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RAID!!! Is it a a good idea for PCs?

kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
edited Aug 2011 in Hardware
I just need to say this - take it for what you will.

Stop putting raids in your home systems unless you understand how they work, understand the risk/rewards of using them and more importantly understand how to recover them when they fail. Oh and they will fail, every raid fails.

Also if you really want to run raid, make sure you are backing up whatever is on the raid. Then when the raid fails (and it will fail) you can kill the raid, rebuild it and recover from your backup. Without having to mess around trying to rebuild a raid.

One more thing. If you are running a raid (again home systems) make sure you are running a seperate raid controller and doing hardware raid also. Onboard raid controllers suck for 2 reasons. One if the controller fails you can replace the controller not the whole motherboard and secondly they are typically more reliable and come with better tools to repair your raid - when it fails. If you are running software raid, well god help you.

Raid types. If you feel the need to run raid don't run raid 0. Simple as that. If you want reliability run Raid 1, if a drive fails basically no biggy. But know that raid 1 is primarily for redundancy and not speed. Raid 5, rather popular put in 3 (or more) drives loose 25% of your space and gain almost no benefit on a home computer because guess what - you are the only person using it so the data access is rather singular. You don't have a whole tone of multiple read/writes in the cue.

Pleas people I know I'm ranting but it's a lesson that many need to learn. Raids are ideal in the business world where you have high volume, highly accessed data stores they are also running on server class machines that are designed to do it.

Raid on your home computer not worth it.

Rant off.
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Comments

  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    I think motherboard manufacturers putting raid controllers onboard is a travesty. I agree with everything you said 100%, Kryyst
  • LeonardoLeonardo Eagle River, Alaska Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    Kryyst, you are preaching to the choir, but the preaching is appropriate and must go on! So many of us more experienced PC nuts here have been warning against RAID, especially RAID 0 for years. Every day there is another help-needed thread begging for assistance to recover files from a FUBARed array. Everyone is convinced that RAID will turn their PC into a rocket ship.

    I understand, I did RAID 0 for several years. I quit about five years ago. GOOD RIDDANCE. That rocket ship never did dock at my PC space port.
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited Feb 2008
    It was the recent rash of raid issues in the last couple weeks that drove me to the need to rant. I mean anyone reading through this forum, should by now have picked up on it that Raid can lead to grief. But that golden ticket of speed so many people think lies in setting up a Raid just doesn't exist.

    Yes Raid can be faster. But the strength of raid lies in multiple simultaneous r/w. Which is crucial on a network. On a home system even if your multi-tasking, a lot, the speed benefit is just not there. The risk of it, far outweighs the reward. It's as simple as that.

    You want a speed boost take the money you are wasting on redundant drives, buy more ram, put in a better graphics card, don't bother with putting the drive in a raid just use it for backups. Whatever you do, there are much better ways to make a system better then spending it on a raid.
  • LeonardoLeonardo Eagle River, Alaska Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    It was the recent rash of raid issues in the last couple weeks that drove me to the need to rant.
    That rash of problems is constant. I'd personally like to see a sticky thread at the top of the Storage forum: "RAID, Just Say No"
  • WinfreyWinfrey waddafuh Missouri Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    ooomph tis oomph tis... oh wait RAID not Rave :(

    I was running RAID 0 on my system for awhile under the pretense that it improved performance of the drives. Luckily I had no problems running it but eventually the fear of having my RAID fail and lose all of my stuff made me nervous enough to backup my data and remove my RAID.

    After seeing all the threads about RAID failure and people using RAIDs that really don't know what they are getting into, should ascribe to kryyst's advice.

    QFT:cool2:
  • EssoEsso Stockholm, Sweden
    edited Feb 2008
    What's the point with computers, if we can't run into problems sometimes.

    It releases a lot of build up stress .. :)
    and we feel great after we fixed it.

    Even if we are responsible for the problem ...
    But that, we don't want to hear about :bigggrin:
  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    The key is actually knowing what you're doing. I, for instance, run a RAID 0 on a pair of Raptors, and keep a biweekly backup on a second drive. Am I so wrong, such a terrible person? I understand the risks, take efforts to protect against them, and felt like doing it all the same.

