Question Is there a perfect storage solution?


Sep 2, 2013
Hey, all. You know how they always say RAID isn't backup? Well, I can say with absolute certainty that it is not.

For the past 5 years, I've run my computer in a RAID 10 with four 4 TB HDDs using my motherboard's RAID controller. The goal was to have fast performance, redundancy, and easy recovery in case of disk failure. The biggest flaw was how much strain RAID 10 puts on the disks. There is so much writing that I go through hard drives significantly faster than conventional usage. The inconvenience is mitigated with Western Digital's excellent warranty, which had me only paying for shipping costs for probably about $1,500 worth of replacement drives, but it's still pretty annoying.

The part nobody told me is that I could still lose the array if I lose two drives, even if it says everywhere I can lose two drives. I think it's because two drives are 0, two drives are 1, and I can only lose a 0 and a 1, but I can't lose two of the same. I'm not sure what happened, but I had to reboot and I got an error saying that two drives are degraded. I was in Windows and I checked the serial numbers and I was in the process of swapping the drives to start the rebuilding process when Windows crashed and that was the last time the computer was working. I'm going to try to recover the RAID after I install a fresh copy of Windows on another drive, in case there's still something I could do.

In case there is no hope, I will pay for a recovery service. I would appreciate any suggestions for some good, affordable options.

What I liked the most about RAID 10 was that I could resume productivity immediately. There would be significantly degraded performance until the rebuild completed, but it was seamless, I never lost data, and I could still use the computer, more or less. It's not just data that I need permanently archived, I need my system to be available at all times. I do a lot of video editing, for example. Even if I backup the source files, how am I supposed to backup something I'm working on that's stored within a Windows environment? I need redundancy for both my files and my workspace within Windows, which can have a lot of moving parts. What are my options?

Would a NAS system be worth looking into? I always see Newegg sales for WD Red drives, but 5400 RPM seems slow for what I need. I'm thinking maybe a hybrid solution, with Windows running in a smaller RAID 10, large work files in use will be on a separate RAID 10 (or maybe RAID 1 or something else), and a big ass NAS for longterm storage. USB 3.0 or eSATA or maybe a PCIe controller?

What about video games, though? I can't be bothered to uninstall programs regularly and games easily take up a TB by themselves. I don't think redundancy is horribly important, but I'm not sure I can separate any program installs from the Windows environment.

If I'm going to use any form of RAID, are there things I can do to avoid wear?

In short, here's what I need:
  • Fast reading/writing
  • Bulletproof redundancy
  • Windows environment redundancy
  • Lots of space
  • Easier/reduced maintenance
  • No SSDs (too expensive, space shrinks, and data cannot be recovered upon failure)
I know this was a lot, but thank you for reading this far and I look forward to reading your responses.
as a 4 drive RAID 10 is still 'wasting' 50% of your space anyway, but only able to withstand loss of two disks if both happen on same RAID you might as well go with RAID 6 (this would require a RAID controller, as few MBs support it out of the box), so you can lose any two drives with no issue...

A NAS OS is not going to be any more forgiving of wear on hard drives....; if you write 100 GB per day for years, the wear will add up...; and, if a drive fails in a RAID 5, there will be 10-12 hours of thrashing /heavy use on the remaining drives when rebuilding the array across a new drive... (Perhaps the Seagate Ironwolf NAS drives can sustain heavy use for longer periods)

Saying SSDs are just 'too expensive' even as a boot drive would imply one has not recently examined prices in the last 3-4 years...(yes, 4 TB SSDs are expensive!)

500 GB SSDs from Corsair (MX500) are down to about $60-$80 when on sale...Intel's 600P drives are about dirt cheap even at 1 TB capacity...

Just make a backup image of your OS drive once or twice a quarter, which take approximately 20-25 minutes to copy 200-225 GB to a 7200 rpm drive...

5400-5900 rpm drives for a NAS are not bad, as unless you have 10 GB network connections at home, often a single drive can almost saturate a 1 GB network with 115 MB/sec max throughput...


Nothing will save you from a crash in the middle of a project unless you save it in parts and then do a backup of that save. So if your video is rendering and disk/PC crashes, you will probably end up with a useless file and will need to start over. If you are doing video editing, and using standard drives, those drives are your bottleneck. Get a 1tb SSD for your system, maybe another one for a scratch drive for the programs, and a pair of external standard drives for storing finished work and a backup.

Make an image of your system on the standard drives. If your main drive fails, put in a new drive and restore the image.