The pros and cons of RAID disk arrays in small business data storage environments

RAID is commonly used in many data storage environments for added data protection, however there are several drawbacks when using RAID.

Many data storage environments implement RAID into their environments for data protection purposes. RAID disk arrays are important for all storage environments, including small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), because they solve a key problem in any organization: hard disk drive failure. In general, if you have a hard disk drive failure or a non-recoverable read error, RAID enables you to keep accessing your data by adding redundancy. So you'll be able to continue accessing your data even though the hard disk drive it was written on is no longer available.

However, there are several drawbacks to using RAID disk arrays depending on the RAID level you're using in your data storage environment. For example, in RAID 5, if you have five drives, one is typically your parity drive. And if you lose a drive, you can recreate it. However, if you lose a second drive during recreation, you may lose all of your data. Also, the time it takes to rebuild a drive is extensive, especially if a lot of data is stored on it. In addition, performance during the rebuild process will drop significantly. Essentially, RAID arrays protect your data from most circumstances. However, there are significant drawbacks from using RAID.

Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting, discusses the various pros and cons of using RAID arrays in an SMB data storage environment in this podcast. He also discusses the following topics regarding RAID:

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This was first published in February 2010

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