Hardware vs. software RAID on 4-bay+ RAID enclosure

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What RAID system should I get?

  1. Software RAID

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Hardware RAID

    100.0%
By pioneerx01
Sep 16, 2012
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  1. I have been doing research on purchasing 4-bay+ external RAID enclosure for myself. I have done research on software vs. hardware raids for this system, but one question still eludes me; so I am going to ask it here directly.

    If I buy software RAID enclosure I will have to use some included software to set-up my raid. So, if I take my enclosure to another PC and plug it in (let's say eSATA) I will not be able to read the data, correct? If I get true hardware raid, the raid set up will be on the build in controller so I will be able to take the enclosure from computer to computer, right?

    And since TS has new poll feature lets try it out... :)
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +97

    Regardless of whether you use software or hardware RAID, the enclosure will work whatever you plug it into. The only thing that might not work is connecting an individual disk (used as part of the array) into a device. It all depends on whether the device in question can read the controller used for the RAID set up.

    For example, I ran with RAID 1 for two 2TB hard drives in my PC, but I can connect one of them to the same device as a non-RAID disk -- which I successfully did when the RAID broke down for an unexplained reason.

    However, it is unlikely to work in a computer, and you should approach it as not working at all in anything but the RAID enclosure. It's also worth pointing out that splitting RAID disks in such a way could corrupt the data. Given that pretty much every decent RAID enclosure worth its salt will include gigabit ethernet at the size you're looking for, availability shouldn't be an issue across your LAN.

    Hardware-based RAID arrays are also more reliable in operation, and have the extra benefit of being recoverable in a controller failure by replacing it with the same version as before. Software RAID's are less reliable, slower performing and in the event of a controller failure can be difficult to bring back online.

    Basically, when it comes to RAID arrays, don't skimp on cost. The better the quality/controllers the more reliable and better performing it will be.
  3. pioneerx01

    pioneerx01 TechSpot Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 335

    I am not sure I explained what I want to do. I am not looking to do NAS RAID, only eSATA and/or USB. Once I buy the enclosure and install 4 identical HDD's that will be it, I am not planning on removing the (unless one fails). So, once I have the HDD's in the enclosure I would like to use it as I would any single drive external HDD. My question is if I set up the RAID enclosure via software raid (RAID-5 most likely) will the enclosure be dependent on the system it was configured from? Will I be able to take that already RAID set-up enclosure and plug it into another computer and read the data from it with no further set up? Thanks
  4. Leeky

    Leeky TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +97

    It won't be dependent on the computer it is connected to as long as its entirely self-contained, but I'm also pretty certain that USB isn't going to work for what you want. If your dead set on a 4-bay enclosure it will likely be a NAS. It's the best way of dealing with RAID arrays by a long-shot as well, and far more reliable. A NAS runs its own hardware and software designed specifically with high-speed data storage with redundancy in mind. It will be very reliable.

    They're very easy to use, have a web-based control panel and plug into your network in the same way you'd just connect a computer. From there every single device on your home network can access it as if it's connected directly to the computer you're using. You can also set up permissions to only give users access to certain folders with most of them as well.

    I'm not quite sure if what you're asking is can you connect four separate enclosures and use software RAID for them all -- if it is, that's definitely a bad idea. That said, it isn't typical to connect such a set up just by USB and I'd be surprised if you could find anything capable of doing so.

    This is the sort of enclosure you should be looking at: http://www.techspot.com/review/400-qnap-ts-412-turbo-nas/
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,026   +221

    Then you are just creating an NAS system from raw components :)
  6. pioneerx01

    pioneerx01 TechSpot Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 335

    OK, visual aid! I am debating if I should purchase this hardware RAID or this software RAID enclosure and load the with HDD's (or one similar to the ones listed). If you notice both have eSATA out on the enclosure.

    Here is where I get confused. If I buy software RAID enclosure and install the included RAID software and set up RAID5; will I be able to unplug the enclosure from eSATA port and plug it into another computer to read the data stored?
  7. Leeky

    Leeky TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +97

    The first one will work on any computer because the USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0 fitted to every computer. The second will require the controller card fitting to the desktop computer in order to function (unless the desktop has a E-SATA port in the I/O panel).

    This is also worth considering: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822240010


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