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Why I am Skeptical of RAID

July 13, 2007

Although I run a home sever with a lot of very important household files (the bulk of which are media) I do not have a RAID array. There are several reasons for this:

    • If I were to run a RAID array, I would want to economize and run RAID 5, but because RAID arrays tend to want the exact same kind of hard drives, I would really have to buy four identical drives at the same time and set up the array. That would force me to choose between buying more storage that I need now (which is a rapidly depreciating asset) or being squeezed for space later if I buy about as much storage as I need now and my needs increase (as inevitably they do).
    • RAID arrays tend to be quite finicky. I often wonder if the pain of setting one up is worth any trouble they save if a hard drive fails.
    • RAID protects against hard drive failure only, not other problem scenarios such as theft or accidentally deleting critical files.

To date I use a combination of monthly backups (kept on removable drives that I keep at my office) for all files, and automatic daily backups to an external hard drive of non-media data (including my Exchange database). As most of my media files don’t change archival, incremental backups on a monthly basis has worked fine.

This approach has given me peace of mind to date, but the need for more server storage has coincided with the advent of the Drobo, which seems to give all of the advantages of a RAID array without its disadvantages, so I have ordered one.

More when it arrives…

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