Hardware VS Software RAID: How to Choose

Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks is an acronym for RAID. In order to enhance the performance, reliability, and capacity of the operating system, visualizing hard disks into one or more arrays is a great way. The RAID can be implemented in two ways: one by using an operating system driver and another by using a specific ATA Raid controller.

Comparing software and hardware RAID setups compacts how storages drive in a RAID array connect to the PC’s motherboard. Besides, it deals with the management of these drives. The calculation that goes into RAID operations takes processing power to handle it. The more power is required, the more complex the RAID configuration. Though, there is very little difference between software and hardware RAID as every decision comes down to the performance of the processor.

cog-wheels

Software RAID: Software RAID is a limited type of RAID that doesn’t have a dedicated controller; instead uses the resources of the host system. It comes attached to the system motherboard, which is why it must take resources from the host system. It does all the processing on the server motherboard due to which it adds extra processing time and usually slows down the RAID calculation on that device. This RAID type can support SCSI, SAS, and SATA but generally at a degraded level of performance.

Pros:
• Every computer can handle software RAID 0 and 1 processing without any performance hindrance.
• Low-cost price.
• Easy to install, all you need to do is connect to drives and configure the setting according to your requirement.
• It uses the processing power of the operating system in which it is installed, making it more secure and faster.
• No additional hardware controller is required.

Cons:
• It works slower as compared to hardware RAID.
• The server speed slows down as processing power is majorly occupied by the software, read and write speeds of RAID configuration.
• It can only be used specifically to the operating system, not for partitions that are shared between them.
• Failed disk replacing is more complicated in the Software RAID.
• Software RAID is level restricted according to the specific operating system that can support it
• If you are using the complex configuration, you will experience performance issues.
• These RAIDs are operating system specific you cannot differentiate them performance-wise unless you know everything about the operating system it is being used on.

Hardware RAID: The processing work done under hardware RAID is on discrete controller care like ATA RAID controller, SATA controller, and Delta PLC, etc. at the level of the storage system. As the RAID processing is implemented on a controller card, there is no extra load on the server processor, allowing it to perform better. There are numerous advanced features in hardware RAID, including hot-swappable drives in case of one drive failure. While using hardware RAID, the drives connect to a RAID controller card in the motherboard which is inserted in a fast PCI-e Slot (PCI- Express).

ATA Raid Controller

Pros:
• It offers better performance and interoperability.
• It will be free from software Raid’s performance limitations.
• Hardware RAID performs better in complex configurations also as processing in this system is handled by a dedicated RAID controller rather than a computer processing system. Therefore, there is no scope of downtime when restoring data.
• It comprises numerous configuration options, unlike software RAID.
• These RAIDs are compatible with various operating systems and recognizable by any system.

Cons:
• It is more expensive as compared to software RAID as more cost is involved in the initial setup.
• In Hardware RAID, there is inconsistency in performance due to flash storage arrays. When the Raid controller gets older, it disables the built-in fast caching functionality of the SSD, making it respond slower.
• You cannot split, reshape, or make changes in a Hardware RAID.
• You have to rely on specific software and vendor to get better performance and better monitor health.

Hardware VS Software: Who’s the winner?

The choice depends on several factors, including enterprise needs and cost. If you have a limited budget, then you can use a Software RAID. However, if you want a RAID that performs better then choosing hardware RAID like ATA Raid controller will be beneficial as Software RAID will upset the performance. Hardware one is most common in areas where its advantages are somewhat realized, like in the windows server environment. In contrast, Software RAID is more prevalent in the open-source server system. Choosing between the two RAIDs depends upon the administrator operating system and IT Infrastructure.

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