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I recently bought this raid card from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001IHYLTK/ in order to store a movie base that I could access with XBMC. I was hoping to buy 4 refurbished 2tb hard drives so I could get 6tb of reliable hard drive space.

However, I may have jumped the gun because I don't know all that much about RAID. I'm familiar with the concept that that with 4 RAID'd hard drives, you get the space of three of them with the advantage that any one can fail and you don't lose any data. But what I'm not sure of, is if I have the get 4 of the exact same hard drive or not and if there are any other subtleties that I should be aware of. And more generally, is this going overboard? Are there other ways to do this that would be simpler?

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migrated from serverfault.com Oct 24 '10 at 19:06

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I think you need to first state what your goals are with respect to this storage. In a home environment, you likely don't require top-level storage performance, as you'll likely not require the performance, but the redundancy of the disks in order to protect your data becomes paramount. With that in mind, if you're going with XBMC on linux, you may like the software raid alternative. It offers far more flexibility than add-on cards, and is far less costly for home use. –  sandroid Oct 24 '10 at 18:29
    
Ugh. FakeRAID. I'd have bought a 3Ware 9500 card. If you're running linux, you'd actually be better off using software raid than a $40 raid card. –  Tom O'Connor Oct 24 '10 at 18:32
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You should usually have four of the same disk (or at least of the same size and connector), but this is not always a must.

Also, you seem to be talking about RAID as if it's one thing. There are several types (or levels) of RAID. You seem to be talking about RAID 5, where up to one disk can die, and you get the storage capacity of all the disks minus one.

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I think I value my home data enough to go for RAID 6. –  Tom O'Connor Oct 24 '10 at 18:43
    
Then you can lose two disks, but you'll also lose the storage capacity of two disks. –  fahadsadah Oct 24 '10 at 18:46
    
If a disk fails, you should immediately replace it and let the array rebuild itself - the only time RAID5 data loss is possible is if two disks die simultaneously, or another disk dies before you change the first one. This is quite unlikely, but if you live in an area prone to lightning strikes or something similar, it's definitely a good idea. –  fahadsadah Oct 24 '10 at 18:47
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