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Is RAID worth the hassle?


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#1 raptorman

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Posted 05 December 2014 - 08:32 PM

That's what I wondered when I set about my new build.

 

My old fossil of a PC ran in RAID 1 with two 320GB HDs.

 

Now I thought that this protected my data but it certainly came with a lot of baggage. How many times does the PC boot up and declare that the mirror is degraded? Not often, I suppose: maybe three or four times a year, but when it does it needs 2 hours to rebuild the array. More often than not this means leaving the computer on overnight and wasting electrons which I pay for. Also, running RAID means that both discs are in constant use, so they will wear out equally. There's every chance that a massive failure will take both out at the same time.

 

RAID 0 speeds things up but increases the errors. RAID 10 (1+0) combines both of these 'advantages'.

 

As a result, I am building my new PC without RAID. I will have the OS and programs on one disc and back this up manually to a second. I will store photos, files etc on another and have a back-up for this too. To cap it all off, I am installing a 4-way HDD power controller in the otherwise useless 3.5" floppy bay: That way I can avoid running my back-up discs unless I plan to use them.

 

I know it sounds old-fashioned to manually back up systems and data but I like it! It simplifies the way the CPU runs and doesn't tax anything else either. My opinion is that it requires a bit of effort but  in the long run is faster and more reliable.

 

What do you say?



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#2 ranchhand_

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 10:07 AM

RAID was the hot tamale 10-20 years ago because of the boost in speed and was especially popular with gamers, and popular with System Admins because of the possibility of data restore if a drive failed. With the advent of DDR3, USB3 and SATA3 the speed factor is negated. In addition, the absolute best way to protect your data is an image backup for two main reasons:

> Contrary to popular belief, there are many occasions where RAID has failed in retrieving data, and it is complicated to do a restore.

> As of this writing, the one and only way to protect against the ransomeware virus attacks that are rapidly increasing is a complete, current image of the hard drive. The encryptions used by these sleazebags cannot be broken and an image restore is the only solution. Even raid striping won't help.


Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#3 jonuk76

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 11:52 AM

It's honestly never entered my head to have a RAID array in a desktop.  I just don't see the point TBH.  In a server where you need redundancy they make sense (even then they are in no way a substitute for backups).


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#4 x64

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 02:21 PM

I have used raid1 arrays to protect the lost recent few PCs that I've built as my main desktops, over that period (maybe 8-10 years), it had saved me maybe three rebuilds due to disk failures. I suppose the trade off is how much time loss you can endure without a PC if it fails (whist you source a replacement drive), and how much disruption you are happy with for the period where you rebuild it or restore it.

I also run a couple of levels of backups. I suppose an additional factor to consider is how confident you are that your system backup will actually be usable if the worst happened (who runs a "DR test" on their home system?!).

For malware backup is the safety net. An on-line backup to an extra large non-raid drive within the PC, and a USB drive that has off-line of the local backup (and is only attached whilst the backup us being duplicated to it). I use Ghost for the backups and am disappointed that Symantec killed it (as they do any good products.. well... 'kill it' or 'ruin it'....). I've never had to go back to an image backup and only once or twice had to restore files accidentally deleted or overwritten)

For email, I set my POP accounts to keep 10 days worth of email on the ISP server. This is designed to tide me over between last backup and failure instant...

So how have I faired....
HDD failure: Had that a few times (Raid protected me - little downtime).
Malware: I've been lucky there (but I suppose it is like "wheels-up landings" - there are those who have and "those who will" - for the record I'm still in the "those who will" category for both categories![OMG - I've said it now! - gulp!]).
PICNIC (problem in chair not in computer): Had to retrieve the odd overwritten document from backups but nothing Major.

So as you see, I have multi tiered protection strategy, and the RAID is the one that has been most useful.

One additional advantage, is that with RAID1 - disk reads (a majority of access) are faster!...

x64
 



#5 bludshot

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Posted 07 December 2014 - 03:54 AM

No, RAID is not worth the hassle (in a non-server situation). From 15 to 5 years ago, I would always hear about people having problems or failures with raids (and then didn't really hear about raids over the last 5 years because I guess nobody uses them anymore). What's the point in something that is supposed to give you redundancy when it (anecdotally) fails more often than single hard drives?

