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Five benefits of hardware RAID

Wednesday 05 October 2016

By Rajesh Patel, B2B Sales Manager at Buffalo Europe, stand JJ14

As a business grows, so does its need for storage. To meet these growing storage requirements, many SMBs implement RAID arrays which improves data storage, performance and reliability. RAID (redundant array of independent disks) means that all the processing is done on the motherboard or independent RAID card. By combining standard drives into an array, the resultant performance is better than a single disk performance. At the same time your computer sees it as a standalone drive. This technology can be used in different ways to achieve different results called RAID Levels/Modes.

RAID enables businesses to store data in different places on several hard disks, which is still the cheapest way of storing data. The combination of multiple disks in a RAID feature improves data safety, enables faster transfer speeds, as well as providing a greater storage volume than is possible on a single hard disk. Performance is also improved as input/output operations occur simultaneously by overlapping in a balanced way. This increases the time between failures and increases fault tolerance so that a backup component or procedure can take its place with no loss of service. While available in both hardware and software, below we look specifically at the benefits of hardware RAID.

Benefit #1 – Stability
Using hardware RAID reduces the central processing unit (CPU) load by 50% which ensures it remains stable even while running multiple applications. Software RAID runs with a high CPU usage (68%) which means that multiple apps and system stresses can cause data instability. Hardware RAID runs with a low CPU usage (32%) retaining stability even when running multiple apps.

Benefit #2 Speed

With Hardware RAID, everything is faster from the initial boot up, to RAID changes and RAID Re-Rebuilds. Looking at booting speed alone, hardware RAID is twice as fast taking 23 seconds to boot, compared with 69 seconds for software RAID. This trend continues when comparing RAID re-build time, with hardware RAID taking 5h 47min for 1TB of data and software RAID taking 12h 15min for the same amount.

Benefit #3 Capacity

When using Hardware RAID, the entire 12TB HDD (hard disk drive) capacity is available for user data, whereas software RAID requires 5% capacity for the OS, only running at 11.4TB.

Benefit #4 RAID 6

Best practice uses RAID 6 as it offers greater fault tolerance, protecting data even if two HDD fail simultaneously. Windows Storage Server with Hardware RAID is RAID 6 ready. With Software RAID, best practice uses RAID 5 which only allows one faulty drive, so any additional faults will compromise data. With a Windows Software RAID it’s not possible to use RAID 6; only a Hardware RAID controller can make RAID 6 possible on a Windows Storage Server.

Benefit #5 Cache-Secured OS

Hardware RAID has RAID Cache to ensure that if OS freezes, data from the system is temporarily saved until it is successfully saved to the RAID. Conversely, software RAID does not feature RAID cache so there is a high risk of losing data should the OS freeze.

For further advice on hardware RAID or alternative storage and networking solutions, visit Buffalo Europe at stand JJ14.

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