. I do have a few questions though I've not been able to find answers to:

1. Is RAID 5 really best for me?
2. Do all my HDD's need to be the same size?
3. How do I pick a good RAID controller? (and how much should it cost?)
4. Anything else I need to take into consideration before I buy?

Cheers.

btw if it matters I have a Q9550 system with Windows 7-64bit.

More about : raid

March 17, 2011 8:25:54 AM

I will answer as good as I can :) 

1.Not necesarily. It depens on your demands of how failsafe you want it to be. A raid 0 if the easiest you can set up. That way you can use your 2 500Gb WD without extra cost.
If you get more drives of equal size -ex 3 more 500Gb WD. Raid 5 has a minimum of 3 drives but gets to be effective first with 5 or more drives.

2. Yes and also the same brand and model.

3. If you truley want hardware raid you will have to cough up some bigger dough. The more serious raidcards would be around $200-$500. Adaptec, Highpoint, 3ware, Intel and LSI have good products.

4. Yes. A raid 01 would give good performance as well as redundancy.
March 17, 2011 8:44:38 AM

Well I'll definately need 2TB + of backed up storage, and the main reason I was gravitiating towards RAID 5 was the redundancy without sacraficing too much Hard drive space. I'll probably chuck the 500GB models soon enough.

Redundancy is the #1 concern, so RAID 0 is out. To be honest, the only reason I'm going RAID is the redundancy (a performance increase would be a bonus).

If I go the RAID 1 route I'm halving my disk space correct? Whereas RAID 5 gives 3/4 Disk Space?

I'd rather not spend over £100 on the RAID controller really, especially if Im going to need another one/two 2TB Hard drives (@ £60 each).
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March 17, 2011 9:06:45 AM

I have my own raid5 with 4 discs at home, connected to a Highpoint 2300, so I have some experiance with it and I also know what I would have done diffrently now that I have it. ;)  I set it up a few years ago when 250Gb where the sweetspot. Of the totally 1000Gb i get ~740Gb of storage after I built the raid-array.
Performance is acceptable as far as I know. Since I don't read/write to it every day it is a no problem for me.

Well with raid 5 you have to "remove" roughly 1/4 of every disc for partition.
With raid 1 you mirror the discs So yeah 1 disc "dissapears" to be the mirror. On the plus side if one disc fails you'll just jank out the faulty one and continue with the other since it is a 100% mirror of the other. On a raid5 you will have to rebuild it when you add the new disc, which can take many hours, so it is not as flexible. If a disc fails you have to remove it as soon as possible as it can "contaminate" the partition with it's faulty data.

From my own experiance I would say to get a good raid-card from the start - it will pay of the the long run - since it will house your stored/saved data. A point to consider is to get a card that you can grow with ie add more discs over time. One of the things I missed considering when I got my card. :\
So now I have to get a new card if I want to use more discs. That will require a better card since the low-cost models are so-so with this functionality.

If you can, get card with a dedicated xor-chip. Apperently the performance is better with these.
a b G Storage
March 17, 2011 9:30:35 AM

Why do you need redundancy?
March 17, 2011 9:54:57 AM

Why wouldn't you ;) 
To safeguard you precious data :) 
March 17, 2011 9:55:48 AM

Well I need backed up data. I'm in the process of ripping my blu ray collection. I've got about 2TB already from my DVD collection, and now I've stared with my blu rays I thought I should do something to ensure I won't lose hundreds of hours of ripping if my hard drive dies. That's really my only aim, although I can't sacrifice performance too much and I'd like to keep cost's as low as I can get away with.
a b G Storage
March 17, 2011 11:00:54 AM

RAID != backup. If you want to backup your data, use a correct backup solution. A virus could come in and wipe out your array, taking everything with it. RAID 1 or 5 won't stop that at all. RAID is used to ensure maximum up time (five nines, or 99.999%) NOT backup data.
a c 386 G Storage
March 17, 2011 11:01:15 AM

phos said:
Why wouldn't you ;) 
To safeguard you precious data :) 


That's why you are supposed to make backups. One virus or accidental file deletion and your redundancy is worthless. Redundancy is to keep your system running if a drive fails.
March 17, 2011 11:05:00 AM

Well ofcourse you should do backup. Anything else is just plain stupid.
Since he is just ripping his BR it is not as much of a backup as a flexible solution for accessing his collection, i guess and hope.
March 17, 2011 11:39:24 AM

Well tbh I was planning on using RAID 5 as a backup. I'm not worried about accidental deletion, and I hadn't really thought about viruses. I saw it as a backup that lets me save on time and money (by saving on disk space). I'm not bothered enough about data loss to worry about proper backing up of data. If my PC died today I'd be annoyed but it would only cost time.

RAID 5 is out because the save on disk space is offset by controller cost and the expense when I decide to change HDD size in the future.
RAID 1 is pointless to me personally, unless it offers a performance increase? I'll probably just get backup software and then backup my data to a spare internal drive. Seems the cheapest solution.
March 17, 2011 11:57:12 AM

Or what you could do is to get 2 external drives which you connect just for backup and then disconnects. This way it is protecteced with redundance - 2 drives, diffrent brands and models - and it is offline which means that the risk of virus, accedental deletion and powerdisruption is minimal. This together with a backup software should make it safe enough. The risk that both the external drives would fail at the same time is very slim but also quite possible.
a b G Storage
March 17, 2011 12:04:06 PM

Quote:
RAID 5 is out because the save on disk space is offset by controller cost and the expense when I decide to change HDD size in the future.
RAID 1 is pointless to me personally, unless it offers a performance increase? I'll probably just get backup software and then backup my data to a spare internal drive. Seems the cheapest solution.


