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Which hard disk drive for RAID?

Posted on 2011-04-20
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Last Modified: 2016-12-08
Hello,

 I am building a home server that will be used for running WMware, streaming movies, music, but most important, will be my backup machine. I already have my primary PC, therefore, the server will be my secondary (online 24x7x364). I was about the purchase about 3-4 hard drives and configure RAID 10 or 5. I was looking around on this site and found a valuable article about disk drives reliability, and this made me re-think my strategy on which hard drive to get. I am thinking about getting a WD RE4 ENTERPRISE drive. My question for you experts is, is this a good drive for home use and RAID? (I know it says  RAID-specific, but you know some drives have buggy issues). Can you recommend any? Also, is a RAID controller better than onboard, if yes, any recommendations? I will greatly appreciate this.

Money is a factor but I would go for quality before quantity.


Disk drive reliability overview
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Question by:valdezf
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Brian Gee earned 1000 total points
ID: 35438277
I'm running two WD RE4 HDDs (500GB) in RAID 1 on my home ESXi server. They've been reliable for me so I have nothing but recommendations for this particular model drive. If you're going with enterprise class HDDs, might as well go with a RAID controller card as well rather than software RAID (have the card run redundancy the processing). Make sure the controller card that you consider works with the motherboard and the OS you're choosing -- if ESXi, make sure you refer to the VMware ESXi hardware compatibility list (HCL) to ensure the card you buy has been approved and tested to work.  
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by:Brian Gee
ID: 35438286
^ Sorry for grammatical typos in that post there...
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by:valdezf
ID: 35438293
Definitely. Any recommendations, as far as RAID controllers? Also, for storage, streaming and running VMs, which one is better, RAID 5 or RAID 10??
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by:Brian Gee
ID: 35438329
From what I've read, it appears that RAID 10 has the edge over RAID 5, if only because of the parity overhead involved in RAID 5. This is pretty debated so you'll probably get differing opinions with this. Do you have the hardware, mobo, etc. already? If so, you would narrow the selections to what works with what you have and narrow down from there. I find myself reading Newegg reviews for good feedback regarding such (as a pretty decent resource for hardware reviews...at least for me).
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by:David
David earned 1000 total points
ID: 35438347
The drive is architected for use in RAID10/5/6, 24x7x365, and a fine choice for a budget-based solution.   Ignoring the extra ECC bits, and 100% duty cycle enhancements (desktop drives are designed for typically 20% duty cycle and 2400 hours use per year), the firmware is tuned for 2-3 second quick error recovery which is a necessity.

As far as controllers, LSI SAS/SATA controllers by far are the ones to get.  Supermicro, Dell, HP, IBM, SGI, just to name a few embed the LSI chipsets in their midrange to high-end servers.  Go to lsi.com and choose one that meets your budget.  Also, FYI, LSI actually qualifies the RE4s for use, so you can't go wrong.

As far as RAID level.  All have strengths and weaknesses depending on price point, usable space, performance with large/small block I/O vs random vs sequential.   Also 2 x RAID1s will outperform 1 x RAID10 depending on the type of I/O.  Even a RAID5 can be configured to outperform a RAID10 under certain loads.  So it is not possible to say which is "best" for all circumstances.

But with ESXi, traditionally you would want to go with RAID10, unless you were highly read intensive.  

(P.S. LSI controllers are also on the ESX qualified list, but not ALL lsi controllers, so read the HCL and factor that in as well.
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Author Comment

by:valdezf
ID: 35438565
dlethe. thank you for your response, and such good article. I was looking at the LSI controller in the site you provided. They seem to be the real deal. However, when I checked in NEWEGG none of them have Windows 7 support, and there are many people complaining about compatibility issues. maybe they don't know how to configure it at first, but still, will this be an idea controller for my Windows 7 x64 machine?

again, thanks for your assistance. yobri, dlethe.
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by:David
ID: 35438667
it is imperative to get enterprise class drives, due to the error recovery timing constraint.  Most people either don't know or figure they know more than the people who designed the controllers so blow it off.  

Go to the LSI site and look at the download sections for support for any specific O/S, not newegg.
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Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 35438671
Remember also, that the people who use the right disks and don't have problems is the norm, and those people will never go to a website and complain that they have problems :)
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Author Comment

by:valdezf
ID: 35439236
he he he...good advice. thanks for your assistance.
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