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Which RAID should I set up for my server? RAID 0, 1, 5, or 10?

raid-server-which-is-the-bestSo, you’re looking to get serious and set up a server for your company. You can’t get buy with an online server, virtual server, or cheaper NAS (Network attached server) solution. Maybe you have a database, exchange server, or just prefer your own server on your own premise. Security may be a factor. Whatever the reason, you need a server.

Now, the question becomes what kind of configuration is right for you?  First of all, there is no wrong answer.  The goal is always to ensure your files are safe.  What if your hard drive fails?  What if your server fails?  Can you easily recover your files?  Yes, the more you pay typically translates to the easier your backup will be.  We have had clients set up backup servers.  That’s right.  They’ll have their primary server and then replicate it with a secondary server.  So, when one server fails, the second server will just pick up the slack and there’s no downtime at all.  Sure, that works like a charm, but not everyone wants to pay double for their server setup.

There are cheaper solutions that still work like a charm.  Let’s rule out what you shouldn’t use.  RAID 0 includes a minimum of 2-3 drives and stripes the data.  It’s goal is to provide speed for saving and retrieving files.  There is no redundancy or fault tolerance going on here.  Don’t get this one.  The classic scenario is the RAID 5 setup.  You just need a minimum of 3 hard drives.  Each one will contain parity of your company or work files.  If one hard drive fails, your operations are still in business.  If two fail, you’re in trouble.  This is the preferred method and you can get by with the model at $2K – $4K minimum.  You can slice that cost by going with a RAID 1 solution.  You just need two drives that will mirror each other.  This works well in small environments.  If one drive fails, the other one will still run your server with the mirrored info.  You’re looking at $2-3K on this one or more.

For more advanced environments, or the need for more robust disaster recovery server solutions, you can go with a RAID 10 or higher.  The RAID 10 is essentially a RAID 5 solution in pairs.  At a minimum, you can have four drives, two mirrored sets.  They are mirrored and striped for speed.  You are looking at $5K and up for this solution.  For heavy data users, video and photos perhaps, you can go up to RAID 50 for heavy striping among RAID 5 sets and RAID 60 for even more striping.  Striping equals more speed while parity equals more redundancy, or file backups.  The RAID 50 and 60 configurations can run from $10-20K and up.


Keep in mind that no matter how killer your server setup is, you should still have a separate file back-up and ideally online or offsite backup.  You don’t want to wind up needing Server RAID data recovery service.  You also have to ask yourself, “Will your files be safe if your office takes a tragic fire or explosion?”  Yes, it’s a far chance for happening, but that will help you plan for the worst of disaster recovery solutions.

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