RAID 0 Configuration?

  darkster 17:09 02 Feb 2007

Hello all,
I am on the verge of buying a Dell Dimension 9200, the only thing stoppping me is the hard drives are 2 x 160GB in a RAID 0 configuration. What are the advantages/disadvantages of this? Also is there any way of reverting back to a normal non-RAID configuration?

  Batch 17:46 02 Feb 2007

See click here

Basically RAID 0 gives improved performance. How much improved performance depends very substantially on what you use it for. Personally, unless you have leading edge performance requirements, I wouldn't bother.

There must be some way of reverting to non-RAID - you shold consult the motherboard / disk controller manuals (or ask DELL)

  ^wave^ 18:07 02 Feb 2007

i fail to see that any raid will increase performance as it has to write to more than one disk. it will however increase your avaiability by protecting your data

  Batch 05:31 03 Feb 2007

AFAIK RAID 0 doesn't have to write any specific data to more than one disk - it just spreads the data across 2 or more disks. This means that, on retreival, multiple reads can be in progress in parallel including the movement of the heads in and out across the disk surface (which is, by far, the slowest part of disk accesses.

In any event, writing (the same) data to more than one physical drive would have neglible impact on performance (in the case of disk mirroring - which isn't RAID 0) due to write-behind caching and the fact that the data would be transferred via the controller once and the controller would take care of writing out to multiple drives. Other, more sophisticated, of RAID may have some impact, but that's the price one pays for the redundancy effects.

  Mr Mistoffelees 08:25 03 Feb 2007

"i fail to see that any raid will increase performance as it has to write to more than one disk."

This is in fact precisely why RAID 0 does increase performance. In simple terms, if a file is split in two and then half is written to each drive simultaneously, then it will take half as long, similarly when reading a file.

  UncleP 11:05 03 Feb 2007

In answer to your original question, Dell should alternatively and upon request supply the HDs in either a conventional master/slave or a RAID1 configuration - and, I would hope, at no extra charge - it's very easy to do.

I would advise against accepting the RAID0 system; as stated above it does not provide any security because there is no inherent redundancy (in spite of its name). There is a small performance improvement, but the downside is that if either of the HDs fails, you lose all (and I mean all) of your data. So it must all be backed up very solidly elsewhere.

I use a RAID1 system, in which each HD contains an identical copy of the OS, applications and data files. If one disk fails, the system continues to operate with the other. You can then replace the faulty disk at your leisure and rebuild the RAID1 system.

If you prefer a master/slave system, you can achieve a similar (if not better) level of security with disk-imaging software and storing the images on the slave or an external HD.

  darkster 13:18 04 Feb 2007

I have tried phoning Dell sales but I can't get any sense out of them! (no email reply either!) - has anyone else managed to change a spec. different from the options on the Dell online configurator?
You say it is an easy job to change from RAID 0 to Master/slave configuration, could you tell me how to do it please? Would it be possible to do myself?

  anskyber 14:06 04 Feb 2007

I have a Dell in RAID 1 configuration. My manual says I can convert to RAID 0 or master and slave.

For RAID 0 configured machines the conversion would, in effect, format your drive and everything would be lost.

There is a small advantage for gamers having RAID 0 in terms of speed otherwise there is no inherent advantage over a standard one disc PC.

RAID 1 has the advantage of two copies of everything and security as UncleP has said. It's really a matter of how important that is to you. The cheaper external HDD with say Acronis back up make RAID 1 slightly less important for home back up. I shall be keeping my RAID 1 however.

  UncleP 01:45 05 Feb 2007

Sorry you're having problems getting a sensible answer from Dell; I suspect that, because they are a large organisation, the people with that level of technical knowledge are well separated from the Sales division. That part of the conversation I had with my supplier (Cube), who also specified a RAID0 system, went:-

Me: Oh, and would you supply the HDs in a RAID1 configuration?
Them: Yes, sure.

Finito. The last part of the first paragraph of my posting above should have been 'it's very easy for the supplier to do'. As anskyber notes, to change an existing RAID0 system means going right back to the initial state, re-formatting the disks and re-installing the operating system.

The basic RAID controller is usually implemented on the motherboard, so the details of selection will depend on which of these you have. I would try to contact the technical support people at Dell, and see what they have to say.

Good luck! If you get no joy, post back. I could hunt through the manual for my motherboard (an Abit AN8 series) for additional information, but I fear it might not be relevant.

  darkster 19:26 05 Feb 2007

Thanks again UncleP. I just want to set the record straight regarding Dell. I had a reply from my emails first thing this morning which led to me phoning them up. Credit where credit is due, the advisor that dealt with my enquiries was extremely helpful and I am getting (fingers crossed) the system with a single 320GB hard drive.

  UncleP 21:32 05 Feb 2007

Oddly enough, I was wandering through Google-land this afternoon, and came across a discussion concerning Dell HD configurations. One contributor claimed that he had been told by Dell that they sold machines with two HDs only in RAID (0 and 1) configurations. If you wanted a master/slave system, he was advised to buy a single-disk model, order a second HD from Dell and get it fitted on-site by a Dell engineer (fitting it yourself destroyed the warranty).

It all sounds a bit complicated, but I suspect that Dell have good commercial reasons for doing it this way.

Anyhow, I'm pleased that you've made progress on this, and reached a reasonable compromise. I hope everything goes well for you!

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