RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive or Independent Disks) is an important component for serverson a critical enterprise or workgroup network. RAID provides crash-proof hard drive systems. Howdoes it work? How do I administer it? What does it cost? What is the difference between RAID levelsand RAID vendors?
RAID as a computer concept has been around for over twenty years. The computer sciencedepartment at UC Berkeley first developed the RAID concept back in the 1980's. They used theword
rather than today's
.Since then, changes in technology and the use of computers have made RAID more popular.Computers and hard disk drives became faster, smaller, and less expensive. The computer hasbecome a critical part of an organizations business. More and more data is stored in the computerand this information must be available 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. Data accessibility andreliability has become a key factor in the success of business.Accessibility is the essential component of RAID. RAID technology makes data more accessible bypreventing downtime due to a hardware failure. RAID systems can sustain several bad sectors andeven whole disk failures, continue running, and all the while being transparent to the end-user.But, with that accessibility, comes a price. How much? It depends on your total storage requirement,the type of redundancy, and how quickly you need to recover from a failure. The cost of this hardwareshould be measured against the cost of having a failure, and on the cost of the downtime due to thisfailure. Some companies can sustain the loss of a disk drive or two and not suffer financially. Othercompanies, such as brokerages, measure downtime in minutes of revenue loss. For this class ofcustomer, RAID with full redundancy is a must-have.RAID systems not only increase reliability, they also increase available storage capacity. Kintronicsmanufactures RAID systems with over 1,000 Gigabyte or 1 Terabyte. Remember when a 40megabyte drive was overwhelmingly large?
Six distinctive RAID levels have been developed and agreed upon, voluntarily, by variousmanufacturers. These RAID levels are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Other combinations of these levels are alsoused, such as level 10 (which is 0+1) or level 6 (which is 5+1).A RAID system appears as a single large hard disk to the operating system. All of the computationsassociated with creating the RAID set are hidden from the operating system. RAID responds tostandard disk commands such as read, write, and format.
RAID Level 0
stripes data across all disks without redundancy or parity. This Level maximizesdata transfer rates and is good for handling large files. Spare drives are not useful on this Level.
RAID Level 1
mirrors data across multiple disks. Data is duplicated on another set of drives. Ifone drive fails, then the data is still available on the other mirror. This Level has the highest cost perMB and is best suited for smaller capacity applications such as mirroring the boot drive. Typically onlyone drive is mirrored at a time. Spare drives are not useful on this Level.
RAID Level 2
bit interleaves data across multiple disks with parity information created using aHamming code. A Hamming code detects errors that occur and determines which part is in error.