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drford

"To RAID or not to RAID," that is my question.

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I have a Pentium 4 XEON 2.0GHz system with 1.5G RAM that I acquired from a company that went out of business. It has an Adaptec 2200 RAID Controller with 32M of RAM and 5 Seagate 73G Cheetah 10K Drives. It also has dual channel Ultra160 SCSI on the Motherboard. I will use this system for my personal business using Office, AutoCAD, local databases and scanning & printing high quality photos. I will be reading files more often then writing to the disk. It also has a 128M DIMM for add to the RAID Card but it is not installed and a 20/40 DAT drive. My questions are:

1.) What will give me the best performance? A RAID-5 of all 5 drives or the O/S, swap, applications and data all on separate drives? The redundancy of the RAID would be nice, but I have a nice tape backup that I will be using anyway to backup my data regularly. Thus, performance and speed is my primary concern.

2.) Will the 128M RAM added to the RAID controller make a difference in performance that would change my decision?

3.) If I did have a RAID as 1 large drive, should I use it as one big partition or create various? (For example, a partition for Windows, Application, Data and Photos.)

Thanks.

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Something to consider.....if you raid0'ed all the disks and formed a 365GB volume, would you want to sit there feeding in the 18 tapes required to perform a backup each week? Remember....backups are only useful if they're current.

The best balance for preserving your capacity would probably be raid 5; in which case the extra ram would probably help. If however performance of the array is paramount, you probably should loose one of the drives and go raid 01 or 10. That would give you 145GB of very fast, very safe storage.....and then you could use the remaining drive as a boot drive....or sell it........etc.

The idea of a 365GB raid0 volume scares me....unless it was being used for storing strictly temporary scratch work.

-Chris

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Also, i'm not a big fan of carving up big disks into partitions. I do keep a seperate 5GB fat32 partition for the system and apps just to make repair easier in the event of a failure. The rest of my stuff is stored on large ntfs partitions...on partition per drive.

I don't think it's worth it for organization reasons.....that's why we have directories. I also don't think it's worth it for performance reasons....i think you tend to copy stuff between partitions so much when you run out of space that you just fragment the drives anyway.

Remember....the "size" of directories is dynamic while partitions are fully fixed.

-Chris

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If you don't need the capacity, I almost always suggest RAID 10. With 5 drives, I would recommend using 4 drives in the RAID 10, and the 5th drive as a 'backup' drive, i.e. put all of your backups on the 5th drive. So, granted, in this configuration, the backup drive would be 1/2 the capacity of your RAID, but if you are selective, you can probably fit it for quite some time. The advantage of this is that if you lose a drive in your RAID 10, you can use the backup as the replacement until your new drive comes in. This is what I do at home on my file server. I have a 4 drive IDE RAID 10 with 4 x 80GB drives. I have a 5th 80GB drive as my backup drive with the intent it is the spare drive for my RAID.

If you need capacity but don't need great write performance, I would recommend using 4 of the drives as a RAID 5 and keeping the 5th drive as a backup / spare drive. If you haven't noticed, I'm a proponent of keeping spare drives in the system. This speeds up your recovery times tremendously as well as performing a using function such as backups.

Joo

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