RAID Storage Technology Levels: What’s The Difference?

The amount of data generated grows rapidly each year, and its storage becomes one of the most challenging tasks now. The modern hard drive capacity simply can’t keep up data increase, so you need to purchase many more of them. There is a problem with access as well, because now it has to be possible not only on your PC, but also on the mobile phone, laptop and tablet. Usually the best solution in this case is to use the remote data storage services, that will use their data centers to hold all of your information. They offer a solid level of security, performance and they, what’s also important, have become much more affordable in a last few years. To optimize the performance or to get protected against a major data loss data centers use RAID (Array of Independent Disks) technology to organize the hard disc drives. There are few levels of it, each created to suit different needs. I’ll explain the most important ones below.

  1. RAID 0 is intended to maximize a server’s performance. With this RAID level whole data is transferred across the multiple discs, and that boosts the performance, since all discs are in work. Almost all of the modern controllers support RAID 0. The main disadvantage of this method is that if one of the discs fails, there is a great chance for data loss or corruption.
  2. RAID 1 is one of the easiest ways to get data protection. It uses so-called “mirror” configuration, making one disc copying or “mirroring” another. This leads to dividing the disc space by two, while two parts backing up each other. The performance can decrease quite dramatically as well, especially if compared with RAID 0.
  3. RAID 10 (or 1+0) uses both RAID 0 and RAID 1 features, including the performance and fault tolerance. It can be quite costly though, because it needs minimum of 4 disc drives, instead of 2 on RAID 0 and RAID 1. This RAID level is commonly used in the databases that perform many “write” operations.
  4. RAID 0+1 is different from RAID 10, since it uses RAID 1 array consisting of a few RAID 0 arrays. This helps to achieve even better performance, though it is not as stable and protected as RAID 10.
  5. RAID 5 is widely used for business servers. It provides much better performance than RAID 1, because it has the ability to perform simultaneous “write” operations, and still retains its advantages of the data protection. The array is not destroyed with single drive failure, since there is a disc space for saving parity information. RAID 5 needs minimum of 3 discs to operate. RAID 5 is used commonly, when there are a lot of “read” operations, on the other hand, “write” operations are quite slow.
  6. RAID 6 is actually very similar to RAID 5, but it can tolerate two drives falling instead of just one.
  7. RAID 3 is also quite similar to RAID 5, except that it uses the whole drive dedicated to save parity information.
Small business ventures rarely use RAID levels other than RAID 0 or RAID 1, since they are not too costly and don’t require extensive knowledge to install and maintain. RAID 5 and RAID 10 are more expensive and are mostly used in mid-sized and large companies. Other RAID levels are usually a variation of RAID 5 with minor differences. Do you have something to add? Feel free to leave comments below.

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Post by Jason Woodsworth - a PR and marketing manager at, a provider of RAID storage solutions for businesses of any size with its principal product RAIDIX.

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