Using Flash in a RAID System

A fundamental on the data storage scene, RAID storage has been around since the 1980s and is still a popular solution for businesses and consumers alike. But how has the rise of flash storage in the form of solid state drives (SSDs) impact RAID, and what are the implications for data recovery?

We’ve discussed RAID storage in detail before, but before we talk about data recovery, let’s have a recap of the basics. RAID stands for redundant array of independent disks, and the technology combines two or more hard disk drives into a single drive. There are a number of RAID variants, offering speed, capacity and security/ease of data recovery. RAID 0 – also known as disk striping – distributes and stores data across all drives in the array. This gives higher performance, but if one drive fails, you lose everything. The silver lining is that RAID data recovery is relatively simple in comparison to other forms of data recovery, like flash. RAID 1, or disk mirroring, replicates your data across all the disks in the RAID; read operations are therefor incredibly fast, although write operations are slower. Another key advantage is that if one drive in the array fails, your data is safe on the others, meaning you can avoid potentially expensive data recovery. RAID 5 offers the best of both worlds – speed, capacity and protection.

RAID technology has continually involved over the decades, and new protection components have become fundamental parts of the storage format. But how does flash storage fit in with RAID, and how does this impact data recovery? Flash drives, unlike their magnetic counterparts, have no moving parts and as such, are not subject to mechanical failures like head crashes. That isn’t to say flash devices don’t fail – we see dozens in the data recovery lab every month, including USB flash drives, mobile phones and tablets. SSDs are starting to be implemented in RAID systems, although only Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) have developed a bespoke SSD module designed specifically for RAID. With just a small amount of flash – for example 15% - the average workload capability can be multiplied by up to 10x.

Data Recovery Specialists have experience of undertaking successful data recovery on RAID systems that utilise flash storage. Get in touch to see if we can help. 

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