    All I'm saying is, isn't education a better answer than blatant denial? Just telling somebody "you don't need this" rather than explaining its risks and letting them decide what the heck they want to do?
  • LeonardoLeonardo Eagle River, Alaska Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    What's the point with computers, if we can't run into problems sometimes. It releases a lot of build up stress .
    1) Sure, RAID can be a fun toy - for a while, until for some unknown reason the array is corrupted.
    2) The risk usually outweighs the benefits - tangible or emotional (the fun)
    The key is actually knowing what you're doing. I, for instance, run a RAID 0 on a pair of Raptors, and keep a biweekly backup on a second drive.
    1) Backup is the WAY to go (whether RAID or single drive).
    2) "Actually knowing what you're doing." Obviously. Still though - twice the number of cables; twice the number of disks; essentially no tolerance for files corruption (RAID 0) -> MORE than double the risk of catastrophic loss of data. Yes, correct, not a problem if there is a fresh backup.
    isn't education a better answer than blatant denial
    Again, obviously. For about seven years, we have been warning and warning constantly about the risks of RAID 0. The majority of RAID 0 users - at least based on the RAID problem threads we deal with here - appear to jump right into RAID without researching well. Frankly, some of us are just weary of cautioning and warning when most RAID wannabees (me, formerly) jump in anyway and then are crestfallen later when the array collapses. Sometimes the feeling (which I don't act upon) is to reply to one of the many broken RAID threads - "Tough tomatoes - you're screwed." Frankly, I'm tired of warning people about RAID who are convinced it will transform their computing experience. Yeah, I was in that camp once too. Yeah, I kept backups and used them for restoring way too often.
  • NiGHTSNiGHTS San Diego Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    MJancaitis wrote:
    All I'm saying is, isn't education a better answer than blatant denial? Just telling somebody "you don't need this" rather than explaining its risks and letting them decide what the heck they want to do?

    Typically, I'd agree with you. However, having issued said help to some, and watched others push help on deaf ears, I can agree completely with this rant. I'd say 85% of the time, that same person isn't willing to figure out what they need to do on their own. Even if given all links and pertinent information, they'll still come with hands outstretched, demanding help for something they really shouldn't be dealing with.

    I just recently attempted to explain to a guy that plays ultimately 1 game that a quad core processor on a $350 motherboard was going to give no benefit over a dual core + bloodiron. People are looking for e-peen bragging rights, more often than not, I feel. Unicorns won't fly out of your system when you use SLi on a 15'' LCD screen, sorry. No matter how right you may be, people just don't want to hear it.
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited Feb 2008
    MJancaitis wrote:
    The key is actually knowing what you're doing. I, for instance, run a RAID 0 on a pair of Raptors, and keep a biweekly backup on a second drive. Am I so wrong, such a terrible person? I understand the risks, take efforts to protect against them, and felt like doing it all the same.

    All I'm saying is, isn't education a better answer than blatant denial? Just telling somebody "you don't need this" rather than explaining its risks and letting them decide what the heck they want to do?

    I agree absolutely which is why I pretty much said that don't do it unless you really know what your doing.

    That being said without turning things into a fight. I still submit that raid on a home system is 78% pointless. I agree that education is best. However do it smartly. Blindly jumping into Raid, like many people do is not the same as experimenting wtih linux. You'll get the raid up and going. Have a good run without known flaws even though your raid could be dying beneath you. Then suddenly blamo you've got nothing. Then you scour forums looking for a miracle cure to recover your data.

    That is why raid is a problem and that is why I wrote the rant.
  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    NiGHTS wrote:
    No matter how right you may be, people just don't want to hear it.

    If those people are towards whom this rant is directed, then isn't it essentially just a waste of time, then? ;)

    For people that want help and come to this forum and all they see is a bunch of high rollers saying they shouldn't even glance at RAID, it's a bit unfair, imo. That's all.
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited Feb 2008
    MJancaitis wrote:
    If those people are towards whom this rant is directed, then isn't it essentially just a waste of time, then? ;)

    No because now I can just point them to this rant.
    For people that want help and come to this forum and all they see is a bunch of high rollers saying they shouldn't even glance at RAID, it's a bit unfair, imo. That's all.

    Fair enough. But for the high rollers there comes a time when we need to roll high. Look at any other situation - your car for example. You advance the timing 10degrees because of something you read on a forum once and keep running regular unleaded in it and in a month (if your lucky) suddenly your car is shot. Then you go to your mechanic or a forum and wonder what happened. I can guarantee your mechanic will shake your hand take your money and laugh his ass off behind the door.

    But it's systemic of a bigger problem. People to often leap without looking then cry foul after the fact. It's true my rant will likely fall on their deaf ears (or blind eyes I guess) but for anyone that may step on here first, or is already a fledgling member wondering about raid. Well this thread is a damn good starting point. If anything it'll at least (hopefully) put a couple caution flags up before they try raid.
  • LeonardoLeonardo Eagle River, Alaska Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    It's true my rant will likely fall on their deaf ears
    It will, and not because our members are stupid, but because there's so much hype about RAID. (Oh, this motherboard has RAID and it's only $20 more than the board without it! I hear you can double your files transfer speed by using RAID! Wow, I could pwn those slackers on Death Bunny 3 if I had RAID!)

