Software RAID Versus Hardware RAID

Here is the typical scenario.  A small business is looking to provide itself with a bit of redundancy on its server.  Unlike a bigger business, the small business doesn’t have a ton of extra cash laying around.  And so, they are trying to figure out if they should go with either a software RAID arrangement or a hardware RAID.  Let’s take a look.

Okay, so price is one of your big factors in determing whether or not to go with a hardware RAID system.  Let me break that down.  Something you need to consider with software RAID is that it is CPU intensive.  That’s because the machine is doing a lot of the processing that a hardware RAID controller would otherwise be doing.  Couple this with network traffic and other processes and you could be looking at a slower machine.  Now, this may or may not impact performance and productivity.

Another major issue is that of portability.  If you utilize a software RAID solution and the server dies, how are you going to be able to take that array over to the new server?  Just something to consider.  On the other hand, it’s a much easier proposition for a hardware RAID solution.

Now, there are some interesting linux derivatives and choices in software RAID solutions, but I won’t discuss those here.  I’m assuming most folks reading this will be utilizing a M$ server environment.  In any case, I would highly recommend that you go with a hardware RAID solution, if at all possible.  If you are home user, feel free to go with software RAID.  But if you are a small business – how much is your data worth to you?