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Recommendations for RAID 0 Stripe Size

By Phantasm66 ┬Ě 17 replies
May 20, 2002
  1. Okay, I am going to create a RAID 0 Stripe set on my PC, using 2 40 GB hard drives. If this is successful and I feel its beneficial, I am going to move to a 4 disk array using another 2 disks. (All HDDs are identical size, model, make, etc....)

    My motherboard is an IWILL KA-266 R with an integrated RAID controller, but if I get to like this I might invest in a more expensive PCI IDE RAID controller card.

    My question, to all of those with a home RAID system, is this: What stripe size did you use?

    Please bare in mind that the partition created from this array is going to be used for CD and DVD rips, DivX encoding, downloading large files to. Therefore, I am tempted to stray away from the suggested notion of pick the smallest stripe size possible because I will not have a lot of small files on the partition which will occupy this array.

    The partition will likely contain a lot of Mp3s as well, but lets remember that the average mp3 is about 4 MB or so. Its nothing like the size of the smallest stripe size available, which is 64K.

    I am not really sure what decision to make, and so am asking for advice here.

    Its not often that I do that, so here is your opportunity to impress me.

    Here is some extra information on the problem:

    source: http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.html?i=1491&p=5
  2. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Ok, I don't have any experience with RAID arrays, but lack of experience hasn't stopped me for giving my .02$ before, so why start now :D

    Given the information you gave us, bigger strip size is GoodTM :)

    You actually gave the answer in the text from Anandtech:
    As the array will contain many large files, you'll get the best performance with the largest strip size... Any small files will only get the performance of one drive, but as you won't have many of those files (if any, why care too much about it?)

    And with the average mp3 size being 4mb, you shouldn't see any slowdown of the array...

    Whereas if you set the size smaller, you'll get the same scenario as below...

    .02$ :)
  3. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    thanks for your reply :)

    I am nearing towards a 2MB stripe size. The average size of an mp3 is 4MB. And most files on the partition will be big, like 640MB and stuff...

    this differs from an OS partition, or games partition (lots of smaller files) which would be better on a stripe with a much smaller stripe size. in my case, at least for the moment, these things will remain on a non-striped HDD.

    its more for divx encoding, perhaps video capture, mp3 ripping, area to store things which will be burned to mp3. mostly these are bigger files like videos and stuff.

    i also have a media partition which i loaded with mpeg files of music videos - this will go on the stripe as well.

    games are being moved, and as i said no OS will be on the stripe I think. Maybe I will create another stripe with a smaller stripe size for the games and OS later....
  4. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    source: http://www.devx.com/premier/mgznarch/exchange/2000/02feb00/ee0100/ee0100.asp
  5. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    But should I really be using a 2MB stripe size for my media partition??

    Actually no. I read the Anandtech article more fully, and found my RAID device there. On benchmarks it seems like the best stripe size is 512 K overall.

    Don't underestimate how important this is if you are making a stripe. Its possible to actually get worse performance if you have a poorly chosen stripe size setting.
  6. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Posts: 709

    Just curious but what exactly is the difference between stripe size and block size??? Stupid me, I didn't take these into account when I first made my raid 0 array, I left everything to default, and now I have too much media, etc. to just reformat and start over. I believe I have a 64K block size and 512K stripe size if I'm not mistaken. Anyone knows if this is any good? I have two IBM Deskstars at 60GB in Raid 0.
  7. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,946   +200

    If I would have answererd without reading this thread I would have said 512kb, but now that I did take the time and read it I'll recommend, *drumroll* 512kb anyway ;)

    I've also just purcached a RAID 0 array, it consists of two of Maxtors latest oil bearing 7200rpm harddrives @ 20GB, and I must say the thing is fast!

    Though my stupid built in Promise controller wont allow me to change the RAID stripe size, it's set default to 64kb :(

    Anyway; The only real advice I can give you is try and see, that's the only way to find an optimal stripe size really...

