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I am consider using windows raid 0 and raid 1 over two hardware 4x2tb raid 5 arrays. (thinking Seagate green drives). 2x Rocketraid 2680 controller but that could easily change.

So, that would give me a 3tb partition in raid 51 and an 6tb partition of raid 50.

Is that a good idea? Anyone know if the raid 6tb partition will be (much) slower than a hardware raid 50?

I am very open to other configurations. My bottom line is I have 11 drive bays on the case, I need Windows 2k8 r2, and I need high redundancy + not so high redundancy. I am just plain paranoid about using 2tb disk as they are. The windows OS partition won't be on the array. I have many terrabytes of data I need to keep.

I plan to have no backup strategy as I have no tape drive, up/downloading terrabytes of data over internet is slow and cumbersome (if your experience is otherwise, let me know. I have around 3tb of data I must not lose), and I loathe stacking more HD around the house (as if there rn't enough external harddrives floating around already).

Background info: i7 2600 (no k can't be bothered overclocking.) 16gb ram. will be doing lots of virtualisation / sql server / photoshop (processing DSLR raw files) / Visual Studio / Media en,de,trans coding 1500 dollars of budget (excluding hard drives, including raid controllers)

Thanks in advance for your input.

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Not only is RAID0 not redundant, it is less reliable than a single standalone hard disk. –  EEAA Jul 25 '11 at 0:26
Software RAID on top of hardware RAID sounds like a kluge to me. –  joeqwerty Jul 25 '11 at 1:28
"I plan to have no backup strategy..." and "I have around 3tb of data I must not lose" are fundamentally incompatible statements. What if your house burns down? Gets broken into and your computer stolen? –  gravyface Jul 25 '11 at 2:31
I've said it before and I'll say it again. RAID 5 is useful for keeping a system running. It may protect you from a single disk failure and that's great, but it will NOT protect you from something that takes out more than one disk. If you have 3tb of data that you can't lose, back it up. Use a NAS, a drobo, or something else. Preferably offsite, but at least outside of the case. Single point of failure = tempting fate. –  Daniel Ball Jul 25 '11 at 2:36
As far as backup strategy ... tapes are poo anyway (imho). 3 tb is not expensive anymore. If you don't want a costly COTS solution ... just make a cheap computer whose only role in life is to periodically back up your file server. Try FreeNAS, or, as Lucky Luke mentioned, get a ginormous external drive. Most have backup software included to make it easy. –  Daniel Ball Jul 25 '11 at 2:40
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'm also not sure why you would want to mix HW and SW RAID, though I do understand your paranoia.

I also understand your limitations in terms of backup, so here are my suggestions.

Mixing RAIDs is probably not a good idea, and I would personally not trust a Windows RAID a whole lot. For example, Win2k8 seems to have some limitations with alerting you when a drive is a failed state (see Event Logging for RAID fault in 2008 R2) . If there were any sort of corruption with the software raid, your HW redundancy wouldn't buy you anything. I also doubt that you would get performance gains, but I don't have any hard data to back that up.

The controller you mentioned supports a hot spare. I would utilize that feature, this buys you time if a drive in your RAID fails.

Keep a spare disk on the side in any case, if a drive does fail, you don't have to race to a hardware store to get a replacement, and worry about shipping time etc.

For backup I would just try to use an external HD, possibly two? They do make 3Tb hard drives now, so as long as you find a USB 3.0 one, that should work. I would probably get two of these though to be safe. Then just use the Windows backup feature to full backups, or use something like robocopy to copy individual files.

You may also find my blog article of interest, to reaffirm your paranoia: http://www.eventlogblog.com/blog/2011/02/do-not-trust-thee-raid.html :-)

Hope this helps.

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Good read on eventlog. RAID gives a false sense of security and it's scary to rely on it as your only fail-safe. –  Daniel Ball Jul 25 '11 at 2:51
I trust Windows RAID a hell of a lot more than I trust 90% of the RAID controllers on the market, and 100% more than any on-board RAID controller. –  Mark Henderson Jul 25 '11 at 2:55
@Mark Henderson: Good point regarding some of the embedded hardware raid controllers, I was assuming he's using a reliable brand. I've had my share of misfortunes with built-in/embedded RAID controllers myself, and really only trust professional RAID controllers (HP, Dell, etc.). –  Lucky Luke Jul 25 '11 at 3:38
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