What is the best RAID for secure storage?

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is a data storage technology that uses multiple disks to provide fault tolerance, performance improvements, and increased storage capacity [1]. By distributing and duplicating data across multiple drives, RAID aims to protect against data loss in the event of drive failure. For this reason, RAID can greatly enhance the security of data storage.

There are several different RAID levels, each with their own mix of performance, capacity, and redundancy characteristics. The most secure RAID levels focus heavily on redundancy to prevent data loss. RAID can be implemented via hardware in a storage device, or through software in the operating system. When properly configured and monitored, RAID provides a critical line of defense for securely storing important data.


RAID 0 stripes data across multiple disks for increased performance 1. This RAID level splits and spreads data evenly across two or more drives with no parity or mirroring. The benefit of RAID 0 is that disk reads and writes are parallelized, improving data transfer speeds. Since the data is distributed among multiple disks, RAID 0 provides faster performance compared to a single disk.

However, RAID 0 offers no redundancy or fault tolerance. If one drive fails, all data across the array will be lost. For this reason, RAID 0 is generally not recommended for mission critical or highly secure data storage. The increased risk of data loss makes RAID 0 a poor choice for data security. Still, RAID 0 can be useful where maximum performance is vital and data recovery from backup is available, such as in video editing or gaming systems.


RAID 1, also known as disk mirroring, is considered one of the most secure RAID levels.
It provides redundancy by writing identical copies of data to two or more disks1.
This allows data to be accessed even if one drive fails.

Some key features of RAID 1 include:

  • Data is duplicated on two or more disks, providing fault tolerance
  • Read performance is improved since data can be read in parallel from multiple disks
  • Write performance may be slower since data has to be written to multiple disks before the write is considered complete
  • Ideal for applications requiring high availability and fault tolerance over performance

RAID 1 provides excellent redundancy and is considered one of the most secure RAID levels. However, it does come at the cost of halving storage capacity. The tradeoff between redundancy and storage efficiency should be evaluated based on the specific use case.


RAID 5 stripes data and parity information across multiple disks to provide redundancy in case of disk failure. Parity allows data from a failed drive to be reconstructed from the remaining disks (Newegg, 2023). RAID 5 requires a minimum of 3 disks and is a good option for most home and business uses where capacity, performance, and redundancy are needed.

With RAID 5, data is split and written in chunks across the disks, along with parity information that can be used to reconstruct data if needed. For example in a 3 disk RAID 5 array, Disk 1 may contain Data A, Disk 2 may contain Data B, and Disk 3 may contain Parity A+B. If Disk 2 fails, Data B can be recalculated using Data A and Parity A+B from the remaining disks (IPFire, 2023). This allows RAID 5 to survive a single disk failure without data loss.

RAID 5 provides good redundancy at a lower cost than mirroring (RAID 1). However, rebuild times are slow since parity has to be recalculated. RAID 6 offers double parity for better redundancy but at a higher cost. Overall, RAID 5 provides a good balance of performance, capacity, and redundancy for many use cases. Just be sure to have a hot spare ready in case of disk failure.



RAID 6 is considered one of the most secure RAID levels due to its double distributed parity design. It uses two separate parity data blocks spread across different drives to protect against two simultaneous drive failures without data loss or system downtime (1). This provides high redundancy for critical data.

With RAID 6, data is striped across multiple drives like RAID 0, but parity information is also calculated and written across different drives. The parity blocks are used to rebuild data in case of a drive failure. If one drive fails, the system can recover using one parity block. If two drives fail, it can rebuild using both parity blocks (2).

The tradeoff is RAID 6 has slower write performance compared to RAID 10 or RAID 0 since parity calculations require more processing overhead. However, most RAID controllers can perform parity calculations without a major performance hit. RAID 6 offers a good balance of redundancy, performance and cost efficiency for secure storage (1).


(1) https://www.starline.de/en/products/storage/raid-system/raiddeluxe-systems

(2) https://touchvision.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/GB-Labs-SUPERTIER-1-web.pdf


RAID 10 utilizes mirrored stripes for both performance and redundancy. This combines striping (RAID 0) and mirroring (RAID 1). Data is striped across multiple drives for speed, while the stripe itself is mirrored for redundancy.

