Which RAID is best for 2 drives?

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is a technology that allows combining multiple physical drives into a single logical unit to improve performance, capacity, and/or reliability. There are different RAID levels that provide different benefits by arranging data across the drives in specific ways. The two most basic RAID levels are RAID 0 (also called disk striping) and RAID 1 (also called disk mirroring).

RAID 0 stripes data across multiple drives, allowing for faster read/write speeds but provides no redundancy. RAID 1 mirrors data identically across two drives, allowing for full redundancy but uses 50% of total capacity for the mirror. When setting up RAID for just two drives, RAID 0 and RAID 1 are the main options to consider. RAID 0 provides better performance while RAID 1 provides fault tolerance. The choice depends on your priorities for the 2-drive array.

This article will examine the differences between RAID 0 and RAID 1 specifically for a 2-drive setup. We’ll look at the pros and cons of each level to understand when to choose RAID 0 vs RAID 1 for two drives.

What is RAID?

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. It is a data storage technology that distributes data across multiple drives to improve performance, redundancy, or both.

With RAID, data is striped across multiple disks. This means it is divided into blocks and each block is written to a separate drive. The main goals of RAID are to increase data reliability through redundancy and improve performance. Spreading data across multiple disks allows input/output operations to occur in parallel, increasing speed.

Some key points about RAID:

  • Data is distributed and replicated across multiple drives
  • If one drive fails, data can still be accessed from the other drives
  • I/O performance is improved by spreading data across drives
  • Different RAID levels offer various combinations of increased performance, redundancy, and disk capacity utilization

In summary, RAID improves performance and/or reliability by coordinating multiple physical drives and presenting them as logical units to the operating system.


RAID 0 uses data striping, which spreads data evenly across two or more drives without parity or redundancy (source). This means the data is broken down into blocks and each block is written sequentially across the drives in the array. For example, on a two drive RAID 0 array, the first block of data is written to the first drive, the second block is written to the second drive, the third block to the first drive again, and so on.

The main benefit of RAID 0 is improved performance. By spreading the data across multiple drives, read and write operations can be done in parallel, increasing overall throughput. With multiple drives, RAID 0 can offer near-linear improvements in access speeds compared to a single drive. For example, a two drive RAID 0 array could nearly double the data transfer rate of a single drive (source).

However, RAID 0 offers no redundancy or fault tolerance. If one drive in the array fails, all data will be lost since there is no backup of the data. For this reason, RAID 0 is generally not recommended for mission critical or highly important data.


RAID 1 uses disk mirroring to create an exact copy of data on two or more drives. With RAID 1, data is written identically to two or more drives simultaneously (https://history-computer.com/raid-0-vs-raid-1/). All of the drives contain the same data, providing redundancy and fault tolerance.

The main advantage of RAID 1 is data protection. If one drive fails, the data remains fully intact and accessible on the other mirrored drive(s). This provides high availability and uptime. There is no loss of data or interruption in operations if a single drive goes bad (http://www.datarecoveryspecialists.co.uk/blog/raid-1-pros-and-cons).

However, RAID 1 does not provide any performance gains. Read and write speeds remain the same as a single disk. Though multiple disks are involved, RAID 1 essentially performs like a single drive system. The redundancy comes at the cost of usable capacity, as the total size is equal to the size of one drive rather than the sum of all drives.

RAID 0 vs RAID 1 for 2 Drives

RAID 0 (disk striping) and RAID 1 (disk mirroring) take different approaches when setting up a two-drive array (TechTarget).

With RAID 0, data is split evenly across both drives. This allows for faster read and write times since the workload is parallelized. However, RAID 0 provides no redundancy – if one drive fails, all data will be lost (Petri).

RAID 1 mirrors the data between both drives. This means all data is duplicated on both disks. If one drive fails, the system can instantly switch to the other drive without any data loss. However, performance is slower compared to RAID 0 since all writes have to happen twice.

