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raid systems

Data security has become a quite important subject. Everyone who has been using a computer for a while, has collected a lot of data on the computer. Some of them are useless, but many of them are important. Your photos for example, almost everyone has a digital camera today and where are those pictures stored usually? Right, on your computer! Now think about you hard disk crashing someday. All you data will be lost, it’s just like someone burned down you photo albums. Further more, all documents you created, all the efforts you put into your computer, all gone…

Backups are one solution, the second one is a RAID 1 system. And with the second one my problems started. I used an onboard VT8237 SATA Raid1 with 2 WD 80 GB hard disks. I thought it was a hardware raid since I had could configure the array in the BIOS, but I thought wrong. When I tried to install SuSE Linux 10.1, it showed me my array as 2 separate drives. Well, I googled a lot and found out that there are 3 basic raid systems.

  • Hardware RAID
    This is usually pretty expensive. The Raid controller does everything for you, OS independent. It’s hot-pluggable and very fast with no CPU usage.
  • Fake Raid
    This is what cheap RAID controllers do. The virtually create a RAID, but offer a driver to pretend a RAID array. This costs a little CPU usage. This can be hot-pluggable with a good “fake” RAID controller.
  • Software Raid
    This can be done by Windows (Dynamic Drives) or Linux (Linux RAID) itself. Uses a little bit more CPU but is usually not hot-pluggable.

After finding this out, I deleted the fake RAID and now use a Linux RAID on my server, the Windows 2003 Server is now mirrored to my USB hard disk and will be mirrored back onto VMWare running under SuSE. I think this is the most stable way for running both Windows and Linux on one machine.

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