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I'm in the process of buying a server and I'm afraid I know next to nothing about hardware. Below are the options given to me for the hard drive. I know I want RAID 1 but that's about all I know.

A little about my server: I'm putting Ubuntu on it, it will be used as a development server, the performance demands are low and it won't have that much data being put on it.

I realize this could get subjective in a hurry but I'm not looking for the absolute best, 100% perfect solution. If you could just tell me "you're probably okay with any of them" or "X sucks" that's probably good enough for me.

Onboard SATA, 1-2 Hard Drives connected to onboard SATA Controller -No RAID add $0.00
PERC S100 (Embedded SATA Software RAID) supporting 2 Hard Drives – RAID 0 add $0.00
PERC S100 (Embedded SATA Software RAID) supporting 2 Hard Drives - RAID 1 add $0.00
Add-in PERC S300 (SAS/SATA Controller) supporting 1 Hard Drive - No RAID add $0.00
Add-in PERC S300 (SAS/SATA Controller) supporting 2 Hard Drives - No RAID add $0.00
Add-in PERC S300 (SAS/SATA Controller) supporting 2 Hard Drives - RAID 0 add $0.00
Add-in PERC S300 (SAS/SATA Controller) supporting 2 Hard Drives - RAID 1 add $0.00
No RAID - Add-in SAS6iR (SAS/ SATA Controller), 1-2 Hard Drives add $0.00
RAID 0 - Add-in SAS6iR or H200 (SAS/ SATA Controller), 2 Hard Drives add $0.00
RAID 1 - Add-in SAS6iR or H200 (SAS/ SATA Controller), 2 Hard Drives [Included in Price]

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The S100 and S300 are software RAID cards, whereas the SAS6IR and H200 are hardware RAID cards. Based on that alone, I would recommend the latter.

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2  
I'd completely agree that hardware RAID is faster. However, if Linux support for the card is less than 100%, it can often be difficult to see "inside" the array - so the first warning you get of a drive having failed is when a second drive fails, the array disintegrates, and all your data are lost. Given that performance isn't your primary concern, there's something to be said for taking any card that will allow you to see thee discs as JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Discs) and doing software RAID under Linux, as Lladnar suggests. –  MadHatter Oct 19 '10 at 19:41

Ubuntu also has Linux software RAID support. You can choose to use that during the installation. I've used Linux RAID on production machines and it works great. It also does not tie the drives to a proprietary RAID system, thereby allowing you to just pop them into another server if your server fails.

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For a development server you may not even want RAID -- Dev boxes are usually built on the cheap (unless you're building a VMWare host, in which case you make it beefy & redundant because you're only buying one :-)

If performance is not an issue at all and the server isn't super-critical you're probably fine with any of these cards (or even the "No RAID" option - either with OS software RAID or just a single HD if you're OK with a day or two of downtime in the event of a disk failure).

If it's for a VMWare host, performance is likely to become important in the future, or there's a chance that this box might wind up in production some day I would go with the hardware RAID cards (which were already identified in Ignacio's post) and decently-fast disks.

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