RAID 0/10/5 useful or real world overkill? (for non-video work)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by schweinsteiger, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. schweinsteiger macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #1
    I would like to know if I should bother setting up a RAID array in my new Mac Pro 2.93 Quad.

    I found a lot of info about the pros and cons of the different RAID set-ups. But most forums that deal with RAID info are run by video pros that work with huge files, and they never discuss if it's worth setting up RAID in general, for them that's a given, they just discuss the specifics.

    I'm a graphic designer, and won't be doing any video or 3D work on the MacPro, so my needs are different from video pros.

    As I understand the issue, a RAID array can give you a substantial speed bump. Done with Disk Utilities, basically for free, when you make sure to have proper back up.

    Normally people are happy to spend an extra $1k for substantial speed improvement when it comes to processors, so I was wondering why RAID is not more popular when you can set up a back up system with extra HDs for comparatively little money.

    So please people let me know what your experiences are with RAID! Which RAID do you use, do you really see a big speed improvement for your daily work, does it affect your Photoshop work, iTunes functionality?
    Have you experienced crashes, power outages with data loss etc?
     
  2. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #2
    I've been using RAID0 arrays since motherboards first started supporting it about 8 years ago. I've not experienced a drive/array failure.

    I think it's a fantastically affordable way to reduce one of the main bottlenecks in system performance... storage.

    As you say, the added risks of data losss are easily mitigated by a proper backup strategy.

    A couple of WD Black drives in RAID0 or SSD's (if you can justify the expense) would be a great for your OS/Apps/working files. Things like iTunes won't really benefit from it but it doesn't hurt either.

    From what I understand, the software RAID0 works very well in Mac OSX which is what I'm planning to use.
     
  3. Locoweed macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    #3
    My 2¢

    I used raid 0 in Windows for years and think it is a good deal for that environment. Mostly it is useful for reading or writing lots of data i.e. booting up.

    In OS-X, I mostly leave Apps running, only put the computer to sleep instead of turning off, so for me anyway, there would not be a significant gain by using raid 0.

    If you open large files you could gain some performance. You might be better off running a raid configuration to protect your data rather than trying for a speed gain.
     
  4. hardhatmac macrumors regular

    hardhatmac

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    Utah
    #4
    I've lost HDD's in a RAID. Therefore losing ALL my data from that array.

    And, no...I was too dumb to have a current backup.

    Now I know to keep things backed up...unless you enjoy angry clients and sleepless nights trying to figure out how to survive with all this lost data.

    As far as speed boosts....you probably won't notice anything....or maybe you will.
     
  5. schweinsteiger thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #5
    only very few replies?

    So far there have been only 3 replies ... does that mean most people here don't use or are not interested in RAIDs?

    The macperformanceguide.com site implies that you get a really fast and snappy performance from RAID. It also says that when you boot up once and then let the computer run for weeks, just with sleep at night (my situation too), then a RAID array for the boot disk is not necessary. Because once the OS and the apps are launched/running, there's no additional speed benefit.

    So I would only use the RAID array to host the work files and iTunes media, and a scratch disk for PS.
     
  6. hardhatmac macrumors regular

    hardhatmac

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    Utah
    #6
    On another note, the power supply recently blow up in my G5 quad (literally blew up...complete with blue sparks and near deafening sounds). They say always leaving the computer on an only putting it to sleep at night shortens the life of the p/s...

    Just a thought.
     
  7. schweinsteiger thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #7
    Interesting observation. After more than 4 years of use, the power supply in my G5 went out three months ago. No sparks or bang, just went out. I was ready to buy a new PowerMac anyway, but the new 2009 models hadn't appeared yet. So I had to fork out the $300 or so for the part and repair.

    But it is worth thinking about that practice of leaving the thing on all the time, just with putting it to sleep at night. I just dread shutting down all apps, closing all web tabs, etc, at night. It's so convenient to just hit the space bar in the morning and have it all there ....

    I was more concerned with the energy bill though, even in stand-by or sleep mode electronics draw a lot of electricity.
     
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #8
    A stripe would give you a speed boost, but no redundancy. If you don't have to have the system available to you at any given moment, and can afford the time necessary to replace the dead drive, and restore the data from backups, it would be the way to go. :) Keep in mind, you can still lose some data, depending on the age of the backup, and what was added/changed between it and the array failure. A good schedule helps, as you seem to be aware of. But you could find yourself needing to re-do work that was lost. (Just so you're aware).

