You might have noticed a lot of motherboards and complete systems touting onboard RAID controllers for data protection.
Evidenced by some of the newsgroup posts I have seen lately, it is generating interest in buyers.
But is RAID really worth it? Now, just to be clear, I am NOT referring to servers running a server operating system here. For that, we use professional RAID solutions all of the time.
What I’m referring to here is normal desktop computers being configured for either RAID 0, for performance, or RAID 1 (known as mirroring) for data redundancy.
RAID 0 will gain you an insignificant performance increase since the job of handing off data to the operating system is divided between two drives. But if the chance of a hard drive failing is 1 in 100 (I’ve seen stats indicating that 2.5 in 100 is closer to reality), RAID 0 DOUBLES the chance that you will experience a drive failure, from 1% to 2%.
With RAID 0, either hard drive failing means your data is toast. Now, with RAID 0, there is no need for a RAID monitoring utility – that is likely not provided or buggy – since you will be painfully aware when a drive fails. Of course, you won’t know which one unless it’s a total catastrophic failure.
RAID 1, on the other hand, actually has the potential to be a data saver. But it’s CRITICAL to know when one drive fails so that it can be replaced immediately. Otherwise, you become no better off than if you didn’t have RAID.
The problem is, few systems come with a reliable, bug free monitoring utility to let you know the status of the RAID system. Most of these systems will tell you when you boot up the computer, but if you leave the PC running for a particular purpose – like running your security system DVR – you don’t want to reboot to find out the status of your RAID!
Those that do come with a reliable utility, few indeed, do not jump up and down like they should to tell you of a failure. Usually it’s just a slight change in the system tray icon which most users pay little if any attention to.
I personally have gotten fed up with Promise controllers a long time ago. One of my colleagues has as well. Just not worth the hassle. The controller seems to go bad more often than a drive. Adaptec controllers are better, but the expense is horrific, and Adaptec support isn’t what it used to be either.
If you want your data secure, buy a quality hard drive to begin with, then use (sounding like a broken record here) Acronis True Image to schedule backups to another computer or a connected USB hard drive.
Acronis offers a free trial download.