In RAID 0 (block-level striping without parity or mirroring) has no (or zero) redundancy. It provides improved performance and additional storage but no fault tolerance. Hence simple stripe sets are normally referred to as RAID 0. Any disk failure destroys the array, and the likelihood of failure increases with more disks in the array (at a minimum, catastrophic data loss is almost twice as likely compared to single drives without RAID). A single disk failure destroys the entire array because when data is written to a RAID 0 volume, the data is broken into fragments called blocks. The number of blocks is dictated by the stripe size, which is a configuration parameter of the array. The blocks are written to their respective disks simultaneously on the same sector. This allows smaller sections of the entire chunk of data to be read off the drive in parallel, increasing bandwidth. RAID 0 does not implement error checking, so any error is uncorrectable. More disks in the array means higher bandwidth, but greater risk of data loss.
In RAID 1 (mirroring without parity or striping), data is written identically to multiple disks (a "mirrored set"). While any number of disks may be used, many implementations deal with only 2. Array provides fault tolerance from disk errors or failures and continues to operate as long as at least one drive in the mirrored set is functioning. With appropriate operating system support, there can be increased read performance, and only a minimal write performance reduction. Using RAID 1 with a separate controller for each disk is sometimes called duplexing.
In RAID 2 (bit-level striping with dedicated Hamming-code parity), all disk spindle rotation is synchronized, and data is striped such that each sequential bit is on a different disk. Hamming-code parity is calculated across corresponding bits on disks and stored on at least one parity disk.
In RAID 3 (byte-level striping with dedicated parity), all disk spindle rotation is synchronized, and data is striped so each sequential byte is on a different disk. Parity is calculated across corresponding bytes on disks and stored on a dedicated parity disk.
RAID 4 (block-level striping with dedicated parity) is identical to RAID 5 (see below), but confines all parity data to a single disk, which can create a performance bottleneck. In this setup, files can be distributed between multiple disks. Each disk operates independently which allows I/O requests to be performed in parallel, though data transfer speeds can suffer due to the type of parity. The error detection is achieved through dedicated parity and is stored in a separate, single disk unit.
RAID 5 (block-level striping with distributed parity) distributes parity along with the data and requires all drives but one to be present to operate; drive failure requires replacement, but the array is not destroyed by a single drive failure. Upon drive failure, any subsequent reads can be calculated from the distributed parity such that the drive failure is masked from the end user. The array will have data loss in the event of a second drive failure and is vulnerable until the data that was on the failed drive is rebuilt onto a replacement drive. A single drive failure in the set will result in reduced performance of the entire set until the failed drive has been replaced and rebuilt.
RAID 6 (block-level striping with double distributed parity) provides fault tolerance from two drive failures; array continues to operate with up to two failed drives. This makes larger RAID groups more practical, especially for high-availability systems. This becomes increasingly important as large-capacity drives lengthen the time needed to recover from the failure of a single drive. Single-parity RAID levels are as vulnerable to data loss as a RAID 0 array until the failed drive is replaced and its data rebuilt; the larger the drive, the longer the rebuild will take. Double parity gives time to rebuild the array without the data being at risk if a single additional drive fails before the rebuild is complete.