    Or you could read this great 200 page artcile about harddrives and you will as me know everything out and in (for a day or two :D)

  8. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    I created the stripe today.

    I can confirm that there is a very significant performance boost for certain types of functions.

    Its well worth thinking about, if not for performance boost or redundancy functions (which I did not implement) but also simply for the ability to add several HDDs into one large one.
  9. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Posts: 709

    Just curious, but what stripe and cluster size did you use? Also, how did you go about changing the cluster size in XP assuming your using XP that is. I hear its difficult to change the cluster size without using a 3rd party program.
  10. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    I used a 512 KB stripe size, since this was the one that in all benchmark for my controller with varying types of HDD, functions, operating systems, etc was the one that won out best.

    The stripe is all formatted a one great big NTFS drive. I used the default cluster size of 4 KB for the volume which is the default for NTFS volume of this size (around 80 GB) Even although FAT32 has a theoretical limit of several TB, when doing anything with it greater than 32GB it seems to not like it much sometimes, so NTFS seemed like the logical choice. Linux shall not require write access to the partition since I don't use Linux for the functions which shall utilise this array.

    I used disk administrator in Windows 2000 Server to create the partition and to format it, I did not use any built in functions in the RAID controller to format or partition (on booting up the stripe just appears to the OS as just one big hard drive.)

    Here is some technical data for my stripe:

    Volume STRIPE S:
    Volume size = 76,340 MB
    Cluster size = 4 KB
    Used space = 42,225 MB
    Free space = 34,114 MB
    Percent free space = 44 %

    Volume fragmentation
    Total fragmentation = 0 %
    File fragmentation = 1 %
    Free space fragmentation = 0 %

    File fragmentation
    Total files = 28,193
    Average file size = 1,932 KB
    Total fragmented files = 11
    Total excess fragments = 13
    Average fragments per file = 1.00

    Pagefile fragmentation
    Pagefile size = 0 bytes
    Total fragments = 0

    Directory fragmentation
    Total directories = 1,804
    Fragmented directories = 200
    Excess directory fragments = 1,004

    Master File Table (MFT) fragmentation
    Total MFT size = 30,023 KB
    MFT record count = 30,006
    Percent MFT in use = 99 %
    Total MFT fragments = 2

    All seems fine as far as I can tell.

    I have yet to do anything serious with it like capture video to it, rip DVD to it, etc which will really let me see how much better it is than just spanning some volume across two HDDs but so far certainly any operating involving analysing it or writing to it are certainly faster.
  11. Tarkus

    Tarkus TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 621

    I run 32k stripe size on my new drives. Last system I ran 64k stripes. Since they're different drives I have no comparison. From what I've read you'll get best performance with either 32k or 64k stripes. Most of your system files are actually very small so you'll be reading a bunch of big stripes just to access a 20k DLL. Why do a 4 meg read for each Icon on your desktop??? You'd have to have a really messed system to have an MP3 fragmented into 4096 noncontiguous pieces. I have a drive volume with 650 MP3s and there is 0% fragmentation. MP3s are rather slow data streams compared to disk transfer rate. I get 90 MB/s transfer rate in read and write with the Atto benchmark.
  12. r_u_kidding

    r_u_kidding TS Rookie

    who h3r3 uses Raid Striped 4 gaming? i m going to use 2 western digital 10,000 RPM 36.7 gb drives and i m leaning towards 64k
  13. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    Its usage for gaming is kind of limited, as far as I recall. I am sure I read an article once that said that. Games aren't really hard drive intensive in general - all you would really improve is loading times. Once all that stuff is loaded into RAM, its then up to the mobo, CPU and graphics to determine game performance.

    The RAID volumes I use are mainly for redundancy, and for speed. Speed with HDDs is important for functions like multimedia (video capture, or just dealing with large files in general, etc.)
  14. Zolar1

    Zolar1 TS Rookie

    Raid Stripe Size Formula

    I may have discovered a formula for determining an appropriate stripe size.

