SoftRAID RAID 0, or stripe, volumes give you the fastest possible data access and are perfect for work that involves a large amount of uncompressed data such as in video or photo editing.
Although stripe volumes give you the fastest possible data access, they provide no protection from disk failure.* When a disk fails on a striped volume, you will lose all the files on the entire volume. * Always maintain a rigorous backup program on all RAID 0 volumes.
Because they offer no data protection, RAID 0 stripe volumes are perfect for scratch disks in video, audio or photographic editing, or any other time you need extremely fast data access for large data files or a huge volume of data.
RAID 0 should not be used for long-term storage as it won’t protect you against disk failure.
Safer alternatives to RAID 0
Although RAID 0 is super fast, it’s best used for temporary storage only. All disks fail at some point and with RAID 0 if a disk fails, all data will be lost, or require expensive Data Recovery experts to retrieve your data, if possible.
There are other RAID solutions that are almost as fast and give you peace of mind knowing that, if a disk fails, your data is not lost. With SoftRAID, these are RAID 1+0, RAID 4, RAID 5, and mirror (RAID 1) volumes (RAID 1 being the simplest, but safest option).
Combining RAID 0 with another RAID level for increased data safety
If you need RAID 0 for access speed, always remember that SoftRAID allows you to have more than one RAID volume spread across your disks. So you can use the fastest part of each disk for your RAID 0 volume, and create another RAID volume (eg RAID 5, or RAID 1) with the rest of your disk space. And don’t worry, you won’t have to work out which is the fastest part of your disk, SoftRAID does that for you!
RAID 1 (aka. mirror) volumes are ideal for storing all your critically important files. If your work, or business, depends on the files stored on your Mac, you should be using a mirror volume.
RAID 1 is known as mirrors because each disk in your RAID 1 system contains a volume with identical data; ie. a mirror. As you work on disk A, SoftRAID updates the volume on disk B to be an exact copy of disk A. If you have more than one mirror disk (which is recommended), the extra disks will also be updated so they too are an exact copy of disk A.
With a mirror volume, if a disk fails, you can keep right on working as the remaining disk, or disks will take over. Because SoftRAID constantly ensures that the data on all your disks is identical, you won’t lose a beat…or any data!
For complete reliability, create a RAID 1 system with your main disk, plus 2 or more mirrors. Extra mirror disks can be removed and stored off-site, in different locations, for extra safety. Whenever you plug one of those disks back in, SoftRAID will recognize it as a mirror disk, work out what has changed, and quickly update the data so it’s once again identical to your working disk. In addition, SoftRAID uses a system that rebuilds mirror volumes incredibly fast, unlike many other RAID 1 systems.
Creating the fastest possible mirror volume
Mirror volumes are generally slower than other RAID volumes because they have the performance of a single drive. One way to create a faster mirror volume is by using an SSD for your working disk, and a mechanical hard drive for your mirror volume. mechanical hard drive for your secondary drive. SoftRAID will automatically read only from the Primary (SSD drive) while all writes will be sent to both drives.
You can read a more detailed explanation of how RAID 1 works here.
RAID 4 and RAID 5 volumes are perfect for storing edited video and audio data, animation files, digital photography, prepress and graphic artwork, and for any situation where you need to safely store a large amount of data, and access it fast.
RAID 4 and RAID 5 volumes give you the best combination for maximizing disk space, fastest access speeds and protection against disk failure. While other RAID levels may give you faster data access, or fail-safe data protection, no other RAID level combines speed, space and safety so well.
With RAID 4 and RAID 5, you’ll be able to keep working even after a disk gets an error or fails completely. You won’t lose hours retrieving data from the cloud or a backup disk.
How do RAID 4 and RAID 5 allow you to carry on working even with a failed disk? With RAID 4 & 5, each disk contains either a section of a data file, or a piece of ‘parity’ data, calculated (by SoftRAID) from your actual data. If the disk storing a segment of a data file fails, the parity data is used to reconstruct the missing piece of that file.
Use RAID 4 if you are using SSDs for your RAID system. If you are using mechanical hard drives RAID 5 is best.
You can read a more technical explanation of how RAID 4 and RAID 5 work here and how you can optimize your set up to get even faster read and write speeds here.
RAID 1+0 combines the speed of RAID 0 stripes, with the safety of RAID 1 mirrors so it’s ideal if you need both super fast data access and increased data safety.
If you have 4 or more disks for your RAID volume, this is the best RAID solution there is. It’s perfect for businesses that need to store and quickly access a large amount of data, and for servers.
RAID 1+0 volumes are made up of pairs of disks. Each pair, called a mirror pair, contains two disks which have identical information. If one disk in a mirror pair fails, the volume can keep reading and writing your files because it will use the other disk in the mirror pair instead.
The increased speed of RAID 1+0 volumes comes from striping mirrored pairs of disks together. Instead of striping together individual disks, like a stripe (RAID 0) volume, a RAID 1+0 volume treats each mirror pair just like a single disk of a stripe volume. RAID 1+0 volumes can only be made with even numbers of disks and require at least 4 disks. With SoftRAID, you can create RAID 1+0 volumes with up to 16 disks ie. 8 mirrored pairs.
* All disks fail at some rate. Good disks fail at a rate of about 3% a year, bad ones at 25% a year, or more. Even SSDs (Solid State Disks) fail at about the same rate. After more than 500 hours of testing three popular disk brands, SoftRAID staff found – though most worked fine – one brand and model had a 33% failure rate. Your disk could be one that fails at a 3% rate, a 25% rate, or even higher; you won’t know till it happens. Even if you have one of the safer disks, over time, and with more disks, the risk of failure increases to as much as 25%. This is why you should only use a RAID 0 volume as part of a larger backup system. If all your data is only on a RAID 0 volume, it’s unprotected; if your disk fails, you could lose it all.