 

I never even knew about these HDD power controllers, that's cool! Is there any danger or downside to them I wonder though?



#6 raptorman

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Posted 07 December 2014 - 10:52 AM

No, RAID is not worth the hassle (in a non-server situation). From 15 to 5 years ago, I would always hear about people having problems or failures with raids (and then didn't really hear about raids over the last 5 years because I guess nobody uses them anymore). What's the point in something that is supposed to give you redundancy when it (anecdotally) fails more often than single hard drives?

 

I never even knew about these HDD power controllers, that's cool! Is there any danger or downside to them I wonder though?

In answer to the question about downsides, I guess I'll find out and let you know when the build is up and running!

 

I've just finished wiring mine up and it has a second advantage that is immediately apparent. I have the 4 drive controller that sits in the floppy bay, making use of space I wouldn't normally use. It's powered by a couple of molex connectors that I've hidden away behind the bays. after that the SATA power (also tucked out of sight) feeds the 4 HDDs. The nett result is a very clean looking installation since I needed to get fewer cables from the PSU.

 

I believe from what others have said that you can't switch drives on with the system running, but that's no great hassle. For my use I will boot up the PC on 3 or 4 drives when I'm doing back-ups and only 2 when I'm not. It also has the possibility of using more than one OS in the same case. For example, you could have a drive running windows and another on Linux.

 

Fingers crossed that it works okay!



#7 raptorman

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Posted 07 December 2014 - 10:55 AM

RAID was the hot tamale 10-20 years ago because of the boost in speed and was especially popular with gamers, and popular with System Admins because of the possibility of data restore if a drive failed. With the advent of DDR3, USB3 and SATA3 the speed factor is negated. In addition, the absolute best way to protect your data is an image backup for two main reasons:

> Contrary to popular belief, there are many occasions where RAID has failed in retrieving data, and it is complicated to do a restore.

> As of this writing, the one and only way to protect against the ransomeware virus attacks that are rapidly increasing is a complete, current image of the hard drive. The encryptions used by these sleazebags cannot be broken and an image restore is the only solution. Even raid striping won't help.

By the look of the comments here I've made the right decision...phew!

 

Since I can make an image of my program and data discs and leave them switched off when not required, I'm guessing that this will also give more protection against viruses. A virus can't wreck a drive with no power!



#8 bludshot

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 01:01 AM

Yeah hmm. Sounds too sketchy, I'm going to file it under forget about it. It concerns me that it has additional connections, which seem like additional points of failure to me. You definitely wouldn't want to turn off power to a drive while the system is running, and you can't really "safely remove" internal drives to make it safe to power them off.

 

The drives that you will always have on, I'd just wire them directly and not through the switch. And then have the ones you occasionally use going through the switch. It should be ok - keep in mind I know nothing about it, so don't let my paranoia ruin it for you.



#9 raptorman

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 02:24 PM

Yeah hmm. Sounds too sketchy, I'm going to file it under forget about it. It concerns me that it has additional connections, which seem like additional points of failure to me. You definitely wouldn't want to turn off power to a drive while the system is running, and you can't really "safely remove" internal drives to make it safe to power them off.

 

The drives that you will always have on, I'd just wire them directly and not through the switch. And then have the ones you occasionally use going through the switch. It should be ok - keep in mind I know nothing about it, so don't let my paranoia ruin it for you.

You're right about one thing of course. A drive can't be turned off mid-session. That's no great problem, though. I take your point about wiring two of the drives directly, but as I'll explain, that will involve more unsightly wires that I hate! (I'm used to motorbike wiring harnesses and converting faired bikes to un-faired...the wiring is grotesque unless you minimise it and hide it where you can)

 

In terms of additional connections, I'd beg to differ. For four drives running permanently, there are four SATA power connections from the PSU, with most power supplies this will come from one socket on the PSU. Then there are four SATA connections from each HDD to the mobo. With this system, there are two molex power supply connectors running from one of the peripheral PSU outlets and the four SATA cables from the unit to the mobo, so six in total and not eight. The other advantage that I had when installing this was that I did not have to use all of the modular power outlets from the PSU and this cut down on the wiring inside the case which improves airflow etc, because I limited the number of molex to four which was supplied by one PSU cable.

