What is the RAID 0 method?

What is RAID 0?

RAID 0, also known as disk striping, is a method of combining multiple hard disk drives into one logical unit. Data is distributed across the drives in blocks, allowing for parallel reads and writes which can significantly improve performance (RAID – Wikipedia).

The term “RAID” was first coined in 1987 by David Patterson, Garth A. Gibson, and Randy Katz at the University of California, Berkeley (History of RAID – Medium). In their 1988 paper that introduced the RAID concept, the authors described six RAID levels, numbered 0 through 5.

RAID 0 was one of the original RAID levels described in that paper. It provides improved performance through disk striping, but does not offer any redundancy or fault tolerance.

How Does RAID 0 Work?

RAID 0 works by striping data evenly across two or more drives without parity or mirroring (TechTarget). This means the data is split into blocks that are distributed among the drives in the array. For example, with two drives, the first block of data would be written to the first drive, the second block to the second drive, the third block to the first drive again, and so on. This striping enables the drives to read and write data simultaneously, allowing for faster performance.

Because the data is split up, the drives can act in parallel to multiply the total bandwidth. A RAID 0 array with two 1TB drives would have a total capacity of 2TB along with the combined transfer speed of both drives (The Plug). So striping optimizes storage speed, but provides no data protection or fault tolerance. If one drive fails, all data on the array will be lost.

The Pros of RAID 0

One of the main benefits of RAID 0 is increased read and write performance. By spreading data across multiple disks, RAID 0 can achieve faster speeds than a single disk alone could provide. This is because read and write operations can be performed in parallel across the multiple disks (IONOS, 2023). The performance boost makes RAID 0 well-suited for applications that demand high throughput, like video editing or financial analysis.

RAID 0 is also relatively inexpensive and easy to implement compared to other RAID levels. Since it doesn’t use parity or mirroring, you can get the full combined capacity of all the disks in the array. The simplicity of the striping method also means RAID 0 is easy to configure even for home users (Prepressure, n.d.). The low cost and straightforward setup make RAID 0 accessible for setups where performance matters but redundancy is not required.

The Cons of RAID 0

The main drawback of RAID 0 is that it has no fault tolerance. This means that if one drive in the array fails, all data across the entire array is lost. There is no data redundancy in a RAID 0 array (1). This lack of fault tolerance increases the risk of irrecoverable data loss. With more drives in the array, the probability of failure increases (2). If any single drive fails, the entire RAID 0 array will fail and all data will be inaccessible and unrecoverable. For mission critical data or applications where data loss cannot be tolerated, RAID 0 is a poor choice due to its complete lack of data redundancy (1).

(1) – https://www.ionos.com/digitalguide/server/security/raid-0/

(2) – https://www.stellarinfo.co.in/blog/advantages-and-disadvantages-popular-raid-systems/

Ideal Uses for RAID 0

RAID 0 is best suited for situations where high performance and speed are more important than data redundancy and fault tolerance. Below are some of the ideal use cases for RAID 0 configurations:

Media Streaming: The fast data transfer rates of RAID 0 make it well-suited for media streaming applications. When reading large video files from disk, RAID 0 can provide the bandwidth needed for smooth, uninterrupted playback.

Video Editing: Video editing requires fast read and write speeds to HD video files. By striping data across multiple disks, RAID 0 improves disk performance to speed up rendering and previewing high-resolution video projects.

Gaming: RAID 0 can benefit gaming performance by decreasing game load times and improving frame rates. The low latency and high throughput of RAID 0 arrays enables quick access to game assets stored across multiple disks.

In all these use cases, redundancy and fault tolerance are less important than sheer speed and performance. The main tradeoff with RAID 0 is increased risk of data loss if a drive fails. But for temporary storage of non-critical data, RAID 0 provides an excellent performance boost.

Setting Up RAID 0

Setting up a RAID 0 array requires a RAID controller and at least two drives. Both hardware and software RAID controllers can be used to configure RAID 0.

For hardware RAID, a dedicated RAID controller card is installed in the computer. This card handles the RAID calculations and striping process. Popular hardware RAID controller manufacturers include LSI, Areca, Adaptec, and HighPoint.

Software RAID uses the system’s CPU and doesn’t require a dedicated RAID card. Many motherboards today come with built-in software RAID support. Popular software RAID implementations include Windows Storage Spaces, Linux MDADM, and Apple Core Storage.

The RAID controller needs to support the chosen RAID level and number of drives in the array. For example, a controller that supports 4 drives in a RAID 0 configuration would be required for a 4-drive RAID 0 array.

To configure RAID 0, the drives must be of equal size. For optimal performance, identical drives are preferred in terms of rpm, cache size, etc. The RAID 0 array’s total size equals the size of the smallest drive multiplied by the number of drives.

