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Completely lost on HD terms

 12:29 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)


I'm buying a new PC, will use it for web development. Use all the common web-development apps, and Adobe PS and IL.

The machine will be hooked up to a LAN and it will share a partition, so that I and a developer may work on the same sites without having to constantly swap copies and keep track of versions and such. Am planning on getting a Dell, with an 80G Hard drive and 1G of RAM.

I'll also install a rack, which I will use to swap in alternating hard drives for daily backups.

I am offered the choice between SATA and RAID for hard drives, and despite some searching, can't find a simple explanation of the difference. What do these terms mean?



 12:54 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am offered the choice between SATA and RAID for hard drives

This doesn't really make sense; because SATA (Serial ATA) is a hard disk interface technology; whereas RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is a software or hardware controlled mechanism for storing data across multiple hard drives such that the failure of any one of them does not result in the loss of data.

Ergo you can use RAID with SATA hard drives..!

Try the Wikipedia definitions of both:



I think the decision you are being asked to make is simply whether you wish to have RAID or not; your supplier is just confusing the issue - probably because they do not supply SATA RAID controllers, and you would therefore get the older standard IDE or SCSI hard drives if you choose to go with RAID.


 1:25 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Many thanks for your reply - I have added Wikipedia to my toolbox!

No, it's not my supplier (Dell) that confused matters, it was I that had such a dismal understanding that I was confusing even the confusion!

Now, from your explanation, I understand better what Dell is proposing as choices: First, a choice of configuration, with such choices as:
- For SATA disks, non-Raid
- For SATA disks, Raid 0
- For SATA disks, Raid 1
- For SCSI disks, non-Raid

Then, for a first hd, and then a 2nd and 3rd, a choice of hard disk types, SATA or SCSI.

I assume that SATA is sufficient for my needs, and that I have no reason to go for RAID?


 6:58 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I personally think RAID is a bit over the top for a workstation. It is intended for servers that require high-availability where (in some high-end hot-swap models) you can simply swap a failed RAID member out without interruption to the service.

With RAID you will be paying a lot for redundancy, only having the effective hard disk space of less than one of the drives, despite there being multiple drives in your computer.

If you choose to go without RAID, you will have the space of all your hard drives at your disposal - a lot more disk space for [probably] a lot less money.

How's this for a thought:

Hard drives are massive these days; so segregate your OS/APPLICATIONS and DATA accross two physical drives. Have your operating system and applications on drive C:, and keep your work-in-progress on drive D:, and do a regular local backup of your data from D: to C:.


If C: fails you just re-install your OS and applications on a new drive C:

If D: fails, you just restore your data from the back-up on C:.


 7:02 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

dmorison, you are correct. RAID is going out of fashion [devhardware.com]. Louponne, that article may help you assess whether RAID is appropriate for you. In any event it will give you an idea of the risks RAID exposes you to.


 8:53 pm on Aug 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks a lot for your help - this is now a lot clearer to me, and you're absolutely right, I don't want to go RAID.

dmorison, the reason I like going with a rack and swapping hard drives is because it gives me, always, a day-old and and week-old backup. That way, if something messes up, I'm always ready! :)

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