RAID Data Recovery: RAID 5 vs RAID 6

RAID 6, also known as double-parity RAID, offers stronger safeguards against failure compared to RAID 5. But that doesn’t mean that RAID 6 is immune from failure – our RAID data recovery team still see RAID 6 systems in the lab.

RAID 5 offers one drive of redundancy in exchange for a small amount of disk storage, and is probably the most common RAID level. RAID 5 requires at least three hard drives, although it isn’t uncommon to see up to eight hard drives. RAID 5 stripes data across all f the drives, like RAID 0, but it also stores parity information across them to aid with RAID data recovery. Around a third of the storage space is used to store this parity information. This doesn’t mean RAID 5 doesn’t have shortcomings – our RAID data recovery team see them all the time. RAID 5 is not a logical backup, that is, there’s no second copy of your data unless you back it up. There’s also the problem of plain old human error.

In short, RAID 6 is RAID 5 taken to the next level. Despite its advantages, we still see these arrays in the RAID data recovery lab. This RAID configuration offers incredibly high fault-tolerance, and is frequently used for environments that need very long data retention periods, such as archives. RAID 6 takes RAID 5’s parity and doubles it, adding even more parity data and ensuring the array is tolerant of up to two hard drive failures. The downside is that write performance in RAID 6 arrays suffers because each set of parities must be calculated separately. RAID 6 essentially has the same disadvantages as RAID 5 – human error, malware, a natural disaster on-site. Just because it has more fault tolerance, it doesn’t mean RAID 6 doesn’t experience failure. While RAID 6 failure is definitely less likely, no level of RAID is perfect and can guarantee against failure.

When a hard drive in a RAID 5 or RAID 6 array fails, it can be replaced; the controller turns the new drive into an exact replica of the old, failed one using the parity data. This is known as rebuilding the array. The difference between RAID 5 and RAID 6 is that RAID 6 can rebuild the array after two drives fail, whereas RAID 5 after only one. Ironically, RAID 5 and RAID 6 arrays are at their most vulnerable when they’re being rebuilt, as they’re put under more strain than usual. It isn’t uncommon for our RAID data recovery team to see RAID 6 arrays that have had drives fail under the stress of a rebuild. Other factors that have led to clients bringing in arrays into our RAID data recovery lab include drives damaged in floods or other natural disasters, and power surges frying one or more of the array’s drive’s circuitry.

While RAID 6 arrays are definitely one of the best in terms of protecting your data, they’re not failure-proof by no means, and our RAID data recovery technicians regularly see them. Our RAID data recovery process begins as all jobs do – with a free evaluation of the media. From here, we will ascertain what the fault is and provide a quote and file listing to the client. Data Recovery Specialists can provide RAID data recovery support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10 arrays – and you won’t pay anything if we can’t help you.

RAID Data Recovery