RAID 0 - Disk Striping
With RAID 0, or a configuration known as "data striping", data is written in sequential sections across more than two drives. RAID 0 is easy to implement, and it can dramatically improve performance. Several drives can be accessed at once, minimizing the overall "seek" time of larger files. This configuration has no data redundancy and therefore no protection against data loss, however, so it should not be used for business-critical applications.
RAID 1 - Mirroring
Also known as "drive mirroring", RAID 1 simultaneously copies data to a second drive. The mirroring method offers data protection and good performance in the case where a mirrored drive fails. RAID 1 is the simplest RAID configuration, requiring only a minimum of two drives with equal capacity, and also that the drives be added in pairs. The main disadvantage of RAID 1 is that it uses 100% drive overhead (the highest of all RAID levels), which can be considered an inefficient use of drive capacity.
RAID 5 - Independent Striping Plus Distributed Parity
With RAID 5, each block of data is written on a data drive and parity information is then striped across all drives. RAID 5 is the most popular of the RAID levels because it delivers data protection and good performance with a small overhead for parity. RAID 5 offers the most efficient use of drive capacity of all the redundant RAID levels. This configuration requires at least three drives of equal size, which can be added one at a time.
We Sell Hardware Firewire and USB 2.0 RAID enclosures with RAID 0 RAID 1 (raid 0 and raid 1) as well as RAID 5, please look at our Firewire RAID Box Section!
RAID Applications, Tradeoffs and Limitations
Typically, RAID is used in systems where data accessibility is critical and fault tolerance is required, such as in large file servers. However, RAID is now also more frequently seen used in desktop systems for CAD, multimedia editing and playback where higher transfer rates are needed.
In general, for a given price point, the performance improvement of a particular type of RAID array "trades off" with the amount of the redundancy and data security of the array. Similarly, capacity of the array "trades off" with the price and fault tolerance. Inexpensive RAID solutions are limited in their ability to protect your data or improve performance, whereas high-end RAID implementations providing very high performance and very high data reliability are quite expensive.
Although RAID can greatly improve the reliability and performance of a storage system, it is dangerous to assume that a RAID system with redundancy provides absolute data protection. Since there are sources of failure that are still applicable to RAID systems, such as viruses, environmental disturbances and/or cases where more than one drive fails at the same time, regular system maintenance and backup remain critical practices.
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