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RAID 5 with Hot Spare or RAID 10?

Posted on 2013-01-03
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I am currently rebuilding a new file server with Windows 2008 R2 and roughly 50 employees.  My RAID controller is a PERC 6/i w/battery and 4 SATA 1TB hard drives.  This will only be used as a file server.  I would like to have a good balance between performance and reliability and I would also like to mention that I am the in-house tech and almost always on site.  

Between RAID-5 and RAID-10, what would be the best overall choice for a file server?  I am leaning towards going with RAID-10 since it will still give me enough disk space to meet my needs, but the downside is that I only have 4 drive bays so using a hot spare is out of the question with a RAID-10.  But with a RAID-5 I could then utilize the hot spare option.  Any preference on my particular scenario?  

As far as the 'stripe' settings go, what would be best for the 'Element Size?'  The default is set to 64KB so would that suffice?  The default 'Read Policy' is set to 'No Read Ahead' but I have the options for either 'Read Ahead' or 'Adaptive Read Ahead' and I'm not sure which would be the best.  And finally, should the 'Write Policy' be set to the default 'Write Back' or 'Write Through?'

As I mentioned I am always onsite and if I went with RAID-10 I would most likely order a 5th hard drive to have as a 'cold spare' if a drive failed in the RAID-10.  Anybody have a preference since I can only use a total of 4 hard drives in the array?
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Question by:ColumbiaMarketing
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dlethe earned 500 total points
ID: 38741109
RAID10 will have both better performance and higher reliability than RAID5.  Neither, however, is a substitute for backing up.  Consider that 100% of disk drives fail and you are buying disks of same make/model probably made on the same equipment on same day, and being exposed to the same environmental factors, same duty cycle, and same I/O.

If data loss is a high concern and you don't want to deal with frequent backups because they may involve down time, then do the right thing and go RAID6 with 4 x 1TB drives.  You'll still get 2TB usable, but now you have much better protection than even a RAID5 with a hot spare.

Read ahead needs to be on or off, and it is really a function of how you use the system.  That is a setting that you can turn on or off at will, so just take the default, set things up and see how it goes once system is in production.  You want to read/write 64KB of data from each disk at a time on a windows-based file server.
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Author Comment

by:ColumbiaMarketing
ID: 38741421
I am performing daily Windows backups and even replicating my file shares over to a backup as well.  Since I am already doing this would you still consider RAID6 over RAID10?
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Expert Comment

by:Sandy
ID: 38742913
increase chuck size.
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Author Comment

by:ColumbiaMarketing
ID: 38760230
After much deliberating I have decided to go with RAID-10 to utilize my hardware the most efficient way I can.  Thank you for the RAID-6 perspective though, that would definitely be a better option than RAID-5 in my situation.
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