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Read about raid, is it worth the jump?

Posted on 2004-09-14
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
System
Asus P4P 800 delux
160gig Western digital SATA H/D
Asus 9800xt graphics
1gig unbranded RAM

Now the question is, I've heard a lot about running a raid array for stability and speed. I think the mobo will support raid but I need help. I am a total newb to this, is it worth investing in another h/d and what other stuff will I need, Also will I see an improvement to the speed of my system, or is it more about stability,
Thanks for your help
Mike
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Question by:dragothic52
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by:sirbounty
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Most RAID levels are more for redundancy/fault-tolerance.
Although there may be a slight performance improvement in some cases (more in a RAID 0 - with NO fault tolerance), you won't see much of a boost.  Particularly, if implementing two drives in a single controller situation (mirroring or RAID 1).  Now your system has to perform dual writes, and this can actually slow down the system a tad - though not too bad and you get the peace of mind that if one drive is lost, you can recover easily enough.

Great link to explain how RAID works and the different levels of RAID:

  http://www.arstechnica.com/paedia/r/raid-1.html
  http://www.acnc.com/04_01_00.html
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You could also set up a RAID 0,1 which will give you the speed and redundancy. But this would require 4 identical drives. In RAID 0 you would get twice the disk space (160+160) but with RAID 1 you would only have the disk space of a single drive because the drive is being mirrored for redundancy.
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by:Lee W, MVP
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If you're using XP or 2000 and this is your home computer, I'd suggest just using software RAID.  Get a second and/or third and forth disk.  Then configure the RAID in Windows.  Using Windows you can cut up things appropriately - for example, mirror the boot drive, setup a RAID 5 for important data, and a RAID 0 for unimportant data (page file, downloads that you can redownload, etc).
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by:RevelationCS
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I have seen SATA raids setup with the redundancy and have heard that the performance is much better than with one drive. I have not seen any performance tests on www.tomshardware.com yet for that (I might have missed it though)... Typically with redundant raids you will see a performance boot (the amount of boost depends on the type of raid used) as you have more heads to read/write to disk... obviously, the more heads you have reading/writing the better the performance will be. The other variable to look at is the overhead that is required for the specific type of raid set that you are using...

the previously mentioned link (http://www.acnc.com/04_01_00.html) is a very good link to read up on the plusses/minuses of the various types of raid configurations.
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by:crazijoe
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I can't see how performance would be greater on a RAID 1 setup when the same data is being sent to both drives. I should perform the same as a single SATA drive.
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by:RevelationCS
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the comment with redundancy was more a general statement for RAID in general... the redundancy is made either by mirroring or striping (depending on the raid setup)....
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by:crazijoe
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But there is no redundancy in Striping. Only striping with mirroring
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by:RevelationCS
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crazi,

I really dont feel like getting into a "pissing" match in regards to opininos on this. The fact still remains with true raid arrays that performance is increased over using an individual drive as there are more heads devoted to reads and writes than with one drive. The redundancy is still there with striping as an array with not fail if you lost one drive in a striped environment, which is more along the lines of what I was referring to. As I also stated, this performance is dependent on the type of raid that is used...
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by:chumplet
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Actually, "striping" your disks does NOT necessarily mean that you're getting any redundancy (such as with RAID 0).  I'm sure that you realize this, RevelationCS, but your comments don't allude to that fact -- and the author of this thread is a self-professed "newbie" in this arena.

Just as a "basic" breakdown, here's some helpful info...
RAID 0 (Striping) - typically faster than a single disk, great use of drive space (100%), no fault tolerance
RAID 1 (Mirroring) - slightly slower than a single disk, poor use of drive space (50%), good fault tolerance
RAID 0+1 (Striping + Mirroring) - somewhat faster than a single disk, poor use of drive space (50%), good fault tolerance
RAID 5 (Striping w/ parity) - somewhat faster than a single disk, decent use of drive space (all drives minus one), good fault tolerance
JBOD (Just A Bunch Of Disks) - no difference than a single disk, good use of drive space (100%), no fault tolerance, no striping

Dragothic52.... you need to figure out what you're most interested in -- drive speed or fault tolerance.  Unless you've got a good method of keeping your important data backed up (or you just don't care), I would stay away from RAID 0 or JBOD.  Otherwise, RAID 0 is a nice way to speed up your system... especially in READS from the disks.  The best solution, arguably, is to go with RAID 5 (striping w/ parity), but your motherboard doesn't support that.  Lastly, you could do RAID 0 + 1 which would gain you some speed and fault tolerance, but you'll lose 50% of your drive capacity across the board.  Perhaps that's fine with you.

