Is it good to use RAID?

What is RAID?

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. It is a data storage technology that combines multiple disk drive components into a logical unit. RAID takes advantage of the parallelization technique to enhance fault tolerance and provide faster data access.

There are several levels or types of RAID that provide different combinations of performance, redundancy, and efficiency. The most commonly used RAID levels are:

  • RAID 0 – Data striping without parity or mirroring. RAID 0 provides improved performance but no redundancy.
  • RAID 1 – Disk mirroring without parity or striping. RAID 1 provides redundancy by duplicating all data from one drive to a second drive.
  • RAID 5 – Block-level striping with distributed parity. RAID 5 provides fault tolerance and higher storage capacity efficiency.
  • RAID 6 – Block-level striping with double distributed parity. RAID 6 provides fault tolerance with up to two disk failures.
  • RAID 10 – Stripe of mirrors. RAID 10 provides both fault tolerance and high performance.

The main goals of RAID are to provide increased data reliability and/or increased input/output performance. It achieves this by combining multiple physical disk drives into a single logical unit. Some key advantages of using RAID include:

  • Increased data availability – RAID provides redundancy which allows continuous access to data even if one drive fails.
  • Higher performance – By spreading data across multiple drives, RAID can increase I/O performance.
  • Greater storage capacity – RAID combines multiple drives so you can get a larger storage volume.

Is RAID good for home use?

For home users, the decision of whether to use RAID really depends on your specific needs and priorities. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Data protection – If you have irreplaceable data or media files that you couldn’t bear to lose, RAID 1 or 10 would provide protection against drive failure.
  • Performance – If you do intensive work like video editing or gaming, RAID 0 could provide a speed boost.
  • Storage space – RAID 5/6 allow you to get more total storage than just having a single drive.
  • Cost – RAID requires at least 2 drives, making it more expensive than a single drive.
  • Complexity – Configuring and managing RAID adds complexity, especially for RAID 5/6.

For most home users, the downsides of cost and complexity often outweigh the potential benefits of RAID. The data protection offered by RAID 1, 5, or 6 is appealing for safeguarding precious data, but external backups are usually a simpler and cheaper option.

RAID 0 can improve performance substantially, but it actually reduces data reliability compared to a single disk. For home users who aren’t pushing the limits of their disk I/O, the speed gains of RAID 0 are often imperceptible.

That said, RAID can still be worthwhile for home users in certain scenarios:

  • If you have crucial data that isn’t backed up anywhere else, RAID 1 provides protection against drive failure.
  • For high-bandwidth applications like multi-camera video editing, RAID 0 can provide a noticeable speed boost.
  • If you have 3-4 drives, RAID 5 provides additional storage capacity with some fault tolerance.

Unless you have specialized performance or data protection needs, a single disk is usually sufficient and the simplest option for most home users. But RAID can benefit home users who are willing to trade off increased cost and complexity for improved redundancy, capacity, and/or speed.

Is RAID good for business use?

For businesses and organizations, RAID delivers more compelling advantages that make it a popular and commonly used technology:

  • Data protection – Businesses cannot afford to lose data due to a drive failure. RAID 1 and 6 provide fault tolerance.
  • Performance – Businesses often have demanding database, transactional, or fileserver workloads that benefit greatly from RAID 0/10 speed enhancements.
  • Availability – By reducing downtime from drive failures, RAID helps ensure maximum uptime and availability of business systems and data.
  • Scalability – RAID is highly scalable allowing additional drives to be added to a RAID group with minimal disruption.

The advantages of RAID are compelling enough that it is considered a standard and best practice for business-critical servers and storage systems. The improved performance, redundancy, and availability provided by RAID far outweigh the initial hardware costs for most businesses. Specific RAID use cases include:

  • Database servers – Use RAID 1/10 for better read/write performance and redundancy.
  • Application servers – Use RAID 1/10 for faster access to programs, files, etc.
  • File and print servers – Use RAID 5/6 for increased storage capacity and read performance.
  • Mail servers – Use RAID 1/10 for high availability and faster searches.
  • Web servers – Use RAID 1/10 for better bandwidth to handle more traffic.

Without RAID, a single drive failure could cause prolonged downtimes that are extremely costly for mission-critical business systems. The added complexity of RAID is a small price to pay for the significant reliability and performance benefits it provides.


