What are the features of RAID 1?

RAID 1, also known as disk mirroring, is a storage technology that protects data by duplicating it across two or more disks. The key features of RAID 1 include:

  • Data redundancy – Data is copied to multiple disks, providing fault tolerance if one disk fails.
  • Improved read performance – Data can be read in parallel from both disks for faster access.
  • Write penalty – Writes must go to all disks, incurring a minor performance penalty.
  • Minimum 2 disks required – RAID 1 requires at least 2 disks to provide redundancy.

How does RAID 1 provide data redundancy?

RAID 1 provides complete data redundancy by mirroring or duplicating data across two or more disks. If one disk fails, the data is still available from the other disk(s). This protects against data loss due to drive failures.

When data is written to a RAID 1 array, it is written identically to all disks in the array. This is known as disk mirroring. The redundancy allows for continuous availability and protection against disk failures. If one drive fails, the data can still be accessed from the remaining drive(s).

The redundancy makes RAID 1 well-suited for applications that require high availability and cannot tolerate data loss, such as databases, virtualization, and mission critical systems. The redundant disks provide insurance against hardware failures.

Comparison to RAID 0

In contrast to RAID 0, which stripes data across disks for performance, RAID 1 duplicates data for fault tolerance. While RAID 0 provides no redundancy, RAID 1 provides complete redundancy through duplication.

How does RAID 1 improve read performance?

RAID 1 can improve read performance by allowing data requests to be distributed across multiple disks. The duplicate data enables reads to occur in parallel, increasing throughput.

Specifically, when a read request occurs, it can be serviced by both disks at the same time. This divides the workload across disks. With the data duplicated on both drives, the reads can be overlapped for faster data access.

The performance improvement for reads depends on the number of disks in the RAID 1 array. With two disks, read performance can approach twice that of a single disk. As more disks are added, aggregate read performance continues to increase.

The read performance increase makes RAID 1 suitable for read-intensive workloads, such as databases and web servers. By reducing read request time, RAID 1 enables faster responses and improves overall application performance.

Read performance comparison

RAID Type Read Performance
RAID 0 Increased
RAID 1 Increased

As shown in the table, both RAID 0 and RAID 1 can improve read performance compared to a single disk. However, RAID 1 also provides fault tolerance through redundancy.

What is the write penalty of RAID 1?

The main drawback of RAID 1’s mirroring is the write penalty. All write operations must go to all disks in the array. This creates additional work compared to writing to a single disk.

Specifically, each write must be duplicated and completed on every drive. If there are two drives, each write takes about twice as long. With three drives, each write takes three times longer, and so on.

This write penalty decreases overall write performance. The impact depends on the number of disks and can become more pronounced as more disks are added.

However, in many cases, the improved read performance and fault tolerance outweigh the write penalty. The redundancy protects against data loss, while parallel reads provide faster data access. For workloads focused on writes, other RAID levels may be more appropriate.

Write performance comparison

RAID Type Write Performance
RAID 0 Increased
RAID 1 Decreased

As shown, RAID 0 provides increased write performance compared to a single disk, while RAID 1 incurs a write penalty.

What is the minimum number of disks for RAID 1?

RAID 1 requires a minimum of 2 disks to provide data redundancy through mirroring. With only one disk, data duplication is not possible.

The two disks must be of equal or greater size. One disk holds the main data, while the other disk maintains a complete duplicate copy of the data.

While two disks is the minimum, more disks can be added to a RAID 1 array. The redundancy and read performance continue to scale as more mirrored disks are added.

A two-disk RAID 1 array can tolerate a single disk failure without data loss. With three or more mirrored disks, the array can survive multiple disk failures while retaining data redundancy.

The table below shows the minimum and maximum number of disks for different RAID levels:

RAID Level Minimum Disks Maximum Disks
RAID 0 2 No limit
RAID 1 2 No limit

As shown, only RAID 1 and higher levels provide redundancy with the minimum number of disks.

How does RAID 1 compare to RAID 0 and RAID 5?

RAID 1 differs from other common RAID levels like RAID 0 and RAID 5 in the areas of performance, fault tolerance, and minimum disk requirements:


  • Performance – RAID 0 provides faster writes, while RAID 1 provides faster reads.
  • Fault tolerance – RAID 0 has no redundancy, while RAID 1 provides complete redundancy.
  • Minimum disks – Both require at least 2 disks.

RAID 0 is focused on performance at the cost of redundancy. RAID 1 provides fault tolerance along with improved read speed.


  • Performance – RAID 5 has slower writes due to parity overhead.
  • Fault tolerance – Both offer single disk failure tolerance.
  • Minimum disks – RAID 5 requires at least 3 disks, RAID 1 just 2.

RAID 5 provides good read performance and single disk fault tolerance like RAID 1, but requires more disks. RAID 1 is preferable when only 2 disks are available.