Personally, I have (3) WD Raptor 37GB SATA 10K drives at home in a RAID 0 configuration *but* I also have a mechanism that backs up my important files to another drive each day.  Why?  Because if any drive in a RAID 0 fails (or a JBOD, for that matter) the entire grouping of drives is lost.  As it is, I know that my important files are safely on another disk entirely, so I'm feeling pretty secure *AND* I enjoy some moderate speed gains from my RAID 0!

Hope that's helpful to you.

Chumplet
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by:crazijoe
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RevelationCS

Not trying to get into a pissing match. Sorry if it looks this way. I just don't see redundancy in a standard consumer hardware striping setup unless you go with a controller that will support a RAID 5 array. In the case with dragothic52, this would seem financially unappropriate.
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by:RevelationCS
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Well, I don't typically consider RAID 0 as a true RAID so I usually don't include that when discussing RAID topics :)

Chumplet does being up an excellent point with one of the major issues with RAID 0 and the sensitivity of your data must be considered before even looking at this option (which is why I usually don't even look at it as the environments I always work with would never allow a non-fault tolerant environment)..
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by:exx1976
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I agree with RevelationCS here..  I would never, EVER set up a RAID 0 array, as I don't even consider that a "RAID".. By definition, a RAID is a "Redundant array of [independant or inexpensive, depending on who you ask] disks".  There is NOTHING redundant about RAID 0, so I think that the name is VERY misleading and it should be excluded permanently from the standards.

At home I have two RAID 5 arrays, one that is three 73Gb drives, and one that is four 18Gb drives..  One is a file server, and the other is an A/V server for doing video capture/editing.  Speed is great (but they are both U160 SCSI arrays)...

HTH,
exx
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by:exx1976
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An excellent example of why to NOT use RAID 0...

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Q_21126972.html

There are MANY more horror stories like this one around here.

If you have two 100 GB drives, and you put them together in a RAID 0, you get 200 GB.  You're better off going and buying a single 200GB drive because then you'll only have one point of failure to lose your 200GB worth of data vs 2 or 3 or 4 points of failure depending upon the number of drives in your RAID 0 array..  Just doesn't make any sense (at least to me...)


-exx
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by:chumplet
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To be perfectly honest, and though I agree with both of you to a point, RAID 0 absolutely DOES have "redundancy"!  Redundancy only means that which is "above and beyond the normal amount".  If you look at RAID 0, it is striping information across multiple drives... thus redundancy.  Is it "fault tolerant"?  Absolutely not.  Do I use it in a production environment?  Never.  Is it still considered true RAID?  Yep.  Argue all you want.... RAID 0 is technically and officially RAID.

Chumplet
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by:exx1976
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I'm not going to sit here and argue with you the nuances of the english language as it read from Websters or as it relates to technical people (like myself).  When I hear redundant, I think "Redundant power supplies", I think "Redundant SAN HBAs", I think "Redundant Processor Cell Boards".  When I hear the word redundant, I think "More than is necessary for the system to operate at a minimum level (read:  to just BARELY function)".  RAID 0 does NOT provide any redundancy.  If one drive fails, the system does not continue to function at a minimal level, you LOSE IT ALL.

The only thing redundant about RAID 0 is redundant points of failure (as in "above and beyond the normal amount" -- ONE! (speaking strictly about drives here))!


-exx
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by:crazijoe
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Well, It's getting a little hot in here.
Getting back to the question. Your board will support Hardware RAID 0 (striped), RAID 1 (mirrored), or RAID 0,1 (striped with mirrored). If you use the computer for primarily games, where speed and performance is an issue, I would go RAID 0. If you use it for more apps, Go mirrored.
If you go with a striped set, do scheduled backups. If you are looking for fault tolorence or protection, if a drive goes out, go with a mirrored set.
If you want both, you would need to get an additional drive that is identical to the one you have and 2 more that are IDE with the same capacity. That would be pricey.  ASUS boards use Promise SATA RAID controllers and the secondary channel for the controller is IDE.
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by:samccarthy
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for my 2 cents, get another drive the same as what you have now and do a Raid1 (Mirror).  It gives you the security in case 1 drive fails.

