Should I use RAID 0 setup or a normal one

  erkmatrix 09:50 09 Sep 07
Locked

Hi I want to buy a new PC that has a E6850 processor and Asus P5N32-E- SLi Plus Motherboard. I want the pc mainly for photoshop C3 and on the website is recommends "Dedicated 7,200 RPM hard drive for DV and HDV editing; striped disk array storage (RAID 0) for HD; SCSI disk subsystem preferred"

Well this is all new to me, would anyone with a bit of knowledge about RAID set ups advise, is it that important. Which do you recomend out of the options


1) x3 Western Digital Raptor 74GB on raid 0
2) x2 Western Digital Raptor 150GB on raid 0
3) x3 WD Caviar SE16 320GB S300 16MB on raid 0
4) or forget raid and just a normal 500GB hard drive

cheers

Phil

  bremner 10:17 09 Sep 07

RAID 0 is stripping - that mans you get all the disk space, fast access but no redundancy. In a nut shell if you loose one disk ALL your data is gone.

If it has to be a RAID then would favour a RAID 5 array with the x3 320GB drives.

RAID 5 needs at least three disks. You only get the storage capacity of two of the disks i.e. 640GB (less the normal loss attributable to manufacturers quoting 1000 bytes as a KB as opposed to the actual 1024) but you get redundancy. If you loose one disk simply put in a new one and the RAID will be rebuilt and you have lost no data.

All that said just getting a 500GB single disk and having an external drive to back up your valuable data to, would do the job without all the hassle of setting up a RAID.

  Batch 10:33 09 Sep 07

RAID (redundancy) is really aimed at mission critical operations that require minimum downtimes. It is not uncommon for such systems to have requirements for uptimes to be in excess of 99.9%. Consequently systems are built with automatic failover of servers and using redundancy in a variety of ways (at both software and hardware levels). RAID is just part of this.

Having said that, as RAID controllers seem to be supplied by default on so many systems these days, one is welcome to use it for "lesser" operations. But I tend to agree with bremmer.

Also having a 3 disk RAID system means that you have 3 disks spinning all the time - unnecessary heat and power.

  erkmatrix 10:41 09 Sep 07

Right so there would be no real improvement in speed if it was handling large scale photoshop files, If the machine has a good processor and motherboard along with 4MB of ram that should be able to handle everything, am I right.

Cheers
Phil

  bremner 12:09 09 Sep 07

Hopefully you have more than 4MB of RAM ;o).

Yes it will handle it and the speed advantages of RAID 0 are in all honesty theoretical rather than recognisable for a home user.

  erkmatrix 12:16 09 Sep 07

lol yes 4GB I mean I'm an idiot always getting that wrong. I'll go ahead I think then with a 500GB hard drive and hope its fast and works OK

  Batch 16:18 09 Sep 07

To optimise performance you should go for:

- high RPM - at least 7200 or better still 10,000
- Large cache (at least 16MB)
- SATA II (assuming the controller on your system supports this).

  RWest 03:03 13 Nov 07

I had a similar issue. I want to handle lots of text and use desktop searches, which means now and then indexing lots of files; I thought RAID would be useful.

I saw the article quoted by Bremner (I think) but it's dated 2004 and may have been outdated - or of course it may just be a marketing thing - the successor of chip Mhz rates, RAM figures, etc etc.

Just a few points.

[1] In my experience, hard disks are very reliable indeed. (I hope that's not naive). If you have four at once the odds are still very remote of any going wrong.

[2] It's true you have four disks at once and it seems wasteful. But then again presumably higher capacity single disks must use more electricity, mustn't they? I have 4 500Gb disks and it was a toss up between that and a mirrored system; I wanted to take no chances on future storage, though of course the risk thing is a nagging worry.

[3] If I do some serious indexing - or if anyone has some batch process, with say videos or sound - presumably there'd be a timesaving with a striped array; even if not in fulltime use it might still be worthwhile.

I'm unsure! I have an external backup hard disk but can see how mirroring would be terrific, assuming it works as it says. (It occurred to me that maybe a faulty disk may not be recognised, so in some circumstances the array wouldn't repair itself).

[4] If/when solid state memory gets common/cheap, as can be seen in digital cameras, all this discussion will be obsoleted, I presume, as, with no moving parts, they must surely be even more reliable?

  Batch 17:49 13 Nov 07

[1] Hard disks are v.reliable, but not infallible. With true RAID redundancy the chance of losing data (due to failures) is statistically remote, but doesn't account for possible damage due to power surges and loss due to viruses etc. So separate off-line back-up is ALWAYS advisable.

[2] A modern 500GB HDD may use marginally more power than a 160GB or even 80GB, not really worth worrying about. Multiple spindles will definitely use more power.

More generally see articles like click here for an in depth discussion (I just searched for "raid mirroring performance" and this was just the first hit. It is an thorough review / test of the whole topic (running to 33 pages - you can jump around from the drop down at the bottom of the pages). But, as I expected they conclude:

"RAID has always been a proven performer in demanding multi-user environments, and our IOMeter results bear that out even for two-drive RAID 1 arrays. There's always been a question of whether arrays do much for desktops, though. Looking at our WorldBench and load time results, it's obvious that RAID doesn't improve the performance of typical desktop applications by a significant margin. However, our FC-Test and iPEAK results show that moving from a single-drive configuration to a multi-drive RAID array can dramatically increase file creation, copy, and read performance. RAID can also improve storage subsystem responsiveness during disk-intensive multitasking. The fault tolerance of RAID 1, 10, 0+1, and 5 arrays can also pay obvious dividends for desktop systems, as anyone who has lost data due to a drive failure can attest."

  Totally-braindead 19:01 13 Nov 07

If files are critical to you then in my opinion you are better using a belts and braces approach.
Keep your main files on your PC by all means but if they are essential get an external hard drive and back them up to that as well. That way you have 2 copies if a hard drive fails or something goes wrong.
It is possible for the hard drive in the external drive to fail as well so if you really cannot live without the file, whatever it may be you could also back it up onto CD or DVD.
This could be classed as paranoid but it depends how difficult it would be to replace. My photos for example are not really good but are not replaceable and mean a lot to me. I have them on my hard drive and I also back them up onto 2 CDs at a time so whatever happens I will always have them as the chances of my computer failing as well as the 2 backup CDS failing at the same time is very low. I check the 2 CDs every couple of months and if one of them failed I would immediatly make another backup.

It depends how far you want to take it many would consider an external hard drive enough of a backup.

  RWest 23:33 18 Nov 07

Batch, thanks for the link. It's extraordinary how difficult these things are to compare. (And isn't it odd (1) disk companies themselves surely ought to be able to do this, )ii) Some of the comparisons seem a waste of time - what does the boot up time really matter?) As I'd hoped, it does seem to show that intensive disk activity is speeded by RAID 0. Whether by four times I'm not sure. But indexing is exactly a relevant operation.

Braindead, yep agree, obviously re backup. It's been pointed out to me that incremental backups ought to be good - only backup stuff of recent date; presumably if it has the same name as an earlier file, it would replace; or you could have some variation with several backups. Let's hope [i] hard disks remain reliable, [ii] roll on solid state ones, with presumably far greater reliability.

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