Recommendations for long term storage: RAID or ??

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson Forum Pro • Posts: 13,741
Re: Recommendations for long term storage: RAID or ??

gilliano wrote:

...I'm looking at RAIDs but not really sure what is practical / affordable for a small operation like mine. Any specific recommendations? Anything to consider? Alternatives? Assume I know nothing about them, which is basically where I'm at.

It seems to me that you're confusing a need for bulk storage to hold all your data with the need to back it up to make sure it doesn't get lost. Those are two different requirements that need two different solutions.

As far as storage goes, 1TB is trivial. My recommendation would be to simply get a bigger hard drive - they're cheap, fast enough for most bulk storage needs, and a lot simpler to manage than a RAID configuration. To be safe RAID requires that you test and document recovery procedures and deal with the vagaries of the software, firmware or hardware you choose for your RAID implementation.

As far as backup goes, Billiam29 is exactly right when he says that RAID is NOT a backup. The only sure backup is a copy you make and then remove from your system so that it's not vulnerable to accidental deletion, corruption, virus attack, or theft or damage that happens to the rest of the system. And IMHO the simplest backup is to just copy your files (using whatever method you choose, including backup software) to a USB drive that you then disconnect from the system and store elsewhere. For better protection you'd have two or more of these backup drives that you'd alternate in cycles, and the gold standard would be to store the latest copy to a different location.

The real purpose of a RAID system organized with redundancy is to eliminate the time needed to restore your files if a disk failure occurs. It's insurance against downtime, not against data loss. If the availability of your system is critical in some business or personal sense then that's the reason to use RAID. But even if you do, you'll still need a backup strategy that keeps a copy of your data offline, because there are a lot more ways to loose your data than just disk failure.

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