Choosing RAID Arrays for your Dedicated Servers

May 2015

Are you looking to increase server performance or protect against the financial pain of data loss? Choosing a dedicated server with RAID may be the perfect solution for you.

RAID and Dedicated Servers

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent (inexpensive) Disks. Using RAID with your dedicated servers increases data redundancy and performance by utilizing multiple hard disk drives to store and access data. RAID uses two or more disks and copies data onto all of them simultaneously. Should one hard drive fail, the others already have your files available. There are many different iterations of RAID. We’ll outline the RAID solutions we offer and why you might select one over another.

Hardware vs. Software RAID

There are two different ways in which RAID can be managed on a server. One system requires a dedicated piece of hardware in the system, and the other controls RAID procedures at the software level. There are several advantages and disadvantages to each setup that you should consider.

Hardware RAID has an initial higher cost associated due to the hardware required, but the setup involved is easier because it is all handled by the controller. Hardware RAID controllers have battery backups so data is not lost in the event of a power failure. Performance with a hardware controller is typically higher due to all of the operations being isolated to the controller rather than being handled by systems resources.

Software RAID control on the other hand has no costs, but you will need to know how to configure it. Data performance and server resources will be utilized, so you should be careful not slow down your dedicated hosting setup.


The protocol RAID0 uses a process called disk striping to read and write data from multiple drives. The main purpose of this is to increase performance because multiple drives are used at once. The main problem with this type of RAID is that there is no data redundancy, so if one drive is compromised, then the entire array will be affected. A minimum of two drives are required in this configuration. RAID0 is not recommended for any critical system.


This type of RAID uses disk mirroring to create data redundancy. Data is copied simultaneously to multiple drives, so if one fails, your dedicated servers would not experience any data loss. This is the easiest way to create data redundancy and is the most cost effective with only two hard drives required. The downside of RAID1 is a decrease in performance due to the resources required in duplicating data. One thing to note is that in this configuration, the storage capacity of the server is cut in half. If two 2TB drives are installed in the server, the capacity of the server is only 2TB instead of 4TB.


The most common RAID configuration for businesses like web hosting requiring high performance and data redundancy is RAID5. It uses data parity (extra bits added to data to confirm the data is intact) and data striping (the process of segmenting data across multiple volumes) to create redundancy and increased performance. A RAID5 configuration is also hot-swappable which means that drives can be replaced without having to restart the server.

This configuration can slowdown dedicated servers that have heavy write operations, such as heavily accessed databases Due to the resources involved in writing to multiple drives, this can mean a performance hit in RAID5 configurations. RAID5 requires three hard drives and can function with one failed drive. You will experience a performance decrease when a drive in this configuration fails.


This configuration is identical to RAID5 except it uses one additional parity block, meaning that if two hard drives die in your system, data operations will continue as if nothing happened. The downside to RAID6 obviously being that additional hard drives are required for this setup.


Last but not least is RAID10, often referred to as RAID1 + 0 because it combines the principles of mirroring as well as striping utilized in RAID1 and RAID0. RAID10 gives the best performance of all of the RAID levels, but it is also the mostly costly as it requires a minimum of 4 hard drives to be utilized. It is best suited for environments seeking the best data redundancy as well as the best write performance.

Overview of RAID on Dedicated Servers

RAID offers you a variety of options to increase data redundancy and server performance, but it shouldn’t be considered an alternative to offsite data backup. We always recommend utilizing RAID in conjunction with an offsite backup package for the best redundancy in your dedicated server. Have questions about which RAID setup would be best for your server? Feel free to reach out to our support team and we would be happy to walk you through your options.