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Is RAID 0 or RAID 1 Worth It?

This site specialized in giving users ways to speed a pc. One question we get a lot is how to setup a RAID 0 or RAID 1 array. For our readers who don't know, RAID 0 is when you take 2 hard drives and then spread all of your data out across the 2 hard drives evenly. This setup gives you the full space of the 2 hard drives and is theoretically supposed to make your hard drives run faster. However, the down side is that if just 1 of the hard drives goes out, then you lose all of your data. RAID 1 is when you take 2 hard drives and you make the hard drives mirrors of each other. In theory, your hard drives will be a little faster when reading from them and a little slower when writing to them. Also, if one of the hard drives goes out, you effectively have always on working backup since the hard drives are just mirrors. RAID was originally designed for servers. However, with technology improvements, many motherboards now offer RAID. We take a look to see if RAID is worth it for personal use.

RAID 0 and Home Use

Most people who read these articles are thinking about whether or not they should setup RAID for their home PC. Let's take a look to see if RAID 0 is worth it. We setup a PC with RAID 0 and tested some of the things that a normal home user would do such as browsing the Internet, playing games, editing documents, etc. In our tests, we found that many of these normal tasks that the average user might do were not affected much or even a little slower under the RAID 0 array.

Overall, we would say that we saw a 3-5% increase in performance when compared to the single hard drive setup. This small overall increase brings us to the conclusion that RAID 0 is not worth it for the average user. RAID 0 puts your data at greater risk. Also, a 3-5% increase is barely noticeable. It would make more sense to buy a higher performance hard drive if you are looking to improve your disk performance. We do want to point out that in our research of other tests we noticed that file copying was more noticeably improved. However, most users I know are looking for better system response times and not copy speeds.

RAID 1 and Home Use

In theory, RAID 1 should be worse than RAID 0 when it comes to performance. We setup a similar test to our RAID 0 test. We setup a PC with RAID 1 and tested some of the things that a normal home user would do such as browsing the Internet, playing games, editing documents, etc. In these tests, we were surprised to find that RAID 1 performed almost identically to RAID 0. RAID 0 was a little bit better, but not by much.

Overall, with RAID 1, we observed a 2-4% increase in performance when compared to the single hard drive. Like RAID 0, we also noticed that file copy was faster in RAID 1. Based on these tests, we would consider RAID 1 a viable option for home users. The main advantage is the data redundancy that RAID 1 offers. When you pair the data redundancy with the slight performance increases, RAID 1 is something worth considering.

Conclusion

Overall, we would not recommend RAID 0 for home use. The performance increases are small when you look at the extra risks you are exposing yourself to. We would consider RAID 1 a good option for home use since it provides data security along with a slight performance increase. Overall though, if you are just looking for more speed, it is probably worth considering a better, faster hard drive when compared to RAID. If you do not have an SSD drive, upgrading to one of these would drastically improve performance. If you do have an SSD drive, there is probably one that is faster than the one you currently have unless you bought the top of the line SSD recently.





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