What is the best RAID option for 4 drives?

RAID stands for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks” and refers to a data storage technology that combines multiple disk drives into a logical unit (Raid Definition & Meaning). The main purposes of RAID are to provide increased data reliability through redundancy and improved performance.

When it comes to RAID configurations for 4 drives, some of the most common options are:

  • RAID 0 – Data is striped across all drives for performance, but offers no redundancy.
  • RAID 1 – Drives are mirrored for redundancy, but capacity is halved.
  • RAID 5 – Data is striped across drives with distributed parity for redundancy.
  • RAID 10 – Mirrored stripes for both performance and redundancy.

The main goals of RAID are to protect against drive failures and improve I/O performance. By combining multiple drives together, RAID aims to provide greater reliability and speed.


RAID 0, also known as striping, spreads data evenly across multiple drives with no parity or duplication (Source: http://ijariie.com/AdminUploadPdf/Different_Forms_of_RAID_ijariie6803.pdf). This RAID level offers performance benefits but no redundancy.

By striping data across multiple disks, RAID 0 allows for simultaneous disk reads and writes, which can improve performance for certain workloads. Many claim RAID 0 provides significant speed benefits, however some argue these benefits may be exaggerated in real-world usage (Source: https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/raid-0-quite-slow.3629379/).

The main drawback of RAID 0 is that it provides no data redundancy. If one drive fails, all data across the array is lost. For this reason, RAID 0 is generally only recommended when performance is critical and data redundancy is less important.


RAID 1, also known as disk mirroring, creates an exact copy (or mirror) of a set of data on two or more disks (Data Recovery Specialists). This provides redundancy and fault tolerance as all data remains accessible if one disk fails.

The main benefit of RAID 1 is high redundancy. If one disk fails, the system can instantly switch to the mirrored disk with no downtime (IONOS). This makes RAID 1 well-suited for mission critical systems that require 24/7 uptime and cannot afford data loss.

However, RAID 1 also comes with some drawbacks. As data is duplicated on multiple disks, the overall storage capacity is cut in half compared to using the drives individually. RAID 1 is also more expensive since it requires purchasing twice as many hard drives (Stellar Data Recovery).


RAID 5 stripes data and parity information across all drives (minimum of 3) in the array. This level provides good performance and storage capacity utilization while also providing redundancy for data protection (Berestetsky).

The benefits of RAID 5 include:
– Parity protection: If a single drive fails, the missing data can be recreated using the parity information spread across the other drives. This provides protection against data loss.
– Good utilization: RAID 5 efficiency is comparable to RAID 0 in terms of storage capacity utilization. Unlike mirroring in RAID 1, available capacity is maximized.

The drawbacks of RAID 5 include:
– Write penalty: Writes are slower because parity data needs to be updated each time data is written. This results in a write performance penalty.

– Not ideal for large drives: With larger drive sizes, recreating data after a drive failure can take a long time and impact performance (CourseHero).


RAID 10, also known as RAID 1+0, is a combination of RAID 1 (mirroring) and RAID 0 (striping). It provides both high performance and fault tolerance by striping data across mirrored sets of drives.[1]

In terms of performance, RAID 10 provides fast read and write speeds thanks to the striping of RAID 0. Since the data is striped across multiple drives, reads and writes can be done in parallel, increasing overall throughput. The mirrored copies provided by RAID 1 also allow for parallel access to duplicated data across drives.[2]

For redundancy, RAID 10 provides protection against drive failure like RAID 1 by duplicating all data across mirrored drives. With at least two drives failure can be tolerated. The striping of drives does create some vulnerability however, as a multiple drive failure within the same mirrored set would lead to data loss.

The tradeoff with RAID 10 is reduced overall capacity, as the available capacity is equal to the size of the smallest drive multiplied by the number of drives divided by two. Half the total capacity is used for mirroring, making RAID 10 more costly than other RAID levels.

Comparing Performance

When comparing the performance of RAID 0 vs RAID 10, benchmarks show that RAID 10 generally has faster read speeds while RAID 0 has faster writes. According to one benchmark test on Tom’s Hardware Forum, RAID 0 achieved sequential read speeds of around 980 MB/s and writes of 950 MB/s. RAID 10 achieved slightly faster reads of 1015 MB/s but slower writes of 720 MB/s (Source).