    If you can't spare the down time, and possibly having to re-perform lost work, even a limited amount, look to another array type. It really comes down to the time you have available. As I recommended before in the other thread, if you want to stick to the software RAID in OS X, go with RAID 10. It offers you speed and redundancy. It's down side, is you get less capacity. Half of the drives' total in fact. But like anything else, there's compromise. ;)

    Beyond 10, you'd need to consider a hardware RAID controller for 5/6/50/60 operation. This route can get expensive, particularly in the '09 MP's, as an internal array, which can save you some cash, is rather difficult. You'd either have to use Apple's RAID card, or use both optical bays for drives with a 3rd party controller. If you don't want to go either of these routes, then you're left with an external solution. Greater options, but the enclosures add to the cost. :(

    Though people they may be quite interested, their wallets say NO once they see the prices for hardware implementations. Perhaps RAID 10 is skipped due to the minimum of 4 drives, and only half the capacity is available (2TB from 4*1TB disks for example), as the other half is dedicated to the mirror half.
     
  9. nuckinfutz macrumors 603

    nuckinfutz

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2002
    Location:
    Middle Earth
    #9
    RAID 10 for the win.

    It doesn't require parity calculations and writing
    Should a drive die rebuilding a mirror is faster

    Write performance is good (2x) Read performance is better (4x)
    Since storage is cheap and a Mac Pro has 4 bays a RAID 10 isn't a
    bad idea.
     
  10. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #10
    Nanofrog, that's my issue in these forums as well. But I go farther. I say 10 is also overkill and a half. With 10 you are doubling the number of drives on the off chance one of them breaks and you weren't wise enough to have a backup. That's awfully wasteful in terms of both space and money. RAID level 5 is kinda the same thing IMO. You're paying for not only the card and extra drive itself but also the $200 a year or so it costs in electrical consumption. Not to mention that in both 5 and 10 the extra drives are useless for anything other then one single dedicated purpose. IMO if you're "working" with video or other then level 5 has a place in your planned system but I can't ever see a reason to run 10 unless the person has access to free drives or something. I would probably feel differently if Mac Pro came with 8 or 10 hot-swappable drive bays. :)

    IMO a RAID 0 really starts to add s noticeable system performance boost at 3 drives. Well for that to be taken advantage of in a RAID 10 you need to run 6 drives. :( Not to mention the slight performance hit incurred in RAID 10. RAID 5 also has a performance hit but at least we're only running 4 drives now - better (for Mac Pro) but expensive if it's not paying for itself.

    I like RAID 0 the best by far!!! Especially for general or hobby level use. You can have your 3 or 4 drive RAID for ultra fast rates and also have room for 2 other drives. For general use (and I'm finding even for video) it actually makes the most sense to increase your memory to 12 or 16 GB and then just put EVERYTHING on one RAID 0. Everything means your boot, your apps, your video, your scratches, and your resources - all of it. The access contention that people warn against just never in reality, ever actually happens. If you're on a low 2GB or 4GB, memory system I could see a few cases where an application's cache could occasionally slow things up but with 12 GB, 16 GB, or even 24 / 32 GB this also becomes a "never actually happens" case.

    So I propose a 3-drive RAID 0 or a 4-drive RAID 0 with everything (all) on it and then running an external drive that can be switched off as a backup, as the most economical and common sensical setup. With 3 1TB drives and a 2TB drive for periodic backups you have everything covered - and you can run the backup drive internally if you wish. As long as you keep your RAID at under 75% full you're tits! If it goes over 75% it just means you have to be selective about what you back up and let's face it if you're running your 3TB RAID at 75% full LOL, then you probably have a need for a much bigger system anyway. For 99% of the people this is just never going to happen. The free space on the backup drive now also becomes multi-purpose in case you decide that there is something that you want to keep off of the RAID. Like maybe you opted for the 4GB RAM system anyway - you can use a portion of the back-up drive as a scratch/cache for some apps that need it. Or maybe you want to run a bootcamp systems, etc.

    3 or 4 drive RAID 0 with a backup drive just makes the most sense when the system isn't dedicated to mission critical "work".


    .
     
  11. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #11
    Or it's time to delete some of that p0rn! :D :p

    All kidding aside, this is great advice for cheap performance.
     
  12. surflordca macrumors 6502a

    surflordca

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #12
    I have been using computers for well over 20 years and I never turn them off. I have never had a power supply problem...
     
  13. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #13
    Me too - 20+ years. But in my case PSUs go out all the time. It's like #1 or #2 most troublesome component. Historically speaking probably it's the #1. I don't think I can even count the number of PSUs I've had to replace. In the past 3 to 5 years things have seemingly gotten a lot better - as comparatively very high quality PSUs are now available. But in the past and from the PC XT, PET and PET II days when such were just not available...

