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Raid-1 or Raid-5 ? Hardware based or Software based ?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by dan99t, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. dan99t New Member

    Jan 19, 2012
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    I am buying a new Dell T-7500 workstation.

    After a Hard Disk crash once, I learned that I need an extra hard disk always ready in case one fails.

    Dell is offering either software based Raid -1 OR Hardware based Raid-5 using PERC6/i SAS/SATA Hardware RAID Card with either 3 OR 4 Hard disks.

    Specs of system are :

    CPU : Intel Xeon E 5645 at 2.4 Ghz
    8 GB ECC DDR3 1333 MHz RAM
    500 GB SATA 7200 RPM HDDs with either Raid-1 or Raid-5
    Windows - 7 Ultimate 64 bit

    Currently I clone my HDD using Acronis True Image Home so that I always have an extra HDD ready but it is not in real time so I will still lose some data.
    Even if I get a Raid system I still would like to continue cloning the HDD & keep them in remote locations.

    My main goal is always having a cloned drive Ready. My concerns are as follows & need advice.

    (1) I am not much of a technical person so if anything goes wrong like a Hard disk failure, how difficult would it be to replace the failed HDD & Rebuild the array ?
    (2) Would I still be able to clone a HDD as I am currently doing using Acronis software ?
    (3) Should I get Hardware based Raid or software based & whether Raid-1 OR Raid – 5 & how many HDDs should I get ( 3 or 4 ) if I get Raid-5 ?
    (4) I frequently Fresh Install Windows-7 in Primary Partition & I have 6 partitions. I just format the Primary Partition & Install OS. It is very easy to do now. But will it still remain same with Raid-1 OR Raid-5 ?

    Thank You.
  2. THE_EGG


    Dec 15, 2011
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    Brisbane QLD, Australia
    OK well RAID 5 in plain english behaves like RAID 0 and RAID 1 combined. You get speedy performance but you also have a fail safe setup. RAID 1 must have at least 2 hard drives to function. RAID 5 must have at least 3 hard drives to function. I currently have a RAID 5 setup, I would make sure that the drive used in the RAID array are RAID edition as my last hard drives were normal ones and they died within 2 weeks, where as my RAID hard drives are still going even though its been a year and a half down the track. I use the RAID controller thats onboard the motherboard not a dedicated RAID card and it has rebuilt before and no problems. Also something to note is once a RAID array is activated, it becomes one BIG partition (RAID 1 with 4 2TB HDD's becomes 4 TB of space, RAID 5 with 3 2TB HDD's becomes 4TB of space). I can't really help you whether artificial partitioning is OK on RAID array. If a drive dies, its as easy as taking out the broken drive, installing a new one (same model), and turning computer on again and it will rebuild by itself. Yes you should still be able to clone the hard drives using your method as long as the drive you are putting the clone on is at least the same size as the storage space created by the RAID array. Hope this helps man. :) Oh and personally a would get a 3 drive setup using RAID 5 best of both worlds, speedy and safe and you can add more drives down the track. :)
  3. JrRacinFan

    JrRacinFan Served 5k and counting ...

    Mar 17, 2007
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    Youngstown, OH
    (1) Simple, just take out the bad drive put in the new and the array will rebuild.

    (2) Should be able to.

    (3) Always ALWAYS hardware based.

    (4) Setup multiple raid volumes instead of partitioning. Say 1st raid 5 array with 150GB from each drive net's you 300GB for OS, then put the rest in another raid volume which will net you 700GB for other things. Of that 700GB you can still do artificial partitioning, but you can kill and recreate the 300GB volume if needed.

    I think you should go Raid 5 with 3 drives. Using the 4th as a standalone for your OS.
    10 Year Member at TPU
  4. lilhasselhoffer

    Apr 2, 2011
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    These are points, not direct answers to your questions. Many of the answers overlap questions.

    1) Never assume that RAID will save your data. It does well if there is a sudden crash, but slow corruption cannot be addressed by RAID.

    2) Raid 1 mirrors, RAID 5 has a redundant drive. I would go with RAID 5, and 4 HDDs. If you're building it out of 500 GB HDDs, then you wind up with a 1.5 TB primary drive. This can be backed up to a 2 TB HDD without any problems. The 3 disk option only offers 1 TB of storage, which depending upon usages can be filled rather fast.

    3) Always use hardware RAID. Software has two failure points, the code and drives. Hardware is generally faster, and can only fail if there is a hardware fault.

    4) Windows sees the RAID as a drive. In disk manager it will pop up as a single disk. Backing up data will therefore not be a problem. Partitioning data will also not be a problem.

    5) Do not use drives bigger than 500 GB unless you are using them as a storage drive. BIOS cannot recognize a boot drive larger than 2 TB (UEFI fixes this, but I'm fairly certain that if you ever had problems you would not be able to figure out what to do based upon the question), and you'd have to make a GPT partition rather than NTFS.

    6) Want to expand later? Choose a 4 disk RAID now, buy a set of larger drives when the price comes down, then repurpose the drives. Your motherboard will still have SATA connectors, but the add-in card provides RAID. Whenever you outgrow the current rig buy 3 or more (minimum number for a RAID 5 array) larger drives, then scrounge the current array for a new OS drive. You'll need to back up the data and reformat before being able to reinstall windows, but this gives you an upgrade path.

    7) Why Dell? Even if their business side service is way better than their consumer grade service, you're looking at almost no support. Maybe shopping this around might be better. HP isn't much better, but they always have a "local" support representative. At this price point, have you considered one of the boutique computer/server manufacturers. It's an option that might be worth exploring...

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