While the costs may outweigh the benefits for most home users, RAID delivers compelling advantages for businesses and organizations. The improved performance, fault tolerance, availability, and scalability provided by RAID makes it a foundational data storage technology for business-critical systems and data. RAID in important varieties like 1, 5, 6, and 10 continues to be a standard best practice for servers and storage in corporate IT environments.

RAID Level Comparison

RAID Level Data Protection Fault Tolerance Performance Storage Efficiency
0 None No High 100%
1 Full duplication Yes Low 50%
5 Parity Yes (1 drive) Medium 67%-94%
6 Double parity Yes (2 drives) Medium 50%-88%
10 Mirroring + striping Yes High 50%

Advantages and Disadvantages of RAID


  • Increased data availability and reliability due to redundancy.
  • Higher performance from disk striping and parallelization.
  • Additional storage capacity by combining multiple drives in one volume.
  • Scalability to expand storage capacity with minimal downtime.


  • Increased hardware cost since multiple disks are required.
  • Potential performance bottlenecks depending on RAID level.
  • Increased complexity to implement and manage RAID.
  • Longer rebuild times when replacing failed drives in some RAID levels.

RAID Use Cases


RAID 0 is ideal for applications that demand high performance but do not require fault tolerance. The block-level striping maximizes disk bandwidth for very fast reads and writes. Common RAID 0 use cases:

  • Video editing and production
  • Scientific computing and modeling
  • Big data analytics


RAID 1 provides complete data duplication for the highest level of fault tolerance. The mirrored disks allow continuous operation if one drive fails. RAID 1 is commonly used for:

  • Database servers
  • Transactional systems (ERP, CRM, ecommerce)
  • Email and communications servers


RAID 5 combines block-level striping with distributed parity for optimum storage capacity while still providing fault tolerance. Typical uses include:

  • File servers and network attached storage (NAS)
  • Backup and archival storage
  • Transactional systems where capacity is more important than performance


Similar to RAID 5 but with double distributed parity, RAID 6 sustains up to two disk failures. It is well suited for:

  • Mission critical systems that demand high availability
  • Large storage arrays where rebuilds take longer
  • Archival and backup storage of irreplaceable data


RAID 10 combines mirroring and striping for both high performance and fault tolerance. It is commonly used for:

  • Database servers requiring fast transactions
  • Virtualization and high performance computing
  • Business-critical applications where downtime is unacceptable

RAID Implementation Considerations

Key factors to consider when planning a RAID implementation:

  • RAID level – Select the appropriate RAID level based on your needs for performance, capacity, and fault tolerance.
  • Disk types – For RAID arrays, use enterprise-grade drives designed for 24/7 operation.
  • Number of disks – More disks generally provide better performance but increase cost.
  • Spare drives – Having hot spare drives allows immediate rebuilds when a disk fails.
  • RAID controller – Use a dedicated hardware RAID controller for best performance and reliability.
  • Drive interfaces – Faster interfaces like SAS and PCIe provide better performance.
  • RAID management – Have monitoring and management tools to track disk health and receive failure alerts.

Proper RAID planning, implementation, and maintenance helps ensure optimal performance, protection of your important data, and continuous availability of business applications and services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is software or hardware RAID better?

Hardware RAID using a dedicated controller card provides better performance and reliability compared to software RAID. The hardware controller offloads the RAID tasks away from the system CPU. Hardware RAID also includes a battery-backup cache to prevent data loss during power failures.

What happens if a drive in a RAID 1 array fails?

In a two-disk RAID 1 array, if one drive fails the system stays fully functional using the other mirrored drive. The failed drive should be replaced as soon as possible and the RAID volume will rebuild automatically using the new replacement drive.

Can you add more storage to an existing RAID array?

Yes, more storage capacity can be added to most RAID levels just by adding more disks to the array. For RAID arrays using a hardware controller, this can often be done without downtime. Additional storage can be added and assimilated into the RAID volume through migration processes.

What RAID level is best for a file server?

RAID 5 and RAID 6 are good fits for file server storage, as they provide increased capacity through parity along with decent performance. Multiple disk failures can be sustained with RAID 6, so it is preferable for large arrays. RAID 10 can also be used if higher performance is needed.

Is RAID 0 faster than a single disk?

Yes, RAID 0 performs faster than a single disk because the workload is spread across multiple disks in parallel. This allows for simultaneous read and write operations. Performance scales with each drive added to the array.