    Anyway, PSUs go bad a LOT! Especially cheap ones.
     
  14. schweinsteiger thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #14

    Thanks so much for your advice. I hope you're as wise as your avatar looks!

    I was almost convinced to either let the whole RAID idea be, or go with a semi-safe route and set up four 1TB HDs as RAID10. That plus the 1TB I could place in the optical bay would give me 2.7TB in total and I would still have to back up externally. 2.7TB sounds like a lot, but it isn't, really. I would like to have up to 3TB for the next couple of years, but I also want to just use 50% of the HDs (for better performance). I would go with four 1.5TB HDs as RAID10, but there's only the Seagate drive available at the moment and it gets a lot of bad reviews.

    After your comments I would go with this set-up:

    - Four 1TB Hitachi Saturn Enterprise HDs as RAID 0 (supposedly the best 1TB HDs)
    Partition the drives (scratch disk | OS & apps | work | iTunes media)
    and as per your recommendation, put EVERYTHING on the 4TB RAID 0

    - One 1TB HD in the optical bay.
    Schedule (hourly) incremental back-ups with CCC of critical parts from that 4TB array (OS & apps | work | new iTunes media)

    - Several external HDs to back up the 4TB RAID drive entirely
    Schedule (daily/weekly) incremental back-ups with CCC

    This way I basically would have a very fast 4TB HD to work with (with a higher disk failure risk than a non-RAID disk of course) and a complete backup of the entire thing on external HDs.

    The 1TB backup HD in the optical bay would always be up-to-date and bootable. So in case of a problem, I could just restart and keep working right away from the 1TB.

    I assume the biggest PITA would be to restore the four-disk RAID array from the external HDs. But that's mainly a matter of copying files all night.

    In the fuure, when 2TB drives will as reliable as the current 1TBs I could re-arrange to a "safer" RAID 10 setup if need be ....
     
  15. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #15
    Sounds pretty OK to me. But just to qualify me a little bit. I'm not all that wise but I try a lot of stuff. So the information I gave is based on me actually trying it. In the case of "everything" on one RAID 0 I've been running my system like this for about three months and tested 100s of apps with an eye on disk activity in both extreme and typical uses.

    Something to keep in mind is that you don't need the BackUp drive to match the full size of your RAID. At 2.7TB I guess you can figure than even for the 1st year you're probably not going to even hit 50% unless you have an insatiable data hunger. :) So for the first year or so till there are bigger cheaper drives a single 1TB drive could probably serve as the BU drive for the RAID. 2TB if you're worried or want to multi-purpose it.

    Are other 2TB available yet - other than the Green one?
     
  16. psingh01 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #16
    I have a RAID 5 array on my PC for the sole purpose of storing my digital pictures and collection of nba games I've recorded with my tv tuner. This way I can survive a hard drive failure and not have to lose half of my capacity if I were to go with RAID 1. My current board has built in RAID support, so read/write doesn't seem any different than a normal drive. In the past I used software RAID and it was noticeably slower. These drives are mainly used for storage, I don't do any specific "work" with the setup. The heaviest work they do is when I'm copying an mpeg back and forth between the PC with RAID and my MBP where edit out the commercials.
     
  17. schweinsteiger thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #17
    I'm happy you suggested the "everything" on the RAID solution. If you want to enjoy a large iTunes library you also need to write/read the library file FAST to avoid the beachball. Placing the OS/home/apps on a separate HD like I had planned before would not give me the fast iTunes library write speeds I would like. (BTW, I keep the actual mp3s in a different folder on my HDs, not the home folder)

    Well, 4TB drives in RAID 0 will give me approx max 3.6TB storage ... but I agree. For the first year or so I should be OK backing everything up to two 1TB drives I already own.

    OWC only offers the WD green 2TB. I can definitely wait for the next generation for my back-up needs.
     
  18. schweinsteiger thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #18
    one more thing ....

    I'm also wondering in the context of RAID and back-up options:

    Is there a preference towards Time Machine vs CCC for incremental back-ups?

    I'm actually not interested in going back in time with my data back-up. I just want a straightforward clone. Can you use TM for that too?
     