    No not stupid, just over-eager, for lack of a better term.

    UPDATE: I am making this a sticky thread. Seeing that the anecdotal and informal advice that has been put out at least since 2002 at Icrontic/Short-Media/Icrontic has not caught many newer members' attention, maybe a permanent thread might.

    I invite experienced RAID users and or those with questions make good use of this thread.
  • edited Feb 2008
    Tex is going to **** the bed when he sees this.
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Pokémaster, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    Even if kryyst's OP may seem high-handed to some, the discussion it created was as sound as the initial advice. Kudos to you, Kryyst. Most people are not prepared for the imminent catastrophe of RAID.
  • QCHQCH Ancient Guru Chicago Area - USA Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    I 100% agree with you, Kryyst. Almost every normal user can do without RAID. I run a dedicated RAID card. Three 300 GB drives in RAID 5 (with a hot swap ready) but that is for my server. I have a ton of home movies, pictures, all of my music, and DVDs. I want the redundancy of RAID 5 without having to do routine backups. The data isn't updated often enough.

    At work, however, I support high end work stations for CAD designers. These PCs are well over $10,000 each. 16 GB of RAM and one CAD file can be 8 GB or more. They need every bit of performance they can. They run RAID 0 on 4 10,000 RPM Serial SCSII (SAS Drives) with 4000 Mb clusters. For them, it works GREAT for performance. They are limited by bandwidth more often than drive speed.

    However, the OS is NOT on those drives and they know the risk of that setup. They've lost 3 drives over the past 2 years and lost days of work. But they think it's worth it.

    Normal Home users... !!!Just Say No to RAID!!!
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited Feb 2008
    rapture wrote:
    Tex is going to **** the bed when he sees this.

    I don't think so. Tex knows exactly what the point of this is.
  • QCHQCH Ancient Guru Chicago Area - USA Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    RAID... dont' do it but if you want to do it,do it right. Tex is all about doing it right. He knows the ins and outs of setting up a RAID array to maximize what a person needs...
  • HawkHawk Fl. Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    I read up on all the raid rage yrs ago and have still kept up with some of it even today, but decided it wasn't worth the trouble.
    Even though I had 5-6 pc's on my office network here at home.
    Especially seeing all the lost raid arrays and those searching for help to get them back.
    I went out and got myself three 10,000 rpm raptors for main HD's on the pc's I wanted to run faster.
    Then made sure I had plenty of ram.
    A good video card.
    Optimized my pc settings for aggressive running.
    Also optimizing broadband settings makes a difference too.
    I haven't lost a HD or any files for yrs.
    I doo backup my important files to other backup HD's on my network though.
    Just in case.
    You never know when a HD is going to take a nose dive and die on you.
    And I'm with you kryyst...
    Don't use it unless you have a good reason for using it.
    If you do use it. Learn the in/outs/recovery before setting it up & jumping into raid.
  • HarudathHarudath Great Britain Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    I have one 160GB SATA 5200rpm Hard Drive which I've had for almost 3 years. All I need.
  • mmonninmmonnin Centreville, VA
    edited Feb 2008
    I don't agree. I have a RAID 0 raptors. Its onboard RAID as well. I don't even make backups. Anyone who stores data/information on a raid drive is dumb in the first place. I could care less if I lose my RAID. Sure I have movies and crap on it, but its nothing I can't replace such as my OS and programs. Those are the things that are supposed to be on a RAID, the files that are accessed the most.

    I am sure that I've been on the better end of hard drives over the years as I've only had 1 hard drive go bad on me and it was under warranty. I've had other small ones I've scalvaged go bad on me, but those dont count. Those are like the 1-2gb drives of yesteryear....

    If a user can use hard drives to store just OS, programs and anything he doesn't care about losing then there is no reason to not have a RAID. Whats the risk? A few hours of downtime if and ONLY if a hard drive fails. The gain: better performance all the time.
  • mas0nmas0n dallas Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    Yeah I pretty much tell everyone to avoid RAID like the plague, but run 3 arrays on a dedicated controller in my main rig. 2x74GB RAID 0, 3x120GB RAID 5, 2x400GB RAID 0. Never had a problem, but if I ever did I'd know what to do.
  • KwitkoKwitko Sheriff of Banning (Retired) By the thing near the stuff Icrontian
    edited Feb 2008
    More drives = lower MTBF.
  • Nickboxer7Nickboxer7 KC,MO
    edited Mar 2008
    Kwitko wrote:
    More drives = lower MTBF.

