Saturday, June 9, 2007

Does RAID work for normal people?

I've posted an article long ago about RAID so I thought I would revisit it again. This time on the usefulness of RAID.

RAID makes sense in a corporate environment where data needs to be protected and backup. However, how about in the consumer environment? Like you and me... Normal people. Do we need RAID?

I've noticed a certain trend where the current newer motherboards now put in RAID one way or another. Software RAID for some reason also started appearing (which I think is useless).

What's the reason for RAID? I could only see 2 reasons:
  1. Faster speed
  2. Data protection

People going for faster speed will go for RAID 0, while those for data protection will go for RAID 1. Some go for both (RAID 0+1). There are other RAIDs of course. Most commonly used one now is RAID 5.

Based on the current technology though, in terms of speed, EIDE harddisks nowadays can hit 100MB/sec without any problems. Some even come with internal cache to speed up the process. Now, why on earth will a normal person like you and me want to transfer files faster than 100MB/secs?? I guess not. :)

Data protection wise... If you've invested in a good harddisk from a well-known manufacturer, like Western Digital or Segate, the failure rate of these harddisks are rather low. My quantum fireball harddisk is now in the 10th year, and my Fujitsu harddisk in my laptop has lasted 7 years. I don't see any signs of failure too. Now with the new Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) built into motherboards, your computer can now alert you if your harddisk is dying. Assumption is of course your harddisk has the SMART technology. It will be a simple case of getting a new harddisk, and cloning your information to the new harddisk.

Last but not least, I happened to playing with a RAID array before. Although it was just using Ultra SCSI 3 harddisks, I was not too impressed with the harddisk speed. It seemed like there's an overhead whenever you need to write big files into the harddisks.

For me at least, I think RAID can remain in the corporate world, although I myself would not recommend it. Performance is the key nowadays, and RAID does slow down your computer.

I guess it's all about trade-offs.

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