To RAID or not to RAID... (that is the question)


Dec 29, 2008
I just finished configured small PC/NAS on Newegg that I would like to use as a home server. It has 2 Terabytes of storage that I could run in a RAID array and comes to $320.

However, I have an old Dell Dimension 2400 with a Pentium 4 sitting down in storage that I could use if I upgraded the RAM. If I were to put newer hard drives in it they would have to be IDE drives which would limit my speeds and I wouldn't be able use RAID.

Since my ultimate concern is to save money and protect my files, is the extra roughly $125 justified or does RAID not add much more protection than simply two drives. By the way, the files I want to protect are HD family videos that I simply could not afford to lose.
The value of raid-1 for protecting data is that you can recover from a hard drive failure quickly.
It is for servers that can't afford any down time.
Recovery from a hard drive failure is just moments.
Fortunately hard drives do not fail often.
Mean time to failure is claimed to be on the order of 1,000,000 hours.(100 years)
Raid-1 does not protect you from other types of losses such as viruses,
software errors,raid controller failure, operator error, or fire...etc.
For that, you need EXTERNAL backup.
If you have external backup, and can afford some recovery time, then you don't need raid-1.

If those videos are truly irreplaceable, then copy them to external media such ad dvd or blu-ray and store them in your safe deposit box.

For the dell, you can buy a pci sata/raid card for <$25. I think more modern sata drives will be faster and more reliable than ide.


Apr 8, 2009
Well, it costs roughly $800 per drive to recover data. I learned the hard way.

Raid 1 isn't only for servers.

The chance of a Fire or any other cause besides drive failure are soo extremely small. DVDs are a decent intermediate backup because they only last up to 5 yrs(possibly longer if they never ever see light).

Plus, I have never met a person who is on top of their backups 100% of the time. Look at it this way: you upload some new video from, lets say a vacation. You, like mostly everyone else, will not make an immediate backup. You delete the video from your camera and then your drive dies. This is far more probable than the "other" causes.

Spending the extra money is peace of mind and less of a chance your spouse will nag you.


Feb 9, 2009
5 years? I think that's way low, the manufacturers claim 30 years min, so even if you cut that in half it's still 15 years. I have a copy of Heat on DVD that is over 10 years old, plays fine...

sub mesa

Apr 17, 2009
For companies, RAID is a method to keep their servers from going down; in other words its the accessibility that matters to them. For home users, its the data security that matters; they don't mind their system going down; they mind still having their data.

However, RAID may not be the best tool for that. A backup is of much greater value than a RAID1, because it also keeps a history; it protects against more things than just a drive failure. Also, it removes the RAID layer, which is a layer that can fail in itself, and in fact many consumer RAID failures are not disk failures.

So in reality, i think home users would benefit more from 2 bare disks without any RAID (one being the backup of the other), than from putting those two disks in a RAID1-array. Also, you can use the other computers in the network to act like backup. Seperate your OS/Apps/Games from the actual data you have (pictures, ISO, videos, whatever) and even without RAID you could create a setup where you would backup your data to other computers on the network. That would not only protect against disk failures but also filesystem corruption or virusses, accidental deletions and partly also fire or severe power failures (like in your power supply; if it malfunctions and puts too high voltages on the +5V and +12V lines, it would cripple all your disks in the RAID-array; not even RAID-6 or "RAID-7" would protect you against that. RAID is not the answer to all storage problems. Its a tool.

Similar threads