What is RAID and how does it work

Q

What is RAID and how does it work ?

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A

Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) is a term used to describe the technique of improving data availability through the use of arrays of disks and various data-striping methodologies. Disk arrays are groups of disk drives that work together to achieve higher data-transfer and I/O rates than those provided by single large drives. An array is a set of multiple disk drives plus a specialized controller (an array controller) that keeps track of how data is distributed across the drives. Data for a particular file is written in segments to the different drives in the array rather than being written to a single drive.
For speed and reliability, it is better to have more disks. When these disks are arranged in certain patterns and are use a specific controller, they are called a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) set. There are several numbers associated with RAID, but the most common are 1, 5 and 10.
RAID 1 works by duplicating the same writes on two hard drives. Let us assume you have two 20 Gigabyte drives. In RAID 1, data is written at the same time to both the drives.
RAID1 is optimized for fast writes.
RAID 5 works by writing parts of data across all drives in the set (it requires at least three drives). If a drive failed, the entire set would be worthless. To combat this problem, one of the drives stores a "parity" bit. Think of a math problem, such as 3 + 7 = 10. You can think of the drives as storing one of the numbers, and the 10 is the parity part. By removing any one of the numbers, you can get it back by referring to the other two, like this: 3 + X = 10. Of course, losing more than one could be evil. RAID 5 is optimized for reads.
RAID 10 is a bit of a combination of both types. It doesn't store a parity bit, so it is faster, but it duplicates the data on two drives to be safe. You need at least four drives for RAID 10. This type of RAID is probably the best compromise for a database server.

2007-10-25, 4999👍, 0💬