What is the difference RAID 0 and 5?

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 allows data to be distributed across multiple disks, while also providing data redundancy to protect against drive failures (TechTarget, 2023).

There are several different RAID levels, each with its own benefits:

  • RAID 0 – Data striping across multiple disks for increased performance, but no redundancy.
  • RAID 1 – Disk mirroring for 100% data redundancy.
  • RAID 5 – Data striping with distributed parity for redundancy.
  • RAID 6 – Like RAID 5 but with double distributed parity.
  • RAID 10 – Combination of RAID 0 and RAID 1.

The main goals of RAID are to provide increased storage capacities, performance, and reliability compared to single disk systems (Baeldung, 2022). Different RAID levels are suited for different use cases depending on the balance of performance versus redundancy required.

RAID 0 Overview

RAID 0 (also known as disk striping) combines multiple disks into a larger logical volume to provide improved performance through parallelism and stripe writing. Data is spread evenly across two or more disks without any parity or redundancy [1]. This allows for high input/output operations per second (IOPS) and bandwidth since data can be read and written to multiple disks simultaneously.

With RAID 0, data is divided into blocks called stripes that get written across the disks in the array. The stripes are a fixed size, typically 64K or 128K. For example, in a 2-disk RAID 0 array, the first stripe gets written to disk 1, the second stripe to disk 2, the third to disk 1 again, and so on. This distributing of data across multiple disks allows for concurrent reads and writes. During a read, data can be accessed from both disks at the same time instead of waiting for a single disk to seek data sequentially.

A key drawback with RAID 0 is there is no redundancy or fault tolerance. If one disk fails, all data across the RAID 0 array will be lost. The array will go down since data chunks are spread across all disks. Due to this lack of redundancy, RAID 0 is generally not recommended for critical data. The performance gains come with greater risk of data loss.

RAID 5 Overview

RAID 5 stripes data across multiple disks similar to RAID 0, but also provides redundancy through parity information that is distributed across the array (TechTarget). This parity allows the array to reconstruct data if one of the drives fails. Specifically, the parity information is calculated using an XOR operation across the data on the other drives in the array. If one drive fails, the RAID controller uses the parity information to rebuild the data that was on the failed drive onto a replacement drive.

A key advantage of RAID 5 is that it can withstand the failure of one disk without losing data. The parity information distributed across the array allows reconstruction of data should a single disk fail. This provides good redundancy to protect against hardware failures. RAID 5 requires a minimum of three disks to implement.

RAID 5 offers a good balance between performance and redundancy for many applications. By striping data across multiple disks it provides better performance than a single disk or mirrored disks. But it also provides the ability to tolerate drive failure that is not present with RAID 0. The tradeoff is write performance suffers compared to RAID 0 due to the parity calculation.

RAID 0 vs RAID 5 Performance

RAID 0 generally provides better performance than RAID 5, especially for read and write operations. This is because in RAID 0, data is striped across multiple disks, allowing for parallel access. There is no parity calculation overhead like in RAID 5, which has to compute and write parity information[1].

Some benchmark statistics comparing RAID 0 and RAID 5 performance:[2]

  • RAID 0 sequential read speed can reach over 700 MB/s with multiple drives, while RAID 5 is limited to the read speed of a single drive.
  • RAID 0 sequential write speeds can be over 700 MB/s. RAID 5 sequential writes are much slower at around 170 MB/s as it has to calculate and write parity.
  • RAID 0 random read and write speeds are significantly faster than RAID 5 configurations. Multi-drive RAID 0 can reach over 100K IOPS while RAID 5 performance is inhibited by parity calculations.

In summary, RAID 0 provides superior read and write performance compared to RAID 5 due to its parallel architecture. However, RAID 0 comes with lower reliability. RAID 5 trades some write performance for fault tolerance.

[1] https://superuser.com/questions/1504942/raid-0-performance-vs-raid-5-with-n1-disks

[2] https://www.dataplugs.com/en/raid-level-comparison-raid-0-raid-1-raid-5-raid-6-raid-10/


RAID 0 offers no fault tolerance, meaning if one disk fails the entire array fails. Any data contained in the array will be lost. This lack of fault tolerance makes RAID 0 less reliable than other RAID levels.

In contrast, RAID 5 can survive the failure of a single disk. If one disk fails, the data that was on that disk can be rebuilt using parity information spread across the remaining disks. This fault tolerance gives RAID 5 an advantage in reliability over RAID 0.