Performance increase for what? Playing back BR copies? Pretty sure any standard drive can handle that. You also have the original disks still I would assume, so you don't even need to burn or copy the files. I still totally fail to see the point of setting up a RAID with what you've said. Sure your not as cool as everyone else, but if you don't need it why bother?

If you do want to backup the files so you don't have to rip them again, get a 2TB external drive. Plug it in, backup any files you care about, and then unplug and store in your closet or even better your office desk drawer. (offsite backup is better, more secure.) Do this as often as you need to back up whatever important data you have.
March 17, 2011 12:44:54 PM

Performance increase was just a bonus, not why I was doing it. And I can't see why faster transfers would be a bad thing, I'd be storing all my files on there and software like games, photoshop, indesign...etc.

The only reason I considered RAID (5) was that I would only lose 1/4 of my HDD space and get realtime backup without sacraficing much performance. The reason I'm not going to bother though is for the cost of the controller I could just buy more HDD's. I'll have to see what kind of compression I can get with backup software.

Also the fact I have the disks is irrelevent, all the data is technically backed up on them but I don't want to have to rip and encode all my movies and TV shows again.

Anyway I basically said I agree with you in my last post, except I'll use internal backup. I take my work backup tapes home for added safety every night, so I know it's safer. It also though means either having 2 x the number of backup drives, or not having my backup up to date while its at work.



a b G Storage
March 17, 2011 10:25:40 PM

You cross your terms so much it hurts. I'd try to point it out, but you already said your passing on it so I'll pass on it. Good luck with your library.
a b G Storage
March 18, 2011 2:59:59 AM

RAID 5 is a tricky option and you would need more than an average Controller to compensate for the potential write issues that come with RAID 5. RAID 1 however is handled very well by on board RAID Controllers. RAID 1 has saved my data at least twice and with HDD's being so cheap it is hardly a sacrifice to have RAID 1. RAID 5 will deliver disappointing performance especially in write operations. Go RAID 1.
March 18, 2011 3:07:27 AM

why not do raid 1+0? you can have speed and redunancy.

also you dont need the same exact size/brands to do raid, it will use the slowest speeds/space.

you can have a 500gb 7200rpm with a 640 gb 5400rpm, say in a raid 0 set up, and it will be a 1tb stripped raid. that extra 140gb will be wasted.
its always safer to go with same brand/size, but its not needed.
March 18, 2011 8:47:18 AM

Where have I crossed my terms 4745454b? If I have I'd rather know, learning more is why I post on Toms Hardware.
a b G Storage
March 18, 2011 9:49:16 AM

Quote:
The only reason I considered RAID (5) was that I would only lose 1/4 of my HDD space and get realtime backup


Again, RAID != backup. (!= means does not equal.)

Quote:
Anyway I basically said I agree with you in my last post, except I'll use internal backup.


There is no such thing as internal backup. That's called storage. A backup involves copying the data off the computer and storing it someplace else.

Keep in mind I have a BS degree in a computer science related field. This stuff was ground into me. If you even thought of mentioning RAID on the tests you'd get points knocked off.
March 18, 2011 3:21:13 PM

@jamieaawroe raid doesnt necessarily backup your data. when you take a first glance at it you might think something like raid 1, 5, or 10 will back up your data but all it does is make a parity of it so that way if a file goes corrupt the image can rebuild it. it does not back up your data. you can still get a virus and lose everything with any kind of raid.

you already have a 2tb drive and that will be plenty fine to have as a back up. either buy a case for it or have a hot swapable drive setup.


@4745454b you can have internal backups, its as easy as plugging/unplugging the cable from the port.
also, why would you get points knocked off for mentioning raid?
a b G Storage
March 18, 2011 10:30:50 PM

Again, textbook answer is raid != backup. Those who mention raid as an acceptable form of backup would get points knocked off. Same as unplugging a cable. Might be unplugged, but its not off site or even out of the same room.
March 19, 2011 11:38:21 AM

4745454b I think you're being a little pendantic, I appreciate that in a workplace enviroment (or test) RAID != backup, and a backup must be external, and all that jazz. But for a home user whose data isn't nearly as critical, they should be free to choose if they want the added safety and time/expense of an external backup or the cheaper, easier solution of internal 'backup'.

Although I did mix up the terms redundancy and backup earlier until you pointed it out. I was reading redundancy and thinking 'redundant' data, not 'redundant' hardware.

I don't think there's anything wrong with calling duplicating all my files, compressing them and putting them onto another drive a (internal) backup though (unless there's another term that denotes 'internal backup') even if it's not as safe. It still protects against random disk failures.

Anyway I don't often actually learn anything new on forums, just people rehashing what I already know or different opinions, so thanks everyone.

Cheers!
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