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What's the best set up for RAID drives on Dell 6550 server?

We have a new Dell 6550 server being set up with Win2k. It has five internal 73 GB drives (maxed out). The first two are a mirrored pair, RAID 1. My question is, what is the best setup for the last three? Is a RAID 5 better than RAID 1 with a hot swap spare? The net space is the same. We'll put two data partitions on it for two applications. Second question is, should you always mirror the OS? Can a RAID 5 be better using all drives to net more free space? Is there a downfall?

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I know of no inherit problems, but it depends on your needs and wants. RAID 5 will give you better performance than RAID 1. RAID 5 will survive a single drive failure automatically. RAID 1 requires manual intervention to switch over to the mirror if the source drive fails. I would probably go with RAID 5 and keep a regular backup as well. You can only mirror the OS when using software based RAID. If you are using hardware RAID, then mirroring the OS is still usually the best idea. I always recommend keeping the boot and system partitions separate from the data partitions. So, I would not recommend a single 5 drive RAID 5.

This was first published in October 2003

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