The reason RAID 10 edges out RAID 0 for reads is because it can access data from multiple drives in parallel, while writes are slower due to the parity calculation. However, the performance difference is generally quite small. As one Reddit user commented, “RAID 0 is not going to be discernibly faster than RAID 10. In fact, RAID 10 has a good chance of being faster for reads.” (Source).

When looking at performance relative to usable capacity, RAID 10 can deliver up to double the read performance of RAID 0 since it utilizes the capacity of two mirrored drives. However, RAID 0 provides up to double the write performance compared to RAID 10. (Source).

Comparing Redundancy

Redundancy refers to the ability of a RAID configuration to withstand and recover from drive failures. The level of redundancy depends on the RAID level:

RAID 0 offers no redundancy. If any drive fails, all data will be lost.[1]

RAID 1 offers full redundancy by mirroring data across drives. RAID 1 can withstand failure of all drives except one.[2]

RAID 5 offers redundancy by striping parity information across drives. It can withstand the failure of one drive. [3]

RAID 10 offers redundancy by mirroring striped sets. It can withstand failure of up to 50% of drives, depending on configuration.

Comparing Capacity

When considering RAID options for 4 drives, the usable drive capacity can vary significantly depending on the RAID level used. Here’s a comparison of the usable capacity for each RAID type with 4 drives:

RAID 0 offers the maximum capacity, as it combines the capacity of all drives with no redundancy. For example, 4 x 2TB drives in RAID 0 would provide 8TB of usable storage.

RAID 1 provides the least capacity, as it mirrors two sets of drives, so only half the total capacity is usable. For example, 4 x 2TB drives in RAID 1 would provide 2TB of usable storage.

RAID 5 requires one drive’s worth of capacity for parity data, so it offers usable capacity of (n-1) drives. For 4 drives, RAID 5 would provide 3 x 2TB = 6TB of usable storage.

RAID 10 provides half the total capacity, similar to RAID 1, because it creates mirrored sets. With 4 drives, RAID 10 would provide 2 x 2TB = 4TB of usable capacity.

For details, refer to RAID calculator tools like RAID Capacity Comparison.


For most home users with 4 drives looking for the best overall RAID in terms of performance, redundancy, and capacity, RAID 10 is typically recommended.

RAID 10 provides better read/write performance than RAID 5 or RAID 1, while also providing full redundancy. In RAID 10, the drives are mirrored in pairs and then striped. This means you get the speed of striping along with the fault tolerance of mirroring. With 4 drives in RAID 10 you get the storage capacity of 2 drives, as the other 2 drives are mirrors. This still provides significantly more capacity than a full 4 drive mirror in RAID 1.

RAID 5 can suffer performance issues with the parity calculations, and does not have the same fault tolerance as RAID 10. RAID 0 offers no redundancy. Though RAID 0 has excellent performance, the lack of redundancy means a single drive failure results in full data loss. For home users who can’t afford to lose their data, RAID 10 balances performance and protection most optimally.

For advanced users needing maximum performance, RAID 0 may be an option, as long as they have a solid backup solution. But for most home users looking for the best performance while ensuring protection against drive failures, RAID 10 is typically the best option for 4 drives.


When choosing the best RAID option for 4 drives, there are a few key factors to consider:

Performance: RAID 0 provides the fastest performance since data is striped across all drives. RAID 10 also provides good performance since it mirrors stripes. RAID 5 and 1 provide lower performance due to parity calculations and mirroring.

Redundancy: RAID 1 and 10 provide the best redundancy since they use mirroring. RAID 5 provides single drive fault tolerance. RAID 0 has no redundancy.

Capacity: RAID 0 and 10 optimize capacity since no space is lost to parity or mirroring. RAID 1 and 5 lose 50% and 1 drive’s worth of space respectively.

Based on these factors, RAID 10 is typically recommended for 4 drives. It provides great performance, good redundancy, and optimized capacity. The mirroring protects against drive failure while the striping delivers fast speeds. For most purposes, RAID 10 offers the best balance of features on a 4 drive setup.