With RAID 10, data is written to 2 drives simultaneously in a stripe set. If one drive fails, the other mirrored drive still contains the data. This provides fault tolerance. The performance is fast since data is spread across multiple drives.

A downside is that RAID 10 requires at least 4 drives to implement. The storage efficiency is low – only 50% of total capacity is usable. But the performance and redundancy benefits often outweigh this drawback for mission critical systems.

Hardware vs Software RAID

There are key differences between hardware and software RAID implementations that have pros and cons for security and performance. Hardware RAID uses dedicated RAID controllers that are independent from the main CPU and operating system. This can provide better performance by offloading RAID processing, and potentially better security by isolating the RAID system. However, hardware RAID controllers can be expensive, proprietary, and inflexible compared to software RAID.

With software RAID, the operating system manages all RAID functions via software. This makes it less expensive to implement, more flexible, and allows for more customization. However, software RAID utilizes CPU resources from the main system which can impact performance. It may also be less inherently secure since it relies on the main OS, which could be compromised. Software RAID requires a motherboard that supports RAID.

Overall, hardware RAID is preferred for performance, while software RAID provides a less expensive but potentially less secure implementation. The choice depends on budget, performance needs, flexibility, and security priorities.[1][2]

Implementation Tips

When implementing RAID for secure storage, there are some best practices to follow:

Choose the right RAID level for your needs. RAID 0 provides no redundancy but maximizes storage capacity and performance. RAID 1 provides redundancy through mirroring while RAID 5 and 6 provide distributed parity. RAID 10 combines mirroring and striping for both performance and redundancy.

Use hardware RAID controllers instead of software RAID. Hardware RAID performs better and if the OS becomes corrupt, the array will remain intact.

Use drives of the same model and capacity in each array. Mixing drive models and sizes can negatively impact performance.

Schedule regular consistency checks to ensure data integrity and fix any issues proactively. Most RAID controllers allow you to schedule periodic consistency checks.

Monitor disk health and replace failing drives immediately. Degraded arrays are vulnerable to data loss.

Consider hot spare drives which can automatically rebuild arrays in case of disk failure.

Back up the RAID configuration settings. If the card fails, you can easily reconfigure the new card.

Test recovery procedures regularly to verify backups and replacements work. Rebuilding large arrays can take days depending on the controller.

Use uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to avoid data corruption from sudden power loss.

Keep firmware up to date on RAID controllers for latest features, fixes and performance improvements.




Monitoring RAID health and status is critical for detecting issues before failure or data loss occurs. There are several open source and free tools available for monitoring RAID arrays on Linux systems:

mdadm is a Linux utility included with most distributions that can monitor and manage software RAID arrays. mdadm can be used to check array status, scan for degraded arrays, and send email alerts if problems are detected. Basic mdadm commands like mdadm --monitor /dev/md0 can provide realtime monitoring of Linux software RAID. More details on using mdadm for monitoring.

smartmontools is another common Linux utility that can monitor RAID disk health using S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology). smartctl from smartmontools can monitor RAID component disks and report problems. This thread covers using smartmontools for RAID monitoring.

Some other free RAID monitoring tools for Linux include RAIDMINION, Icinga/Nagios plugins, Highpoint RAID Management tools, and MegaCLI. Most provide health stats, email alerts, and active monitoring capabilities.


When it comes to selecting the best RAID for secure storage, there are several factors to consider. RAID 0 offers no redundancy but the fastest performance. RAID 1 offers redundancy through mirroring while RAID 5 and 6 offer distributed parity. RAID 10 combines mirroring and striping for both redundancy and performance. Hardware RAID is more reliable but software RAID is cheaper and offers more flexibility.

For most secure storage needs, RAID 6 is likely the best option as it can withstand up to two disk failures with a minimal performance hit compared to RAID 5. RAID 10 is also a good choice if performance is a priority. When implementing any RAID, be sure to use enterprise-grade drives, monitor the array health, and have a backup plan for drive failures.

The bottom line is there is no one single best RAID type for all situations. Assess your specific storage needs in terms of capacity, performance, redundancy, and budget. Select the RAID level that best aligns with your requirements for a robust and secure storage solution.