Is RAID Necessary on Solid State Drives?
Years ago, all hard drives involved the use of moving parts. When you turned on your computer, you’d hear the drive begin to spin as the system booted up. These sorts of drives are still in regular use in a variety of applications. Every time you attempt to complete a process on a hard disk drive (HDD)-based system -- regardless of the complexity of the process -- the spinning hard drive physically fetches the data from a location somewhere on the drive. The older a hard disk drive becomes and the more use it sees, the more likely it is to produce some sort of a read error. Simply put: the moving parts of an HDD are bound to eventually wear out. And when they do, you’re looking at potentially catastrophic downtime and data loss.
To deal with this inevitability, RAID was introduced as a file storage system. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, and was designed as a means of storing the same data in different places across multiple hard disks in order to safeguard against the eventual failure of one particular drive. RAID works by allowing the input/output operations of various disks to overlap in such a way as to balance performance and cost with security. Various levels of RAID are available, from RAID 0 to RAID 10. At one end of the spectrum, RAID 0 offers no data redundancy, which translates to maximal performance and minimal cost but no real fault tolerance. At the other extreme, RAID 10 involves both striping (dividing a drive’s data into segments) and mirroring (copying data from one drive to another) of all data on a disk. This makes for maximal redundancy and security, but can cause performance issues -- not to mention the added expense of additional drives.
SCSI HDDs vs. SSDs and RAID
These days, SCSI HDDs (Small Computer System Interface hard disk drives) are quickly being replaced by SDDs (solid state drives). Unlike the spinning disk of an HDD, a solid state drive involves no moving parts. Instead, data is stored on a series of connected flash memory chips. The lack of moving parts in an SSD makes the drive significantly more reliable by design than an HDD. As hard drive technology progresses, SSDs are becoming even more reliable. The question is, then: should you use RAID if you’re running your system exclusively with SSDs? Or, are SSDs so reliable that RAID is an unnecessary redundancy?
How Much Security Do You Need?
When it comes to deciding whether or not your need to use RAID on an SSD-based system, there are a number of points to consider.
First, remember that all drives fail eventually. Even though SSDs are significantly more reliable than HDDs, there’s always a chance that they could fail. And if they do, you could be looking at major downtime and/or data loss.
Next, consider what sort of environment you’ll be using the SSDs in. Are you going to be using them for testing or development purposes? If so, RAID may be an unnecessary encumbrance that drives up costs. Will you be using the drive or drives as part of a production server system? If so, the redundancy and security associated with RAID is more important.
Thirdly, rre rebuild times a consideration? Can you afford the downtime that will occur if you encounter an error on one of the drives in your array? Different RAID levels come with different downtimes. The increased reliability and processing speed of SSDs means that there may be a compromise available in many scenarios. For example, you could leverage the bump in speed and reliability associated with SSDs to implement a RAID-5 or RAID-6 level solution. Even though rebuild times are longer when an error occurs in a RAID-5 or -6 environment, the reliability associated with SSDs means that the odds of a second failure occurring during rebuild are incredibly low.
Finally, where are you sourcing your SSDs from? If you’re purchasing new, used or refurbished SSDs from a reputable company that has conducted extensive testing and taken various quality control measures, the reliability of the drives is something you can likely count on. If you’re purchasing inexpensive SSDs from a company with a questionable reputation, though, there’s no reason to assume that the drives won’t be prone to failure. The same goes for firmware: if your drive firmware isn’t up to date, reliability can quickly become an issue.
RAID and SSD
At the end of the day, the decision of whether to include RAID as part of your SSD server setup is up to you. You’ll have to take into account the specifics of your situation in order to determine whether the added safety is worth the cost of extra drives. Keep in mind, though, that all drives fail eventually. If you’re running mission critical processes on a server array, it’s important to keep this fact in mind.
When the time comes to replace existing hard drives or add new drives to your system, be sure to go with a company you can trust. Integrity Global Solutions offers new, used, and refurbished hard drives at affordable prices, and our quality control standards ensure that the hardware you receive is ready to use. Do you need help determining which hard drive is right for you? Contact us today, or use the chat feature in the corner of your screen for immediate assistance. To shop our selection of used servers, refurbished power supplies, new hard drives, and more, click here.