What Is A RAID Drive And Why Should You Care?

A look at the ups and downs of disk array technology.


When we built ZR1, the Analogy.tech test PC, we mentioned that we had set up our hard drives in a RAID array. But we had some questions about what a RAID array was, and why we chose to use it. So let this be your crash course into the wild and magical world of “Redundant Array of Independent Disks.”

RAID is a technology that allows you to combine multiple physical drives into one virtual drive seen by your OS. The way you combine these discs determines what “level” of RAID you are using, and each different configuration comes with a specific set of benefits, detrimental effects, and disc requirements. While there are many different levels of RAID supported in the computer space, we are going to focus on the two most important and widely used array leveling systems, RAID0 and RAID1.

What Does RAID Do?

At its most basic level, RAID is a way to combine multiple discs in a fashion that either promotes higher performance, or a greater level of security against data loss. In essence, RAID allows you to take one single stream of data and then split it across multiple drives. In a RAID1 configuration that data is actually duplicated across two drives, giving you an exact and total backup of every single piece of data on the drive. RAID0 on the other hand is all about speed, and it takes that single stream of data and splits it in half, allowing it to write to both discs at the exact same time, effectively doubling you speed.

To get a better visual of how this looks, keep reading.

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