Steve
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by:itcnbwise
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Just as an FYI - How to setup software RAID in Windows XP:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Q_20318330.html
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by:crazijoe
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You cannot setup a software RAID in WinXP with out the aid of third party software.

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=307880#3

"You cannot create mirrored volumes on computers that are running Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional or Windows XP 64-Bit Edition. However, you can use a computer that is running Windows XP Professional to create mirrored volumes on remote computers that are running Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, or Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. You must have administrative privileges on the remote computer to do this."
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by:crazijoe
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by:johnny_road
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Don't go RAID...it's not worth the trouble/risk/headaches for your purposes.
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by:gbajramo
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I've set up two raid arrays on my workstation, fist is RAID 0, second RAID 1.

I have following to share:

1. RAID 0 (striping) is not expensive - you get to use all the space you spend money on. Buy reliable hard drives. Seagate has a good track record. My Raid 0 is 2 X 80GB Seagate (cost me about $150 for both). Raid 0 equally distributs data between two or more drives so that first chunk of data goes to drive one, second chunk of the same file to drive two, and so on. The resulting effect is similar to drinking from a glass with two or more straws instead of one or to pouring into the glass from two or more bottles at once. However, due to some technical limitations, performance doesn't trully double or triple but the increase is noticable. After three drives, the ATA interface could saturate and adding further drives would not result in higher performance.

2. I use RAID 1 to keep my sensitive data (MyDocuments, Favorites, Email, Quickbooks data, and such). I bought IDE RAID controller ($30) for my RAID 1 and used older WD 20GB HDDs I had from my previous machines.

It is worthy to note that HDD read speeds are the bottleneck in terms of performance. Someone mentioned that more drives you use, greater chances of one of them failing. With striped array, if any of the drives fails you loose all data. Use striped array for your OS and applications but not for data. This way, apps will load super fast, your swap file will be fast, and your data will be safe.

Something else to note is that striped array performance will not be as great if you are playing latest games such as Doom3 etc. Reason for this is significant amount of processing power requried to decompress the data read by the drives. So here bottleneck switches from HDD to CPU and RAM.

I hope this helps.
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by:exx1976
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"Something else to note is that striped array performance will not be as great if you are playing latest games such as Doom3 etc. Reason for this is significant amount of processing power requried to decompress the data read by the drives. So here bottleneck switches from HDD to CPU and RAM."

Decompress the data??  Whaaaaaaa??  The only array that I knof of that automatically compresses data is a 5EE array, which is FAR beyond the scope of this discussion..  What exactly were you referring to when you said "decompress"???
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by:gbajramo
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exx, you are misunderstanding what I said. I'm talking about the CPU and GPU decompressing huge game maps data during which drives don't use their full capacity.
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by:exx1976
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There were many people who put in a lot of time on this one.  I'd say an equal points split between all is fair.

-exx
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by:RevelationCS
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I would agree with exx1976 on this one...
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by:exx1976
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Wow..  How rude.  Remind me to never help dragothic52 again...
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by:samccarthy
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Ditto..... for me.  Unfortunately sometimes they just drop off the face of the earth....
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by:exx1976
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LOL..  Notice the rude comment was removed..  Presumably by an admin..  
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by:Luc Franken
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exx1976,

Please stop this now, there's no need for it and it's surely not appreciated. The asker always has the final call on how a question is closed. This time the asker closed this question him/herself, there is nothing rude about that, you can't just post in every question and expect your comment to be accepted as an answer, that's not how EE works.
As far as I know no comments have been deleted (I save all notifications and I'm not missing any comment in here, as sirbounty is a page editor he'll be able to read deleted comments if they exist here) I have 5 notifications of added comments after my request, no more.

This question was worth 50 points which can only be split two ways due to the minimum of 20 points per assist in all technical area's, and there is no way around that.

If I may be so free to post my oppinion:
If I had asked this question and received these comments, I would have chosen to award ONLY the first correct answer. sirbounty's links at http:#12053330 say all that is needed to understand pretty much what RAID is about, what RAID levels are around and what RAID level to use in which environment. All comments afterwards where nothing more than explanations or oppinions.

The posting of my request at http:#12392796 is automated, I don't read the questions before posting that. I will consider all recommendations and I appreciate every one of them as it makes my work a lot easier, but I will always look at the questions myself before posting my recommendation in the Cleanup Topic Area.

Thanks for understanding,

LucF
EE Cleanup Volunteer
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