In summary, RAID 1 balances performance and fault tolerance by mirroring data across disks. The choice between RAID levels depends on application workloads and redundancy requirements.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of RAID 1?

The main advantages and disadvantages of RAID 1 mirroring are:


  • Simple to implement and manage
  • Excellent read performance and scaling
  • Complete redundancy against single disk failures
  • Only requires two disks minimum


  • Higher cost as duplicate disks are required
  • Write performance penalty due to mirroring overhead
  • Rebuild times can be lengthy for large arrays

RAID 1 delivers excellent redundancy and read speed, at the cost of decreased write performance and higher hardware needs. The advantages often make RAID 1 suitable for mission critical, read-intensive, or virtualized workloads.

What are typical use cases for deploying RAID 1?

Some typical use cases where RAID 1 provides significant benefits include:

  • Database servers – The redundancy protects against data loss, while the improved read performance speeds queries.
  • Virtualized servers – Mirroring enhances availability for virtual machines and enables seamless failover.
  • Transactional systems – The fault tolerance avoids downtime and disruption to transaction workflows.
  • Boot drives – Mirroring safeguards against boot drive failures that would render a system unbootable.
  • Small business storage – The two-drive minimum makes RAID 1 suitable for small business servers.

The combination of enhanced reads and complete redundancy makes RAID 1 suitable for any application where downtime is unacceptable. Mission critical systems can benefit greatly from RAID 1.

What steps are needed to configure RAID 1?

Configuring a RAID 1 array requires the following high-level steps:

  1. Ensure appropriate hardware – Matching disks of adequate size, RAID controller if needed.
  2. Connect the disks – Attach the disks to a controller port or motherboard SATA ports.
  3. Enter RAID BIOS – During boot, enter the RAID configuration settings.
  4. Create array – Select the disks and create a mirrored array.
  5. Configure array – Select RAID 1 as the level and save changes.
  6. Check status – Confirm the RAID 1 array rebuilt properly and is fully redundant.

Many motherboards provide built-in RAID support, allowing RAID 1 setup through BIOS settings alone. With hardware RAID cards, configuration utilities are provided to manage the arrays.

Matching disks of the same size should be used when possible. Monitoring rebuild progress until redundancy is restored is crucial after initial setup.

RAID 1 Configuration Steps

Step Description
1. Check hardware Ensure adequate disks, controller if needed
2. Connect disks Attach disks to motherboard or controller
3. Enter RAID BIOS Access RAID settings during boot
4. Create array Select disks and create mirrored array
5. Configure Specify RAID 1 as the RAID level
6. Check status Verify successful RAID 1 rebuild

Following these steps will result in a properly configured and redundant RAID 1 array.

What maintenance practices help sustain RAID 1 performance?

Some best practices for maintaining RAID 1 arrays include:

  • Monitoring disk health – Watch for warning signs like increased errors.
  • Replacing failed drives – Swap failed drives immediately to rebuild redundancy.
  • Updating firmware – Keep controller and hard drive firmware up-to-date.
  • Managing rebuild loads – Limit other IO during lengthy rebuilds.
  • Scrubbing – Periodically verify integrity of data on disks.
  • Balancing disk usage – Distribute vdisk layout across physical disks.

Monitoring tools like ‘smartctl’ can provide insight into disk health metrics. Being proactive about maintenance helps avoid performance issues or sudden outages.

With proper care, RAID 1 arrays can run optimally for years by leveraging the redundancy to eliminate disk-related downtime. Following best practices helps optimize and extend the lifetime of the array.

What are the typical pros and cons of hardware vs. software RAID 1?

Hardware and software RAID 1 offer similar redundancy, but have key differences:

Hardware RAID Pros

  • Better performance – Dedicated controller improves speed.
  • Lower CPU usage – Workload offloaded from main CPU.
  • Extra features – Caching, battery backup, etc.

Hardware RAID Cons

  • Added cost – RAID cards carry an additional expense.
  • Vendor lock-in – Reliant on specific hardware.

Software RAID Pros

  • No added cost – Uses existing SATA ports and disks.
  • Vendor neutral – Works across any commodity hardware.

Software RAID Cons

  • Potentially lower speed – Depends on CPU performance.
  • Higher CPU usage – Taxes CPU cycles.
  • Limited features – More basic compared to hardware RAID.

In smaller implementations, software RAID 1 provides a cost-effective mirroring solution. For more advanced features and performance, dedicated hardware RAID controllers are preferable.


RAID 1 remains a highly utilized data protection technology due to its simple mirroring approach. By duplicating data across disks, RAID 1 provides complete redundancy along with enhanced read performance.

The minimal two disk requirement makes entry and scaling cost-effective. RAID 1 offers an ideal balance of speed, redundancy, and efficient use of disks for a variety of workloads and budgets.

Careful maintenance practices, like disk health monitoring and prompt replacement of failed drives, helps mitigate issues. When deployed properly on suitable workloads, RAID 1 delivers excellent availability and performance.