In summary, RAID 0 provides faster speeds but no protection while RAID 1 has redundancy but no performance boost when using just two drives.

Which is Better for 2 Drives?

When choosing between RAID 0 and RAID 1 for a two drive setup, it primarily comes down to your priority between performance or redundancy:

RAID 0 offers better performance, as it stripes data across both disks for faster reads and writes. However, it offers no redundancy – if one drive fails, all data will be lost (Promax).

RAID 1 mirrors the data between both drives to provide full redundancy. If one drive fails, the system can continue operating normally using the remaining drive. However, performance is slower compared to RAID 0 as all writes need to be completed twice (Oracle).

For most home or small business users with only two drives, RAID 1 is generally preferable as it provides crucial protection against drive failures. The performance limitations of RAID 1 are less noticeable for basic tasks like file storage and backups (Stellar Info).

However, if maximum performance is absolutely critical and data redundancy is less important, RAID 0 can provide faster speeds. Just be aware you are putting all data at risk with no redundancy.

When to Use RAID 0

RAID 0 is best suited for situations where top performance is needed and data is backed up elsewhere. Since RAID 0 provides no redundancy, it should only be used for non-critical data that can be easily recovered from backup if a drive fails.

Some common use cases where RAID 0 makes sense include:

  • Temporary scratch disks for video editing or other tasks that need high disk performance and bandwidth.
  • Gaming PCs where maximum disk performance is desired and games can be reinstalled if needed.
  • Non-essential data like music, movies, etc. that is backed up separately.

The key advantage of RAID 0 is split disk access, allowing reads and writes to be done in parallel across multiple drives. This can significantly boost performance compared to a single disk. But with no redundancy, a single drive failure results in total data loss. So RAID 0 should only be used where performance matters more than protection.

When to Use RAID 1

RAID 1 is the best choice for setups where data redundancy and protection are critical. According to the TechTarget article (RAID 1 vs RAID 0), RAID 1 offers complete fault tolerance and data protection through drive mirroring. If one drive fails, the other mirrored drive will still contain the complete data set.

Because of this redundancy, RAID 1 is ideal for storing critical data that cannot be lost or compromised, such as financial records, personal documents, or other sensitive information. The Diffen article (RAID 0 vs RAID 1) notes that RAID 1 is commonly used in typical home and office setups to protect important files and documents.

RAID 1 provides peace of mind that your critical data will remain intact and accessible even if one of your hard drives fails. The redundancy comes at the cost of reduced storage capacity compared to RAID 0, but for protecting irreplaceable data, RAID 1 is the best choice.

Other Options

While RAID 0 and RAID 1 are the main options for a two drive setup, there are some other RAID configurations that could theoretically be used, though they are not ideal.

One example is RAID 10, which combines both mirroring and stripping for increased performance and redundancy. However, RAID 10 requires a minimum of 4 drives, so it is not well suited for a system with only two drives.

RAID 5 and RAID 6 also require more drives (3 minimum) and are focused on data protection rather than performance, so they are also not the best fit for a two drive configuration.

Because of the drive requirements, these other RAID levels are not practical choices for a system with just two disks. RAID 0 and RAID 1 are the primary and recommended RAID types for a two drive setup.


For 2 drives, RAID 1 is generally recommended over RAID 0. RAID 1 provides disk redundancy without sacrificing too much performance compared to RAID 0.

With only 2 drives, RAID 0 offers faster speeds but has no fault tolerance – if one drive fails, all data will be lost. RAID 1 mirrors the drives so if one fails, no data is lost. The performance hit going from RAID 0 to RAID 1 is fairly small with just 2 drives.

For most users, protecting their data through redundancy is more important than gaining a bit more speed. RAID 1 still provides good speeds with 2 drives, while greatly reducing the risk of catastrophic data loss if a drive fails. Unless maximum performance is absolutely critical, RAID 1 is the safer choice for 2 drive setups.