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RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10 and RAID 5: how do they actually work?

Faster and faster with RAID

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Introduction

RAID configurations are a way to combine hard disks or SSDs for better performance or for safety measures so you don't lose data should one or more disks fail. Today we are taking a closer look at how RAID exactly works.

RAID stands for ‘Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks’ and was developed decades ago for servers. Back then large hard disk were difficult to come by and very expensive, so the logical solution was to combine hard drives to create a larger storage capacity. 

We now live in a world with 4 TB hard disks, so combining disks for lots of storage is less pressing nowadays. However, increased speed and data security will always remain interesting, and you can combine small SSDs for very fast larger capacities.

You used to need a special controller in order to create a RAID configuration, but that has long since become a standard feature on motherboard chipsets. More high-end chipsets support more RAID modes than basic ones, but chances are that your motherboard can handle RAID. There are a few instances in which a dedicated controller can have added value, and in the near future we'll publish a test of such controllers. 

Types

With RAID you can combine two or more hard disks into an array, which can be configured in a number of different ways. The most basic ones, that all controllers can do, are RAID 0 and RAID 1. RAID 0 improves performance and RAID 1 creates more secure storage. You can combine them as well. More complex RAID configurations are RAID 5 and RAID 6. RAID 5 used to belong to the realm of expensive, dedicated RAID controllers, but it's becoming more common in modern chipsets as well, even if there are some limitations. 


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