Let's see here: you've just installed the latest hyper-threading enabled CPU on your systems, the most visually stunning PCI-E video card, and the fastest memory on the market today. How do you make your system even faster? Why, you set up a RAID on your home system, of course! Before you go out and do that, check out this article and see why RAID is probably not what you expect, and why it might not be such a clever idea for your home PC.
RAID of all types used to be confined to the realms of enterprise servers, mission critical IT equipment and very specialized applications. They were exclusively SCSI based solutions, and while RAID arrays could be created via software, that was a skimping on price that no serious business considered. Hardware SCSI RAID solutions with copious quantities of cache (for a RAID card) were the norm. Outside of the larger enterprises' SAN and NAS mass storage setups smaller businesses relied on RAID more for redundancy (RAID 1/mirroring) than speed (RAID 0/Striping).
Then RAID reached IDE and, later, SATA. Manufacturers of motherboards started incorporating "soft" RAID chips into motherboards targeted at the SOHO market bringing RAID 0, RAID 1 -- and quite commonly combinations of the two -- to the masses. Newer versions of Microsoft Windows -- like XP Pro -- even supported completely software controlled RAID (under certain conditions) without an onboard/PCI Highpoint or Promise type controller chip. Manufacturers of high-end PCs, like Poweroid in the UK, first started offering RAID in SOHO systems a few years ago. Other system integrators and VARs jumped onto the RAID bandwagon to differentiate their performance products from their run of the mill beige boxes.
These SOHO RAID solutions were limited to striping and mirroring and the general consensus among erudite consumers was that striping two hard disks into a larger volume meant more speed while using one disk as a mirror provided a protection against data loss. These generalizations are largely myths. From our experience (http://www.bestpricecomputers.ltd.uk) -- and the stats we've collected from our customers -- those with RAID 1 are marginally more likely to lose data than those without any RAID at all. The even more startling fact to emerge from our stats was that those with RAID 0 are six times more likely to suffer data loss than customers with no RAID array in their PCs. We examine these curious findings here.
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