Specifically, RAID 0 has no redundancy so the chance of failure is the sum of all disk failure rates. With more disks, the chance of failure increases. RAID 5’s failure rate is simply the failure rate of one disk, as it can survive one disk failing with no data loss. Therefore, RAID 5 has a much lower annual failure rate and higher reliability than RAID 0 configurations.

RAID 0 vs RAID 5 Cost

When it comes to cost, there are some key differences between RAID 0 and RAID 5 due to their minimum disk requirements:

RAID 0 requires at least 2 disks to implement striping, while RAID 5 requires a minimum of 3 disks to enable distributed parity. This means RAID 5 generally has a higher upfront storage cost since it requires more disks. For example, a 4-disk RAID 5 array may cost around $1200 for four 500GB SAS drives, while a 2-disk RAID 0 array may only cost $800 for two 3TB SATA drives (Source).

However, RAID 5 provides better storage efficiency and capacity than RAID 0. With RAID 0, the full capacity of all disks is available since no parity data is stored. But with RAID 5, 1 disk worth of capacity is used for parity, so an array of 3 x 500GB drives would only provide 1TB of usable storage. Still, RAID 5 allows the failure of 1 disk with no data loss, while RAID 0 has no fault tolerance. So there is a tradeoff between performance, capacity, and reliability.

When to Use RAID 0

RAID 0 is best suited for situations where very high performance and speed are critical, and the data is non-critical. Since RAID 0 spreads data across multiple disks with no redundancy, it provides faster read and write speeds compared to a single disk. However, it also increases the risk of data loss if one of the disks fails.

Some common use cases where the benefits of RAID 0 performance may outweigh the risks include:

  • Storing non-essential data like multimedia files for editing and rendering
  • High performance computing applications that need to read/write large datasets very quickly
  • Gaming PCs and workstations where faster access and throughput are prioritized
  • Short-term storage and scratch disks where data has a short shelf life

The key advantage of RAID 0 is significantly improved input/output operations per second (IOPS) and reduced latency. By spreading data across multiple disks, it can deliver speeds that are multiples faster than a single disk for both sequential and random access patterns.

However, the lack of fault tolerance means RAID 0 should never be used for mission critical data or databases that require high availability. The failure of just one disk will result in complete data loss across the array.

When to Use RAID 5

RAID 5 is a good choice when both good performance and fault tolerance are needed. The parity data allows the array to withstand the failure of one drive without data loss. Meanwhile, the striping provides faster reads and writes compared to a simple mirrored (RAID 1) array.

RAID 5 is commonly used for critical data storage and applications where some redundancy is required. The parity stripe allows the array to reconstruct data if a single drive fails. This makes RAID 5 suitable for storing important files, databases, and other data that cannot be easily replaced or rebuilt.

However, the write penalty associated with calculating and writing parity data can impact performance in heavy write environments. So RAID 5 is better suited for uses with more reads than writes.

Implementation Considerations

When implementing RAID, there are some key factors to consider:

Hardware vs. software RAID – Hardware RAID uses a dedicated RAID controller card, while software RAID relies on the CPU and operating system. Hardware RAID offers better performance and redundancy, but software RAID is cheaper and can be more flexible. RAID implementation considerations.

Operating system support – Most modern operating systems like Windows, Linux, and macOS include software RAID support. For hardware RAID, OS drivers for the RAID controller are needed. Some server OSes like Windows Server have better RAID integration.

Ease of recovery – Hardware RAID makes recovery easier in case of disk failure since the RAID card handles most of the work transparently. With software RAID, the recovery process involves more manual reconfiguration.


In summary, the key differences between RAID 0 and RAID 5 are:

  • RAID 0 offers better performance while RAID 5 offers better reliability.
  • RAID 0 stripes data across multiple disks with no parity or mirroring. RAID 5 stripes data across disks with distributed parity information that allows for one disk failure.
  • RAID 0 is less expensive to implement while RAID 5 incurs some storage overhead for parity.
  • RAID 0 is best for non-critical data where high performance is needed. RAID 5 is best for critical data where fault tolerance is important.

When choosing between RAID levels, consider whether performance or reliability is most important for your use case. RAID 0 is a good choice for high throughput needs like video editing, while RAID 5 is preferable for data integrity in file servers or databases.

For further reading on implementing and managing RAID, check out these resources: