What is RAID

If you have been anywhere near the IT office at work or if you have looked into storing large volumes of data, you might have come across the term RAID. People who know band it about regularly and assume that every one else knows exactly what they are going on about.

You might even have joined in, attempting to cover up your lack of knowledge or not wanting to appear out of the loop. But now is the time to step up and know what all those people have been banging on about.

RAID first hit the mainstream conscience of the IT world back in the late 1980’s. It was proposed as a cheaper way of storing data. The idea was pretty simple, to put a lot of cheap disks together instead of having to buy one very expensive large disk.

The I in the word RAID even signalled this cost object by highlighting how a RAID system was meant to be Inexpensive. The Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks were designed to store the same data on different disks, to automatically create back-ups and provide for security in the case of a drive failure.

By having the data shared amongst three or four different disks, not only did it allow for the data redundancy to occur, but the disks would be referenced less frequently, so would be subjected to less hardships. This in turn would lead to less fatigue and failures.

Therefore not only would a RAID system provide a back-up service, but it would also breakdown less frequently, needing the back-ups less frequently. It was a win-win solution.

This makes a RAID failure most infrequent and most systems will go their intended life-cycles without breaking down or needing major repairs. However, this is not to say that systems do not go wrong or become infected.

Just like any other storage device, the system is only as strong as it’s user and the level of protection. To rebuild a RAID system is not the easiest of actions. Firstly, you need to know the configuration of your RAID system and there are six of these, then you will need to know about Nesting and Non-Standard Levels. If any of this is not plain English to you, then it is best not to even mess with trying to fix the errors, let the professionals deal with the mess. It is exactly what they are paid to do.

The array of Inexpensive disks term soon transformed into Independent when the marketing teams became worried about highlighting the cheaper components. It was in quick succession that RAID changed its meaning, but only in words, not in function.

All of this means that the next time someone mentions RAID to you, you have the ability to ask them about the I. It will make you seem a lot more on the ball than the average punter and you might even find out that they have not got a clue what they are on about themselves.