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Is RAID a good backup option?

Is RAID a good backup option?


RAID provides a powerful front-line defense against several potential data loss possibilities by spreading data across multiple disks and providing automatic rebuilding if a disk fails. However, the seemingly bulletproof design of RAID causes many to believe it also serves as an effective backup. Although RAID is invaluable for data storage, it's critical to have an alternative backup solution (or solutions!) in place. Here’s why:

Disk Sizes are Growing

Hard disks are becoming larger over time, making it easier to create massive arrays without the need to invest in a large number of disks. While size of hard drives has skyrocketed, hard drive reliability, however, has only increased modestly over the years. RAID-5 volumes will become broken if a second disk fails while the volume is rebuilding from a previous failure. This likelihood has increased over the years due to the increased time it takes to rebuild a volume. Even RAID-6, which can handle two drive failures, is increasingly being viewed as insufficient to prevent failures. Unless hard drive reliability increases substantially in the near future, RAID volumes should not be viewed as entirely reliable.

Human Errors and Disasters

Too many organizations find out the hard way that a few incorrect clicks or command lines inputs can render a storage medium broken. Even if your RAID volume has ample redundancy, no RAID configuration is sufficient to keep data from vanishing due to human error. Similarly, relying on RAID also leaves you vulnerable to disasters. If excessive heat, water or other factors damage your RAID volume, you’ll likely need professional data recovery services.

File Corruption

Modern file systems are robust, and corruption is rare. However, when working with the large volumes of data modern organizations rely on, the likelihood of corruption can increase. Furthermore, those turning to newer, more powerful file systems might find that their reliability can't match that of the older technologies. RAID technology can rarely do anything to ensure a file system remains intact. Furthermore, individual files that become corrupted due to a program or human error typically won't be recoverable using RAID technology and most common file systems. Backups ensure that you'll be able to recover your data and start fresh.


The rise of malware has been a nightmare for system administrators. As the possibility to profit from intrusion has increased, cybersecurity attacks against RAID volumes have also been on the rise. RAID technology provides great protection against a number of potential threats to your data, but it can do nothing to prevent ransomware and other malicious software from destroying your data. Deciding how to handle a particular malware infestation can be difficult, but knowing you have a backup available can ensure you're never left missing all of your data.

Data protection is all about redundancy. RAID's ability to build redundancy into your storage means it's a powerful tool for keeping your data safe, but backups are just as valuable as they always have been. Build robust RAID volumes, but ensure you're not relying on RAID technology as the sole source of data protection.

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