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Good, Cheap RAID-1 Controllers?

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After the death of my last hard drive (which cost me not my work, but my Risen savegame -- and I was in chapter 4 already -- for crying out loud!), I now upgraded to an Intel X25-M SSD for my OS partition and two normal hard drives in RAID-1 for my games and programming stuff. For the RAID-1, the first thing I tried was software RAID-1 in Windows 7. Zero performance gain on read operations and after an unclean shutdown, Windows 7 decided to resynchronize both partitions. At the same time. So after avoiding Windows 7's little hard drive stress test by destroying the partitions, I tried my on-board RAID controller (NVidia), which resynchronizes sequentially (not surprising since it knows nothing about the partitions on the RAID-1), but again, read performance is exactly the same as with one drive. -- Does anyone know of a cheap RAID-1 controller he can recommend which actually takes advantage of the mirrored drive for read operations? I've got a software RAID-1 in my Linux server and it really flies. Can't understand why Windows and even NVidia's supposedly fast RAID controller don't take advantage of the second drive for read operations.

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Well, I had a 6-drives RAID6 (mainly for 2+1 redundancy) at work and I can ensure that if you're messing up with small files such as source, you're not going to see much gain and I had something like 300 Megs of buffers and a dedicated 800Mhz controller...

A friend of mine also suggest the linux raid services to be better (faster and more robust), I have to note that the average file on his linux machine is several times bigger than the average file on win32.

I am not surprised you don't get any advantage on cheap hardware. Personally I would put the programming stuff on SSD.

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Don't use a cheap RAID card. They use so-called fakeRaid. It's just a card with multiple SATA connections and software RAID running in a chip. They suck.

I don't know of any good software RAID implementation for Windows. If you're on Windows then get a good quality hardware RAID card, like a 3Ware. They go for about $400-$500.

On linux, use mdadm for good quality software RAID. I prefer it even to high quality hardware RAID on Linux because it's much more flexible. I have an expensive $600 dollar 3Ware hardware RAID controller that I ended up using as a simple SATA controller because mdadm software RAID gave better performance.

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Onboard RAID is the most awful horrible useless kind of garbage. Software RAID under Windows is garbage. Hardware RAID is either expensive or garbage. Linux software RAID doesn't help you under Windows.

Just get a 10000RPM disk (if you're that concerned about performance) and then use Window Backup + Scheduler to image the drive to a second one for redundancy.

RAID is massively overrated.

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Quote:
Original post by Andrew Russell
Onboard RAID is the most awful horrible useless kind of garbage. Software RAID under Windows is garbage. Hardware RAID is either expensive or garbage. Linux software RAID doesn't help you under Windows.

Just get a 10000RPM disk (if you're that concerned about performance) and then use Window Backup + Scheduler to image the drive to a second one for redundancy.

RAID is massively overrated.


Well, raid for home users is definitely overrated. If you are running a server, you would definitely want raid 5 or 6 depending on what you are serving. Theoretically, you could even swap out bad disks live.

But for home use, yes, definitely overrated.

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if you have more than one pc / laptop around, i suggest to instead get a winhomeserver box, which does it's own data-copying and backups of all your machines.

then you have more or less the setup i have now: ssds in all my machines, and all data saved on the home server. finished preconfigured homeservers should be available for cheap, but home built ones are more fun.

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Original post by davepermen
if you have more than one pc / laptop around, i suggest to instead get a winhomeserver box, which does it's own data-copying and backups of all your machines.


Thanks for the tip! I'm already running a home server. Nice stuff, I don't know how lived without a dedicated machine in the house before :)

It's running Gentoo Linux and acts as my router, firewall and file server. Plus some VMware virtual machines for automated builds. For storage, I'm using 3 drives in software RAID-5 and read performance is way above what GBit ethernet can handle :D

Before I switched my home server to Linux, I had a trial of Windows Server 2008 Standard running on it -- which "lost" the RAID array once a week, regularly hung because it paged itself to death (fresh install, no running apps, one network share -> copy huge file from network share -> memory load in task managed goes to 100%, then death by paging occurs), and other niceties.

I normally prefer Windows, but in this case, it simply failed me. No idea what kernel Windows Home Server is built on, but for now I'm quite happy with the Linux setup.

-

The RAID-1 in my workstation is simply a safeguard to avoid having to go through another loss of - well - everything I didn't deem important enough to back up.

The (fake-)RAID-1 provided by my chipset certainly gets the redundancy part done and saves me from manual disk imaging, but this being a workstation that I also use for playing games, I was hoping to get a nice speed boost from the RAID-1 in addition to the safety :)

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I'm using RAID-1 on my Subversion server via the builtin chip on the P5Q motherboard, which is some Intel "matrix store" or such thingie.
This seems to work really well for some years now, although setting up the box was a real bitch, and I'd probably use an easier to manage solution the next time.

Interestingly, the board comes with RAID drivers for Windows, but it will work under Linux without any drivers at all. You manage the array in the BIOS, and only one disk is visible to the OS later. The only problem is that except for SuSE no other Linux distro would recognize that drive during installation (and I wanted something more low-fat than SuSE). Searching the internet for a whole long while brought up a HOWTO that had some ultra strange prodedure which involved assigning deliberately wrong settings in the BIOS at different stages. This obviously couldn't possibly work, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to try anyway, and guess what, it really does work.
So now, the box has Linux installed on a single drive that is really an array of two drives, and the OS doesn't even know it (which suggests that it really has to be hardware RAID). Both disks are making noises too when you tap the stethoscope onto them.

Still... simply turning on software RAID would probably have been 2 hours less work for the installation, a million times more manageable, and would probably have used no less than 0.5% CPU anyway, so in case I ever want RAID again, that's what I'll be doing the next time.

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