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #19
    To me, it's a nice balance of performance, redundancy, and affordability. It can be done with a software implementation, so it's only the cost of drives. Which are fairly inexpensive these days. ;)
    I was just making mention of the potential issues. I'm not the greatest proponent of RAID 0, as my usage requires redundancy of data and high system availibility. I just don't have the time to spend recovering the data, let alone lose any of it. :eek: :D

    That may or may not be applicable to anyone else, and they have to decide for themselves. ;) I just wanted to at least give the OP the basic knowledge that it might be something to consider. :)

    For home/hobby/.. use, a stripe set and a decent backup system is adequate. An even lower cost alternative than RAID 10 to boost performance, and as it's not used for anything critical, I'll presume the individual does have the time to spare if the array does fail.

    Additionally, the individuals skill level may come into play, and this is where 10 may have an advantage. Auto rebuilds. :D

    3-4 seems about right to me as well. A decent balance of speed and an acceptable level of failure risk, provided the backup system is in place. Otherwise, it's a disaster waiting to happen. :p
    Other graphics/video professionals I've spoken with have had some issues with availability and data loss, and approached me about another method. They're business was affected by the failure, and decided the financial investment made sense for their particular needs. Better backup strategies were discussed as well. ;) As thier incomes were derived from their computers, it seemed reasonable that other array types would be more appropriate. They had come to the conclusion that it was a justifiable expense.
    Despite the length of the posts, we do seem to think similarly, as I do agree that in non critical work, and the user has the time to spare in case of a disaster, this solution is viable. The low cost is just too hard to ignore. :D
    Have you considered the WD WD20EADS?

    2 TB, and reviews well (here, here). Individually, they aren't the fastest drives on the planet, but in a 4 drive array, you'd be quite pleased I think. ;) They should handle your capacity issues for awhile. If not, you may be in trouble. :p

    At this point, I'll assume you have the time to perform a rebuild should something go wrong. So you're idea would work. I wouldn't even bother partitioning it though, particularly if you can manage to keep each disk at 50% capacity or less.

    And you can always change to another array type later if the need arises. Fairly simple to do as well. Hardware can complicate it a bit, primarily due to the interface. It can be intimidating if you don't know what settings to choose. ;) Just keep in mind, you'd have to make a fresh backup first, as the data will be gone (software or hardware). Each time you initialize a drive, it gets wiped.
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #20
    Not yet. :(

    Seagate's Constellation ES 2TB isn't due until Q3 '09.
     
  21. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #21
    Hehehe... :) Highly typical I'd say. :D


    Me too. I think mostly just because I'm stubborn tho. ;) I have an "Audio" folder and in that are MIDI, Music, etc. in Music is MP3s (etc.) and MP3s is the iTunes folder.


    There's been a few discussions on that here. I still come up unclear on the subject tho. TM can do that or not seems to depend. <shrug>

    Anyway there are lots of 0$ ~ $50 utilities that can backup everything and put your machine to sleep in a click or two. Writing a full 1TB of data from a 3-drive RAID 0 to a 1TB drive takes a little over 3 hrs in most (?) utilities.
     
  22. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #22
    No doubt about that! But then as a video professional I spent $50,000.00 for each deck in a 3 deck A-B-Roll and my camera cost another $50,000.00 So that's $200,000.00 just for that. Another $1,000 (or 5 :D) for an awesome backup system totally makes sense! You won't get any arguments from me on that one! ;)


    Agree, agree... And hey, long posts are fun! :D
     
  23. nemodomi macrumors member

    nemodomi

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2008
    #23
    I'd poke around here if I were you.
     
  24. hardhatmac macrumors regular

    hardhatmac

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    Utah
    #24
    I'm sure they do...but I'm sitting here looking at the $450 bill from the local apple tech to replace the PSU in my G5. Doesn't sound too cheap, if you ask me.
     
  25. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Halifax, Canada
    #25
    My G5 has been on 24/7 for 5.5 years with no system sleep, and no issues yet. It was never plugged straight into the wall though, only into a UPS. Now that I've upgraded to a Mac Pro, and my partner has inherited the G5, it's plugged into a surge protector and is sleeping at night. Should the PSU eventually dies from this new abuse, I suspect she'll get a new Mini or MacBook to replace it. She already managed to destroy the fan of my X800 video card. ;)


    I use both SuperDuper! and Time Machine, but I'd use CCC or SD! if you just want a clone - that's not the purpose of Time Machine.


    To the original question about RAID0 et al. for graphic design, I use a scratch disk made up of the first 15GB partition of the four internal drives in my Mac Pro, which are striped together. ~300MB/s read/write. The only caveat is that when I'm working in Photoshop, the disks aren't being used for much else. If I was ripping a DVD or backing something up to one of those disks, the performance is going to go down.
     

Share This Page