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So I have a basic server: i5, 4GB ram, Areca 1212 Raid card, 1x sata 40GB HDD (for OS) connected to motherboard sata, 4x 2TB HDDs all configured into RAID5 (for /home data) connected to Areca Raid card. OS is Linux Centos 6.4. I think this is all very good and common for a nice lil' server.

My problem is, if a HDD fails, no problem, I can hotswap onto another one. One device failure is permitted here. If the OS fails, a Live CD can become a recovery cd. But the risk bottleneck then becomes the Areca card, correct? If the Areca card fails, I need to buy a new Areca card. And I assume that the RAID configuration is stored onto the Areca Card, not on the HDDs (correct?). But I also assume that a new replacement Areca card can 'discover' the configuration, and recover the data. Is this all correct?

What if I am unable to purchase a new Areca card? I can, as a fallback, connect the 4x2TB HDDs directly onto the motherboard. Now, how do I tell/configure/mount/setup CentOS 6.4 that the 4x 2TB HDDs were Areca 1212 -type RAID5, and recover my data without using any Areca card? (Admittedly, if this is possible, it would be a lot slower than if the 4x 2TB HDDs were using the hardware raid of Areca 1212)

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I strongly suggest using a RAID HBA that comes with documentation covering the event of the card failing (like Adaptect, LSI, Dell, HP, IBM, etc, etc; who all store the RAID configuration on the disks for this exact reason) OR using software RAID (especially since it would be just as fast as that card you have selected). – Chris S Jul 31 '13 at 19:58
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You are largely correct in your assessment of the risks of using a hardware RAID card.

If you're using a proprietary hardware RAID card, then it is unlikely that your array will work with anything other than that particular hardware RAID card. That is, while cards from other vendors will certainly not work, you may even have problems with other models from the same vendor.

This is why software RAID is attractive to many people: while the performance may not be on par with a good hardware RAID card, the RAID support is not tied to any particular hardware which makes it much more recoverable in the event of a component failure.

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This is why you have backups. So that you can recover file-level data in the event of a hardware disaster.

Your question is off-topic because it is about technology outside of a professional environment, but if it were in a professional environment, you would have support on all servers, so that if a card fails, you get a guaranteed replacement from the vendor.

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Oh well, not all professional setups have support on everything, but you are basically right :) – Frederik Nielsen Jul 31 '13 at 20:15

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