When working on a server with multiple hard drives a failure can mean that you’re waiting a long time for backed up data to be restored.
This can seriously cut into productivity and lead to angry users and unsatisfied customers.
No worries though, there’s a simple solution called RAID 5. Although RAID 5 may sound like a new brand of bug spray, it’s actually technology used to keep data stored safely and easy to access.
You may be thinking to yourself that sounds great but how does RAID 5 work?
The answer is complicated. One of the problems when it comes to RAID 5 is that its difficult to understand. Many articles bog down an already complex topic with dense terminology and complex calculations.
But don’t worry we’ll help you make sense of all the information in plain English, and help you understand how to use RAID 5 to benefit your business.
What Is RAID?
To understand RAID First, let’s find out what RAID means.
RAID is an acronym that stands for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks.”
This means that RAID has an array or several drives that are interpreted by the operating system as a single device. And the redundancy feature means that the same information gets stored on each drive in the array providing extra insurance that information on each disk is safe.
This means that even if multiple hard drives fail you will not lose any data. As a result of putting many drives on one array, there’s increased disk space and quicker access speeds.
How Does RAID 5 Work?
There are many different kinds of RAID that can fit any number of your personal or business needs from RAID 0 which does not offer data redundancy to RAID 10 which offers good performance with the tradeoff of available disk space.
But the type of RAID we’ll be talking about is RAID 5.
RAID 5 allows you to have the best of all worlds – it allows combining great data performance and safety with an affordable price.
RAID 5 is a unique version of RAID that uses something called RAID parity. This technique uses parity or bonus data to calculate any lost information.
Parity is distributed among all drives in the RAID.
RAID 5 requires roughly one free drive worth of space to store the parity.
Now you may be scratching your head thinking how do you calculate missing data?
We’ll get more in-depth about it later, but think of it like a 100 piece puzzle missing only one piece. Now many of us could imagine in our heads what the puzzle would look like… if it were complete we could use context clues like the colors around empty space to imagine what’s supposed to go there.
This is how Parity works by using context clues to “make up” the missing data.
Another way to think about it is in math terms like an algebra problem.
Let’s use some visitation.
Imagine an equation like 3+y=7 and imagine that y is data that was lost while the 3 is data that’s stored on the drive that can be read and the 7 is parity that’s stored on the drive and that’s calculated to help with redundancy. If we solve for y, we can find the lost data which equals 4 and we can rebuild the problem in the same way RAID 5 rebuilds data.
How Do Raid 5 Space Calculations Work?
Now that you know how parity works, you can learn how it’s calculated.
You may think this makes it is easy to calculate how much space you will need.
The problem with this is that the raw amount of disk space that is accessible to the operating system is never the amount listed on the drive.
This is because once a RAID array is created, initialized and formatted it causes between a 5% and 10% of the RAID capacity to be lost.
Formatting from the operating system can further decrease the amount of space that’s usable, making calculations complicated.
One method of calculating the amount of space that you will need for your RAID 5 configuration is to reduce the amount of space on the drive by 15%.
But the easiest method of all is to use a raid capacity calculator.
We Can Simplify the Process with Our RAID 5 Configuration Calculator
Determining how much space you will need will always be one of the most challenging parts of building a server.
But it doesn’t have to be.
We’re here to help you by adding a raid disk space calculator to our platform.
Other Benefits of RAID 5
If we haven’t convinced you of the benefits of RAID 5 yet, allow us to try even harder.
One of the primary benefits of using RAID 5 is that it only requires 3 hard drives while many other versions of RAID, like 10 and 6, may require many more hard drives.
Because RAID 5 uses parity for storage it has more available disk space than any other version of RAID.
RAID 5 is great for storing large data that is not updated often, like backups or video content.
RAID 5 also perfect for Solid State Drives or SSDs. Which although they run very fast they have a tiny amount of disk space. This is ideal for RAID 5, which can run using very little disk space.
How Else Can We Protect Your Data?
Now that we have answered the question “How does RAID 5 work?”
We can show you many more ways to help improve the safety of your data – various different options exist, and we would like to help you explore those options.
If you want more information, we would love to hear from you.