    If you go into XP disk defragmenter and click on Analyze for your array, it should return a value of the average file size.

    Take this number, and divide it by 2 x # of harddrives in the array, then round DOWN to the nearest available stripe size you can choose.

    Let's assume that the average file size on your harddrive is 512Kb.
    Divide that by a factor of the above calculated number. In my case, I have 4 harddrives in my array, so I would choose 8.

    So, 512Kb divided by 8 = 64K (the optimal stripe size for my average files).

    Let's say you had 2 harddrives in the array, then using the above formula, you would choose 128K stripe size.

    This is contingent on whether you are just storing data and seldom using it or are actively using the data. If just storing Data, then put the operating system on it's own harddrive, not on the array. OS=small stripe size, data=big stripe size in your case.

    Another important OVERLOOKED factor is the Cluster Size of the formatted harddrives.

    In my humble opinion, I would set the cluster size for 1/2 of the stripe size when formatting. This should reduce disk fragmentation and can appreciably decrease drive maintenance.

    I have done several experiments, and smaller stripe sizes for the OS can make it really fly! But with smaller stripe sizes, you also have to defragment daily (not my cup of tea). Personally, I am using a 64K stripe with a 32K cluster. My fragmentation is pretty normal as opposed to a single harddrive. And I wouldn't suggest going with any stripe size less than 8K - you go from extreme speed at first to a snails pace in a few hours of heavy use, without defragmentating. Highpoint can let you go lower than that, and up to 2048Kb if desired.

    It works quite nicely except on boot up, but that could be the umteen things I have running...

    I would experiment further, but I wore out my XP disk and had to buy another one - lol. And Microsoft doesn't like it when you have to keep activating numerous times for your experiments.

    To the guy with the MP3's and such, I suggest the following combination -

    4Mb average filesize = 512 stripe size
    Cluster size when formatting under XP should be 1/2 x 512 or 64K cluster size (max cluster size allowed under XP).

    This should give you very nice performance :hotbounce and you shouldn't have to defragment too often. :bounce:

    By all means, email me. I would love to hear how well this works for you.


    PS and anyone else's comments as well too. Always trying to refine the formula.
  15. Zolar1

    Zolar1 TS Rookie

    OOPS! Forgot something...

    My above formula is used on 'realized' drives in an array - meaning a RAID 0 'Sees' all the drives, and a RAID 5 'sees' all the drives, minus one. For RAID 10, use 50% of the total number of drives for calculations.

    Sorry if I confused anybody. :giddy:
  16. Cold Canuck

    Cold Canuck TS Rookie

    Yes and no.
    High end games such as Half-Life 2 all rely on loading a great deal of config, texture and model/skin files into RAM, that load time can be quite considerable, especially when running the game with all of the bells and whistles turned on.

    I grant that the CPU, RAM timing, chip set and especially the display adapter play the biggest part in playing the games, but the load times can be impacted in a VERY significant way when using RAID 0.
  17. joelwest

    joelwest TS Rookie

    further discussion of stripe size and cluster size . . .

    another thread on this topic has been started at


    in particular user Nodsu presents the following opinion on this issue -

    is there a utility which determines the average file size that is frequently used on a given partition?

    I know Norton's speeddisk program moves frequently accessed files to the front of the disk during a HDD defrag, but I know of no way of finding WHICH files it labels as being frequently accessed.

    Nodsu went to elaborate a bit further -

    what I infer from Nodsu's comments is that he recommends a stripe size of 32 kb and a cluster size of 64 kb (max for NTFS) if the user is not worried about wasted file space and is running RAID-0 with two HDD's.

    since his advice is different than yours, I would like to see your reply.

  18. Zolar1

    Zolar1 TS Rookie

    Please see the other thread you just came from for my reply.
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