The steps to create a RAID 0 array will vary between hardware and software solutions. Generally, the process involves selecting RAID 0 as the desired RAID level, choosing the participating drives, and initializing the array. The RAID controller then stripes and concatenates the drives into a single spanned volume.


Maintaining RAID 0 Arrays

Maintaining healthy RAID 0 arrays requires constant monitoring and swift action in case of drive failure. Since RAID 0 has no redundancy, if one drive fails the entire array fails and all data will be lost. It is critical to regularly check the health of the drives in the array.

Most RAID controllers provide tools to monitor drive health metrics like SMART status, reallocated sectors count, spin-up time, etc. Sudden changes like an increased drive temperature or reallocated sectors could indicate a potential drive failure. While some amount of reallocated sectors is normal, a steep and continuing rise could mean the drive is failing.

RAID monitoring tools like Stor CLI provide alerts for predictive drive failures. Proactively replacing drives predicted to fail can prevent array failure. However, once a drive in a RAID 0 array does fail, the array is broken and data recovery is impossible through the array. The failed drive must be replaced and a full restore done from a backup.

After replacing the failed drive, the array must be rebuilt. The RAID controller will automatically rebuild the array in the background once the new drive is inserted. The rebuild process puts additional strain on the remaining drives, so it’s crucial to replace the failed drive quickly. Regular backups are still essential in case other drives fail during the rebuild.

Maintaining RAID 0 arrays requires vigilance, but the risk of failure can be mitigated with smart monitoring tools, proactive drive replacements, and a solid backup plan. Just be aware that RAID 0 offers no protection against data loss from drive failure.

Alternatives to RAID 0

While RAID 0 offers fast performance, it does not provide any redundancy or fault tolerance. If one drive fails in a RAID 0 array, all data will be lost. Therefore, RAID 0 should not be used for critical data or long-term storage. There are safer RAID alternatives to consider:

RAID 1, also known as disk mirroring, is a good alternative that offers data redundancy by writing identical copies of data to two or more drives. If one drive fails, the data remains intact on the other mirror drive(s). RAID 1 provides fault tolerance but has slower write speeds than RAID 0 since data has to be written twice. RAID 1 requires at least two drives (https://softraid.com/raid_uses/).

RAID 5 stripes data and parity information across three or more drives. If one drive fails, the missing data can be recreated from the parity information. RAID 5 provides fault tolerance and reasonable performance. However, write speeds are slower than RAID 0 due to the parity calculation. RAID 5 requires a minimum of three drives (https://superuser.com/questions/1027587/how-to-make-hard-disk-space-virtually-unlimited).

RAID 10 combines mirroring and striping for both performance and fault tolerance. Data is striped across mirrored pairs of drives. If one drive in a mirrored pair fails, the other contains a complete copy of the data. RAID 10 provides excellent performance and protection but requires at least four drives (https://keys.direct/blogs/blog/how-to-setup-raid-0-windows-10).

RAID 0 Performance

RAID 0 can offer significant performance improvements over a single drive, especially for read and write speeds and IOPS (input/output operations per second). By striping data across multiple drives, the workload is distributed so reads and writes can occur simultaneously on different drives.

According to benchmarks from Planet3DNow, a 4-disk RAID 0 array using 10,000 RPM WD VelociRaptor drives achieved sequential read speeds of 481 MB/s and sequential writes of 420 MB/s. This represents a 3-4x increase over a single drive. IOPS also increased from 79 IOPS on a single drive to 308 IOPS on the 4-drive array.1

Another benchmark by TechSpot compared RAID 0 performance using Intel, OCZ, and other SSDs. They found 2-drive RAID 0 arrays doubled sequential read/write speeds and delivered 3-4x higher IOPS compared to a single SSD drive.2

In general, RAID 0 shows excellent improvements for disk-intensive workloads like video editing, gaming, and media processing. The performance gains do come at the cost of no fault tolerance however.


In summary, RAID 0 offers fast performance by striping data across multiple disks. The main pros of this RAID level are improved read and write speeds due to spreading I/O operations across drives. However, RAID 0 provides no redundancy or fault tolerance. If one drive fails, all data will be lost. Due to the lack of redundancy, RAID 0 is best suited for non-critical data where speed is more important than protection. Alternatives like RAID 1 or RAID 5 offer redundancy at the cost of slower performance. While RAID 0 can deliver blazing fast speeds, it comes with high risk. Users must weigh the need for speed against the lack of fault tolerance when considering RAID 0. Regular backups are essential to protect against total data loss. For the right applications where performance matters most, RAID 0 can be an excellent choice. But the missing redundancy makes it a poor solution for mission critical or irreplaceable data.