Should I Choose RAID 0 or RAID 1?

RAID 0 and 1 are two of the most commonly used RAID levels, and the most basic, too. Here, we go over the differences between the two RAID levels and what this means for RAID data recovery.

RAID, or Redundant Array of Independent Disks, puts two or more hard disk drives together to become a single drive with different improvements depending on the configuration, or RAID level. RAID can provide a mix of speed, capacity and data redundancy (which protects your data). All of this is kept ticking along by the RAID controller, which can come in the form of a RAID controller card or maybe software-based. Crucially, RAID is more than simply “just a bunch of disks” (JBOD).

RAID 0, or striping, is RAID in perhaps its purest form. This RAID level turns two or more drives into one single drive, with a higher capacity and faster speeds. Effectively, you have a drive that is the sum of its parts; a RAID 0 array with two 2TB hard disk drives will give you a 4TB drive. Because all of the read/write heads are working together in tandem, speeds are much faster, too. However, there is a major downside to this RAID level – data protection. Data is striped across all disks in the array, so if one drive fails, you lose all of the data. Essentially, the number of drives you have increases the likelihood of data loss; if you have four drives in a RAID 0 array, you’ll be four times more likely to lose your data. But if you’re backing up regularly, this might be a risk you’re willing to take to get a high-capacity, faster storage unit.

RAID 1, or mirroring, offers data protection, or redundancy, to the user. This RAID level mirrors the data across both or all drives in the array, meaning if one drive fails, the data across the other drive(s) in the array will be intact. There is also some improvement in terms of speed with RAID 1; read speeds are twice as fast if two drives are used in the array, but write speeds are only equal since data needs to be duplicated. The downside of RAID 1 is that the storage capacity of the system is effectively reduced to that one a single drive. If you have a RAID 1 array with three 1TB hard disk drives, the total capacity will only be 1TB, because data is mirrored across all the drives.

Deciding between RAID 0 and RAID 1 really depends on your needs. RAID 0 is great if you need a high-capacity, fast drive, but are less worried about data recovery. What you do need to make sure, however, is that you back up your data regularly. RAID 1 is more suited to users who value data protection over capacity, with the added benefit of improved read speeds.

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