RAID Data Recovery: The Basics

Combining multiple disks into a single unit for increased speed, performance or security, RAID systems frequently store large volumes of critically important data. The use of multiple disks makes RAID data recovery a fine art.

Depending on your reasoning for opting for a RAID storage system, it will be configured to provide increased performance/speed, data security or storage capacity – and sometimes a mix of all three. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, and the format works by combining multiple hard disk drives via a controller into a single data storage unit. The RAID configuration you choose impacts on how the array works, and how easy RAID data recovery is in the event of a data disaster. The three most common RAID configurations we see in the data recovery lab are RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 5, and each offer unique benefits.

RAID 0 works by combining two or more hard drives into a storage unit with a huge capacity – but at a cost. When you write files to a RAID system with 0 configuration, the data is split across the drives. With multiple read/write heads working in tandem, the system can read and write data at much faster speeds than a regular hard drive. The user also has the benefit of increased capacity, too; a RAID 0 system with four 1TB drives gives you a lightning-fast 4TB drive. The downside, however, is that there is four times the risk of a data disaster, and if one of the drives in the array fails, you’ll need to undertake RAID data recovery to get your data back.

RAID 1 – also known as ‘disk mirroring’ – replicates your data across all the disks in the array, giving the user high levels of performance. Because all disks are operational, data can be read extremely fast, although write operations are slower. Due to all of the hard drives containing the same data, if one fails, the other(s) will carry on working. This doesn’t completely protect you from a data loss incident or negate the possibility of needing to undertake RAID data recovery, though. A natural disaster like a fire or flood will likely affect multiple drives, and drives in RAID systems often fail at the same time if they’re from the same manufacturing batch. RAID 1 is by no means a substitute for a good, solid backup.

RAID 5 essentially offers the best of all worlds, with increased speed, capacity and data protection. RAID 5 uses disk striping with parity, and because the user’s data and parity are striped across all the disks in the array, no disk is a bottleneck. You do, however, need to use an extra drive solely to store parity data, which tells the system where your data is stored. And while RAID 5 volumes can be rebuilt, it generally takes a long time to do so. Despite these drawbacks, RAID 5 is considered by many to be a good compromise.

As well as increased speed and storage capacity, the idea of RAID is to make data recoverable via redundancy, or making copies of the data to other disks in the array. RAID is designed to recover data from certain hard drive faults, providing the user notices them in time. The main challenge when trying to avoid the need for RAID data recovery is addressing the disk failure in time, before more disks in the array fail. This is much more common than you might expect, as RAID drives are often sequentially manufactured and tend to be deployed in the same set. We undertake several RAID data recovery jobs every month, and our data recovery technicians have the skills and expertise to get your data back in the event of a RAID failure. 

RAID Data Recovery