In the last 20 years, computers have revolutionized the way the world works. Whether you're talking about business, education, or leisure, computers have just about taken over every facet of life as we know it. We all know that pretty much every aspect of the computer system has evolved to meet the growing demands of the people. This is certainly true when dealing with data storage devices. Information has become a commodity in today's world, and protecting that information from being lost is mission critical. The internet has helped push this information age forward. Popular websites process so much information, that any type of slowdown or downtime can mean the loss of millions of dollars. Clearly, just a bunch of hard disks won't be able to cut it anymore. So, something called Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks (RAID) was developed to increase the performance and reliability of data storage by spreading data across multiple drives. The term was first coined by researchers at UC-Berkeley. RAID technology has grown and evolved throughout the years to meet these ever growing demands for speed and data security. What I'm going to try to do in this article is to get into the guts of what RAID is all about. The average computer user is probably only familiar with IDE or software RAID solutions. I'm going to deal with all flavors of RAID and the underlying concepts behind the technology.
What is RAID?
So what exactly is RAID? Nope, it's not the bug spray I'm talking about here. It is a technique that was developed to provide speed, reliability, and increased storage capacity using multiple disks, rather than single disk solutions. RAID basically takes multiple hard drives and allows them to be used as one large hard drive with benefits depending on the scheme or level of RAID being used. Depending on your needs, there are many different RAID variations and implementations available with prices ranging from less than $100 to over $25,000. Of course, the better the RAID implementation, the more expensive it's probably going to be. There is really no one best RAID implementation. Some implementations are better than others depending on the actual application.
It used to be that RAID was only available in expensive server systems. However, with the advent of inexpensive RAID controllers, it seems it has pretty much reached the mainstream market. Performance nuts, such as myself, are always looking for the latest technology to give us that edge we need. Of course, the mainstream implementation has it's limitations, and RAID isn't really for everyone. There are many levels of RAID being used today. Before I go into the different levels, I'd like to discuss the basic concepts behind these levels in a little more detail.
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