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Help with RAID setup please

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hey all,
I'm totally new to RAID and I've done some research but can't seem to find much along the lines of a complete noob guide "for dummies."
I have 3 identical 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda drives which I would like to put in RAID for storage, not performance. I also know that the drives need to be empty and clean formatted in order to set them up (right?).
When reading about all of the RAID levels, I decided RAID 5 would probably be the best for my needs. If anyone thinks otherwise, please let me know and give a brief explanation why.
With RAID 5 I can tolerate the loss of one drive, and I get 1.5*(n-1) = 3TB of storage out of my possible 4.5TB, which I'm fine with. The redundancy is more important to me than the performance benefits, but I understand that RAID 5 isn't so bad in the performance department anyways (in comparison to no RAID at all that is).

So, my big question is: How difficult is it to actually set up RAID, what are the steps, and how reliable and easy to use is RAID 5? I'm also wondering how to go about finding out which drive has failed, when one does fail. Basically if anyone would like to take the time to help me out with some instructions or any input at all, I'd appreciate it.

My system will be the following:
Mobo = Gigabyte X58-UD5
CPU = Intel i7 920
RAM = Patriot 6GB DDR3-1600 CAS9 Triple Channel Kit
GPU = GTX 280 SLI
PSU = PC P&C 860W
BOOT HDD = Seagate Barracuda 320GB (for now, until SSD)

Thanks a lot,
Ben
Edited by Beerce - 1/7/11 at 6:40am
post #2 of 21
Not too much to it, just add the 3 drives to a RAID 5 (parity) array in your RAID BIOS upon boot. You don't need to format them before hand, but keep in mind once you add the drives to the array, all data will be deleted.

Then, you format the array as you would a drive.

RAID 5 has good read performance, but mediocre write performance due to parity calculations.
It's not inherently difficult to use, just make sure none of the drives show up as "FAILED" when you boot
If so, replace the culprit, add the new drive to the array (make sure the old one doesn't exist on there anymore), and the controller will automatically rebuild data onto the new drive (takes a few hours).
Edited by beers - 1/7/11 at 6:40am
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post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Nice, sounds like it's not too difficult.
What are some practical situations where the lesser write performance would affect me? I generally use these drives to store media and games, which I stream wirelessly from my HTPC. Playing media from them is all read though. Will it literally just be transferring files that is affected? If so, this won't affect me in any way really, because I don't swap files back and forth. Set up time will just take forever that's all.

Also, I'm assuming you can make partitions in RAID? Is this done the same way as any other partition. Are the drives going to show up as one big 3GB drive, at which point I can partition it in windows?

Is there any benefit to partitioning a RAID setup, or would I just as well make different folders instead of partitions and get the same result?

Thanks
post #4 of 21
Quote:
I decided RAID 5 would probably be the best for my needs. If anyone thinks otherwise, please let me know and give a brief explanation why.
RAID was made for disk/site uptime and not secure storage.

I'm not going to go thru the whole thing with ya but the famous saying "RAID is not back-up" is true.

If you're serious about storage a completely separate back-up is the best option.

My data is backed-up to my WHS AND separate HDs.

Do a little reading from my link.

Even if you decide you still need RAID at least you talk intelligently about the negative aspects of RAID storage.
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post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks Hippie, I appreciate that input.

Here are a few points from some of the reading I just did:

1. RAID may reduce the chance of losing data due to drive failure but it is no protection against losing your data due to other means, e.g. user error.

2. While RAID provides redundancy it doesn’t provide anyway to restore files that are mistakenly deleted or if the RAID set dies in such a way that it takes the data with it.

The vast majority of the reasons why it's NOT back-up are due to bugs, intentional harm (hackers), accidental deletions, freak accidents (fires, floods), etc.
I'm not too concerned about user error and corrupted files, etc. I'm more concerned about physical drive failure (due to age, random drive failures). For me, full out copies of my stuff would be impractical plus I would have to have twice the amount of hard drive space. Just not something I'd like to do ($$ and space). My idea is to find a way to add SOME redundancy, that will protect against physical hard drive failure, while "automatically" doing the back-up (parity calcs). I'm just talking about failure prevention in the "average" way. I'm willing to take the chance that two of my drives won't randomly fail or fail due to age at the same time, or before I can rebuild the lost one.

Question though: Why would something like RAID1 not be considered back-up? Is it not a straight up copy of the data? Is this not comparable to software back-ups? I mean if we don't consider freak accidents like water damage to the entire RAID setup, fire, intentional harm, etc.

So, what do you think? Sound logical?
Edited by Beerce - 1/7/11 at 9:02am
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beerce View Post
Question though: Why would something like RAID1 not be considered back-up?
Because RAID only protects against failed HDDs or errors. It doesn't protect against human error, viruses, damages, etc.

Ex: If I have a 2 HDDs in a RAID 1 array and I get a virus, it's automatically written to the other drive since it's a mirror of the original. Now both HDDs have said virus. With a backup drive, I can get rid of said virus before I copy the data to the backup drive.
Edited by pololance - 1/7/11 at 9:58am
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Ya I get that, but as for random physical drive failures it's pretty much the same, no?

And about the viruses, couldn't the same happen if you have an auto-backup software? Or are virus scans typically run before backups are created?
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beerce View Post
Ya I get that, but as for random physical drive failures it's pretty much the same, no?

And about the viruses, couldn't the same happen if you have an auto-backup software? Or are virus scans typically run before backups are created?
If you're only worried about physical failure and not backing up your data, then RAID 1 is good because it's an exact copy. Something happens and you can be up and running in just a couple minutes(power down and swap out or change boot order in BIOS).

I'll do a couple scans throughout the week before I backup to my external to insure no viruses are on my good drive.
Edited by pololance - 1/7/11 at 10:10am
post #9 of 21
Quote:
I'm not too concerned about user error and corrupted files, etc. I'm more concerned about physical drive failure (due to age, random drive failures).
That's the perfect situation for RAID.
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post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Alright thanks a lot guys, all good info. +rep for you

I'll come back to this when I get working on it in case I run into any problems. First I have to find a friend with a couple TBs of extra storage space so I can move my stuff off the drives first... ugh
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