 

I am now running the system and it works so far (fingers crossed). The big test will be how reliable it is in the long run, but to be fair, the hardware is pretty simple and well made, so I can only hope that it is robust. We'll see. All I can say so far is what I have observed. The device is an Orico HD-PW4101 and it fitted perfectly into the 3.5" floppy bay, which is more than I can say for Akasa's FC-Trio fan controller: I had to slot out the 5.5" bay with a drill to fit that! The only negative comments I saw on the web about the HDD controller were about the stiffness of the wires on the SATA power outputs. I would agree with this. I cut off the heat-shrink sleeving to make these more pliable and made sure that the cables didn't cause a problem by tie-wrapping them to a handy drilled lug on the back of the unit. I wasn't happy with the length and rigidity of the rest of the SATA wiring loom either, but I don't like the ridiculous length of cables that anyone supplies with their kit!

 

Despite my shiny new rig looking good through the window, I am still grumpy. I know that the hidden side panels where extra side fans (that I don't even need) would go is untidy if you remove the panel. I am seriously considering making my own cables! That's what a fussy s** I can be.

 

Let's wait and see what reliability is like. If it goes up in a puff of smoke, I'll let you know and you can smirk knowingly!

 

Maybe I'll post a pic of the end result when I'm happy with it.



#10 bludshot

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 05:29 PM

I meant more connections along the chain to the drive. Normally it's 1 plug into the drive. Now you have 1 plug into the switch, +1 plug out of the switch + 1 plug into the drive = 3 connection points (not to mention the switch itself). So I would never do it because I don't care that much about the aesthetics of the inside of my case, my airflow is plenty good enough, and I'm fine just popping the side off the case and unplugging the drive (I think I might have one unplugged in my case right now, I forget lol). Meanwhile I care a lot about my drives lasting.

 

But you do have those concerns so it's worth it for you. Plus, for all I know your setup does not introduce any problem.

 

I won't smirk, I hope it works perfectly and I have no actual knowledge that it wouldn't.



#11 killerx525

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 10:38 AM

G'day mate, interesting question you pose here. I only recently started to use RAID for the first time, but it was for two of my SSD's in RAID-0. RAID itself can be worth the hassle if you are only using it for the operating system and programs that are installed it which is in my case, because i can easily reinstall Windows and my programs back if the SSD does fail. Whereas my 3TB storage drive contains files which i take for grant like family photos, important documents etc, but at the moment, i feel that i should Raid 1 it, but the extra 3TB of space which could be gained is gone. I was thinking of using a software which would automatically update each drive when a new or recently changed file occurs, hence completely avoiding the hassle of rebuilding a RAID array.

 

It really all depends on how valuable your data is to you, but ultimately the hassle of rebuilding a array that contains valuable files is just nerve wrecking and there is always a potential chance that the data is unrecoverable. 


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System1: CPU- Intel Core i7-5820K @ 4.4GHz, CPU Cooler- Noctua NH-D14, RAM- G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB Kit(4Gx4) DDR3 2133MHz, SSD/HDD- Samsung 850 EVO 250GB/Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB/Seagate Barracuada 3TB, GPU- 2x EVGA GTX980 Superclocked @1360/MHz1900MHz, Motherboard- Asus X99 Deluxe, Case- Custom Mac G5, PSU- EVGA P2-1000W, Soundcard- Realtek High Definition Audio, OS- Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Games: APB: Reloaded, Hours played: 3100+  System2: Late 2011 Macbook Pro 15inch   OFw63FY.png


#12 raptorman

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Posted 12 December 2014 - 01:44 PM

I meant more connections along the chain to the drive. Normally it's 1 plug into the drive. Now you have 1 plug into the switch, +1 plug out of the switch + 1 plug into the drive = 3 connection points (not to mention the switch itself). So I would never do it because I don't care that much about the aesthetics of the inside of my case, my airflow is plenty good enough, and I'm fine just popping the side off the case and unplugging the drive (I think I might have one unplugged in my case right now, I forget lol). Meanwhile I care a lot about my drives lasting.

 

But you do have those concerns so it's worth it for you. Plus, for all I know your setup does not introduce any problem.

 

I won't smirk, I hope it works perfectly and I have no actual knowledge that it wouldn't.

Ah! I see your point. So far it's working, that's all I'll say for now. If it packs in, I'll shout and let you all know, trust me!






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