What is the first thing that comes in your mind when we talk about Raid Technology? Do you symbolize Raid with the pandemonium that ensues after an undesired hardware failure? But, when it comes to the IT infrastructure, the term has a different connotation. Raid stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, which is used for storing valuable and mission-critical data in various places on your hard disk to create redundant data in case of a drive failure. But, the question is, does your business require to invest a massive amount of resources in the RAID technology? At present, reliable infrastructure and a secure data management system is what differentiates a global, successful enterprise from the rest. As businesses have already set foot in the era of big data, the need for secure data storage management solutions has become the need of the hour. And this is where RAID comes to the rescue of firms.
How exactly does Raid technology work, and how can your business benefit from it?
Before you divert your resources for implementing Raid technology, you must first know how exactly the Raid systems work. Let’s take an example. You have terabytes of valuable data stored in various hard drives within your data infrastructure. Now, how much time will it take to access each file individually? We can’t even imagine how time-consuming and frustrating it will be for the employees. And accessing individual files introduces the risk of Hardware failure. In such situations, to increase productivity, firms should make maximum use of Raid technology. With the Raid technology, firms can combine individual storage drives into different structures to optimize performance, capacity, and security. You can opt for different storage arrangements within the Raid system to attain maximum benefits. There are 4 popular Raid levels, which include:
Raid 0: This the lowest level of Raid and is known as disk striping. Here we store data across multiple disks. Since many disks read and write data simultaneously, there is a performance boost. But the limitations are that this Raid level doesn’t offer fault tolerance. Also, to increase performance, all storage drives must have the same capacity and specifications.
Raid1: This Raid level uses a mirroring technique to copy data to other disks in the Raid array. In addition to data redundancy, this RAID level also offers fault tolerance. Because of data mirroring, your valuable data will be secured at the time of drive failure. But the limitation is the performance downgrade because you have to upgrade data in the mirrored disk.
Raid 5: For the business world, this is the most popular and beneficial Raid level. It combines the benefits of striping and parity. If you want a system in place that will detect data transmission errors, the parity checking system is what you need. Raid 5 offers a parity checking feature that helps in improving both the performance and data security.
Raid 6: With the improved parity protections, this Raid level is an upgrade over the Raid 5. In this Raid level, we add one more parity block to the array. This means you can have two failed drives and still enjoy the benefits of an entirely operational server.
Even though raid technology has bought a revolution in the data storage networks, it still can undergo failure. Trust us, even though the Raid system offers multiple benefits, they also suffer failure because of the vulnerable hardware and software components. Also, note that once a Raid system fails, all the data stored in it will be lost. So, to prevent data loss situations, it is better to adopt preventive measures. And the first step towards prevention is to gain knowledge about the common types of Raid system failures.
Hardware failures: Raid servers consist of various electronics systems hence are prone to hardware failures. They are also susceptible to physical wear and tear. Also, if one disk fails in the Raid server, it will result in the hardware failure, including hard disk component failure, Raid controller failure, and power supply failure and overheating.
Software failures: If you think Raid systems can only undergo hardware failure, its time to think again. Raid systems also encounter software failures like damaged files or folders, Raid configuration faults, and backup failures as well as virus and malware attack.
Failure of applications: To some extent, application failure is similar to software failure. In such failure, applications and programs in the Raid server come under the attack. In this type of failure, users are unable to access the apps in the usual way.
Human errors: Human errors can occur at any time and any place leaving users all confused and in search of a data recovery solution. Human errors include accidental deletion of files, reformatting of partitions, overwriting the databases, or using the wrong password to set up the Raid system.
Now, as you are aware of the types of Raid failure, it’s time to look at the preventive techniques that offer protection against these failures.
1. Don’t set up Raid volumes by using all drives from the same tray: Trays and shelves of drives on the storage array consist of sequentially numbered drives that consist of the same manufacturing line. And setting Raid across a set of sequential drives exposes the Raid volume to a higher risk of serial drive failures. To prevent the failure, instead of creating the Raid volume from all the drives on the first tray, it’s better to use different trays if possible. By doing so, you will be able to reduce catastrophic Raid volume failures.
2. Prepare your battery: One way to protect the raid system from failures is by preparing the battery for writing the cache. Raid controllers use caches to improve performance. While writing/reading the cache, if a power failure occurs, you will have to face data corruption. Therefore it’s better to gain knowledge about the Raid caches and create a secured power backup to prevent any loss of data.
3. Go for the consistency checks: Are you of the opinion that Raid failures don’t happen frequently? If so, its time to burst your dream bubble. Since Raid systems can fail regularly, you need to continually check the Raid system to ensure they are working correctly. You can also opt for disk monitoring technologies to check the disk health periodically.
4. Never run failed drives: Don’t believe those who say that you can run failed drives after the failure detection by the manufacturer. Never take the chance to force the drive back into the system and start your normal operations. If you force the failed drive back into the operations, it will increase the damage resulting in the loss of millions of dollars for data recovery.
5. Never rebuild system readily: Many drives offer the hotplug feature that allows users to replace the failed drives without shutting the system. But, trust us, Raid rebuild is time-consuming, and if any problem occurs during the rebuild process, it will leave the data to potential risks. So, if you have data backup in place, then only go for Raid rebuild.
6. Always have a backup: Note that Raid servers are based on the foundation of data redundancy, which aims at providing data continuity no matter what the condition is. On the other hand, in data backup, we create copies of original data that will help users to recover data in the event of a disaster. This means that even if you use Raid systems, you need a secured backup of data. Don’t fool yourself; Raid is not an alternative for physical backup. At the time of severe Raid failure, it’s the physical backup that will come to your rescue. If your backup is up-to-date, you can get your data back immediately.
7. Choose the right Raid configurations: Do you know different Raid configurations have various redundancies to prevent data loss situations? This means you should create a conceptual design of the storage system that provides adequate data loss provisions. Since single drives can fail at any time, you can replace the faulty drive with no data loss.
8. Prepare for the system failure: When you purchase a Raid system from one manufacturer, all the hard disks will have the same batch and production date. This means all the drives will not reach the end of life at the same time. This means you have to continually check the status of the hard drives at regular intervals. By doing so, if one drive fails, you will know it at the right time and will be able to replace it to prevent a data loss situation. Waiting too long to replace the faulty drive will increase the chances of another drive failure. Hence you must always keep track of the health of the hard disks present in the Raid storage arrays and take the necessary steps at the time of drive failure.
By now, you will have a complete understating of the Raid system, its failure, and preventive measures you can adopt. But, even after adopting these precautionary steps, if you encounter Raid failure, always consult a data recovery specialist to get your data back.