    Not necessarily. Increasing the number of drives may lower their usage, but also installs the factor of having a higher chance of one drive failing, just do to manufacturer problems. When you buy a drive you know it could fail even if you use it correctly, and then you have to RMA. Try putting 5 of those together. That is a greater chance of a drive failing.

    I realize it goes both ways, but I wanted to bring the other side up.


    But I was wondering what you guys thought about 0+1 or 10 for a storage server? I was going to build one up and planned on doing striping for performance and mirroring for protection.
  • LeonardoLeonardo Eagle River, Alaska Icrontian
    edited Mar 2008
    Try putting 5 of those together. That is a greater chance of a drive failing.
    You have just described lower MTBF - less time (probable) before a drive fails.
  • Nickboxer7Nickboxer7 KC,MO
    edited Mar 2008
    Leonardo wrote:
    You have just described lower MTBF - less time (probable) before a drive fails.

    You are absolutely right. For some reason I mixed that up when I read it. I should just go to bed now. :(
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited Mar 2008
    Nickboxer7 wrote:
    But I was wondering what you guys thought about 0+1 or 10 for a storage server? I was going to build one up and planned on doing striping for performance and mirroring for protection.

    Depends on what your requirements are for your storage server.
    1) How many people accessing it
    2) What type of data is on it (many small files, fewer large files) ie documents vs movies
    3) What sort of long term redundancy do you need.
    4) How much money do you want to spend

    In my position I would suggest if this is just a storage server for a typical house hold holding a variety of files but with only a few users on it and you don't really care either way about long term redundancy. Then I wouldn't bother with raid. However if I wanted a little bit of protection then I'd go with raid 5.

    If this is for a business, with say 20+ users accessing many smaller files frequently then I'd suggest doing a series of raid 1's. It gives you fantastic redundancy and high availability but you are paying for that by your storage costing you double (ie 2 100gb drives gives 100gb of data). Also in this fashion many smaller drives will provide a much greater benefit in speed then a few larger drives. But again cost goes up.

    Raid 1+0 I typically would reserve for things like SQL servers, media servers and Exchange Data stores where they are working with massive data files (.pst stores for example) and need high availability.
  • Nickboxer7Nickboxer7 KC,MO
    edited Mar 2008
    This is for a business where at any time there will be two to six people accessing files. The files are design files which range from very small to very large, depending on if they are basic or digital print type stuff. I really want something that will handle sharing the large files, but also have protection for them so that it is somewhat of a backup. Right now we run all the files from one design station which slows it down and then move them over once they are done to a USB drive (which is not very safe), and then back them up to CD's.

    What would you think about the NAS RAID devices vs. a server?
    kryyst wrote:
    Depends on what your requirements are for your storage server.
    1) How many people accessing it
    2) What type of data is on it (many small files, fewer large files) ie documents vs movies
    3) What sort of long term redundancy do you need.
    4) How much money do you want to spend

    In my position I would suggest if this is just a storage server for a typical house hold holding a variety of files but with only a few users on it and you don't really care either way about long term redundancy. Then I wouldn't bother with raid. However if I wanted a little bit of protection then I'd go with raid 5.

    If this is for a business, with say 20+ users accessing many smaller files frequently then I'd suggest doing a series of raid 1's. It gives you fantastic redundancy and high availability but you are paying for that by your storage costing you double (ie 2 100gb drives gives 100gb of data). Also in this fashion many smaller drives will provide a much greater benefit in speed then a few larger drives. But again cost goes up.

    Raid 1+0 I typically would reserve for things like SQL servers, media servers and Exchange Data stores where they are working with massive data files (.pst stores for example) and need high availability.
  • kryystkryyst Ontario, Canada
    edited Mar 2008
    NAS Raid devices are great. As long as you get a good one. I wouldn't recommend the Best Buy special for your type of needs. You don't need a SAN that would be overkill.

    You don't have a lot of users so high availability access won't be an issue. Raid 5 will do fine for you and give you and maximize your space. I would still have a secondary backup though.
  • Nickboxer7Nickboxer7 KC,MO
    edited Mar 2008
    kryyst wrote:
    NAS Raid devices are great. As long as you get a good one. I wouldn't recommend the Best Buy special for your type of needs. You don't need a SAN that would be overkill.

    You don't have a lot of users so high availability access won't be an issue. Raid 5 will do fine for you and give you and maximize your space. I would still have a secondary backup though.

    Yea, I'm still not sure the best method for backing something up like that. Should I get two of those built and then bring one in from home every week and copy everything new?
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